Estate management, the artist’s intent honored: Dorsey Waxter of Van Doren Waxter Gallery
A FASCINATING PERSPECTIVE INTO THE COMPLEX AND COMPETITIVE NATURE OF THE ART WORLD CAN BE SEEN THROUGH THE LENS OF THE MANAGEMENT OF AN ARTIST’S ESTATE. GALLERIES THAT ADDRESS THE ISSUES OF THE PAINTINGS, SCULPTURE AND PHOTOGRAPHY THAT ARTISTS LEAVE AFTER THEIR DEATHS HAVE A UNIQUE RESPONSIBILITY TO SUPPORT THE WORK, MAINTAIN AND INCREASE ITS VALUE WHENEVER POSSIBLE AND DEAL INTELLIGENTLY WITH THE EMOTIONAL AND FINANCIAL SITUATIONS OF THE ARTIST’S FAMILY MEMBERS. GALLERIES AND DEALERS SEEK TO SECURE THEIR COMMERCIAL INTEREST IN A PARTICULAR ARTIST, AND ISSUES OF ROYALTY AND REPRODUCTION RIGHTS, ESTATE MANAGEMENT, AUTHENTICATION AND THE ROLE OF ARTISTS’ FOUNDATIONS ARE ALL CONCERNS THAT CAN TRIGGER SUBSTANTIAL CONFLICT AND LITIGATION.
TODAY, THE LRFA BLOG IS PLEASED TO CONTINUE OUR CONVERSATION WITH DORSEY WAXTER OF VAN DOREN WAXTER, AN ELEGANT TOWNHOUSE GALLERY LOCATED AT 23 EAST 73rd STREET ON THE UPPER EAST SIDE OF MANHATTAN. http://www.vandorenwaxter.com/gallery/
DORSEY, WELCOME BACK!
ANDRE EMMERICH HANDLED MANY ARTIST ESTATES AS WELL AS REPRESENTING AN IMPORTANT ROSTER OF CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS OF HIS DAY. VAN DOREN WAXTER HAS CARRIED ON THAT LEGACY AND REPRESENTS SUCH PRESTIGIOUS ESTATES AS RICHARD DIEBENKORN, AL HELD AND JAMES BROOKS. WHAT ARE THE PARTICULAR CONSIDERATIONS OF A GALLERY REPRESENTING AN ESTATE RATHER THAN A LIVING ARTIST?
First one has to assess what the legacy of an artist is in order to strategize about how to promote the estate in the future. For example, Richard Diebenkorn’s late Ocean Park period is the defining moment of his legacy. We have had the opportunity to mount fantastic exhibitions from this period of his works on paper both unique works as well as prints. Works on paper were an extremely important aspect of his oeuvre. We have made works on paper a focus of our exhibition program for Diebenkorn whether they are early abstractions, figurative drawings, or late Ocean Park works on paper.
HOW DOES A GALLERY GAIN THE REPRESENTATION OF AN ARTIST’S ESTATE? IN WHAT WAYS IS THAT ASPECT OF GALLERY MANAGEMENT UNIQUE?
Often trustees or representatives of an estate contact us for the simple reason that people recognize that this is significant component of our gallery business. Sometimes the trustees are direct descendants of the artist and at other times they are not. The single most unique aspect of representing an estate of an artist is the fact that the artist is not there to speak for his or her work. Therefore it’s important that the dealer be true to whom the artist was as much as trying to contextualize the work in the present tense.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE GOALS SPECIFIC TO THE REPRESENTATION OF AN ESTATE SINCE WORKS ARE OBVIOUSLY NO LONGER BEING PRODUCED AND ARE NOT ONLY SOLD IN THE PRIVATE SECONDARY MARKET SECTOR BUT ALSO AT AUCTION?
For most of the artists’ estates that we represent there is a price history. The gallery makes every effort to promote and advance the prices of an artist work depending upon the period and how rare or available the work might be. At the same time the artist may have a different kind of price history at auction. To maintain a healthy market for an artist’s estate it is important that there is not a tremendous gap between auction and gallery prices. A large gap in price between auction and gallery can confuse buyers as to whether the arc of the artist market is exclusively in one arena or the other.
TELL US ABOUT THE UNIQUE QUALITIES OF EACH OF THE ARTISTS’ ESTATES THAT YOU REPRESENT.
We’ve been making exhibitions of the work of Richard Diebenkorn for 15 years. What I love about these exhibitions is the amazing range and variety of his work from the very earliest periods right until the time of his death. Recently we made an exhibition of the last four years of his life in Healdsburg California.
We have just begun to represent the works on paper of Al Held. Although his works on paper had been shown in his lifetime, we now have the opportunity to show everything from the very earliest moments of the 50s until his death in 2005. That is about 55 years of drawings and watercolors.
James Brooks was a consistently successful artist in his life and always had gallery representation. I think the unique aspect of his estate is to reveal certain qualities or tendencies in his work that were not previously identified.
We have been working with the estate of Alan Shields for about five years. Our challenge has been to show what a unique artist he was in his time and how singular was his vision then and especially now.
ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE SPECTRUM, YOU AND JOHN VAN DOREN ARE PARTNERS IN A VERY INNOVATIVE LOWER EAST SIDE GALLERY, ELEVEN RIVINGTON, THAT PROMOTES EMERGING CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS. IN OUR NEXT LRFA BLOG, DORSEY WILL INFORM US OF THE MORE CUTTING-EDGE ARTISTS THE GALLERY REPRESENTS.
DO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF DORSEY’S EXPERIENCE AND EXPERTISE. WE WELCOME ALL QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS.
THANKS FOR READING!