Tag Archives: big names in art

David Lynch’s Nightmarish World Comes To Life In Paintings

Naming,” David Lynch’s upcoming exhibition at Kayne Griffin Corcoran Gallery in Los Angeles, explores the tenuous relationship between text and image. While we often think of a thing and its name as opposite sides of the same coin, Lynch’s work directs us to the instances that reveal a more slippery relation.

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Who The *$&% Is An Art Expert?

I’ve had one art DVD on my wishlist for years now, but I hadn’t given it much priority until today.

Who the *$&% Is Jackson Pollock? is the 2006 documentary about 73-year-old former long-haul truck driver Teri Horton, who purchased a $5 painting from a thrift shop. The painting was supposed to be a gag gift for a friend — but now Horton believes that the painting is an original Jackson Pollock.

If the painting is by the famous abstract expressionist, it would be worth millions. What the documentary does is show the lengths this woman has gone through to try to prove the painting is a Pollock work, including fingerprint identification. But the road is not easy, as Randy Kennedy explains:

The filmmakers were initially fascinated by the science-versus-art angle of Ms. Horton’s story, about how forensics may be starting to nudge the entrenched tradition of connoisseurship from its perch in the world of art authentication. But as they spent more time with her, they began to see the movie as being about something more important than whether the painting was a real Pollock, a question left very much for the viewer to decide.

“It became, really, a story about class in America,” [director Harry Moses] said. “It’s a story of the art world looking down its collective nose at this woman with an eighth-grade education.”

The story obviously catches my attention, but it wasn’t until I read Frank Messina’s article, Nicolas Carone: Jazz, Poetry, And Jackson Pollock, in which Nicolas Carone, an expert on Pollock discusses his role in the saga of Horton’s painting, that I became motivated to move the film to the top of my wishlist:

In the film, Carone is brought in to physically inspect the painting. In a pivotal scene, Carone is asked by the film’s director, Harry Moses, whether or not the painting is authentic. Carone said he could not determine one way or the other. And with those few words, the painting remained in a cloud of mystery. After all, if Nicolas Carone couldn’t tell if it was authentic, then who could?

Relaxed in his favorite armchair in his studio, Carone spoke at length about the movie, and admitted being less than forthcoming when Harry Moses asked him about Teri Horton’s painting. “I was worried. I worried. I was advised not to tell that it is or it isn’t.” When I asked who had advised him, he ran his fingers across his lips as if closing a zipper. He then referred to a particular scene in the film when the Horton painting is compared side-by-side with an undisputed Pollock, “No. 5, 1948”, once owned by art collector Si Newhouse, chairman and CEO of Advance Publications and Conde Nast, (New Yorker Magazine, Vanity Fair), and more recently, record producer David Geffen. “The thing is, when they spliced the painting from Geffen, and they showed it with hers and they put it together like that. It looked exactly the same. That made me worry,” Carone said. I asked in what way. “In a way that it could’ve been a spliced painting. What she had, I looked at the canvas in the back. You know how you turn the painting, like this, the canvas, you turn it around,” Carone said, shaping his arms into a square. “All this on the side is still a continuation of the painting, and it’s cut there. This part is cut. I think that that painting was cut from another painting. It’s cut,” Carone said. “As if Pollock cut it?” I asked. “Yes,” he said.

And while Carone wouldn’t outright tell me whether the painting was authentic or not, he did offer a cryptic assessment when asked about the recent offer of $9,000,000 Horton received and refused for the painting. “I think if she holds out a little more—I think the Teri painting will go for more than nine million,” Carone said.

Despite this, there’s no news that Horton has received the $50 million she’s been holding out for; or that she’s even sold it at all. However, knowing Carone’s thoughts certainly adds a new layer to the story and makes me want need to see this film. In part because the story simply will not die.

Plucking A Picasso From A Thrift Shop

Another thrift store find; this time a signed Picasso. Purchased for $14, the man sold the Picasso print designed to advertise a 1958 Easter exhibition of his ceramic work in Vallauris, France, for $7,000.

Aside from being a reminder that real art can indeed be found in thrift shops, there’s this tip on the value of numbered linocuts from Lisa Florman, an associate history professor at Ohio State University who has authored a book on Picasso:

There’s certainly some collectors who really place a premium on a single-digit number because it indicates the artist’s greater involvement with the actual printing, so those particular prints can fetch a higher price.

2009 Art Sales May Not Have Been Bad For Auction Houses, But Was It Good For Art?

Antique Week, Vol. 41, Issue No. 2112 (January 11, 2010) has a report in the national section on art sales in 2009.

In the article, two things stood out for me.

First:

Auction houses started slashing pre-sale estimates by as much as 50 percent to stimulate sales. When Sloans & Kenyon of Chevy Chase, Md., gave a $6,000-8,000 estimate to an unsigned 18th century oil of the Grand Canal in Venice, bidders from around the world smelled a deal. Instead, the painting went for $687,125 at the Sept. 27 auction.

