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Art as an Investment

Investment in all types of art was and still deeply involved in the art world today. From porcelain figurines to antique grand pianos, the art market, much like the stock market, is an ever changing money-making business. 

Investors in high-stakes art have always existed, but until the mid-1900's art has been closely related to the rich. Considered a luxury for only the nobility to partake in, the art trade was very limited, and rarely written about until a man named Peter Wilson happened upon the art world. Named Sotheby's new auction chairman in 1958, it made it possible for this gallery to thrive in a new European art market.

Christies, the reigning art house of that period, had as yet only been interested in master works that could be sold on an infrequent basis for astronomical prices. These sales had, until now, been reserved for the nobility and wealthy investors. However, in 1959, Stanley Clark was given the job of Press Officer at Sotheby's. He surmised that if this gallery were to grow, a bigger group of investors would be needed and involved in the purchasing of art. This left the upper middle class, and lower middle class citizenry to be accounted for. With Peter Wilson's record-breaking first year as sales chairman at Sotheby's, he sold paintings by such impressionists as Monet, CÚzannes, and Van Gogh (?). These paintings were purchased by upper middle class investors. In light of this recent surge of interest Clark decided that he would take it upon himself to devote his energy to creating a public show room, and monitor the press to see what discoveries and illuminations they derived from it.  This strategy, without a doubt, made Sotheby's the biggest money-making auction house of its time.

This show room gave birth to a new and broader market in which any and all people could both afford to buy and sell art. Stanley Clark's numerous press releases on the miraculous discoveries at Sotheby's not only generated popularity for his employer but revolutionized the art world.

From impressionistic art to abstract and contemporary art, the market is much like the stock market in that it was -- and still is -- an ever-growing business to the learned investor.

Today, with our vast knowledge of the outside world, and our cultural differences not as much in the foreground, a recent boom has occurred. Family histories are being traced at an early age, and our roots are being dug up in the hope that we may better understand where our cultures originated. it has been said that art mimics life, and if this is so, then there should be no question that African art has made its social and cultural mark on the current art market. 

The presence of African art having, in the past decade, found a foothold on a world-wide art market is not news. African American artists such as Henry Ossawa Tanner, who painted in the late 19th century, is one of thousands of African American artists recognized today.



To be Continued...

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Webpage launched 11/15/02