Fred Kaplan has a great article in Slate on the art overload one can experience by visiting the auction houses in New York before the big Spring auction season.
Here’s an excerpt:
I get a bit weak-kneed this time of year. It’s not the pollen or the anticipation of summer. It’s more like a mild case of Stendhal’s Syndrome, an affliction said to induce dizziness (and, in extreme forms, nausea and seizures) after unrelenting exposure to beautiful art.
The disease got its name from the novelist, who suffered its effects during a trip to Florence in 1817. I get it in New York. Over the next few weeks, the New York branches of Sotheby’s and Christie’s will hold their spring auctions for Prints, then Impressionist and Modern Art, then Post-War and Contemporary Art—back to back, one after the other, after the other, after the other, after the other—and the sensory overload makes me swoon.
But it’s not the auctions themselves that put me in this state (though they can be fun, too); it’s the preview exhibitions of the artworks up for sale. These showings are open to the public for several days before the auction, and they’re free of charge. Yet the majority of those who attend are art dealers or collectors. Most people I know go to museums fairly often and pay hefty admission fees for the privilege; almost none of them have ever been to an auction preview or have more than a vague notion that such things exist.
It’s an interesting article, and one which only reinforces the idea that the auction market is flourishing right now.