If the only insight we normal folk had into the art world was the headlines made by large auction houses like Sotheby’s and Christie’s, we’d write art off as a piece of culture lost to all but the very rich. Fortunately, though, there are some things that help remind us that everyone can have art, not just the most fortunate among us.
Museums are a well-known resource for those interested in great art but unable to afford buying it. But often unnoticed are small auction houses, which sell beautiful art by lesser-known artists for a reasonable price. Whereas one piece at Christie’s might go for several million dollars, works at small houses regularly go for less than a thousand dollars each. Newsday lists several smaller auction houses in New York worth taking a look at:
Swann Galleries in New York City is one of these small auction houses. It started as a rare-book auction house, and still holds twenty of those per year. But now it also sells vintage posters and other vintage works on paper, including photographs.
Doyle New York sells everything from paintings to jewelry, generally high-end decorative items. There was no shortage of artists back in the days of Renoir and Monet, but not all of them gained the same status. Doyle recently sold a 17th century Dutch painting by an unknown artist for just under $1,000.
Bonhams is another small auction house to keep an eye out for. They sell just about everything, including furniture, dog art, dedicated whiskey, silver, and paintings. Heritage Auctions specializes in comics, stamps, coins, posters, and sports memorabilia. Guernsey’s focuses on celebrity collections, including jewels, photos, folk art, and more.
In addition to offering great prices on less-famous art and more, these smaller auction houses also often offer viewings for a few days before a scheduled auction. Viewings are generally free to the public and can be a good alternative to a visit to the local museum—especially since most of the items will soon be sold to new owners.