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Monday, May 4, 2009

Sotheby's downsizing in more ways than one.

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

The New York Times has reported that Christies and Sotheby's (US branches) are downsizing their catalogues. Collector's shoulders will be thankful but for researchers and historians catalogues are also a great resource for studying an artist's work in the art market. Catalogues often include long (sometimes tedious) histories of the artists and their artworks but they can also be invaluable later on in reselling or studying a painting or object.

Christies are cutting down the size and page number, while Sotheby's are sending collectors usb catalogues which they can also view online, as well as maintaining printed catalogues. The quality and colour of prints can be extremely important when viewing an artwork for sale and the colour differences in screens could cause a problem but the online catalogue has its upsides. Both auction houses have searchable catalogues which are still useful for research, including condition report and background information but do not have the depth of knowledge usually presented in print catalogues. Catalogues are still a money spinner for auction houses, particularly high profile auctions so they will most likely never be completely discountinued, of which art historian are probably quite relieved.

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