Vintage Art: Always go for the “feeling,” never the “copy”

Home Theaters. Beautiful Wine Closets. Tuscan-influenced landscapes. Professional Kitchens. Resort Quality Bedding. Professional-looking, fully stocked in-home bars. What does this all mean? People are venturing out less and staying at home more. Duh. The problem with staying home is it invites us to face our own mortality. You’re growing up, you’re getting old, and you’re becoming sedentary.

Think hard. Where are your best memories; where did they take place? Are they inside the walls of your home? I’d venture a guess, “No.”

We’ve wondered why a contemporary online art gallery should be swamped with orders upon orders for vintage art, particularly vintage advertisements and travel posters. People are getting more nostalgic, but why? For the exact items depicted in the vintage advertisements they are purchasing, obscure liqueurs they’ll never taste, or places they may never have visited? It seems that people are not trying to recreate exact copies of their experiences. We’ve asked two hundred or so folks, and that’s not the case at all.

People are taking chances in their artwork choices for the home with vintage images. A cigarette advertisement, when they don’t smoke. A travel poster for a country that doesn’t exist anymore. The collector is creating a feeling, not a look.

Good interior designers know: all “looks” are copies and all “feelings” are evocative. I remember a friend from college. He was a jetsetter. At his lake house, his father had the master bedroom made into an exact copy of his favorite hotel room at the Ritz in Paris. It was GARISH. In this exact copy, it lost its soul. It evoked nothing. He went for the copy and not for the feeling. Mistake #1.

Always go for the feeling. Evocate a place, a memory, a time. The beauty of vintage art is it looks like it’s from somewhere else, not your home. It brings “somewhere else” in your home. The artwork takes you out of the house, using your imagination. This type of imagination is akin to reading a book (active) as opposed to watching television (passive). When your imagination is active, you don’t have time to think about your own mortality.

People are creating an individual expression which mirrors the outside world, but is the expression of a unique personal consciousness and a desire to be somewhere else besides home. I think that’s why this category took off as soon as we launched it. The recession is helping too, for the price of a night out you can buy a couple of beautiful vintage prints on paper or canvas, which will last a couple of lifetimes. Nice.

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