Art Market Booming, Dealers Say
This text is the second of three that reviews the first World Art Market Conference, held in 1976. Read the first and third reports.
First World Art Market Conference
Friday and Saturday, October 29–30, 1976
New School of Social Research, New York
Not only is art alive, it is thriving, was the assessment given by some of the nation’s foremost museum officials, art dealers, and artists to some four hundred persons at the first World Art Market Conference over the weekend. “Far from being less pertinent, the fine arts and the art museum will become more important,” Director Thomas P. F. Hoving of the Metropolitan Museum of Art declared.
“If the art museum does harness the contemporary tools, techniques, and aesthetics of the very best aspects of communications, it can go beyond art education, art appreciation, and art history and can become the broadest and most powerful communicator in visual history,” Hoving continued. “This will most assuredly be the next great epoch of the art museum.
However, Director Thomas Messer of the Guggenheim Museum said it will be possible only if museums get enough money to make acquisitions. They are made now, he added, mostly through borrowing, trading, and begging.
One panel disagreed about the extent of artistic creativity, while another attributed the slump in the art market following the booming 1960s to a return to realistic prices. “I can say the market is on a solid trend now,” John Marlon, president of the prestigious Sotheby Parke Bernet auction house, reported at the New School for Social Research, which sponsored the conference with the ARTnewsletter periodical.
Speaking of a surge of art interest in the South, dealer Louis Goldenberg, president of Wildenstein & Co., said he was “very, very surprised” at the growing number in the last half-year of private individuals’ buying art destined just for museums. “The market, the future for those museums, is absolutely enormous,” Clyde Newhouse, president of the Art Dealers Association of America, added.
In another panel discussion, there was accord on New York City as the world’s art capital. But the prominent dealers who participated—among them New York’s Leo Castelli, Chicago’s Richard Gray, Houston’s Meredith Long, and Boston’s Portia Harcus—debated whether it was an art collecting center as well. “Where are the new collectors, then?” Castelli demanded. “Well, there aren’t any. They are mostly elsewhere.” Countered dealer André Emmerich of Manhattan and Zurich: “I think there still are collectors around, perhaps not as spectacularly as there once were.”
As for new movements in art, Lawrence Rubin, codirector of M. Knoedler & Co., said, “It may very well be that the creation of art in the ’70s is slower, less dramatic.” It would not be the first time, he continued, that creation was at a pause. “The reason the ’70s look slower, it’s because they are slower,” Rubin said. Said Ruth Braunstein, director of San Francisco’s Quay Gallery, today’s artists “will emerge as strong a group as [those which] came out of the ’50s and ’60s.”
Other panelists included artists Robert Indiana and Deborah Remington, plus George A. LeMaistre, director of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), who foresaw an expanding, profitable role for banks in financing art.
In Terms Of count: unknown.
Written by Malcolm N. Carter, “Art Market Booming, Dealers Say” was published in the Morning Record, a newspaper based in Meriden-Wallingford, Connecticut, on November 1, 1976. The article was distributed nationwide through the Associated Press and appeared in numerous other dailies with headlines such as “Experts Feel Art Thriving,” “Conference Concludes Art Is Alive and Thriving,” and “World Art Conference Paints Rosy Picture.”