true copy of article New show gives glimpse of the business of art
from The Island Packet, June 9, 1983 (Hilton Head Island, SC)
Representing artists is an art in itself
by Trudy Yates
Drop in at the Hilton Head Island Branch Library for “Coffee and Conversation” some lazy summer morning and you must may meet an artist’s representative.
Paul Knatz was there last week–smiling and friendly. In an hour he had enjoyed a visit with some stimulating people and also stirred up a real flurry of interest in his client, Ula Haensell. Because he was charming, had established himself as knowledgeable and articulate, and because he exuded admiration and enthusiasm for the artist, a number of people in the library group headed straight for the Thompson Gallery to acquaint themselves with Ula’s work. It was both a productive and pleasant morning for Mr. Knatz.
Artist’s representatives are a complex breed. They bridge what is often a wide chasm between an artist and the viewing and buying public. The very fine ones are as fascinating as the painters and sculptors they promote
Paul Knatz was born in New York and educated at Columbia and New York universities, with a major in English Literature. For a time he perceived his career as inexorably set. He would be a writer. And wrote he did.
“I can honestly say that my stories were solicited by Esquire, Playboy, The New Yorker, and Harpers,” Knatz said, “not purchased, but solicited.”
There was never an impersonal pink rejection slip in the mail for Paul Knatz. Editors always wrote a lengthy epistle praising the work–telling him that everyone in the office had read the story and were enthusiastic to a man. Send more, they told him. Not this one, but others.
Although he never will abandon writing entirely (a fine idea for a short novel is presently awaiting a suitable block of time,) Knatz did, of necessity, move on to another career. For several years he taught Renaissance Literature–at first on a full time basis at Colby College and then part time at New School in New York City. He enjoyed the intellectual stimulation but not the academic sub-structure, the financial remuneration or the inflexible routine. There had to be a better way.
About this time, the disenchanted college professor met some artists who wanted to be published. They admired and trusted Paul Knatz and believed that he could figure out a way to do it. Upon reflection, Paul thought so too.
“This is no a unique situation with artists,” Knatz explained. “Many of them wish to keep their paintings but want to sell their imagery. Of course, a few do their own print making and others contract with print makers on their own, but the majority don’t want to become involved the business end of such negotiations and really cannot afford it either.”
Paul began to establish himself with the major New York ateliers–Eleanor Ettinger, Chromacomp, and Fine Creations–and he began to visit museums and galleries across the United States with a discerning eye. What were the artistic tastes in different areas of the country? What was selling in Washington, D.C.? What setting the pace of the season in New York?
Soon, he began to use his knowledge to co-ordinate and edit the work of a few artists–to negotiate the print making the ateliers and then to market and distribute the work to galleries where he felt it would have appeal. Sometimes he served merely as a business representative for the artist, but in other instances, he would buy the rights to the print and future profits belonged to him.
After almost ten years in the business, Paul call himself a publisher and distributor of multiple original graphics. He works with a number of international artists including Robert Vickrey, Gail Bruce and G.H. Rothe, but at present, he is concentrating on what he considers to be the most exciting project of his career–introducing the work of Ula Haensell to the North American continent.
“She has a unique and multi-faceted talent that is well established throughout the world but unknown here. I will be devoting special attention to distributing her work for several months at least,” he said.
On the east coast, Knatz already has chosen Karl Mann in New York, Midtown Galleries in Washington, D.C. and Thompson Gallery on Hilton Head to represent Ms. Haensell and he also plans to use at least one Florida outlet as well as the Gallery Coté (in his Long Island neighborhood) to sow her work. With these contracts on the eastern seaboard secured, he will start west with the Ula Haensell story.
It is a busy life, perhaps a but lonely sometimes, but never boring. There is the ever-changing kaleidoscope of art galleries, new faces, new ideas, new reactions to Ula’s work. And there is always Bah. Knatz is learning to play the flute and he indulges himself every day in an hour or two of communion with his favorite composer.
“The flute is a marvelous instrument,” he declared, his eyes alight. “The resonance is all within your own head. It is fantastic, highly addictive.”
When he returns to Long Island, Paul enjoys the life of a middle aged athlete, golfing in the summer and skiing in the winter. he also spends some special times with his fifteen year old son who is following in his father’s footsteps as a budding author.
“He writes espionage novels and they are good,” the proud father maintains.
It was a brief stay on Hilton Head for Paul Knatz, only a couple of days. But there was time for some coffee and some very interesting conversation at the library.
Layout: upper page 6-B. six columns, top 2/3 of middle pair of columns, b/w photo of self in front of UH horizontal watercolor propped vertically. The photographer said he needed that image for contrast and needed it upright to fit the column space.
Right side pair of columns:
German artist’s work at Thompson Gallery
by Kathryn Hodgman
Ula Haensell … etc., also with mention of and quotes from PK.
I’ll copy and post another article / interview with pk. I have audio tapes of several of my radio interviews; but no equipment to see if there’s still decipherable audio on them. Of my cable TV channel for The Free Learning Exchange, Inc. I have only the cable TV company’s weekly listing.