Thirteen of the Questions Most Frequently Asked Me…

…by confused collectors who know I worked thirteen years in an auction house:

—Mary-Anne Martin, Winter 1996

  1. How can it save me money to ask a professional to bid for me at auction?

    An experienced bidder can hear when there is real interest from the room or the phone and can also tell when no one is really bidding except the auctioneer (in behalf of the owner). In the latter case you are not really in a competitive situation, i.e., the cost of the work is not market driven. If you are simply bidding against the owner, you may well be paying too much.

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The Latin American Market Comes of Age

Some thoughts on the past twenty-one years.

—Mary-Anne Martin, 1988

Twenty-one years ago the Latin American art market didn’t exist. Not to say that works by artists from Latin America weren’t being sold in various places, but they were not marketed as a collecting category. Much has occurred since I organized the first Mexican sale in 1977. It began as an experiment, a way to make my life at Sotheby’s more interesting and to attract the attention and approval of my superiors, who were focused on Impressionist and Contemporary paintings, the big money makers. My early experience with this field was completely accidental. I had been trained at Sotheby’s as an expert in Modern European pictures and none of my graduate school courses ever touched on the Mexicans or the artists of Latin America. There were no survey books to be had because Latin Americans viewed themselves country by country, not as a group. Sometimes I hear people criticizing the label “Latin American” as an outsider’s term, but I chose it to describe the auctions over “South American,” a term which excluded Mexico and Central America. Others have criticized the idea of separate auctions, since “art is art.” That is true, but there is no doubt in my mind that the huge interest in this field would not exist today if the auctions had not shed light on the art of this vast region with a common, though not homogenous, heritage. read more…