An exclusive interview with Daniel Lienau, owner of Annex Galleries (IFPDA), California, USA.
Q1. Where are you based and how long has the gallery been dealing in fine prints?
DL: I am based in Santa Rosa, California, USA and have been dealing fine prints for over 45 years.
Q2. How did you start in the art business?
DL: I started in the late 1960s specializing in framing works on paper, which very few framers were doing at the time. Through trade and purchase I started to build a collection of fine prints and selling them in the shop. In the 1970s I shifted my focus to the selling of the prints and exhibitions.
Q3: Which artists / art movements do you specialise in?
DL: I specialize in whatever comes my way that provokes a response in me and that I can afford. my interest in in creative printmaking more than market and recognition. Over the years I have specialized in color woodcut and arts and crafts prints; Mexican and hispanic prints; Modernist prints; American WPA prints of the 1930s; Ameican color prints; Abstract Expressionist prints and my personal favorite, prints by artists who studied at Atelier 17 in Paris and New York.
Add to that 20th century European and Asian prints and you have an idea of what the 10,000 prints in our inventory consist of.
Q4: What were some of the first prints you bought and sold?
DL: Our first major sales came over 40 years ago when we began working with the estates of American color woodcut artists Gustave Baumann and William Seltzer Rice.
Q5: Who is your personal favourite artist and why?
DL: A hard question, there are many, depending on where and when they worked. The last few years it has been Stanley William Hayter, who I feel is one of the most important printmaking figures in the 20th century. I also am a fan of Whistler, for the same reason, in the 19th century. I admire them both for their broad affect on hundreds of printmakers around the globe.
Q6: Which artists do you regard as some of the finest printmakers?
DL: See above. There are many, many fine and innovative printmakers it would be arrogant of me to highlight just a couple.
Q7: If you could own just one print, which would it be?
DL: Durer’s Melencholia
Q8: Which artists do you have in your personal collection?
DL: My response to this question is whatever I have not sold. If I were to die tomorrow – this is my collection. I purchase work for inventory based on my personal interest and curiosity, hoping I can find another person that will agree with me. I can live with them.
Q9: What are some of your latest acquisitions?
DL: Some Baumann woodcuts, a number of Atelier 17 related images and some 19th century European works. My latest acquisitions are always put up on my website and clients go to that choice on the site regularly to see what is new.
Q10: What advice do you offer collectors when acquiring fine prints?
DL: Buy what interests you, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, I have learned more that way than any other. Spend what your budget can afford, assuming that there is nothing better you can do with the money. Become an informed “collector” by researching, looking, comparing impressions, talking to dealers, etc. Dealers are your best bet, they guarantee authenticity and will take the work back if there is a problem, help you if you ever need to resell it, help with appraisal values and search for other works for you.
Today’s technology makes authenticity a very difficult process for the beginner, even for the experienced so, if it seems to be too good to be true, beware.
I could go on for a long time, but you get the idea. Each of the collectors I deal with has his or her own approach and interest, only the “investors” all have the same collection – it’s in every book, every major auction catalog and the only difference is how much they paid for it.
View Annex Galleries listings here.