Q&A with American Art Expert Peter Falk
Peter has been a leader in art reference publishing during the past 40 years. He is best known as the author of the biographical dictionary, Who Was Who in American Art. He is currently the Chief Curator and Editor of Discoveries in American Art, which is the only art publication largely focusing on bringing greater recognition to the lives and works of artists that were marginalized or slipped through the cracks of art history.
How did you get started in the art world?
It’s in the genes. My mother was an artist and went to RISD. At Brown, I was split between art studio and art history. I did my graduate work at RISD. Then I had no money. Zero. I liked poking around the antique shops in Providence and would pick up Old Master prints, becoming self-taught. I kept turning $20 purchases into $500 by selling them to galleries in New York and Boston, realizing I was becoming a “picker” a.k.a a “runner.” But I also knew that it was too tough to continue that route as a sustainable business. Fortunately, one day I found some drawings in a shop that looked an awful lot like those of Winslow Homer. I did research and tracked down the artist’s estate collection. Turned out the artist was a good friend of Homer but he wound up becoming completely forgotten. He was historically significant, having produced a huge series of on-the-spot drawings documenting the Civil War battles, post-war reconstruction, and the nation’s Westward expansion. This huge collection had been stored away in trunks in a log cabin on the edge of the Vermont State Forest. I was stunned. The family was willing to sell, and in full bravado I convinced … Click here to read more