Louis: Why is it a mistake to commission art?
Doug: Because you never really know what you’re going to get, or if what you’re hoping the artist is going to deliver is what’s actually on his or her mind. These things shape themselves as they come into being—at least if you’re dealing with a competent artist, and not just a craftsman. Unless you’re a Medici dealing with a Michelangelo, and the sky’s the limit, you just don’t know if the result is going to appeal to you. I’ve been lucky with the pieces I’ve commissioned, like the two bronzes Barry Johnson made for me, but it’s been pure dumb luck.
L: Perhaps so, and I don’t have anywhere near the level of experience you do, but I have commissioned several works of art, including a jewelry box I had made for a lady once. The size and shape of the piece totally surprised me, but it was gorgeous, worked with stones, shells, and etched images that represented the two of us. It wasn’t what I’d asked for; it was better. I’ve also commissioned paintings with similar results.
D: You were lucky too, then.
L: Is that really so? If you ask an artist whose work you love to do something on a theme that moves you, aren’t you stacking the odds heavily in your favor?
D: Now that you mention it, I commissioned another sculpture I’m very pleased with. I once had 1,000 ounces of silver lying around, which I’d bought at about the $4 level, and I had a friend in Aspen, Charles Savione, who’s a very ...