“Wuzon Da Block” is going underground

You may have noticed that I have not been contributing to this “column” recently.  With clients now vying for Picassos such as those exemplars I’ve been touting, I find it appropriate at this time to go underground.  Rather than blog the upcoming masterpieces and bargains, we remain available for private consultation.

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Unnatural Disasters: The Perils of Paper

2015 and -16 were the years of unnatural disasters.  For us, anyway.  I’m referring to conservation disasters.  Not Trump’s anti-EPA EPA appointment, not that kind of conservation.  No, today I’d like to tell you about our paper conservation disasters, because, as unfortunate as these events were, they are also teaching moments.  I’ll share these case studies with you in order to arm you against the kind of conservation quandaries you may well eventually encounter, provided only that you don’t break yourself of the bad habit of collecting. Our slide into conservation hell started with the ruination of one of the two impressions we had at the time of Pique, Rouge et Jaune (Bloch 908, above).  The other impression was in fine condition, but this one had…

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THE ORATOR,
from Another Museum in our Backyard

In some ways, we in the Bay Area live in a cultural wasteland.  Well, this was Jerry’s home and still the hub of the Dead two decades after his death, but as for the visual arts, we’re not New York or Paris.  So any sighting of a Picasso about town deserves being called to your attention.  Here’s one that has shuttled between sister museums, having spent a number of years at the Legion of Honor before arriving and being put up in style at the De Young Museum.  It took a few years, but this amusing plaster has really grown on me over successive sightings.  Don’t miss it—L’Orateur (The Orator, 1933-34).  It upstairs on the second floor.  Take a break…

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WORKS ON PAPER: A NEW CONVERT?

I’ve elected to post the correspondence with a collector new to us below, despite having covered all of the issues it raises in various contexts, because I feel that it draws together a variety of collectors’ concerns in a small, convenient package.  So here goes: Q:  We are from India. We collect authentic good quality fine art. Contemporary, Masters and National Treasures (India).  We were thinking in terms of International art, namely Picasso pertaining to the subject at hand.  Would you be wiling to part with the drawing Femme se Coiffant (Woman Arranging Her Hair)?  And if yes, what be the price below which you will not sell?  We will need to cross check provenance as a matter of routine…

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HOLIDAY GREETINGS!

Happy holidays to all!  I’m talkin’ ta you, yeah you—all you wonderful folks who have made peddling Picassos personally possible and, more importantly, who have enriched our lives and made them so much more interesting because you’re in them.  So…we’ve survived another year, and I don’t mean in business—I mean the world.  And no doubt you’re as apprehensive about the next year as we are.  So to all of you, Casey and I and the kids wish you peace and health and all the best for the new year! It occurs to me that you just might be wondering who this collective “you” might be, or that at some point you might have wondered who the other collectors are “out…

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WUT WUZ ON DA BLOCK

The biggest steal this season, in my humble, came and went at Christie’s NY earlier this month in the form of a Picasso “Surrealist” oil on canvas, the 1929 Figure.  At 33 x 41 cm (13 x 16 1/8 in.), it is not a large painting but neither is it a particularly small one. These days Picasso Surrealism is not exactly the most sought after of his many periods, and quite a number of canvases from this period have sold at what I consider well below their relative worth, but none comes close to this bargain.  Its impressive provenance, including prior ownership by the storied Picasso dealer a generation or so ago, the Perls Galleries of New York, didn’t seem…

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The Artist, The Electrician, His Wife, His Uncle, and
the Probe into the Presumably Purloined Picassos

By now you’ve probably heard about the treasure trove of presumably purloined Picasso works on paper that walked into Claude Picasso’s office a while back, in the hands of Picasso’s electrician and his wife.  Perhaps you caught the “60 Minutes” special on this story on Sept. 25th.  I had totally missed it, but a number of friends clued me in.  I had been dying with curiosity to see photos of this treasure trove, and I’m sure some were displayed during that segment.  But a dozen of them, a tantalizingly small number but more than had been published before, are now illustrated online, with the following introduction, “When 271 never-before-seen Picassos appeared in 2010 the art world was stunned. Were they…

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THE MUSEUM IN OUR BACKYARD

The SFMOMA finally reopened earlier this year, featuring a large and world-class contemporary art collection courtesy of the Fisher Family, founders of the Gap chain.  After several visits, I can in good conscience even refer to it as the “new and improved” SFMOMA.  My initial impression, however, wasn’t so rosy. Our first visit was all too brief.  Gina and I arrived past the hour of gaining admittance to the galleries.  We managed a walk through the lobby of the old building, then up a new staircase into the new wing, and finally down a flight of stairs leading to the colossal Stella, in which we happily lost ourselves, wandering in, through and about: Unlike many art and architecture aficionados, I loved the Mario Botta design…

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Eeny Meeny 

Q:  “Tete de femme” (Marie-Therese [Bloch 250]) is starting to get “under my skin”.  I am sure you understand the feeling.  What’s your opinion…own more individual works at lower prices, or wait and purchase more significant works (i.e. current case in point)?  -Gary J. A:  As you know, Gary, I think more like a collector than an art dealer, so “it’s getting under my skin” strikes me as a really apt metaphor.  It seems to me that when you reach the threshold of pulling the trigger on a given acquisition, the feeling you have is typically some combination of, “That is a great piece of art, I would love for it to grace our walls, it is within budget, and…

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