The late Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond, collected first editions and manuscripts of social and technical importance – ‘books that made things happen’ – with the help of the dealer Percy Muir of Elkin Mathews. It was an appealing idea in which he invested time and money, but recently it came indirectly under fire from Germaine Greer. In an interview with Howard Jacobson in one of his TV programmes on four Australian intellectuals in England, Jacobson was admiring Greer’s book, The Female Eunuch. He said it was an impressive and original stimulus to feminist thinking, a landmark initiating new attitudes and thus, though he did not mention it, qualifying as a book that would have met Fleming’s criterion of making things happen.
No, replied Germaine Greer positively, books do not make things happen. Things happen and they lead to… View the full post
My local junk dealer takes a gloomy view of the younger generation. He says that rather than buy his excellent second hand furnishings when setting up home, they buy new things on hire purchase. They get into long-term debt for the sake of new domestic possessions. Unlike the older generation to which we both belong, they will not set up their homes by buying what they can afford, making do with old stuff before income and bank balance can cope with expenditure on new interior decor.
I tend to agree with him in cowardly fashion as I wince at the sight of some of his stock, but I have to agree that it is perfectly usable. When I was first married we started with two armchairs for a pound each and then, one afternoon in the Chalk Farm Road, came… View the full post
The advent of summer has brought the usual controversy over the nature of art, with the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition and a show of Folk Art at Tate Britain – ‘more suitable for an antiques fair’ – to the forefront of the fuss.
The Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy always engenders a debate where those who regard the function of art to be an expression of protest of a social and political character, can rail against the Establishment represented by the Academy. The usual accusations as to its innate character and its Academicians – white, male, not enough women, like everything else about the country – are countered by those who point out that it is innately liberal and that the Summer Exhibition allows the work of amateurs to be hung alongside that of distinguished RAs in a unique… View the full post
The advent of summer fairs, with London events listed in this issue, is always welcome. For collectors there will be wonderful things to look at and, if pockets permit, acquire. For many exhibitors the fairs are a high point in the year and inevitably a source of anxiety as well as anticipation. The success or failure of this short season of festivities and exhibitions tends to affect the morale of the trade and collecting community to an excessive degree.
This year there is much more anticipation than anxiety. Optimism is seeping gently into the world of antiques. Although reservations persist, there is definitely a brighter mood in the air. It used to be the case that the housing market influenced the turnover of antiques, with housing sales activity acting as a stimulus. We all know that the housing market is… View the full post
Wonders will never cease. No sooner had Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced that things are getting better and he had good news for pensioners, than The Sunday Times supplement entitled ‘Homes’ announced, when surveying the V&A exhibition the following weekend, that Georgian is still the favourite style of this country. What is more, it said that we’re mad about it. Georgian? Was I seeing right? Were my eyes deceiving me? I thought that the Georgian era was the progenitor of Dull Brown furniture and houses that are just long past it, man, long past it.
Not according to Hugh Graham’s article on March 23rd. When it comes to architecture, he wrote, the Georgian era is still dear to the nation’s hearts or to at least 80 percent of them. Georgian property demands a premium that Tudor, Victorian, Arts… View the full post
Come April, come spring and the Horological Issue of this magazine. We have always had a strong clock contingent in the ACC. The concern with accurate timekeeping, whether for longitudinal or personal orientation, is something that continues to occupy many bright minds and technological talents. It seems extraordinary to remember that time was not synchronised across this country until comparatively recently, so that when journeying, watches had to be adjusted for, say, a half hour difference between Bristol and London. As with modern air travel, stagecoach passage of any distance produced variations that were significant but more gradually realised, avoiding the horse-drawn equivalent of jet lag. Now the only local variation is one of an hour in spring and autumn to adjust for the turning of the globe.
In the horological issue of ten years ago we remarked on the… View the full post
This month’s special Ceramics and Glass issue pays tribute to Simon Spero’s fifty years of dealing and expertise in 18th-century porcelain. We also have Robin Hildyard’s long-sighted view of trends in ceramics collecting seen from the V&A, so a considerable number of years of serious ceramics experience have been brought to these pages. There are, additionally, articles on the pottery figures of the 1930s, and Nigel Benson continues his glass articles with Arts and Crafts Glass to follow up the Art Deco information of last month. As with all our special issues, we cover other subjects as well, so this month we look at tea caddies with the redoubtable Richard Gardner, not to mention Adrian Greenwood’s further details of books.
Short of a tour round a celebrated collection, we hope that this content diverts the reader enough to leave the… View the full post
Sotheby’s have announced – on the Internet – that they chalked up a record year in 2013. A solid portion of their results came from Asian art, with that long-gone ex-colony Hong Kong contributing massively to them. But Beijing provided some records, too: an auction price record for a work by a Chinese modern master Zao Wou-Ki, along with the highest total ever achieved by a global arts business in mainland China. New York has been no slouch, either; France and Switzerland have contributed impressively to the modern art total and selling a Ferrari sports racing car for $14 million made the routine second hand car business look pretty stale.
Sotheby’s must be congratulated on the strategy they have adopted in moving their business into the big money. There is little relation between these far-flung contemporary art sales of celebrated… View the full post