‘A Small Reportoire of Active Verbs,’ ‘Glistening Frisée’ and Other Things We Liked About the n+1 Review of Sotheby’s

We just got around to reading our friend Alice Gregory’s great article in the latest issue of n+1 about her experience working at Sotheby’s. It’s not something we could do justice to in a blog post, but we will share with you our two favorite details.

The first, about Ms. Gregory writing the Sotheby’s catalogue essays, makes us cringe over the memory of all those  curatorial statements we’ve had to read over the years:

The essay copy is mostly a formality, but it plays a role in the auction house’s overall marketing strategy. The more text given to an individual piece, the more the house seems to value it. I sprinkled about twenty adjectives (“fey,” “gestural,” “restrained”) amid a small repertory of active verbs (“explore,” “trace,” “question”). I inserted the phrases “negative space,” “balanced composition,” and “challenges the viewer” ever so often. X’s lyrical abstraction and visual vocabulary–which is marked by dogged muscularity and a singular preoccupation with the formal qualities of light–ushered in some of the most important art to hit the postwar market in decades.

And this next bit just makes us sad about the Upper East Side:

Out-of-towners affiliated with Sotheby’s stay at the Carlyle Hotel, which is equidistant from the Whitney Museum; the Gagosian Gallery; and Sant Ambroeus, the café on Madison Avenue where auctioneers and art consultants eat their glistening frisée, topped with all things “tri-colored” and “slightly sliced.” Ursus, the purveyor of fine art books, is conveniently located right above the hotel’s lobby. I can now identify a Loro Piana cashmere shawl from across a crowded room (a disproportionate percentage of men worth over a billion dollars wear purple ones).

There you have it. It’s on newsstands now and you should really read it for yourself.

‘A Small Reportoire of Active Verbs,’ ‘Glistening Frisée’ and Other Things We Liked About the n+1 Review of Sotheby’s