After talking with a prospective client yesterday, it occurred to me that he was nearing a decision between three or more Picasso linocuts and aquatints without the benefit of viewing any of them in the flesh. And that, despite the fact that all or nearly all of the art was in the inventory of dealers (myself included) within several miles of his home. Mulling this over after our conversation, I felt that I should encourage him, and, while I’m at it, the rest of you Picasso lovers and collectors out there to actually see the art. It tends to be much more powerful when seen in person than when viewing photographs of it. I shop at a distance all the time and am very familiar with most Picasso prints and many of his drawings and paintings, yet I am usually thunderstruck by the power and beauty of the art when I see it up close, much more so than looking at its photographs. Even the art on our walls is striking to me every time I stop and look at it, which is many times a day, despite the fact that I have stared at each piece thousands of times by now. The photos are useful, because they reproduce the design and sometimes the color of the art reasonably well, but they fail to provide the scale, resolution, texture, depth, and perhaps other factors that make direct viewing so much more powerful. You’d think that a photo of an original print should pretty much convey the same impact, since both are two-dimensional, but, either paradoxically or for the reasons I’ve listed above, that’s just not the case. In the end, looking at photos of art should serve as but a guide, a first step.
If the geographic circumstances of your prospective acquisition are not as favorable as my client’s, make sure your dealer of choice offers you the opportunity to receive the art “on approval” following prepayment. Terms vary from dealer to dealer. Some offer to refund your money if you return the art within a 7-day grace period. We offer 30 days, more than enough time to get an independent appraisal and to make sure it “goes” with your proverbial red couch.