Veteran traders around the Chicago Board of Trade have enjoyed more than a few meals at Ceres.
A magnet for the financial crowd, Ceres greets its entrants with the beautiful and inspired work of Leroy Neiman, an iconic artist who has captured on canvas the grandeur of the world’s major financial exchanges and the frenetic yet majestic beauty of our industry at large.
As my own fascination with LeRoy Neiman has manifested into a growing collection of the man’s work, I’ve gotten to know Robert Varner, owner of Doubletake Gallery in Burnsville, Minnesota.
Doubletake Gallery is a fine art brokerage service that works with art collectors to locate specific pieces, and help them resell pieces that no longer fit their collections. Varner achieves this through his website, which has developed an impressive international Internet presence, and a retail gallery located near Minneapolis, Minnesota. At any one time, you can find works by LeRoy Neiman, Norman Rockwell, Salvador Dali, Peter Max, Erte, Andy Warhol and many, many others displayed on the web site and in his gallery.
Like myself, a burgeoning number of traders have developed a relatively newfound passion for art and, specifically, the works of LeRoy Neiman, now 89. Recently, we posed a few questions to Bob who was kind enough to share his insight and wisdom in an interview about the inextricable link between trading and art, and the incomparable works of Mr. Neiman.
Q. We at Indiana Grain are obviously quite fond of LeRoy Neiman. What is your favourite Neiman piece and why?
There are two pieces that I love. The first is Cafe de Flore la Nuit. I’m fascinated with how Neiman is able to capture a sense of calm within a setting of action, and this piece exemplifies that ability.
Pierrot is another one of my favourites. It shows another Neiman talent; using a minimum of colours and brush strokes to capture a figurative expression.
Q. How long have you been collecting Neiman’s art and what is your fundamental attraction to his work?
I’ve been buying and selling Neiman’s work since the late 80’s. I was originally attracted by his use of colour and the subjects that he painted, but as I got to know the man, I learned that he always portrays the positive aspects of people in all of his works. Even when he’s painting an athlete who’s just lost a competition, he’s pulling out the dignity of the person at that moment, and the strength it takes for them to carry on.
Q. What is the tangible allure of Neiman’s work to so many traders?
Traders are highly competitive, just like athletes. Neiman’s artwork captures that competitive spirit, which then appeals to anyone who appreciates the thrill of victory.
Q. Has Neiman expressed to you the inspiration behind his trading related artwork?
Business is a contact sport, and no place is that more evident than the trading floor. Neiman understands that. Boxing is his favourite sport because it involves one-on-one competition. To him, a stock exchange is just a venue for a daily boxing match.
Q. In your estimation, do most traders who purchase art from you do so primarily because they like the pieces or because they’re looking for appreciating assets into which they can invest?
Both. By its very nature, artwork has value based on supply and demand, just like commodities. When a collector of Neiman’s artwork is ready to buy a piece that they like, they should buy at a price that’s competitive with the current market values.
But collectors also know that the physical condition of the artwork plays a role in its value. They trust us to give them competitive pricing, and a product that, because the condition is good, can be easily sold in the future.
Q. What is your advice to a trader who wants to invest in art but knows very little about art?
Start by looking at a lot of artwork before you buy anything. Go to galleries and museums. Learn what attracts you. Is it the colour, the texture, the subject, the style? The more you explore the art world, the more you’ll learn about your own tastes. Look at the artwork first hand. Don’t depend on pictures from the internet to give you a true perspective of the artist’s talent. Only when you have a good idea of what attracts you, should you consider buying something. That’s when you can use the internet to research market values and sources.
For more information about Robert Varner and his beautiful gallery, click here.