On Flea Markets

As an antiques dealer, I am extremely fortunate that my wife was so quick to approve the idea of spending the first day of our honeymoon at the Marché aux Puces in Paris. We have this common passion for flea-markets (and thrift shops), a passion for which she has actually become the principal driver.

And that is why this article by Roberta Smith on the New York Times resonates so much with us. The only difference to what she tells is that we look at everything, not only paintings, and that we make it a year-round occupation, not just  summer. Her eulogy of non-artist art is both gentle and interesting and really makes us try to look at things without prejudice.

At our flat, weekend after weekend, the goodies pile up and a story of our stay in New York is somehow written through these unusual, worthless but beautiful and artful objects. Anyhow, I cannot avoid thinking about the moment, one day, that we will have to move out. My dealer instinct always suggests to, when that moment comes, set up a stand at one of our weekly destinations, the Garage Flea-Market in Chelsea;  a suggestion always received with much contempt by my wife.  We could then travel light, start the chase all over again and write new stories.

Roberta Smith: “This relatively relaxed form of art viewing often bears out something a friend told me Picasso once said: that any painting contains something worth looking at.

(…)  The flea-market experience is akin to snorkeling. You drift about, looking this way and that, waiting for something to catch your eye. Then you swim closer, zeroing in for a better look to see if the rest of what you saw rises to occasion of the part that initially drew your attention. Sometimes the whole thing gels; sometimes the interesting part carries the whole thing. Sometimes it un-gels once you get it home, which is why we have something of a Salon des Refusés in the basement of our current rental.  “

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