Is Anyone Buying Antiques?

From my few words to dealers, it seemed that things weren’t so great in terms of sales last weekend at the Gramercy Antiques Show. One dealer had been coming for more than ten years, but this was probably the worst. This informal survey was confirmed by the fact that I was there twice, probably for some four hours and didn’t notice anyone leaving with anything.

If you read Maine Antiques Digest, you might notice some bargains going through auction. One example in the most recent issue is a Philadelphia Chippendale Chair, estimated at three times its selling price. A Belter table, one that would hve brought $20,000 or more a few years back, went for $8,000.

That the mid-market isn’t good isn’t news. Now it seems even the high-end isn’t so hot. Take for example the recent news from Sotheby’s.

Have antiques just fallen out of favor? Perhaps for now. I do think low to mid-range buyers are squeezed in places like New York by housing costs. The trendy glass condo look has encouraged shopping at Ikea rather than a flea market or antique shop. At the mid to high end, especially in terms of American antiques, there’s just not a good feeling about the country and its heritage right now, and aside from the economy, that’s not helping. But as JP Morgan noted long ago about markets, whether they be finance or antiques, they will fluctuate.

About Art After X

With the death of President Kennedy in 1963, America changed. As hard as it is to minimize that sentiment, the effect of Dallas was even greater. The same year saw the merging of the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts, which had been central to the art scene, and the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. Douglas MacAgy, then the director of DMCA, not only opposed the merger, but also declined to directorship of the combined museum. The regionalist movement which had been strong for decades, was giving way to more of an interest in what was going on nationally, and internationally. Like it or not, Dallas was on the national stage. When the Kennedy’s arrived in Fort Worth, local collectors had decorated a hotel room with internationally-renowned works. While the president and his wife learned a great deal about the ability of Texans to collect major art, there was little they could glean about the local scene in this era-defining city. With this in mind, we have begun a project to look not back at the art scene in Dallas, but foreword from 1963. We are interviewing gallery owners, curators and others involved in the art scene then, but this will be a story told mostly through interviews with artists active in the city from that point into the 1980s. The result will be a book with a video component. We hope you will join us in our journey. The hashtag for the project is #artafterx and the url artafterx.com will point to the latest updates on this weblog.

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