Menconi and Schoelkopf – two centuries of art, two generations of gallerists

by leslierankowfinearts

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THIS MONTH, WE CELEBRATE THE 100th ANNIVERSARY OF THE ARMORY SHOW, AN ADVENT OF MODERNISM THAT CHALLENGED OUR PERCEPTIONS OF THE DEFINITION OF ART.  THIS WEEK, WE CAN ENJOY A DELUGE OF MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY WORK AT THE DISTINGUISHED ART DEALER’S ASSOCIATION SHOW AT THE PARK AVENUE ARMORY AND THE ARMORY SHOW AT THE PIERS –  A GATHERING OF MORE THAN 200 INTERNATIONAL GALLERIES.

THE TIMING IS PARTICULARLY SERENDIPITOUS TO HAVE THE PLEASURE OF SPEAKING WITH ANDY SCHOELKOPF, PARTNER OF THE NEW YORK GALLERY, MENCONI AND SCHOELKOPF,  A WONDERFUL RESOURCE FOR MODERNIST WORKS AND 19th CENTURY ART OF EXCELLENT QUALITY AND PROVENANCE.

SUSAN MENCONI AND ANDY SCHOELKOPF JOINED PROFESSIONAL RANKS IN 2001, TWO DEALERS WITH DISTINGUISHED CAREERS IN BOTH THE AUCTION AND GALLERY SECTORS  AND A VAST KNOWLEDGE OF AMERICAN ART AND THE HISTORY OF ITS MARKET.

A BONUS FOR ME  IS THAT BOTH SUSAN AND ANDY ARE SMART, FUNNY AND TERRIFIC  TO WORK WITH- THEIR ENTHUSIASM AND KNOWLEDGE OF THE FIELD MAKE EACH EXPERIENCE AN ENLIGHTENING AND PRODUCTIVE ONE. THE GALLERY IS AN ELEGANT REFLECTION OF THEIR COMMITMENT TO QUALITY, LOCATED IN A TOWNHOUSE MANSION AT 13 EAST 69th STREET, BETWEEN FIFTH AND MADISON AVENUE, ON  NEW YORK’S UPPER EAST SIDE.  http://www.msfineart.com/

ANDY, THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR TAKING THE TIME TO CONTRIBUTE TO THIS BLOG. THE GALLERY PUBLISHED A SCHOLARLY CATALOGUE Looking Back, Looking Forward, FEATURING RECENT GALLERY ACQUISITIONS.  YOUR INTRODUCTORY ESSAY ON THE ART MARKET IS SO RICH IN CONTENT AND KNOWLEDGE OF THE MARKET, I LOOK FORWARD TO FOCUSING  OUR CONVERSATION ON THAT, BUT FIRST, I AM SURE WE WOULD ALL LIKE TO KNOW YOUR PROFESSIONAL HISTORY  AND SUSAN’S BEFORE FORMING MENCONI AND SCHOELKOPF.  I, FOR ONE,  REMEMBER THE EXTRAORDINARY SCULPTURE EXHIBITIONS SUSAN CURATED AND YOUR GREAT CONTRIBUTION, AS HEAD OF AMERICAN ART, AT CHRISTIE’S.

WHAT IS YOUR HISTORY IN THE ART WORLD  AND WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO OPEN YOUR OWN GALLERY?

My father Robert Schoelkopf was a dealer in American art, contemporary art and photography and I really grew up in the gallery.  When I was born, the gallery was located on Madison Avenue at 69th street and my father had a painting gallery on the 4th floor, a photography gallery on the 2nd floor, and our family lived on the 6th floor, so I truly grew up there, immersed in the art business.  My mother Jane worked with my father, so it was truly a “family” business in an all-encompassing way.  We spent family vacations trotting around Italy or the Midwest or wherever, and those trips always including looking at art.  After college, I went to work at my father’s gallery, which was in the late 1980s.  My father fell ill with cancer and passed away early in 1991 and my mother and I determined to close the family business.
I interviewed with Christie’s and Sothebys’ and determined to take the Christie’s offer in the American Painting Department rather than a job at Sotheby’s front counter.  I spent most of the decade of the 1990s with Christie’s and was very fortunate to have learned a tremendous amount there about art and the art business and it really honed my eye and gave me a much better sense of the value and importance of the works of art.  One often hears the retort that working for Christie’s or Sothebys for five years is more than a Ph.D. and I think that is true in terms of equipping one with the means to read and understand works of art.  Truly invaluable experience.
After Francois Pinault purchased Christie’s, there was a lot of change in the firm and I decided to leave just before 2000.  Susan Menconi and I sat down soon thereafter and decided to form Menconi & Schoelkopf Fine Art which happily has thrived over the past 12 years.  Susan approached the partnership with different experience, having worked first at the Frick Collection and subsequently for more than 20 years with Hirschl & Adler where she helped found the American Sculpture Department and with the Richard York Gallery during the 1990s.  Susan and I have been able to blend our different perspectives and experiences into something we are very proud of.  We have had the opportunity to sell some of the most important works of art in the field of American Art and we are frequently called on by the most important private clients and museums in our field.

IN THE NEXT BLOG, ANDY WILL ENRICH OUR KNOWLEDGE OF THE GALLERY’S FOCUS AS WELL AS PROVIDE AN ASTUTE ANALYSIS OF THE ART MARKET FOR AMERICAN WORKS OF BOTH THE 19th AND 20th CENTURY.

THE GALLERY’S MOST RECENT PUBLICATION, Looking Back/Looking Forward, CONTAINS SUCH AN INTERESTING AND ENRICHING PERSPECTIVE ON THE MARKET  THAT IT PROMPTED ME TO ASK ANDY IF HE WOULD PARTICIPATE IN THE LRFA BLOG AT THIS TIME, SO THAT I COULD SHARE THIS INFORMATIVE PERSPECTIVE WITH YOU AND ENRICH, AS WELL OUR KNOWLEDGE OF THE MONUMENTALLY INFLUENTIAL ARMORY SHOW IN 1913 THAT INTRODUCED EUROPEAN ABSTRACTION AND MODERNISM TO OUR SHORES.

IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS OR SPECIFIC CONCERNS IN THIS AREA, I KNOW ANDY WOULD BE DELIGHTED TO ANSWER. I APPRECIATE THE DIALOGUE NOT JUST WITH THE EXPERTS WHO CONTRIBUTE SO GENEROUSLY TO THE BLOG BUT ALSO WITH THE READERS WHO I SO APPRECIATE TAKING THE TIME TO FOLLOW IT.