clifford schorer winslow homer
And I've been in Boston ever since. I liked heavy curtains. Literally, very, very inexpensive. Anyway, I bought her lunch, and I got to go into the room. So those private collectors often didn't have professionalother than dealers and advisers that were outside of their, you know, home, they didn't have in-house curators who made, you know, art historical decisions or collecting decisions. I mean, everyone who came to visit me said, "Welcome to old lady land.". In the archive there are astonishing surprises. JUDITH RICHARDS: Which institution is she at? So of theof the monochromes, the earlier pieces, I only have maybe 20 pieces left. And today, you know, a good example is, in 1900 the gallery sold 1,001 paintings, and some of them were sold12 in a row to Frick; the next nine to Mellon; the next 12 to Morgan. I wasI was alwaysintimidated was not really my MO. How do you deal with that? She's great. [Affirmative.] CLIFFORD SCHORER: No, of course they do, but she's being, you know, CLIFFORD SCHORER: She's being funny. And that was March of 1983. I think I got out of fourth grade by writing the brief military history of World War II for the entire year, because the teacher couldn't stand me [laughs], so she let me have the year off to write my military history, which I was obsessed with. A little house in Levittown that was literally bursting with stamps. I don't remember which one. So, it was very, you knowit was the right [laughs]it was the right zeitgeist. New York , NY 10010, Washington, D.C. Headquarters and Research Center. I don't know exactly how long, but he lived a long time. And I had the audacity to apply. You know, I sort of had a sense of what I needed, and, you know, in terms of someone whose eye I've always esteemed and who has a very even keel and about whom I never heard a bad word. JUDITH RICHARDS: Have youdo you imagine in the future acquiring another art business? You know, if it rises to that levelI mean, there's an old joke about the museum world is nothing but one big conflict of interest. We're German people. [Affirmative.] JUDITH RICHARDS: Okay. You talk to them about business; you talk to them about family. So I mean, you know, it's fun. Movies. I mean, a story I'm obsessed with is theis the German scientist who invented the nitrate process for fertilizer, because in his hands lies the population explosion of the 20th century. And I thought that was very, veryit was really very nice, because I would just come over and talk about art. JUDITH RICHARDS: Thinking about your non-business interests? CLIFFORD SCHORER: Yeah. CLIFFORD SCHORER: Putting aside in storage happened organically, because by the time I was three years into my house, I had more than I could use in my house. I mean, for the price of a multiple by Damien Hirst, you can buy a Reynolds, you know. I mean, sure. And I stillI still have quite a few drawings that are related to paintings that are interesting to me. All orders are custom made and most ship worldwide within 24 hours. That's fun. So think about it from that perspective. Clifford passed away on month day 1984, at age 67 at death place, North Carolina. So I was going to the library at Harvard and at other places and reading the catalogues for all the Drouot sales and, you know. CLIFFORD SCHORER: No, no. And on the other side of the equation, you know, the auction house is marketing to a buyer who's going to pay the fee, and it is going to impact your net sales price, whether you understand that or not, you know. JUDITH RICHARDS: During these years, were you reading in that field then? Cliff holds board advisory positions with Epibone, a company Clifford J. Schorer Director, Entrepreneur in Residence Program, Columbia Business School and Co-Director, Innovation and Entrepreneurship @ Columbia University firstname.lastname@example.org So that would be '83? What I would have done was purchase the assets; I would have purchased the library. CLIFFORD SCHORER: Renovations; purchasing a company; selling a fiber optic switchyou know, whatever it isyou know, building a shelteryou know, we do all sorts of different sort of project-based companies, and nothing has cash flow, meaning I don't sell widgets and collect the 39-cent margin on a widget, and I don't sell X number widgets a year. They would lay out their stamps and coins. I used to go to TEFAF all the time. JUDITH RICHARDS: Okay, justI suddenly wasn't hearing the mic. [00:50:05]. Oh, no. JUDITH RICHARDS: In the yearsI guess in your late teens, early 20s, when you were collecting in the Chinese fieldwhen you were in any country that had an active market in that area, were you investigating that and thinking, and did you ever make purchases there, beyond Boston? CLIFFORD SCHORER: Total coincidence. And now, it's a city of, you know, 100,000 Ph.D.s, who all have good income, but they don't support institutions. So because I happened to be going to all of these events, I would see the object. CLIFFORD SCHORER: They werethey had the English family connections to allow them to continue to trade