It’s nice that we get to turn the page of time with a New Year. For the world of antiques and decorative arts the passage of time holds no limitation. When you are an object from the 20th, 18th, 16th Century, or 2000 BC, it’s all about the item’s style, craftsmanship, and being representative of the period that it was made. While great fine art was created for the canvas, I’m a decorative art’s guy. Looking around my warehouse today made me think that my world of furniture and object d’art required a long overdue check-up.
Going through aisle after aisle of all kinds and forms of the decorative arts made me realize that many great styles and designs are so out of fashion and taste. Great Victorian hall tables and dramatic French 18th Century armoires, English hutches, Biedermeier and American whatever. BUT, then there are those items that knock you over; and there are more of those items out there than ever before. The availability of such great quality and forms of all periods for me as dealer, has never been so fabulous (well, maybe not since my grandfather was devouring Europe’s Post War liquidation in the 1950-60’s).
As a dealer, I have learned to have a long term perspective, and as the last 15 years will attest, many of my trade have headed for the exits or simply couldn’t maintain their operations in an ever changing marketplace. The Internet for sure has shaped the industry in an unimaginable manner, but the effects of the change in style and fashion has had a more devastating consequence on what presents a good investment. Like in any investment portfolio, a good diversification can even out the ups and downs. That being our practice, today, I saw a lot of ups.
Going into 2015 is a lot different than 2000 for the decorative arts, and it may be totally different in 2030. While I am not a betting man by nature, I try to place my wagers on what I think I know and understand. Real estate, stock picking, interest rate direction are not my fields expertise and for me offer not better odds than rolling dice. My challenge is find an item that I can buy and sell to someone else, and maybe even rent to a TV show or movie to cover overhead. It also doesn’t have to be Mid-century modern.
Stylish, tasteful, and quality pieces have always been made since mankind developed the ability and skills to create items of form and function. An Egyptian style chair has been replicated in different designs for centuries. The timeliness of Neo-classic forms is ever present in all periods just as creative adaptations are part of artistic interpretation. It all comes down to the eye and appreciation by the person who might covet the work. Walking around our warehouse today excited me as to what is available to any potential customer. The incredible diversification of antiques and the decorative arts offer unparalleled possibilities; to a discerning mind of a new generation of consumers it might offer savvy buyers’ great opportunities.