Margot Yale

Last week I began my internship at Sotheby’s, an art auction house in New York. I had the good fortune of starting just two days before the day auction of American paintings, drawings, and sculptures, which was coordinated by my department. Throughout the week, I was able to glean a sense of how the auction process progresses from the exhibition, to the auction room, to the post sale procedures. As an intern in the Fine Arts Department, I am exposed to a wide range of art as the department handles Impressionist and Modern Art, Old Masters, American Art, 19th Century European Art, Israeli Art, and Judaica.


sothebys margot

Sotheby’s June auction of American Paintings, Drawings, and Sculptures on Thursday


Sotheby’s and the art market are an experience unlike anything I have encountered in my studies of art or work experiences in the past. I am in awe of the fast-paced nature of the business and the wonderful works that pass through the building on a regular basis. My summer at Sotheby’s has only just begun and I am looking forward to learning from the specialists in my department, working with art objects, and coming to a better understanding of the role of the art market in the art world at large.


After work on Friday, I visited Japan Society to view the exhibition In the Wake: Japanese Photographers Respond to 3/11 and to attend the U.S. premiere of the documentary Tracing the Future: Photographer Naoya Hatakeyama (2015). I had been looking forward to seeing the exhibition for some time, as the catalog from the original iteration of the exhibition at the MFA Boston had been the basis for my research in one of my art history classes last fall. I was thrilled to finally have the opportunity to see the works I had studied in person.


The exhibition, which marks the fifth anniversary of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan, was powerful and the works poignant in a way that exceeded the limitations of the exhibition catalog. Munemasa Takahashi’s “Lost and Found Project,” a massive curved wall tiled with salvaged, damaged snapshots found in the rubble after the disaster, surpassed my expectations. To spend time with each photograph on the wall, to look past the patina and the discoloration, and to imagine the subject animated in the moment that the image was taken was an overpowering experience much more corporal than that of reading and looking at the images in Takahashi’s book about the project.


The documentary was exceptional and harrowing, following internationally renowned photographer Naoya Hatakeyama from when he was interviewed by a Norwegian news crew as he set off to check on his family in his hometown of Rikuzentakada, to finding out that his mother has passed in the tsunami and his childhood home has been destroyed, to using photography as a medium to begin to make sense of his enormous loss. Following a deeply personal journey, Tracing the Future both delves deep into Hatakeyama’s artistic practice and captures the residents of the Tōhoku region as they pick up the pieces and rebuild.


While the exhibition has since closed, if you’d like to see Naoya Hatakeyama’s work, PUAM has three exquisite works predating 3/11. Check them out here:

Underground/ River, Naoya Hatakeyama 1999, Printed 2000, Chromogenic print

Underground/ River, Naoya Hatakeyama 1999, Chromogenic print

River Series/Shadow, Naoya Hatakeyama, 2002-04, Lambda print