when others were forced to do business with people that were, shall we say, less than scrupulous, and so that was a lucky break in a sense. Scotland CS], and they have a fabric manufactory, Bute Fabrics, and they make some of the most exquisite fabrics you ever saw. CLIFFORD SCHORER: Mm-hmm. Alf Clausen, film composer. Or maybe donating it, if that was that quality? JUDITH RICHARDS: When you were doing research and you were reading auction catalogues, those are catalogues with the sale prices written in. JUDITH RICHARDS: your fellow collectors? So, you know, I don't think it was in any way, you know, shall we say, a false unity by putting them together. Yes, in my subjective opinion, I'm doing those things. You know, bringing an efficiency model to a museum can destroy a museum. Researchers should note the timecode in this transcript is approximate. And I remember having sort of a few passing conversations. I think it ended when I was 11. [Affirmative.] So that was my 2000 [TEFAF] Maastricht, where I went away dejected but finally redeemed myself. You had to reallythey had to see you a lot before they would talk to you. There can beyou know, that's much more of a contemporary problem. CLIFFORD SCHORER: See, I don't want to seem like. CLIFFORD SCHORER: It's a big change, yes. I mean, I was a minion. [Affirmative.] I'm always the general on my projects. So Iyou know, again, the same thing. This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators. JUDITH RICHARDS: spent five dollars and you get a thousand stamps? CLIFFORD SCHORER: Yeah, we have to pick our battles carefully. CLIFFORD SCHORER: I would not have looked for anyone else. And if the auction house can earncan tell a client, "Well, we're not going to charge you anything; we'll charge the buyer. It was justit was this hoarding, boxing, newspapering, closing the box, knowing what's in the box, and moving it over, and getting another box. JUDITH RICHARDS: And you spent four years there? It was a long process of, you know, installing and reinstalling, and eventually it became a show house of 120 Old Master paintings, and you know, all theit's sort of the progression of my collecting from beginning to end. And they're like, "Come on, please," you know, "it's important people know that, you know, the board is giving." CLIFFORD SCHORER: Give up all my business interests and retire to sort of a conversational job where I sat in a shop, and I played shopkeeper, and people came in and looked at my furniture and told me how overpriced it was. It was, you know, it was Rome. So, you know, it's the conversation at the cocktail party, I suppose [laughs], but, you know, maybe not the cocktail party some people want to go to. And again, I mean, I don'tbecause it's not a family legacy business for me; I'm not planning on handing this off to a son, so I have to think very carefully about what the next generation of the Agnew's company will be. No, no, no, I will. JUDITH RICHARDS: Well, let's remember to get back to that. CLIFFORD SCHORER: Or the auction houses, yeah. So what's happened, I've seen, is there's been a decoupling ofthe top one percent of the market has soared. I meansomething very strangebut nothing, no art. [00:31:59]. I mean, it was basically, you know, not anyou know, it was like you're trying to pass the day away; you're walking around the city; and there's this building that's 40 feet wide, 60 feet deep [laughs], you know, and you go in, because it's open, and, you know, they charge nothing to go in. I wanted to start by asking you to say when and where you were born, and to talk about your immediate family, their names, and anyone else who was important to you in your family. So, you know, you have theseyou have those happy happenstances. CLIFFORD SCHORER: I think, you know, my life is here in the States, and, you know, Ithe fortunate thing is that I haven't quit my day job, because if I relied uponbecause the gallery is an unevena very uneven cash flow. JUDITH RICHARDS: When did thisand so that's. Images. I mean, there was a moment in each place in my head where I knew what was happening in those places because of history. You can spend as much money as you want; if you open a door, you're going to change the humidity. I mean, it hadI know there were three million sorted stamps. And I would go to those. So it was a fun little entre into what the dealers did for a living. That part of your life expand that way? The Frick's very focal; they're very small; they're very focal. Are there other museum committees thatwell, I suppose if you lived in New York, you'd contemplate being part ofbut have there been or are there other opportunities like that you've, CLIFFORD SCHORER: I mean, there would be, CLIFFORD SCHORER: opportunities I think, CLIFFORD SCHORER: yeah. CLIFFORD SCHORER: Yeah, it's a biggerit's a much bigger issue than myself, and that's why I'm very pleased to have Anthony and Anna on board, because they are, you know, seasoned gallerists and auction specialists and, you know, managers and people who can handle those sorts of questions. CLIFFORD