Monday, March 30, 2009


I spent part of Saturday afternoon at another art auction. I freely admit that I am a sucker for these things, since I like art and it's always interesting to see the psychological and aesthetic forces flowing back and forth.

I just wish I could attend some auctions run by a different house. There is a tiny, focused subculture attached to the auctions run by this particular house. The same people attend, and are well-known to the staff. The same artists come up again and again. The works are of differing quality but even the good ones tend not to be very exciting.

Oh well. I content myself by buying the occasional good picture; something that I like but which doesn't hit me with a thunderous 'ker-pow!'

As is often the case I was out-bid on most of the few items I liked, but I was the only one to put my hand up for this abstract study by Harald Vike. I picked it up for $58.25, including the 16.5% premium for the auction house, which I think may have been the lowest price of the day. While Vike is well thought of in some art circles, I'm not particularly interested in his work, but I like the obscure austerity of this little watercolour. Given that his other works up for auction sold for several hundred dollars each, I was surprised that no one else wanted this one, but their loss is my gain.

Everything else I liked soared quickly out of my price range. I don't think that ordinary people realise just how much money there is in certain quarters of society. There's a sizable contingent at these auctions who seem to regard dropping a grand at the art auction as just a pleasant afternoon's diversion, no different to dropping a grand at the casino. Two women sitting behind me twittered inanely to each other all through the auction, gushing over pictures not because they were beautiful but because they had ballerinas or flowers in them. And yet they managed to spend well over a thousand dollars, by my reckoning. How did these witless creatures get a thousand dollars? I assumed that either one of them had married fortuitously or they were the sole beneficiaries of a sizable inheritance.

All of this just gives me a greater desire to find out about other auctions with more challenging works - I might still lose out to the wealthy, but at least I'd see some really good pictures while wallowing in my comparative poverty.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I was Vike I would slash my wrists to see something I created go for a paltry $58.25. Of course if Vike did slash his wrists, then your painting would skyrocket in value. I suggest you get Vike's address and write explaining how ecstatic you are to have purchased his work so cheaply and you expect there be more where that came from. Jaymez

4:48 PM  
Blogger Blandwagon said...

The good news is that Harald is unlikely to slash his wrists. The bad news is that this is because he died in 1987, and his prices have probably skyrocketed about as much as they're going to.

12:52 PM  

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