Affable Art

Andrew Ansorge ’76 is vice president and controller for Swann Galleries, a boutique auction house on East 25th Street.

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Andrew Ansorge '76

His New York Story

You might say Andrew Ansorge ’76 is “sold” on the New York art scene. As vice president and controller for Swann Galleries — a small, family-owned auction house that specializes in rare and antique paper art — Ansorge wears many hats: he reviews consignments, oversees bids, pays consigners, and handles all client issues, just to name a few. Currently owned by Columbia College graduate George S. Lowry, Swann conducts 35 to 40 annual sales of books, fine-art prints, autographs, photographs, posters, and more. The auction house, which is located on East 25th Street, opened 75 years ago — and Ansorge, a native New Yorker himself, has helped it grow sixfold in his 24 years there. While sale prices range from as little as $60 to over $100,000 per item, Swann prides itself on supporting public access to art and people’s interest in collecting. “We like to think of ourselves as the boutique, friendly auction house that will actually work with a client and ease their transition from being just a viewer of art … to being a collector,” says Ansorge.

How He’s Helping New York City Art Lovers

Swann’s family mindset and smaller size offer “hands-on accessibility,” Ansorge says. “The fact that you can come into Swann Galleries and meet with the specialist in the print department — if that’s the material you want to know something about — allows you to have direct access to their knowledge,” he says. Larger institutions, such as those that sell billions of dollars of art each year, “[might] have a challenge” offering such direct contact, Ansorge adds. 

The Benefits of the Big Apple

“Being in New York gives us access to a very large and knowledgeable community,” Ansorge says. The city also boasts a strong network of Columbia University graduates — a network that Ansorge credits with first introducing him to the gallery. “[George Lowry] and I hit it off on the ‘Columbia grad’ side. That was the hook,” he says. The city is also “a magnet” for creative, artistic people who might be interested in collecting, he adds. “It’s the fact that you have people with a common interest who can collect [art] in the same area and cross-pollinate. We have not found a way to interact better than face-to-face communication. As long as that remains critical, places like New York will thrive.”

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