A Release Party and a Dealer’s Story

questroyalWe hadn’t replied by the requested RSVP date, but with a quick call to Questroyal Fine Art I was assured it wouldn’t be a problem to stop by for the Volume X Release Party. “It’s going on now,” the voice emanating from Park Avenue through the telephone line said. The galleries last night were filled with important works by Wyeth, O’Keeffe, Moran, Cropsey, Blakelock and Bierstadt. Everyone seemed to have a drink in-hand, so we headed to the bar room first. Not wanting to appear too anxious, we circled the paintings before we asked for a drink. Halfway around the room, a Carleton Wiggins caught my eye. I commented that it was more detailed than most of his works. Hui shot back “Wiggins is not detailed!” But I didn’t say it was detailed, I said it was “more detailed.” These are some of the conversations we have in galleries! My second favorite was a work by Thomas Hart I had seen before. Small and colorful, the work conveys the essence of Hart with landscape and cattle in perfect proportion. It was perhaps the train ride back that provided the best treat, the stories told by Louis M. Salerno in the catalog introduction “A Well-dressed Hunter: A Dealer’s Story.” From Duveen to Gimpel, sometimes the stories told by or about dealers are the most interesting, and Salerno is no exception. I’ve always thought the best antiques (and art) are the ones that have stories to tell. They all have stories, of course, but we know too few of them. In these galleries, there are many stories, stories that may be passed along, or soon lost. Thanks to Salerno, some are preserved. I won’t repeat the stories here, but in addition to being filled with great pictures, the Important American Paintings catalog goes beyond what you usually get from this kind of material and provides a record of sorts, and a great read.

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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