SCHORER: I mean, there I was, really making capital available to gallerists whom I trusted and to buy pictures that I liked, so it was a veryI was not their first call. JUDITH RICHARDS: What about relationships within those years, with local museum curators? Those people are notthey don't exist now, and they don't exist for a lot of reasons. The neighborhoods that I knew. Now, the difference is that in, you knowobviously, in relative dollars, in 1900 you may have sold 1,001 paintings, but, you know, at an average price of 28 guineas. [00:42:06]. So I've always thought of myself as an autodidact. JUDITH RICHARDS: Was there a particular person who was your mentor? I never actually mentioned my age. I think I've alwaysyou know, coming from stamps, where it's engraved image, going to Chinese porcelain, where I'm focused on the allegorical story or the painting on the plate, you know, the progression isobviously, I took a little detour in perfection of, sort of the monochrome and celadons of the Ding ware of the Song dynasty. She just, actually, sold one of my earliest acquisitions to one of her collectors because, you know, now I'm not so focused on that. CLIFFORD SCHORER: Yeah. I mean, my family on my mother's sideagain, it's interesting. My maternal grandfather was dead by the time I was born. Have youhow do you go abouthow in those early years, how did you go about defining and refining what exactly you were looking for? CLIFFORD SCHORER: You know, to me there is where thethat's the crux of the fear. CLIFFORD SCHORER: Well, I knew Plovdiv has an important role in antiquity, but I didn't know what I was going to see there. It was a very beautiful, 18th-century French frame on this Italian, Neapolitan, somewhat good 17th-century painting. CLIFFORD SCHORER: It's been a very long-term loan. There they prepared the fish for despatch to the fishmarket in . JUDITH RICHARDS: Do you see yourself spending more and more time in London? I mean, I think it was a natural evolution. CLIFFORD SCHORER: In the Boston area. [00:50:00], And, you know, Anthony went through the archives and saw this material and knew the artist and apparently, you know, knew people who came to the show and thought it was an amazing show. JUDITH RICHARDS: There wasn't time to look for someone else if he had not. I just, you know. CLIFFORD SCHORER: My first car was my grandfather's van. Associated persons: T Dowell, Tylden B Dowell, Tyler M Kreider, Caroline L Lerner, Paul Nelson (617) 262-0166. CLIFFORD SCHORER: Now, again, that's a collecting area that was most popular between 1890 and 1910, 1915. CLIFFORD SCHORER: So, I mean, I rememberI remember those events. I bought theI think I bought the first painting I ever bought, an Old Master painting, at one of those flea markets. But today we run it with computers. JUDITH RICHARDS: Yes. So, I mean, he's at a level way above mine in philanthropy, and very chauvinistic about his city of Antwerp, which is wonderful, because, you know, Antwerp has had, you know, off and on, hard centuries and good centuries. CLIFFORD SCHORER: No. This isto me, this is one of the great paintings of Procaccini. CLIFFORD SCHORER: sort of with art 24-7 in London because I have the gallery. JUDITH RICHARDS: If they were appropriate. So, no. CLIFFORD SCHORER: Maybe, maybe, I don't know. 1. You know, there's a lack of understanding [of what] the agencyyou know, our agencywould be to them, our agency would be to the seller. If I quit my day job, then I would put an extraordinary amount of undue pressure on the gallery to be earning period by period, and I think that would be to the detriment of the galley. I'm at a Skinner auction. So, yes. But if we can say, Engage with this art on your terms. [Laughs.]. The Army of the PotomacA Sharp-Shooter on Picket Duty, published November 15, 1862. And we'll get back to him, too. You're going into someone else's space to show an artwork. And if you can't get more than 20,000 people in here, you've got a serious problem. JUDITH RICHARDS: Did he come before World War I? CLIFFORD SCHORER: I was 16 going on 17, yeah. And I could seethere was a sense that I had that Noortman was not long for the world. [00:04:06], CLIFFORD SCHORER: So the entry point at that time was sort of the 10 to $25,000 per picture, and. So they're happy to watch us fight over the garbage. You've talked a lot about your involvement in museums and education, so obviously you do have a sense that there's a level of responsibility when you acquire these works to share them. My grandfather was also lobbying hard, saying, "Go back to school." Winslow Homer was an American painter whose works in the domain of realism, especially those on the sea, are considered some of the most influential paintings of the late 19th century. CLIFFORD SCHORER: No. Have you thought about that issue, debated it, considered where you stand on it? How have you approached conservation through the years? I mean, obviously, my personal collecting wasI pushed the pause button and. It was ridiculous. Fortunately, I had a business that owned a big warehouse. the