ART AS AN EMOTION
That’s what I don’t understand. If a man really loves art, why would he pay $2,500 for an oil painting by a local artist when he could have the greatest art ever painted for $1,500? It’s a foggy question I know, but I’m thinking about a life-size print on canvas by Velasquez, Botticelli, or maybe Ilya Repin.
Does it seem reasonable to you that a $50,000,000 value should separate an original by one of those guys from a print of the same painting, when, from five feet away, they look exactly alike? And if the original and the reproduction were hanging side by side, and you didn’t know, I’ll bet you’d choose the one in the best frame. (Of course I never expressed those sentiments when I was trying to sell one of my really great $2,500 paintings to my best client.)
Years ago, Stanley Marcus and I enjoyed excavating together at San Lazaro Pueblo. He collected prehistoric pottery. I usually did most of the work and he did most of the talking.
He was probably the world’s greatest merchandizer. (Okay, maybe second to Joe Duveen.)
Once he said, “Forrest, two ladies are walking down the street together wearing identical looking full-length fur coats. One lady bought hers from my Neiman Marcus store in Dallas for $10,000, and the other received her’s as a Christmas present from her husband. He got it on sale at JC Penney for $1,995. Do you think you could tell which lady was wearing my coat?” “No,” I said, tolerantly, and that got him started. In his quiet and unobtrusive manner he explained that he built his businesses on the premise that one could tell the difference. “The woman wearing my label carries herself better. She just knows – and pride sets her mood. She’s not afraid to make eye contact with anyone on the street.”
I’ve been thinking about what Stanley told me so maybe I’ll have to rethink my art emotions. Is there some middle ground, or a good place to compromise? Recently, I saw a really nice painting by John Moyers in Nedra Matteucci Gallery. It was about $7,500 or so. Maybe I’ll go back and take another look.