A celebration of the modernist spirit – James Reinish & Associates
JAMES REINISH & ASSOCIATES IS A WONDERFUL HAVEN FOR DISCRIMINATING COLLECTORS. LOCATED ON THE UPPER EAST SIDE IN A BEAUTIFULLY DETAILED, LIGHT-FILLED TOWNHOUSE, AT 25 EAST 73RD STREET IN NEW YORK, THE BY-APPOINTMENT GALLERY REPRESENTS BOTH EUROPEAN AND AMERICAN ARTISTS WITH A PRIMARY FOCUS ON MODERNISM, THE PERIOD BETWEEN 1900-1980. http://jamesreinish.com/
JIM REINISH IS A SEASONED DEALER, EXUBERANTLY HAPPY TO SHARE HIS VAST KNOWLEDGE OF A FIELD HE CLEARLY LOVES AND KNOWS SO WELL. THE GALLERY’S DIRECTOR, ANN YAFFE PHILLIPS, IS EQUALLY WELL-VERSED IN THE ART HISTORICAL FOUNDATIONS OF MODERN ART AND ADDS HER VALUABLE INSIGHT INTO THE MARKET FROM HER PERSPECTIVE AS A FORMER DIRECTOR AT CITIGROUP’S ART ADVISORY AND FINANCIAL SERVICES. CITI’S PRIVATE BANK PIONEERED THE CONCEPT OF ART AS COLLATERAL MORE THAN THIRTY YEARS AGO.
OF PARTICULAR NOTE IS JIM AND ANN’S ACUTE CURATORIAL SKILL , ALWAYS ORGANIZING EXHIBITIONS THAT NOT ONLY INCLUDE WORKS OF GREAT QUALITY AND INTEREST BUT ALSO ENRICH OUR HISTORICAL UNDERSTANDING OF THIS VERY RICH PERIOD THAT INCLUDES SUCH MODERN MASTERS AS MILTON AVERY, GEORGIA O’KEEFFE, ELIE NADELMAN AND EDWARD HOPPER, TO NAME A FEW.
JIM, WHEN DID YOU FORM JAMES REINISH AND ASSOCIATES AND WHAT PROMPTED YOUR DECISION?
Martha Parrish and I, who had worked together for almost 10 years at Hirschl & Adler, started our own business late in 1993. Martha retired in December of 2008 and the business which is essentially the same continued under my name. Ann Yaffe Phillips joined the gallery as Director a year before Martha retired.
I KNOW YOU WERE AT HIRSCHL AND ADLER FOR MANY YEARS PRIOR TO OPENING YOUR OWN GALLERY. WHAT IS THE PARTICULAR APPEAL OF WORKING FOR YOURSELF AS A GALLERIST AND PRIVATE DEALER?
Hirschl & Adler was a large public gallery at the time with lots of tentacles – adjunct galleries for folk art, contemporary, etc. Lots of exhibitions with many responsibilities, a huge inventory that required care and feeding and a large staff. Establishing our own business, based on our own model, was a very liberating experience. We only do small exhibitions on a very limited basis, we have a small staff and a smaller inventory. We try to focus on the best works of art for the markets we understand and aren’t trying to be all things to all people.
WHAT INSPIRED YOUR ORIGINAL INTEREST IN ART? WHAT ARE SOME OF THE PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCES THAT YOU HAD PRIOR TO HIRSCHL AND ADLER? HOW DID THEY INFLUENCE YOUR THINKING ABOUT ART AND WHAT INSPIRED YOUR FOCUS ON MODERNISM, THE STRONGHOLD OF INVENTORY AT THE GALLERY?
I thought I might want to be an artist when I was in high school, but that quickly evolved into an interest in art history by time I got to college. I majored in art history and English Lit and didn’t know quite what to do with the art interest other than teaching or working at a museum. I had no knowledge that there was a commercial art world out there. My connection was to the non-profit art world. I did community arts development through Stony Brook University in the early 1970s and then ran the Visual Arts Program for the New York State Council on the Arts for many years. That put me in contact with every museum and arts organization in the state as well as many individual artists and their dealers. The arts council was great until I had two children to support — and as the arts council started to be less creative and more of a political state agency, the commercial art world became more appealing. I become Co-Director of Zabriskie Gallery and fell in love with the art business but also American Modernism. After four years there, I went to Hirschl & Adler as Senior Vice President and continued to build on my interest in American panting & sculpture. It was a fantastic experience.
IN OUR NEXT BLOG, JIM REINISH AND ANN YAFFE PHILLIPS WILL INFORM US ON THE ROOTS OF EARLY MODERNISM, A PERIOD OF GREAT PROGRESS AND CREATIVITY IN AMERICA IN GENERAL AND IN AMERICAN ART IN PARTICULAR. DURING THIS PERIOD, THE LEGENDARY STIEGLITZ CIRCLE AND THE UNIQUELY AMERICAN PRECISIONIST GROUP WERE FORMED. FROM 1907 TO 1913, STEIGLITZ’S 291 GALLERY INTRODUCED THE WORK OF EUROPEAN MODERNS TO AMERICA WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY CULTIVATING AND SUPPORTING AN ADVANCED CIRCLE OF YOUNG AMERICAN MODERNISTS SUCH AS ARTHUR DOVE, MARSDEN HARTLEY AND JOHN MARIN. RESPONDING TO THE AVANT-GARDE ART OF EUROPE, THESE INNOVATIVE AMERICANS CREATED A VISUAL VOCABULARY INSPIRED BY THE AMERICAN SPIRIT AND CULTURE. THE PRECISIONISTS, SUCH AS THE BRILLIANT CHARLES SHEELER, CHARLES DEMUTH AND RALSTON CRAWFORD, DOCUMENTED A PERIOD OF PROGRESS IN AMERICA THAT INCLUDED STIMULATING DEVELOPMENTS IN INDUSTRY, TECHNOLOGY AND WORLDWIDE TRAVEL CREATING HIGHLY CONTROLLED AND TECHNICALLY PROFICIENT WORKS REFLECTING THIS NEW AND EXCITING MODERN WORLD.
I WELCOME ALL COMMENTS AND QUESTIONS!