Monday, June 13, 2011

Deborah Bell to Join Christie's Photographs Department

Last week, I did an afternoon swing through Chelsea and stopped by to see the Ana Barrado show at Deborah Bell Photographs (review coming later this week). After kicking around the nuances of infrared film with my ever welcoming and knowledgeable host, she mentioned that this would be the last show at the gallery; she was closing up shop after more than a decade to join Christie's as the Head of the Photographs Department. What a surprise!

In my head, I think the well worn path usually runs in the opposite direction, in that auction house specialists eventually tend to move on to galleries (brand names or new ones of their own), but Deborah made a compelling case that given the changes in how material is now moving through markets, joining Christie's would give her a better opportunity to see and work with a bigger sample of high quality material from across time periods and styles. I think that this logic probably does hold, especially if you are running a smaller, more niche gallery program like hers.

I'm sure that the transition from running her own gallery to working for a large corporate entity will have its own mix of bittersweet moments and new opportunities, but luckily for her, the existing Christie's Photographs team is already strong and successful. As a collector, I'll certainly look forward to seeing her unpretentious brand of Minnesota friendliness at work in the showrooms this fall.

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