How to sell my small pop art collection?
November 15, 2005 6:53 AM   Subscribe

I need help selling some pop art that won't go in our new house. Is there a market for it?

Back in my younger days (pre-marriage), I was really into pop art. Not being able to afford original Lichtensteins or any of Keith Haring's works, I opted instead for some pieces by Rupert Jasen Smith (Andy Warhol's chief printmaker) and Rodney Alan Greenblat, a graffiti-style artist who was an early innovator in computer art. Fast forward fourteen years to the present. I am married with two children, and moving into a Colonial-style house in Northern Virginia. My wife says the pop art has no place in the new digs (and unfortunately, she's right).

How do I go about selling these pieces? Ebay seems like a dead end for art sales. Will classified ads have any chance of working? Google only returns loads businesses offering to turn pictures into Warhol-like prints. Any guidance? Thanks in advance.
posted by flyingrock to Media & Arts (11 answers total)
They both have dealer markets; some cursory searching doesn't return dealers in particular who specialize in them, but they're definitely out there. Are both works prints? If so, I would call Pace Prints at (877) 440 PACE and ask Mara Leimanis-Ricard, the sales associate, about who might be a good dealer for the work. Have information on hand such as year, edition, technique, place of purchase, etc.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:12 AM on November 15, 2005

I'd advise you to get them appraised before you do anything else. You can contact Sothebys or Christies.
Auction houses get questions like your own quite often.

You could also try contacting fine arts museums in your area (that have Contemporary Art collections) to see if there's any interest in your pieces. Private sellers contact museums all the time. I'm not sure if that would get you the best price; but, the museum staff should be able to help you anyway.
posted by Uncle Glendinning at 7:12 AM on November 15, 2005

Unless you are buying a Colonial to pretend that you live in Colonial times, of course you can have pop art.
posted by sageleaf at 7:17 AM on November 15, 2005

Sorry, I know this doesn't answer your question, but you shouldn't ever "match" art to your decor or your architecture.
posted by iconomy at 7:32 AM on November 15, 2005

Stop that bandwagon while I jump on!

1. There is no such thing as "colonial" style architecture, despite what realtors wish to tell you. (Think: which colony? Whose colonialism? British? French? Spanish? What era?)

2. To echo iconomy and sageleaf, your wife is not right. She may not like these pieces in her home, which is fine, but as described in your query she is most certainly not right. In our living room right now (Greek Revival house in Cambridge, MA) there is a 400+ year old french paiting of the Blessed Virgin and Child™, orginal oils by my wife (not a Virgin but soon to be with child -- or is now "with child") a model of my thesis project site and an orginal print by a friend. And dno't get me started on the furniture. It all works.

Check with local galleries and furniture stores which sell late modern (e.g. Daniel Donnelly in Alexandria) to see if they will sell on consignment.
posted by Dick Paris at 7:41 AM on November 15, 2005

My wife says the pop art has no place in the new digs (and unfortunately, she's right).

I agree with sageleaf re: his/her challenge to the premise of your question. Unless you are going to furnish the interior of your home to match its Colonial-style exterior, that is not necessarily the case. We live in your typical NOVA home but have very eclectic furnishings inside, including a large painting of a purple pig.

We're debating moving the pig painting to our nursery when our son is born in March. Could you put it in the kids rooms?
posted by probablysteve at 7:46 AM on November 15, 2005

if you have to sell, maybe one of these 10 DC contemporary art galleries would help or at least point you in the right direction.
posted by probablysteve at 7:51 AM on November 15, 2005

Thanks all for the comments. However, I didn't mean to throw the blame on this effort on my wife. These pieces were up in our old 1920's bungalow in Arlington, VA and looked great. They're not up in our current McHouse in NOVA, because we could not find a suitable (and sunlight-safe) place for them. My wife is not a big pop art fan, but has excellent taste in art. We're both in agreement that selling them at this time would be a good idea.

Sageleaf, iconomy, D. Paris: Thanks for the efforts on my behalf, but I'll agree with her on this one. As to my characterization of the house as "Colonial," it's the best I could do. :) Neo-Georgian is probably more accurate.

If we can't find a suitable market at this time, we'll probably hold on to them, maybe even finding a place for them in our new abode. But, your comments are all very helpful.
posted by flyingrock at 8:07 AM on November 15, 2005

I'm not sure what kind of price range we're talking here, but I had tremendous success on eBay selling two 1940's oil paintings that had been in my family. They were by an artist who is not hugely popular, but someone that collectors had some interest in, etc...

Before eBay, I had shopped the paintings around a bit to collectors with the highest offer being $4,000 for the pair. I listed them on eBay and sold the pair for almost $10,000. My experience was that the hardcore collectors of this artist had a saved search set up in eBay which emailed them everytime a work for this artist was listed.

(In case you're wondering, the woman who purchased the paintings just mailed me a personal check, I waited for it to clear, and then shipped the paintings to her. I would have used an escrow service if she preferred it, though.)
posted by peppermint22 at 8:15 AM on November 15, 2005

They will sell quickly on eBay if they are competitively priced. Christies and Sothebys will give you a slightly better return but you will have to wait on the relevant sale to put them in, and that could be over a year. Take any price you find on the internet, and any appraisal from Christies with a bucket of salt. Unless you have something special (low edition, a "big" work) then the price will depend on day, week, month, who is in the auction room, direction of the wind etc..
posted by fire&wings at 8:17 AM on November 15, 2005

flyingrock, Dick Paris is one of our resident architects -- forgive his pedantry. ;-) There certainly is a "Colonial" style -- it's generally shorthand for Colonial Revival, Georgian Revival, which were the 19th and 20th century versions, respectively, of 17th and 18th century Neoclassical (or in the US, "Georgian") architectural styles. This is still -- even after half a century of the ranch house -- what most people think of as a standard American house style. There were plenty of other styles, of course, but few people can identify them on sight.

And the Victorians -- certainly, if no other eras -- were no strangers to eclecticism. I grew up in an 1858 Greek Revival decorated with Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright architectural fragments, a Gothic window our church had removed during renovation, an Eames desk and chair set, imported Scandinavian furniture (from before it was chic), and art ranging from a print of medieval Kalmar, Sweden to a neo-impressionist spring garden. So there's no reason your pop art can't fit, if you have the right surroundings.
posted by dhartung at 12:50 PM on November 15, 2005

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