A collector’s passion with Howard Godel and Katherine Baumgartner of Godel & Co
CROSSOVER AUCTIONS ARE VERY MUCH THE CURRENT TREND IN THE AUCTION WORLD ESTABLISHING A NEW MARKETING APPROACH IN THE ART MARKET. THE SALES COMBINE, EITHER THEMATICALLY OR SIMPLY IN TERMS OF THE PERIOD, SEVERAL CENTURIES OF ARTWORKS WITHIN A SINGLE SALE. IN NOVEMBER 2015, PHILLIPS OFFERED WORKS BY LIVING CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS AND MODERN MASTERS BUT CHRISTIE’S IS THE HOUSE THAT HAS TRULY INSPIRED THIS APPROACH AS REMARKABLY SUCCESSFUL. TO DATE, IN MAY 2015, CHRISTIE’S HELD A BLOCKBUSTER SALE ORGANIZED BY CHRISTIE’S INTERNATIONAL SPECIALIST, LOUIC GOUZER, ENTITLED LOOKING FORWARD TO THE PAST THAT REALIZED $705.9 MILLION, AGAIN IN NOVEMBER 2015, IT HELD ANOTHER THEMED SALE, THE ARTIST’S MUSE THAT INCLUDED AS DIVERSE WORKS AS MODIGLIANI’S NU COUCHE AND LICHTENSTEIN’S NURSE. IN OUR FORTHCOMING NEW YORK MAY AUCTION SEASON, ONCE AGAIN CONCEIVED BY CHRISTIE’S LOIC GOUZER, BOUND TO FAIL WILL EXPLORE CREATIVE RISK IN A CURATED SALE OF MODERN, POST-WAR AND CONTEMPORARY ART.
“CROSSOVER APPEAL” IS NOT LIMITED TO CURATED SALES. IN NOVEMBER 2014, FOLLOWING A CHRISTIE’S SALE OF AMERICAN ART , ELIZABETH BEAMAN, HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT, OBSERVED IN ARTnet NEWS THAT “PRICES FOR O’KEEFFE, EDWARD HOPPER AND MILTON AVERY SHOW THE CONTINUED CROSSOVER APPEAL IN AMERICAN ART FROM POSTWAR AND MODERN COLLECTORS”.
GODEL & COMPANY OPENED OVER 30 YEARS AGO, AS A TRIBUTE TO HOWARD GODEL’S PASSION FOR 19th AND EARLY 20th CENTURY ART. TODAY, THE LRFA BLOG IS VERY PLEASED TO SHARE HIS EXPERTISE AND THAT OF HIS GALLERY DIRECTOR, KATHERINE BAUMGARTNER, ON THE AMERICAN ART MARKET AND HOW BEST TO NAVIGATE IT AS A NEW OR SEASONED COLLECTOR.
HOWARD AND KATHERINE, THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR GREAT CONTRIBUTION.
IN THE POST WAR AND CONTEMPORARY MARKETS, ART FAIRS DOMINATE THE MARKET AS A HIGHLY EFFECTIVE MEANS OF EXPOSURE AND SALES. IN THE AMERICAN MARKET, THE CHOICES ARE MORE LIMITED. DO YOU PARTICIPATE IN ART FAIRS AND, IF SO, WHICH ONES AND WHY?
KATHERINE: Right now we participate in two art fairs: The American Art Fair, which coincides with the fall American paintings sales in New York, and the Philadelphia Antiques Show, which takes place in April. We will add another New York show to our schedule, because collectors from all over the country still come here to buy the kind of art we handle.
KATHERINE, YOU ARE INVOLVED BOTH PERSONALLY AND PROFESSIONALLY AS PART OF THE AMERICAN ART WORLD “FAMILY”. YOUR HUSBAND, ERIC BAUMGARTNER, IS AN ASTUTE DEALER, SENIOR VP AT THE ESTEEMED HIRSCHL AND ADLER. GIVEN YOUR SHARED PASSION FOR AMERICAN ART, ARE YOU COLLECTORS IN THIS FIELD?
It’s true that we are passionate about American art, particularly the Hudson River School, and I have a soft spot for 19th century narrative pictures. I could very happily have a house full of paintings by John Krimmel, William Sidney Mount and Winslow Homer! Since that is not likely to happen, we have resigned ourselves to being grateful that we work in a field we know and love. If we collect anything, it’s early American furniture (William & Mary and Queen Anne styles) and decorative arts.
