Marketable Art

In England by Eller Student

Lindsay Shekleton

Eller ILC Group B

Assignment 2: Journal Entry 2

Marketable Art

‘The Difference Between a Museum Collection

And a

“For Auction” Show’

            “Please don’t touch”- this customary phrase coats the countless corridors of almost every museum and art exhibition. The expression warns guests to keep their distance from the very items they’ve come to view – teaching that art is to be seen, but not touched. For so long, I had just accepted this directive as an unchangeable and unavoidable facet of the art world. However, this week my aesthetic cannon has been shaken up upon discovering a clandestine community of art buyers who not only want to view their potential products, but also physically inspect them as well.

Two quintessential examples of these types of art marketable venues are Christie’s and Sotheby’s Art Auction Houses. Founded in 1766, Christie’s offers over 400 sales annually in over 80 types of products, including areas such as “fine and decorative arts, jewelry, photographs, collectibles, wine, and more”. Their prices can range from $200 to over $80 million! Similarly, Sotheby’s, beginning three decades earlier in 1744, offers a comparable range of vast products and merchandise for sale. The chief distinction between these sites in comparison to a museum or educational exhibition lies in their core purpose- monetary gain.  Lead by this desire, the atmosphere of auction houses like these is immensely welcoming and hospitable. Therefore, if a client wishes to see the back paneling of a piece of art or delve further into the study of the work, all one must do is simply ask for it to be taken off the wall! This would never happen in a museum.

Furthermore, after spending a workday shadowing two Old Master Painting Dealers in their gallery, the Piacenti Gallery, I learned that this logic not only follows in smaller art sites, but also sometimes this hands-on philosophy can progress even further in a desire to help make a sale. A potential client came into the gallery hoping to purchase a work by the Italian artist, Pietro Faccini. Upon asking about the condition of the work, the buyer continued on to actually touch the paint with his bare hands! Witnessing the “faux-pas”, I waited for the man to be told off. However, the exchange continued amicably and nothing was ever even mentioned about his handsy nature. Afterward, the art dealer explained to me that when one may spend such a great deal of money purchasing a work (£850,000), they are entitled to fully examine what they are buying. I rather like this world of touchable art I’ve discovered.