NEW YORK, NY.-
No one is in a more respected position than Lark Mason to forecast the direction of new collecting trends, up or dawn.Thanks to his stellar position as an expert, appraiser, author, and television personality on the PBS series, The Antiques Roadshow, Mason, founder of iGavel Auctions
, the online international network of regional auction salesrooms, anticipates trends far in advance of just anybody else. Here are his in-the-know predictions for What's Hot and What's Not for 2013:
1. Don't Break The China
The Chinese economy is tied to the West which in today's world is not a good thing, but China is also benefiting from a rapidly growing group of consumers of which a portion want to own something from their past. The sheer numbers of buyers in China is staggering and the quantity of material limited - a classic supply and demand equation that will be with us for many more years. The Chinese are becoming ever more selective and discerning and the frothiness of the market ought to become a bit more subdued and rational with a focus on the universal criteria of collectors: quality and rarity.
2. Meet George Jetson
The hottest area in the decorative arts continues to be mid-century furniture and odds and ends. Those spikey doos and winged jackets push all the nostalgic buttons for young families putting together a new home. The material is attractive, functional, and the look is being supported by major designers with newly made objects and is relatively inexpensive, still in pre-inflation Jetson dollars. It is also rebellious enough to satisfy the need to be different from the parents. Blurring the lines between old and new, formerly stuffy shops now regularly mix and match modern and earlier material for a fresh, livable environment. In any successful market there is a range of material for both the "starter home" set and those who have settled down and have more to spend and in this market, there is no shortage of supply. Great quality works abound that were created in this most recently past century in every category, from furniture to glass. Get on your scooter and go shopping.
3. Contemporary and Modern Paintings are the One Percent
This market is international. The one tenth of the one percenters want the best and will pay to get it to fill all those empty walls of all those houses. This market will remain vibrant regardless of downturns in Greece or elsewhere.
4. Jewels and Precious Metals Both Shine
Even in a nasty economy people want things that are pretty and what is better than jewelry, gold, silver, and platinum? And, buying such for yourself or your favorite other has the added advantage of keeping the pragmatic side of a relationship secure and happy knowing that should everything go bust, you can always hock the jewels.
5. Watches and Wine Will Keep Ticking and Bubbling Upwards
Watches appeal to men who otherwise would have nothing to do with the art market. Watches make sense to guys. The engineering, appearance, materials all have value and communicate something to the other members of their particular tribe and they are practical. Wine is somewhat similar, and like watches can be collected in quantity because of the size. Both wine and watches are not limited to a particular age group. We all need to tell time and we all like good food and drink. Raise your glass high, this market is going to continue to keep ticking.
6. Firearms and Militaria Will Go Marching Along
This category - like watches - appeals to men. It's not a big reach to have a buyer of a top quality modern hunting rifle make the switch to buy a great 19th century Remington. All those outdoors types buying guns means a healthy percentage are going to become collectors. In any market there has to be new blood, and firearms has it. And then there's the Second Amendment.
7. Old Growth Forests are Still Growing
Some of the best value out there are the wonderful old growth woods and other materials used by our forebears to create furniture and other objects prior to the 20th century. The best pieces are catching the attention of buyers, whether made in the USA or elsewhere. The gradual fall-off of interest in these objects over the past fifteen years had more to do with a natural recycling of taste than a rejection of quality. Prices rose, buyers dropped out, new areas were discovered, and the cycle goes round and round again. Traditional "antiques" - a word most in the trade wants to avoid - are holding their own and being recognized by the astute as a good value.
8. Quality and Condition are More Important Than Ever
In categories that are soft or retrenching, only those pieces in tip-top shape and the best quality will be in demand. Even the slowest markets have bright areas and in those, buyers will always be more interested in pieces that are the best over those that are not.
9. No Place for Lockets and Lace
Think of grandma's living room. In this case, a "boomer's" living room filled with priceless stuff handed down that no one else wants. Odds and ends jammed into cabinets, spread across table tops, and filling drawers are about as out as out can be. No one has enough time or energy to fool with this material.
10. Function Trumps Form
The number of collectors of out of date and useless gizmos from the past is burdened by the cries of their partners to "stop dragging that stuff home!" But, in tough economic times when it costs more to lug it around than it costs to purchase it, fewer and fewer people are going to be looking for that rusted gearbox. Same with furniture. It has to make sense and have a use. Potty stools are not going to be setting the market afire even if owned by Louis XV.
When Lark Mason founded iGavel Inc., the Harlem-based online international network of independently owned regional auction salesrooms, specializing in the sale of fine and decorative arts, in 2003, his stellar reputation as a leading expert, appraiser and television personality on the PBS series The Antiques Roadshow, was already well-established within the art world.
Mason served as a general appraiser and Assistant Vice President of fine and decorative arts and household furnishings from 1979 until 2003, and as a Senior Vice President and specialist in Chinese art with Sotheby's Chinese Works of Art Department from 1985-2003. From 2000-2003 he was a Director of Online Auctions for Sothebys.com, and served as a consulting curator at the Trammel and Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art in Dallas, Texas from 2003-2009.
As a general appraiser with Sotheby's Appraisal Company, Mason valued notable collections including those of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the Rockefeller Foundation, and many others. In addition to his appraisal work, he has taught courses in the fine and decorative arts at Parson's School of Design, the New York School of Interior Design, and currently is a professor at New York University.
Mason is the translator and author of many articles and books including: The Connoisseurship of Chinese Furniture by Wang Shi Xiang, Lark Mason translator; Classic Chinese Furniture of the Qing Dynasty, translator; and Asian Art, author. In the capacity of Chinese art expert at Sotheby's he was responsible for the cataloging of the sales and appraisal of Chinese works of art, becoming intimately familiar with all aspects of the marketplace. He is an expert in the field of Chinese furniture, having responsibility for this area during his tenure at Sotheby's. As a Chinese furniture specialist he has valued and advised many private collectors and institutions.
Lark Mason has appraised and advised major American and foreign institutions for the sale and appraisal of Asian and other art including: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, The Freer Museum and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington, D.C., the Art Institute of Chicago, The Honolulu Academy of Arts, and many others.
He regularly has served on the vetting committees for Chinese and Asian art of numerous art and antique shows including: the International Fine Art and Antique Dealers Show, and the Winter Antiques Show in New York City.