Stendahl Art Galleries in Europe:
Expanding the Market for Pre-Hispanic Art at Mid-Century
This paper addresses the Stendahl Art Galleries’ expansion of their trade in pre-Hispanic art from their home-base in Hollywood to New York and Europe in the late 1950s and early 1960s. After an initial success in acquiring and selling ancient Mexican artworks in the early 1940s, the gallery, founded by Earl Stendahl, experienced leaner years in the late 1940s. But they found renewed success after 1950 by placing family members in distinct locations – in Mexico and Central America, to acquire pieces, and in Los Angeles and New York, to cultivate buyers– and by organizing exhibitions in the US and Europe, for which host museums received commissions for sales. What began as works sold one at a time from the Los Angeles gallery would become a network of looters, agents, and buyers that expanded across the US and into Europe, selling both high-priced and inexpensive items in order to capture a broader market. Over the years, they also expanded their sources of pre-Hispanic art, beginning in Mexico and later moving to Panama, Costa Rica, and other countries. This article analyzes letters exchanged among Stendahl family members and clients to shed light on both their acquisitions and sales.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Megan O'Neil, Mary E Miller
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