In reference to this, two out of three ain’t bad.
Archives for February 11, 2004
This is a writing day (specifically, the Balanchine book and my theater column for this Friday’s Wall Street Journal), so I won’t be posting anything more until tomorrow, barring a sudden attack of imprudence. Our Girl may stir the pot still further, but if not, eat what’s here, O.K.?
See you Thursday.
Latest face, so effortless,
Your great arrival at my eyes,
No one standing near could guess
Your beauty had no home till then;
Precious vagrant, recognise
My look, and do not turn again.
Philip Larkin, “Latest Face”
The February issue of Commentary, which contains an essay called “Living with Art” in which I talk about buying and looking at modern art prints, is now being mailed out to subscribers, and I’ve started to get some interesting responses. One was from a Chicago art collector by the name of Philip J. Schiller, who sent me a copy of a book he wrote a couple of years ago called Buy What You Love: Confessions of an Art Addict. The book turned out to be a winner–engaging, straightforward, totally lacking in self-conscious art-world nonsense.
I’ll pass along Mr. Schiller’s ten tips for the novice collector:
1. Buy what you love–listen to your gut.
2. Don’t buy art to make money; there are easier ways to do that.
3. Learn about the artist–you don’t buy a car without being informed.
4. The love affair should remain strong, like a good marriage.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions–it’s your money.
6. Don’t be afraid to negotiate the price–again, it’s your money.
7. Seek advice from a knowledgeable and honest consultant–we all need help.
8. Display the work; see it every day.
9. Loan the work–others should see it.
10. Buy what you can afford–don’t miss any meals.
All fairly obvious, I suppose, except that people who develop a brand-new interest have a way of forgetting the obvious, or failing to apply it to their changed circumstances. I’m lucky–I didn’t make any earth-shattering mistakes in my first year of art buying, so far as I know–but I still wish I’d read Buy What You Love before I started. It’s one of the few things I’ve ever read about collecting art that I didn’t find inhibiting, even though the author obviously has a whole lot more money than I do.
Which brings me to the cover letter accompanying the book, in which Mr. Schiller wrote, “While you may not now be an addict, don’t be surprised if the addiction comes without your being prepared for it, but very happy nonetheless.” Yikes! If he’s right, I may someday be writing this blog from debtors’ prison–or a larger apartment. Buying art is a perilous hobby for a freelance arts journalist with a chronically slender bank account. But he’s right: buying art is addicting, in the nicest and most gratifying way imaginable. Try it and see.
Tower Records has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. No surprise there, but here’s something from the New York Times‘s story that caught my eye:
“The future looks particularly grim for all land-based music retailers,” said Burt P. Flickinger III, managing
director of the Strategic Resource Group, a consulting firm
that has worked with retailers and record companies. He
said such stores “literally have a toe-tag on them and
they’re boxed up for the proverbial boneyard.”
With the demise of once dominant stores like Tower that
specialize in selling every category of music and do it
with great depth and range, Mr. Flickinger predicted that
“most consumers will move to a much narrower band of music
– what they hear of the top 25 songs that are programmed in
vicious rotation by the FM radio stations or top 20 almost
preselected MTV songs.”
Excuse me? I think the first half of Mr. Flickinger’s prediction is on the nose, but aliens from outer space must have taken over his brain thereafter. Those consumers who are content to listen exclusively to the Top 25 are already listening exclusively to the Top 25, and no record store, bankrupt or not, will widen their cramped horizons. Everybody else is looking to the Web to buy (and sell) their music, or soon will be.
Apropos of the Tower Records announcement, a reader wrote yesterday to ask what I thought the best classical-music stores in New York were. I told him I almost never bought CDs of any kind in stores anymore–I buy on line. The next step, which is nigh, is for people like me to stop buying CDs altogether and instead switch to downloading. Once that happens, the economic basis for the recording industry as it’s presently constituted will disintegrate, and with it the industry.
A number of smart musicians who’ve had it up to here with the music business are already starting to experiment with their own Web-based “labels.” To get a sense of how that will work, look at Maria Schneider’s Web site, which makes use of new technology developed by a company called ArtistShare. That’s the future of recording–maybe not for Beyonc
A reader writes:
I picture OGIC as being 35-ish, blonde-ish, and tall-ish. Am I close-ish?
At the risk of attracting the attention of Mr. TMFTML yet again, I found the following e-mail in my box tonight:
Deseja aumentar o tamanho do p