A Picasso for $14?

Check out the ABC News story for which yours truly was interviewed, “A Picasso for $14? Ohio Man Buys Print in Thrift Store”. Well, I guess I’m just not satisfied with 15 seconds of fame–I’d like to catapult to 20! So here’s what the kind journalist edited out of my comments. Despite all the problems with the poster, and particularly with the signature, that she quoted in that story, the journalist made it sound like I had concluded the signature was fake and maybe even the linocut. Actuallly, all in all, I imagine that the print is real, the red signature was distorted photographically to give it a pinkish hue, and it is just an unusually unevenly faded but authentic signature. And, since she didn’t mention the proviso, then I will restate that of course these observations are based on a review of digital images, which is not the same as examining the art in the flesh.

Plus, someone inexplicably cropped the majority of the signature illustrated in the story. Here’s a close-up of the whole autograph:

Everyone seems to be panning the quality of this artwork and urging its new owner, Zachary Bodish, to sell it. He, on the other hand, has been getting attached to it. (Sound familiar?) Well, though I wouldn’t buy this poster, there are some nice things one can say about it. For example, there is its amusing feature of the small annular marks in the corners and in the middle of the edges.  Picasso, up to his usual visual jokes, intends these marks to represent the nails used to affix this poster ad to the wall. In all his tens of thousands of artworks, there are only two other occasions of which I’m aware in which he depicted such faux-nails, both linocut posters advertising two other Vallauris ceramic exhibits of his the preceding year. Not that a single nail ever touched this hallowed poster board–even such lowly posters as this, yet signed and numbered, were more likely distributed in Paris by his dealer Kahnweiler.  

See you at Salvation Army! -Kobi

Color Starvation

Question: I am looking for a more colorful piece than the prints you show. Do you have any? -GH

Response: There are very Picasso prints that are both colored and great and none that we presently own.  I wouldn’t need all the fingers of one hand to count the truly great ones.  Almost without exception, Picasso’s greatest prints are black-and-white, as is widely acknowledged.  Only one colored print enters most sophisticated collectors’ top 10 list.  And most of the colors fade, so that today, 50 years or more after their printing, most of the available colored prints have faded to one degree or another.  Add to that the realization that color increases cost dramatically, and one is often led to the conclusion that the goal should be great concept and great design, with perhaps less emphasis on color.  To top it off, as Picasso said, “Color weakens.”  I ultimately don’t buy it, and Picasso, who had elevated goofing on his interviewer to an art form long before Bob Dylan was born, may not have exactly meant it either, but it’s amusing to trot out his quote on such occasions.  In any event, I find that it is easier (and less costly) to provide the much-needed color in one’s decor in other ways, such as with the works of lesser artists, while cherishing Picasso for the breathtaking genius of his line, a line alternately complex and (deceptively) simple. -Kobi