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  • Harry Fane

Good Reads & A Complaint

I have been slow adding any entries to this Report so far this year.

Happy New Year everyone.

God knows how things will play out in the next twelve months but on we must go. Clearly, at this early stage of the year, there is nothing that exciting to report. The art market is always slow to gather momentum in the dark and grey days of the new year and the Covid battle is making things worse.

In many ways, this respite is a blessed relief from the tsunami of on-line auctions in the second half of last year. It became utter madness and mayhem, and the auction houses must regain control and start understanding how their audience interacts with this new, totally ‘on-line’ world. Take for example a conversation I had with an important collector at the end of last year: “I haven’t bought anything for ages" he explained, "I simply cannot sit at my computer all day clicking away. I used to love sitting in a chair leafing through catalogues and perusing sales”. Now, this fellow might be slightly old fashioned but even for younger and more dynamic auction aficionados, there are simply too many sales to keep track of…too many lots. “It’s overwhelming’. This is my complaint and one I hear everywhere. So, would any of you auction houses who happen to read this, take note!!

I started writing this note to recommend a book I read over the holidays, ‘When Paris Sizzled’. It was first printed in 2019 but I only recently came across it. This is a fascinating insight of what was happening in Paris during the 1920s: Hemingway, Chanel, Cocteau and Josephine Baker to mention just a few of the characters who make an appearance. This story wonderfully illuminates the heady atmosphere which pervaded every aspect of the creative arts during the time when Cartier was

experiencing their greatest period of creativity. It was an extraordinary time and although Cartier is not mentioned in the book, it is tremendous to have an insight into the world which encouraged and enabled Cartier to blossom and be so adventurous with their designs and creations.

On matters literary, Francesca Brickell tells me the paperback version of her brilliant book ‘The Cartiers’ will soon be published. She informs me that there will quite a bit of fresh information which she has picked up since the publication of the original hardback last year. I loved this book…and can’t wait for the paperback now.

Looking back further. The two great ‘Bibles’ for Cartier fans must be the seminal book “Cartier, Jewellers Extraordinary” by Hans Nadelhoffer and, for watch lovers in particular, ‘Cartier: The Tank’ by Franco Cologni. If had a $1 for every time I have looked through these two books for information, I would be a rich man.

Seeing beautiful things is one thing, if one can contextualise them, they take on a different hue altogether.

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