I get asked this question more than any other. The short answer: Everyone.
A single word isn’t much of a blog post, so let me give you the longer version. Skinner auctions are public auctions. Absolutely anybody who loves art or antiques is welcome to attend. The previews are a time for potential bidders to come into the gallery and view lots first-hand; to examine the condition of a Wayne Thiebaud woodcut, or the construction of a card table or to feel the heft of a piece of Wedgwood. You read that correctly: to feel the heft. With the assistance of a gallery attendant you are allowed to touch things.
Museums are amazing places, and you should visit them often. But you will never be able to convince one of the guards to let you see the back of that little Picasso, no matter how nicely you ask. Ask us, however, and we will be happy to oblige. Auction previews are like museums with ever-changing collections. You can come to as many previews as you like. And with an auction catalog in your hand (or on your smart phone) you can read full descriptions of every object you see. If the description doesn’t answer all of your questions, you can ask to chat with one of the department specialists. I mean no offense to my colleagues in the museum world, but trust me; a museum curator won’t come out and answer your questions about that Tiffany silver tea set unless you’re a donor.
While many people who come to previews are coming because they want to bid in an auction, that particular motivation is not required. Previews are a terrific way to learn about art and antiques. The best way to learn is to experience the objects first hand, so previews are the perfect opportunity. Previews are not exclusive, highfalutin events. You do not need to be draped in expensive clothes to gain admittance: jeans and sneakers are just fine. You want to see examples of Eames chairs or an Edwardian Sapphire ring? Come on in. You’ve always been curious about Chinese jades? We’d love to see you. You don’t have the budget to bid? We’d still love to see you.
And for the auctions themselves? The dress code is the same: come as you are, whatever that is. You don’t need reservations. No references, passwords, or secret handshakes are required. You can come and go as you please throughout the auction. The only recommendation I would make, is that if you are bidding with us for the first time speak to our accounting department in advance, so they will allow you to bid to your heart’s content. If you’re curious about the finer details of bidding, you can learn more here.
To sum up: if you belong to the category of people known as “everyone” we look forward to seeing you at Skinner previews and auctions.
Take the opportunity to visit Skinner on Wednesday, September 21 for Young Collectors’ Night: an exciting evening of art and hors d’oeuvres welcoming young and beginning collectors, hosted by Skinner’s American & European Works of Art department. Learn about the basics of collecting and buying at auction, featuring a panel discussion moderated by Robin S.R. Starr with fine photographs specialist, Michelle Lamunière; curator and art consultant, Elizabeth Devlin; and gallerist, Joseph Carroll, while previewing Modern & Contemporary works, including paintings, sculpture, prints and photographs, featured in our September 23 Fine Art auctions.