The math’s off (the pre-sale estimate was what, 10-15% of the final sale?), but one thing’s for sure: People buy classic art the same way they buy bags of socks at Wal*Mart.

Second:

Old Masters are getting a new look from investors wary of fluctuations in more modern art, Warhol excluded. In its art review of 2009, Bloomberg said, “Collectors responded to the financial crisis by selecting the best 20th century classics, Old Masters, wine and jewelry at international auctions. They shunned investment in some contemporary art as prices dropped by half.”

And, it was noted earlier in the piece that Bloomberg had reported “that the sale of high-value contemporary art took a big hit last year when major auction houses ceased providing consignors with price guarantees.”

What this says to me is something about fundamentalism at times of crisis and art pretension as a form of commerce; art as financial investment based on fear of depreciation, not art purchased for appreciation.

Fauning Over Maclise

Several people must have been fauning fawning over R.A. Daniel Maclise’s Pan And The Dancing Fairies (The Faun And The Fairies) because the pretty painted piece sold for 301,250 GBP (roughly $498,509 in US dollars) at Sotheby’s Victorian & Edwardian Art auction held December 17th, 2009.

ra-daniel-maclises-pan-and-the-dancing-fairies

I show it to you merely because it would have been the piece I would have been wistfully admiring had I been at the auction.

A Breath Of Spring Air

A lovely fashion sketch by Sir Cecil Beaton, which wafts off my monitor and makes my heart lighter…

sir-cecil-beaton-fashion-sketch

In non-art related news, I’ve been spending all weekend cleaning my home, laying down poison and traps, all to rid myself of an unwanted, non-pet, mouse. I can understand him wanting to move in here; it’s already friggin’ cold here in Fargo. But he cannot stay here.

I tell you all this so that you A) understand why I would be feeling the need to get away from the cleaning fumes and get some fresh spring air, and #2 have an actual real life lesson in how art can transport one.

Hugh Grant: Lessons In Buying Art

In the January 2010 issue of Elle magazine, there’s an interview of Hugh Grant by Holly Millea. Whatever you think of Grant, there’s an interesting bit on the actor as an art collector.

Elle: Tell me, is it true that you bought an Andy Warhol painting of Elizabeth Taylor for $4 million in 2002 and sold in it 2007 for $23 million?

HG: Those numbers are not quite correct. It all began with a drink… And I was thinking about some stuff in the Sotheby’s auction and I saw this Warhol, so I drunkenly rang up the girl who helped me with art, and said, “You’re going to bid for that.” And to my horror, she did, and even worse, got it. I slightly regret selling it now, even though it made me rich. My contemporary art collection began with just needing to put things on the wall. I was looking around my Victorian house thinking, “What would be the coolest is contemporary art — it will make me look young and interesting.” I’m more than 80 percent skeptical of the whole thing. Having said that, the stuff I own, I have come to love now.”

See, it doesn’t matter what the size of your wallet celebrity status is, lots of people seem to think owning art will make you seem “young and interesting.” And Grant seems to at least have been intimidated or “skeptical” about art.

elizabeth-taylor-by-andy-warhol-1963 I can’t (ethically) suggest you get drunk and buy art (let alone bid on anything at Sotheby’s or other big auction house); nor do I even hint at a promise of millions in return on your art investment. But if you relax and sort of view buying art as a means to cover your walls, you can do quite well. At least you’re likely to end up with stuff you’ve come to love.

Scans of the interview in its entirety here.

Michael Jackson: King Of Commissioned Kitsch

We keep hearing how poor MJ was, but the dude spent a fortune commissioning art — of himself. And while he was one helluva a musical artist & entertainer, he didn’t have a clue about art.

Just unveiled, Kehinde Wiley’s monumental commissioned portrait of Michael Jackson:

kehinde-wileys-monumental-commissioned-portrait-of-michael-jackson

And here’s a 1990 painting of Jackson by David Nordahl:

MJ_Art Lover_REPRO.indd

Now maybe you’re not surprised to see the size of MJ’s ego displayed in such works. I’m not; but I thought he had more of an artistic sense. All that money to promote yourself as a kitsch icon? Such high prices for such low kitsch? I mean he could have commissioned such portraits from any high school art class student. All he’d have to do is give the kid a copy of an art history book along with the deposit check. But what screams to me the most from all of this is that Jackson would have put these on display, likely in his home.

Where his kids could see them.

So I no longer can buy Prince, Paris and Blanket dressed in masks, scarves and blankets as some sort of shield protecting the kids so that they’d grow up normal. Not when he was willing to subject them to such portraits of daddy. These painting not only distort images of dad as a real person but distort images of real art too.

Well, at least I don’t think Jackson commissioned such artworks to include his kids’ faces as cherubs or whatnot. Or maybe I just don’t recognize his kids.

Or maybe there are frightening family portraits we have yet to see.

See also the edible MJ.