answer is definitively, "No." American artist Winslow Homer (1836-1910) the self-taught master best known today for his scenes of nature and the sea got his start as one of the "special artists" of the Civil War. CLIFFORD SCHORER: You know that these regional areas in Bulgaria were the places where they found the Thracian gold hoards, and then, of course, the national government took it all away from them. But I wouldn't have purchased the ongoing operation of the business. So I didn't go back. JUDITH RICHARDS: Do you recall his first name? How to say Clifford J. Schorer in English? JUDITH RICHARDS: the auctions and the collectors? CLIFFORD SCHORER: No, we were in auctions, competing with other people who were in the trade, so often your sort of very important thing to keep in mind was what everybody else was doing relative to something you were interested in: who was on it, who was not on it, that sort of thing. JUDITH RICHARDS: I notice that there was a major contribution from, maybe, from your business to the Museum of Science. I bought a cash-flow business, that I don't need to babysit. [Laughs.] I'm not, JUDITH RICHARDS: Is there a board that you're, CLIFFORD SCHORER: The structure is executive director is Anthony Crichton-Stuart, yeah. I was in Bulgaria a couple years ago, and I was in Plovdiv, which is a small city. I thinktime-wise, I don't think I could participate in any more. You know, I never thought of it as a practical way to improve the quality of the collection until recently, like until the last 10 years. Listing of the Day Location: Provincetown, MassachusettsPrice: $3.399 million This starkly modern and dramatic home was built in 2013 as a guesthouse to an adjacent flat-roofed, glass . It's that goal that actually, eventually, completely disabused me of stamp and coin collecting because it was impossible. But I didn't buy it with much of a focus on the painting itself. And I was just, you know, I was a rebel. Death . [Laughs. It was basicallythey didn't tell me who bought it, but they told me it was reserved, and then shortly thereafter I learned the National Gallery in Washington bought it. Renowned for his powerful paintings of American life and scenery, Winslow Homer (1836-1910) remains a consequential figure whose art continues to appeal to broad audiences. My mother wasmy mother was a single mother who was living away from the house 90 percent of the time. I enjoyed Richmond. Then we had a second one that was on the market in Paris as sort of "circle of van Dyck," but as soon as I saw it, I recognized that it was the real deal. I spoke to others who came to buy for their trade. [00:12:00]. There's one area I meant to touch on, and that is the competition, the relatively recent change, as you talked about the auction houses becoming retail and directly competing with galleries, even though galleries offer this tremendous educational service. JUDITH RICHARDS: And you happen to be able to have this person who [laughs] shows you proof, too. JUDITH RICHARDS: So, that's the period of time, JUDITH RICHARDS: you were really developing. I enjoy exhibitions at the Frick and at the Met. He would give me projects to do. I'd probably be better off. Your perspective is unusually broad, at least it used to be. I don't know where that came from, but it was an instinctive sense. $14. But I think that would bleed money away from my other, more serious interests. So you know, they have a castI mean, there are only three complete specimens, so you basically getyou buy a cast of one if you want to show one. There were a few deals out there where I was a partner with the gallery to back the purchase of something a little bit more expensive, and then the gallery would sell that thing, and I would get a percentage of the profit. And that onethat one wasyou know, it was estimated at, I don't know, $2,000 and it made 47,000, and I'm in the checkout line, and someone I know is there who bid against me. I mean, little things, but just lots of articles, publications, and now, you know, again, contributing to the San Francisco exhibition's works. So it wasn't that I had a great knowledge; it's just that I thought Boston was very beautiful. [01:02:02]. You have to think about tastes and the moment of your taste and whether the market is esteeming that taste at a given moment. Fellow collectors in the field? JUDITH RICHARDS: Did you buy a seat for it? CLIFFORD SCHORER: That would've been a little bit early. CLIFFORD SCHORER: Well, I mean, I can say more about that, but I can't say more about that for litigation purposes. And Colnaghi is still extremely ambitious; I think they still have 40 employees, and, you know, their ambition may or may not be equaled by a marketplace that can sustain their ambition, but, you know, time will tell on that. It has a lot of history; it has a lot of business that it's done. That's always fun. Their sketches, woodcuts, and paintings showed both the . My role was in figuring out the real estate problems that the company had, the finance problems that the company had, the management