New York Magazine

Skip to content, or skip to search.

Skip to content, or skip to search.

Leisure: Best Art Bargains


The auction houses, where Van Goghs go for $71 million and movie-star dresses for $70,000, hardly seem like places for most of us to fill our walls. But look beyond the high-priced, highly fashionable painting, clothing, and period-furniture markets, and prices drop zeroes. Many, many zeroes. The decorative arts and prints provide opportunities to get pedigreed pieces for unknown-artist prices. Don't use the word cheap, however -- auction types like to call this "accessible" art.

Marc Schwartz, a twenty-year collector who prefers works on paper to bigger, flashier paintings, recently acquired a 1971 James Rosenquist print, Cold Light, for $2,800, and bought Kiki Smith's first print for $650. "I purchased a print by Robert Rauschenberg three years ago at auction," Schwartz says. "I bought a spectacular work at a reasonable price, and it was included in the Guggenheim retrospective of Rauschenberg." He suggests others follow his lead and buy Claes Oldenburg's unlimited edition NYC Pretzel prints ($50 at Susan Inglett, 100 Wooster Street; 343-0573).

At the May 1 contemporary-print sale at Sotheby's (1334 York Avenue, at 72nd Street; 606-7000), for example, one can acquire an Andy Warhol flower lithograph for $3,000 or a Roy Lichtenstein silk-screened still life for $2,400. Of course, 100 other people might own the same image, but how likely is it that you know them? (And in Pop Art, accessibility was half the point.)


Current Issue
Subscribe to New York

Give a Gift