I SUSPECT THAT HOWARD IS AS DEDICATED AND OBSESSIVE A COLLECTOR AS HE IS A DEALER. HE AND HIS WIFE, MELINDA, LIVE IN THE HUDSON RIVER VALLEY, THE HISTORICAL HOME OF SUCH GREAT AMERICAN ARTISTS AS JASPER CROSPEY AND FREDERIC CHURCH. HOWARD, WHAT ARE THE HIGHLIGHTS OF YOUR COLLECTION?
HOWARD: Melinda and I love our field and have over seventy artworks hanging throughout our home, including in the kitchen and guest rooms. We own important works by James Peale, Francis A. Silva, Jervis McEntee, Walter Launt Palmer, J. G. Brown, Eastman Johnson, and A. F. Tait. We also have outstanding works by less well-known artists like Frank Anderson, C. P. Ream, and Arthur Parton.
KATHERINE: Howard and Melinda frequently host museum and collectors’ groups at their home, and I am often invited to attend these events to help answer questions about the collection. Howard regales his visitors with stories about how he acquired this or that painting, and they love it! Melinda serves an elegant luncheon in the dining room (whose walls are lined with twenty-five exquisite American still lifes), then Howard takes everyone up to the attic to see his vast collection of antique cast-iron toys and trains! There is something for everyone at the Godel’s house.
FOR COLLECTORS WITH AN EMERGING INTEREST IN AMERICAN ART, WHAT ADVICE AND GUIDANCE WOULD YOU PRIORITIZE TO MAKE THEIR ADVENTURE AND JOURNEY BOTH A SOLID AND A PLEASURABLE ONE?
KATHERINE: Find an area of collecting within American art that really speaks to you, and that you feel connected to for some reason. Never buy art for investment alone, and always buy the highest quality you can afford. Good dealers take the time to educate their clients about condition, provenance, appropriate framing, and current research. I’ll even give them a reading list if they ask for it! Visit museum exhibitions that focus on your area of collecting. Attend lectures. Join your local museum’s collectors group. Even if you don’t intend to buy at auction, go to the previews. They’re free! It never hurts to see and absorb as much as you can. Attend art fairs; they are a great way to see a lot of material, and to meet dealers from all over the world. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Most dealers absolutely love to talk about their art and are happy to share their expertise.
HOWARD: Try to talk to more than one dealer and ask around about reputations. It is important to know the difference between a smooth talking salesman and a dealer who truly wants to guide and educate, and who will answer every question you can think of.
NOW THAT YOU HAVE A BEAUTIFUL NEW SPACE, WHAT ARE SOME OF THE EXHIBITIONS AND PLANS THAT GODEL & CO HAVE IN 2016?
KATHERINE: We are very excited about the new gallery and love showing it off! With the enormous task of moving behind us, we can now focus on planning our exhibition schedule. The size and breadth of our inventory is such that many shows can be organized from stock, but we are not averse to borrowing from our colleagues, or even from private collectors willing to lend. Some ideas for future shows are American sporting art, regional schools of still-life painting, and maybe another focused on narrative painting. We love paintings that tell stories!
I think it would be great to host a lecture series with some of the brilliant independent curators and art historians we work with. The new space is perfectly suited to such events.
IN THE NEXT LRFA BLOG, WE ARE VERY PLEASED TO INTRODUCE CLAUS ROBENHAGEN, DIRECTOR OF LISSON GALLERY, ESTABLISHED IN LONDON FOR MANY YEARS FEATURING INTERNATIONAL ARTISTS SUCH AS AI WEI WEI AND ANISH KAPOOR. LISSON IS OPENING A SPECTACULAR SPACE THE FIRST WEEK OF MAY IN NEW YORK WITH A SOLO EXHIBITION OF THE WORK OF CARMEN HERRERA WHO WILL BE HONORED WITH A RETROSPECTIVE AT THE WHITNEY MUSEUM THIS FALL.
CLAUS OFFERS AN INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE ON THE CONTEMPORARY ART WORLD AND IT IS A PLEASURE TO WELCOME THIS GOOD FRIEND AND COLLEAGUE.
PLEASE JOIN US!