Learning to Collect: The Attributes of Art and an Inefficient Market

Denari David Dike Texas Art Auction Dallas

It wasn’t Texas art that brought Edward Denari to begin a collection. That credit goes to a work by John Singer Sargent and a docent at the Corcoran Art Gallery in Washington D.C. It wasn’t early Texas art that he bought when he began that collection, but a work by tonalist master Birge Harrison.

But Texas art is where it lead.

Denari, at 91 years of age, was a guest speaker at the recent Texas Art Auction by David Dike fine art in Dallas. The one-time gallery-owner in Fort Worth spoke of his lifelong passion for collecting.

When he returned home from Washington and the insightful tour, Denari told his wife he wanted a collection. The collecting began with some guidance from dealer Joseph Sartor. According to Denari, Sartor started by explaining the need to learn to distinguish good art from bad art. Those attributes are comprised of quality, beauty and strength. The value of good art is determined by assessing three dimensions, aesthetic value, historical value and market value.

With that in mind, and a seascape by Birge Harrison in hand, he became convinced. There was one problem, he didn’t have the $800 needed for purchase. Sartor however let Denari take it home for just $35. When he asked why, Sartor told him because of the giant itch it would create.

The desire for more was created, and he went on to buy works by Robert Wood, architect Harwood K. Smith, Frank Reaugh, Blanch McVeigh and even James McNeill Whistler.

The halls were full at David Dike's Texas Art Auction

Much of it was bought below market value, and most of it has likely appreciated. It wouldn’t be the last time experts and collectors have passed over something later prized. A bit of knowledge and a quick informed assessment has often been used to compete with deep pockets. Value can go unrecognized.

“The art market can be inefficient,” Denari said comparing it to stocks. “I’ve never found a share of Wal-Mart in an antique shop.”

Despite some works surpassing high estimates in the auction, undoubtedly a few bargain purchases were also made. Denari’s words are certainly encouraging to both beginning and established collectors of Texas art and beyond.

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In addition to my work at Stripe Specialty Media and American Vintage Market with Danielle Colby of American Pickers on History, I am also involved with Calendar of Antiques and Urban Art and Antiques. My work has allowed me to speak on the phone with notable architects, filmmakers and politicians including Steven Holl, Julian Schnabel and North Carolina Congressman Walter Jones. I have a Graduate Certificate in Public Relations from NYU, a Masters in Urban Studies from the University of Akron and am author of a chapter on Ayn Rand’s life in New York in the book Literary Trips: Following in the Footsteps of Fame. I love the visual arts, music of all kinds, cities and urban living, bicycle riding, cats and vegetarian cooking. I am happy to have lived in both New York and San Francisco and to now reside in Dallas.

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