PaperCity Magazine

PaperCity Dallas September 2022

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on his sensory reactions. When he sees a work he likes, he asks himself two questions: Can I afford that? Where could I put it? "Sometimes (often) I've bought things with no clear answer to that second question," he says. To a certain extent, Shackelford lives by his own maxim: Buy it, and the space will come. "You'd be amazed at how much stuff you can cram into a room," he says, adding that he has one too many stacks of art that have retired to the guest bedroom. Speaking to me from his kitchen table turned desk, he's surrounded by a mounting pile of books, most of which are about post-Impressionist painter Pierre Bonnard. (Shackelford is currently working on a 2023-2024 exhibition on Bonnard for the Kimbell.) Peering past his head are two drawings. One, a black- and-white etching of a man's profile, is by the French 19th-century artist Alphonse Legros. Shackelford made that purchase on eBay and has extensive knowledge on its origins. The other, a study of feathers by 20th-century Texas artist Bill Bomar, he purchased from C a r t e r B o w d e n , h i s f a v o r i t e a n t i q u e s d e a l e r out of Fort Worth. Shackelford, a founding trustee of the Association of Art Museum Curators, takes pride in ownership. "I suppose you could call it collecting, but it might be more accurate to say that I have assembled things I love to live with," he says. To him, it has never mattered if the artist is well known, or if the work has resale value. In the 1980s, while researching his Yale dissertation in France, he was charmed by a $10 drawing that sat at the back of a roadside antiques shop in Burgundy. It made its way to his Paris walk-up, and, weeks later, an art-collector friend told him that the drawing was actually an 1850s original by an accomplished artist of the day who soon turned it into a painting. And, for over a decade, that's exactly what Shackelford thought. "Fifteen years later, I'm in a shop in Houston, and I see a drawing identical to mine on the wall," he says. He deduced that both his drawing and the one in Houston were 19th-century student exercises in imitating the master's painting. Though certainly a demotion from original to an apprentice's copy, he thought the discovery exciting. "It was an upfront lesson on the exercises that young artists went through 150 years ago to learn their trade," he says. "So, it's interesting how my art history training helps me collect, but that collecting also helps my art history training." While Shackelford's fluency in the field has allowed him to effortlessly determine an artwork's age and influence based on brush strokes and imagery, he believes young collectors shouldn't be dissuaded if they haven't had as much experience. "Visit exhibitions, listen to artist talks, go to galleries that have expensive art, and those that have less expensive art. See everything and expose yourself to a lot before you actually buy," he advises. "And don't buy with the expectation that you're creating a retirement fund. Don't collect for investment. Collect for love and for the aesthetic pleasure that the piece is going to give you again and again." Architectural fantasy attributed to Charles Michel-Ange Challe (from a group of four), 1770s Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret's Portrait of Gustave Courtois, 1873 Emma Jones' Flower Sellers, 1836 George Shackelford Modern replica of a Corinthian pot from the 8th Century B.C. (Continued from page 58) 60

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