The American Art Exhibition at Bohemiam Hall was filled with an upbeat aura, as if dealers believed a turning point had arrived in the all too quiet market for American Art over the past few years. Compared to prices for Contemporary and Impressionist Art the press has heralded at recent auction sales, prices at this exhibition were more than modest – and for rather wonderful works.
A magnificent Alexander Archipenko from 1935 was available at Forum Gallery for $475,000, a rare example that would fit easily into any collection of 21st century art. At Meredith Ward’s booth a striking oil and ink exploration of time and space and memory, created by Steve Wheeler in the 1960s, was for sale at $40,000. Wheeler is an artist coming into recognition after too long a time.
At the Abby M. Taylor booth she pared a Bertram Hartman painting ($28,000) with a bronze tiger by Anna Hyatt Huntington ($48,000), an interesting composition that showsthat seemingly at odds work can look pretty good when placed together. Debra Force introduced a charming couple by Robert Laurent in “Flirtation” of 1921 by Robert Laurent, priced at $600,000. And at DeeDee Wigmore’s a riveting and unusually large Werner Drewes carried a price tag of $250,000. Of course there were multiple paintings and objects that commanded far lower prices, but these caught my eye so I recorded them.
Nineteenth and 20th century American Art has been in the shadows of Contemporary Art for several years, rather like the quiet sister upstaged by the glamorous one. Taste may be evolving a bit now, as antique furniture is making a sort of comeback, often to be included as a single piece with today’s latest décor. And some collectors are looking for colorful figurative work that makes a statement without overwhelming the room. We’ll see. Tastes change so rapidly and often unexpectedly that it is impossible to be a soothsayer in the art field. But it always pays to keep looking. You never know.