BlogDecember 20, 2012

Season's Greetings & 2012 Year End Review

Click here to view our 2012 retrospective. Cornelius Krieghoff (1815-1872)  |  The First Snow / Canadian Homestead, c. 1856


The highlight of the fall season for me had to be "Painting Canada:  Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven", the McMichael Collection in Kleinburg, Ontario, hosted brilliantly under the relatively new leadership of Dr. Victoria Dickenson.  This was the same presentation that fortunate spectators had previously enjoyed in London and then Oslo, an exhibition which was not originally scheduled for a Canadian venue.  Since previously published accolades have been as numerous as they have been eloquent, I shall simply add to the commentary that I can think of no better place to see that collection than at McMichael where I was accompanied by my wife Helen, son Jonathan, and an enthusiastic art collector from Vancouver coincidentally visiting the Toronto area.  Risking nostalgia, this is a place of pilgrimage I have occasionally visited over the last 50 years, each visit being as stimulating as the one previous.


In terms of our business this fall, a selection of highlights in pictures accompany this posting. The quality of the works of art is self explanatory. However, the privilege of our profession is the benefit of knowing the families and stories of their previous stewardship and being part of the next generation’s as well.


Jean Paul Lemieux (1904-1990)  |  Miss Knight (Woman with Umbrella, 1912), 1961


I have been asked over the past few weeks to comment on a recent series of Canadian art auction sales.  Previously I have been accused by some of being overly harsh in my treatment of the sales.  As an overview in my opinion, there were very few excellent works of art, if any, sold at auction this season that in my opinion would not likely have done better being sold with the guidance of a “fixed price” art gallery, like ours and other galleries one finds for example among the membership of the Art Dealers Association of Canada.  Considering that the variance of upwards of 30%* between what the “house” collects from the buyer and remits to the seller selling on a consignment basis, I can assure any potential seller of an especially fine work of art that he/she will find with us an infinitely (!!) more attractive financial arrangement and sometimes one totally without financial risk to the seller.


The auction trio, active in Toronto late in November, well their results speak for themselves, most notably two of them suffering what must be close to record rates of unsold lots, "buy-ins".  The other sales room in my opinion would have performed significantly better had there not been an important and, I am told, outstanding function out at McMichael the same evening as their sale keeping some “heavy hitters” out of the room. Perhaps competing for lots to sell at auction some “BIs” can be explained by over enthusiastic estimates and reserves accepted or maybe even suggested by auction houses. Certainly, other BIs and some very modest selling prices can equally be explained by  the inundation of supply that is jettisoned in what is a relatively small market to be sold within one week.  There are quality works of art that just fall through the cracks.


“Hats off” to Ottawa based Walker’s Auctions which is doing an excellent job of taking larger piece of the Canadian art auction market than previously and is both especially aggressive and successful in the Inuit sector of auctions. I am obliged to credit our development through cyberspace for staying in closer touch with valued clients, buyers and sellers, and also creating new and mutually beneficial relationships with "new friends", some who discover us randomly while trawling the Internet in search of serious Canadian art galleries and honourable consultants.  This is a very stimulating world.


Randolph Hewton (1888-1960)  |  Village on the Lower St. Lawrence, c. 1925


Going forward you can anticipate from us some new developments, a continual evolution of the Klinkhoff family in the Canadian art business with the objective of serving our clientele better still, vetting developing collections, and advising potential sellers of important fine art.  Regardless of the success of our internet presence and the reliable fine art transport services, we recognize that we should be making greater efforts to meet with our clients, buyers, and sellers, in the tradition way with a view in mind of understanding better their interests. My family, including Mom, Eric, Jonathan, Helen (my wife who many of you have met) and the loyal team at the Galerie Walter Klinkhoff, Johanne, Lynn & John, join me in thanking you for your ongoing confidence and wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season.  We look forward to serving you even better in 2013.


• The calculation assumes that the commissions being charged are the standard retail commissions plus insurance charges and cataloguing and illustration charges, if applicable.


Copyright 2012 © Alan Klinkhoff


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