Collecting works on paper by 19th and 20th Century American artists- expert Betty Krulik provides some crucial guidelines

by leslierankowfinearts

IN OUR FIRST BLOG, BETTY KRULIK DESCRIBED HER BACKGROUND IN THE  ARTS –  ONE THAT INCLUDES VIRTUALLY EVERY  PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE FROM AUCTION HOUSE,  GALLERY AND  MUSEUM WORLDS. NOW A PRIVATE DEALER AND OWNER OF BETTY KRULIK FINE ARTS , 15 East 71st STREET, NEW YORK, http://bkrulikfineart.com/   BETTY REPRESENTS BOTH BUYERS AND SELLERS OF EUROPEAN AND AMERICAN PAINTINGS AND WORKS ON PAPER. EACH WORK IN THE GALLERY INVENTORY REFLECTS BETTY’S PERSONAL APPRECIATION OF A STYLE OR ARTIST AND HER EXTENSIVE KNOWLEDGE OF THE FIELD. TODAY BETTY WILL INFORM US OF THE GREAT ACHIEVEMENT OF ESTABLISHING A WORKS ON PAPER DEPARTMENT SPECIFICALLY AT SPANIERMAN GALLERY BUT ALSO  AS AN IMPORTANT AREA OF COLLECTING IN AMERICAN ART IN GENERAL.

BETTY, THANKS SO MUCH FOR CONTRIBUTING YOUR EXPERTISE AND EXPERIENCE TO THIS BLOG.

WHEN WE FIRST WERE INTRODUCED, YOU WERE A DIRECTOR AT SPANIERMAN GALLERY AND WE SPOKE OF AND SOLD MANY WONDERFUL 19th AND EARLY 20th CENTURY PAINTINGS AND WORKS ON PAPER.  AT THE TIME, YOU ESTABLISHED A WORKS ON PAPER DEPARTMENT FOR A GALLERY THAT HAD, PRIOR TO YOUR INITIATIVE,  PRIMARILY FOCUSED ON PAINTING AND SCULPTURE.

Ira was a market maker, for as long as I knew of him. In the 1960’s he was selling the best American Art when no one thought twice about American paintings, so when he asked me to join him in the mid 1980’s to develop his paper department, I jumped at the chance. It was like Christmas every day, a treasure trove, working with his extensive inventory. I still remember some of the jewels that sold to museums and private collections. We had to do a lot of work to build that market. Art fairs, exhibitions, advertising, networking…

WHAT WAS THE STATUS OF WORKS ON PAPER, PARTICULARLY AMERICAN, AT THE TIME?  WHAT DID YOU FEEL SHOULD BE CHANGED AND EMPHASIZED? HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT PRICING WORKS IN A RELATIVELY NEW MARKET AND HOW HAVE YOU SEEN THIS AREA SHIFT, EXPAND AND EXPLODE?

At the time, there were a handful of collectors that focused on Works of art on paper, some of the high-profile collectors (like Margaret and Raymond Horowitz) had very fine paper as an adjunct to their main collections… And they spawned wonderful paper collections like Susan and Herb Adler, who in turn inspired many more collectors. These were very astute buyers who realized with a certain budget they could by the best of the best, and build encyclopedic collections. There were still great opportunities to get wonderful things. We had to build the market, but there was good supply, and once it was known that we were building the market even the other dealers in the trade would sell to us. I would call museum curators all over the country to discuss what we had, and I would load up a car and take the works to them. Many of those curators are now amongst my best friends in the business, and they would encourage their benefactors to look at paper.

At the time we would price works to sell, and encourage the collecting of paper – I remember once Ira bought a client a flat file as a gift to give him further incentive to collect.

Watercolors have been particularly desirable  and the market has expanded dramatically in the last 25 years but I think there is still a very good opportunity to buy black and white (pencil and ink works on paper).  As in  all fields,  there are ebbs and flows of interest. Right now, Hudson River drawings are a bargain! It is impossible. however, to find good impressionist pastels at a reasonable price –  there is so much competition.

ONE OF THE STELLAR ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN BETTY’S PROFESSIONAL HISTORY IS THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE AMERICAN ART DEPARTMENT AT THE AUCTION HOUSE PHILLIPS DE PURY. I RECALL WITH PLEASURE THE PHENOMENAL QUALITY OF WORKS AND SALES RESULTS THAT SHE BROUGHT TO THE AUCTION HOUSE AND HER PROFOUND CONTRIBUTION IN THIS SECTOR OF THE MARKET.

IN OUR NEXT BLOG, BETTY WILL DETAIL THAT EXPERIENCE. IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS, PLEASE JOIN IN!

THANKS FOR READING…UNTIL THEN.