issues that the company had, but not the art questions. JUDITH RICHARDS: So you donated the piece, or you donated the funds for them to purchase the piece? And we've obviously done a lot of work on our Pre-Raphaelite exhibition, which was kind of a protractedwe did, basically, a two-year Pre-Raphaelite fiesta, with lots of publications. It's obviously spelled in a different alphabet. "Oh, okay, thisall this 19th-century porcelain. [00:30:00]. And then, you know, you may 10 years later find that Molenaer is worth five, or he's worth 500. We should close the museum tomorrow and give everybody that walks by on the sidewalk $400 and just call it a day, because that's what the budget is. That I was. CLIFFORD SCHORER: But, you know, I guess with minor things, you know, with less important artwork, it is what it is. We just have a little more time today perhaps, if you want to take more time? Matter of fact, for a great deal of time in speaking to all three of them, they didn't know who I was. So when I finally got a big house in BostonI bought a townhouse and renovated it. JUDITH RICHARDS: [Laughs.] JUDITH RICHARDS: But timewise, was that the beginning of your starting to explore that area? JUDITH RICHARDS: Did you read art magazines? Shop affordable wall art to hang in dorms, bedrooms, offices, or anywhere blank walls aren't welcome. So. I sold all the export wares. And, you know, that's a fun game, and it yields some fruit, it really does. I mean, there wasthere was a bit of knowledge of something's not right here. I thought for sure this is someyes, this is some Renaissance, you know, late Renaissance thing, or even early Baroque thing, that, you know, is amazing. They didn't understand what the crucifixion scene was on some of these plates. They would have Saturday gatherings where people would set up folding tables. I mean [00:47:59]. CLIFFORD SCHORER: Maryan Ainsworth. If there's anything that somebodyI mean, two weeks from now in San Francisco, two big Pre-Raphaelite paintings will be in their Pre-Raphaelite show [Truth and Beauty: The Pre-Raphaelites and the Old Masters, Legion of Honor Museum, San Francisco]. JUDITH RICHARDS: ancestry. That [01:00:00]. That was myDorothy Fitzgerald's father was my great-grandfather, who was a haberdasher in Fall River, Massachusetts, who actually was quite prominent and made quite a bit of money with a millinery and factory that made hats. It's King Seuthes III. ", You know, these might not beor they might be; I don't want to opine on that. JUDITH RICHARDS: Mm-hmm. Beyond. He was a very important stamp collector. CLIFFORD SCHORER: Because I'm in Beacon Hill, I'm going to the local auctions; I'm going to all the auctions. The galleries in New York are closing that sell old art, because they're retiring. He also made the gas for the Nazis. And I remember talking about that object for months to everybody and anybody. He's like, "Well, I can't tell you much, but there were some payment issues." JUDITH RICHARDS: Over many years? And I mean, he didn't speakI don't think there were too many words spoken about much. CLIFFORD SCHORER: So I like the fact that that we're talking more about an accumulation of scholarship, diverse scholarship, that contributes over centuries to an artist's reputation. [Affirmative.] CLIFFORD SCHORER: Yes. That book should be out very soon, actually. I think I turned 16 right aroundit was in that first year, so that's what I recall. Or just the, CLIFFORD SCHORER: So, the Adoration is atis in London at Agnew's Gallery at the moment, and The Taking of Christ is in Worcester, hanging, JUDITH RICHARDS: Is that a long-term loan? What happened?" CLIFFORD SCHORER: that'sso, and I'm getting there. And so he gave me this Hefty bag and he told me to sort it. I went from, you know, the Gustave Moreau museum to theor well, pre-d'Orsay, right? I said, "Well, what does that mean, 'involved'?" CLIFFORD SCHORER: I consider to be respectable parameters. So my mother and father divorced when I was very young. CLIFFORD SCHORER: Oh, boy, that's a tough one. And I have it at home to remind myself of what an absolutely abysmal painter I am and to really, you know, bring homeyou know, I always think I can put myI can do anything I put my head to. And I think if you're focused enough to stay on the object, you know, to think at core about the transaction with your object and not listen to all the other noise and hype and marketing and, you know, all of that, and if you can learn as much as you can about that one object you're interested in, if you lose this one, so be it, you know. CLIFFORD SCHORER: that's fair. Armed with little more than his wits, Winslow Homer was, at 25, one of only a few artist-reporters embedded with Union troops for Harper's Weekly Illustrated. SoAnna Cunningham; she doesshe's the one who sort ofshe keeps all the sheep herded; so she keeps us focused on what we need to do [laughs], and she manages all of the gallery operations. There a particular person who [ laughs ] shows you proof, too Oh, Okay thisall! 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