AHEAD OF HINDMAN’S December Fine Art Sales, we spoke with Hindman’s Vice President and Senior Specialist of Fine Art Joe Stanfield and Director and Senior Specialist of Post-War & Contemporary Art Zack Wirsum about how to approach buying at auction and developing a collection.
Where does one start with buying at auction?
Joe Stanfield: Auction is one of the best ways to start collecting and is more fun than people might expect. I would recommend attending an auction preview and discussing the process with a specialist. We love nothing more than welcoming clients into the galleries after spending so much time selling virtually during the pandemic.
Zack Wirsum: Bidding at auction is quite simple and there are several different ways to do it. You can still bid live with a paddle during the sale, as many people might imagine when they think of an auction. Prior to the auction, you can also leave an absentee bid—the maximum amount that you would be willing to pay—that will be executed on your behalf by the auctioneer during the sale. Another option is to telephone bid. One of our team members will call you and bid as your proxy in real-time. Recently, more and more of our clients bid online using Hindman’s Digital Bid Room. No matter how you choose to participate, we love to see new bidders compete for property in our sales.
How does one know which artworks will be a good investment for their collection?
JS: We rarely suggest buying artworks specifically for investment. The best collections are built from the heart with love, time, and research on the artists that form the collection. That said, if you are interested in buying works that you hope go up in value, it is wise to see what market trends are happening. In recent years, there has been a well-overdue amount of attention paid to female artists and artists of color in the art market which is one area we see a lot of potential for growth. For example, we were blown away by the prices achieved in September’s sale of Gertrude Abercrombie paintings from the collection of Laura and Gary Maurer. With the majority of works selling for well above their estimates, it was clear that this female surrealist is continuing to rapidly gain attention. As an Abercrombie collector myself, it’s been very special to see how her market has flourished.
What are the pros of buying at auction?
ZW: Auction is an incredible place to buy art. But, of course, there are a number of venues where collectors can begin today—the choices can be overwhelming for everyone from the novice collector to the experienced one. If you are interested in buying from a gallery, dealer, or an online platform so you can have the painting immediately irrespective of an auction calendar, that is certainly understandable. Most of our clients buy from auctions, art fairs, galleries, and more. I recommend that collectors buy from both the primary and secondary markets to build a rich collection.
Can I see the artworks before purchasing? How do I preview the artworks?
JS: Yes, you can view artworks in person before purchasing assuming that the auction is taking place in the city where you either live or can visit. Chicago is our flagship office, but we also hold sales in Denver, Palm Beach, and Cincinnati. If you are interested in seeing a painting in person, you simply need to contact Hindman and we can assist you.
Tips for a new collector?
JS: Buy what you like and be confident in your own eye, but also ask for assistance. Hindman specialists are happy to chat about your goals and dreams for your collection and welcome the opportunity to offer our expertise.
What are you looking forward to offering this December?
JS: I am particularly excited about two works we have by Doris Emrick Lee, a renowned American figurative painter and printmaker, that will be included in our December 7 American & European Art auction. The Art Institute of Chicago has one of her best paintings in its collection which I have always loved. To top it off, we also had a large consignment of paintings by Lee in the very first sale I worked at Hindman in 2006 so I am somewhat nostalgic about her as well.
ZW: The December 14 Post War & Contemporary Art auction will feature a plethora of compelling works. I’m eager to see how a number of charming Abercrombie works will perform, and we also have outstanding works by Sam Francis, Joan Snyder, and Alexander Calder to name just a few.
Hindman will present five Fine Art sales this December beginning with two photography sales on December 6: Eugène Atget Photographs Sold by the Museum of Fine Arts Houston; and Photographs. The following day on December 7, Hindman will present its American & European Art auction. The Post-War & Contemporary Art and Prints & Multiples auctions will take place the next week on December 14 and 15, respectively. For more information, visit hindmanauctions.com.