Veteran Art Advisor Susan Dishell on Her Favorite Works for Sale Through Artnet Auctions
Artnet Auctions’ Head of Prints and Multiples, Conner Williams, chatted with Susan about her career and her top picks from the 21st Century Prints and Robert Indiana’s LOVE sales on Artnet Auctions.
After more than 30 years as an art advisor, Susan Dishell is a master of her craft. She has privately dealt in paintings, sculpture, works on paper, and prints, from Old Masters to 21st- century works, for decades. Having worked on both the buying and selling sides of the industry, Susan has ample experience working closely with clients to impart her aesthetic leanings and knowledge to advise acquisitions and major sales.
On the occasion of Artnet Auctions’ current 21st-Century Prints sale and the single-lot sale of Robert Indiana’s LOVE, both live through August 25, Conner Williams, Head of Prints and Multiples at Artnet Auctions, sat down with Susan to learn more about her career trajectory and her top picks from both sales.
Conner Williams: You’ve been an advisor for many years. How did you get started in the field?
Susan Dishell: I began my career in 1983 in a Beverly Hills gallery, before I became a private dealer focused on Modern masters. One of the first major works I helped place was a 1952 de Kooning of two women. I also placed an exquisite Van Dongen painting from the Fauve period, which was a very exciting work to help acquire so early on in my career. Working privately allowed me to access art from an entire century beyond the roster and inventory of a gallery, and I found it to be a more objective way to advise clients.
A large part of your job entails advising clients. What do you enjoy the most? And least?
I love the buying side. It is truly exciting to acquire a work on behalf of a collector, work as a partner with the client, looking at all of the venues. I think that my aesthetic leanings and research impacts collector’s choices. I am usually delighted when a work is placed, and so the sale can be somewhat of a “heartbreak,” as we let a piece go. It is thrilling, however, when the choice is made to upgrade to better examples by the artists of choice. On the other hand, the least exciting part of my career is when clients intend to buy strictly for investment. It is most fulfilling when they are buying out of love for the artwork itself.
What was the last work that you placed for a client?
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a few works that represent the interests of my clients: I most recently placed an iridescent Frankenthaler on canvas from the 1970s; a reclining woman in bronze by Henry Moore; a large Ed Clark painting; and early Chagall painting from the 1930s.
Is there a particular period of work or artists that you often find yourself working with?
I mostly find myself working with 20th-century art, and Post-War art in particular. More recently, I have also been working with 21st-century Art. I often work with pieces by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Tom Wesselmann, Jean Dubuffet, David Hockney, Helen Frankenthaler, Sam Francis, Alexander Calder, Yayoi Kusama, Ed Clark, Rashid Johnson, Jonas Wood, Sam Gilliam, and others.
Robert Indiana’s LOVE is a sculpture that has come to define 20th-century American art. What is it about the work that appeals to you?
Robert Indiana is one of the great Pop artists. His iconic word imagery is known to many outside of the art world. The all red, monochromatic LOVE sculpture is very clean and fluid, and this smaller-scale, domestically sized edition conjures up all things related to passion. Having examined many of these sculptures myself, this color is very rare in the marketplace. I think the all red is the essence of what love is, and what the sculpture represents. The LOVE sculptures are timeless works, created in the 1960s, they hold the same relevance even after 50-plus years.
Susan’s Top Picks
“This iconic work is recognizable to those in the art world and to casual observers. This smaller-scale, all red edition evokes the essence of love, passion, and all that Indiana’s LOVE represents.”
The Souls IV – Turquoise/Raven Black (2010)
“There is a lot of movement in Damien Hirst’s foil prints. The artist’s motif of butterflies as a symbol of life and death have always fascinated me.”
Red Yellow Black White (from Standing People) (2019)
“This work is a playful depiction of life, and a largely progressive piece for a younger audience. This lenticular print has exceptional depth and movement.”
“There is something surreal about this evening landscape that I interpret as a nod to Magritte. Party has become an exciting and highly sought-after artist.”
After Jean-Michel Basquiat
“This screenprint was signed and dated by Lisane Basquiat and Jeanine Herivaux, the artist’s sisters and administrators of the Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Basquiat produced so few prints in his lifetime, so this print authorized by his estate presents an opportunity to collect a work by the artist at a reasonable price.”
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