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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Wuz NOT on da Block?

We recently round-filed our old auction catalogues.  They were displacing not just all the other books on the bookshelves, but they had even started crowding out the more animate inhabitants of our home.  So speaking strictly from memory, this season’s Imp/Mod auction catalogues nonetheless look a lot thinner than yesteryear’s.  What’s going on, you ask? The explanation seems pretty straightforward, though I cannot prove it, at least not without going to some trouble: the Chinese and the Russians must have become less active in the market, and to a significant extent.  I remember reading that in 2012, the Chinese accounted for 40% of the worldwide purchases at auction.  It ain’t happenin’ now, folks.  So the owners wishing to unload their art…

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(More) Annals of Apocryphal Art

  Q: Hallo Kobi, I hope you don’t mind me mailing you right out of the blue but I’ve been doing some research and I must say I find your site the most informative, erudite and clear on the subject of Picasso and the Vollard Suite. I am from Ireland but I live in Berlin, Germany and came across an “original hand-signed lithograph” with certificate of authenticity in a reputable antique shop in a very wealthy part of the city. I have not purchased it yet and it is priced at €955.00. It says that it was published by Gerd Hatje in Stuttgart in 1956 and it is entitled ” Bull, horse and reclining woman”.  I appreciate it is not…

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Overdue Diligence

  Art dealers are a prosecuted minority.  So it came as no surprise when recently I fielded a call from a collector new to us, wondering how we distinguish ourselves from other Picasso vendors. This was a timely question–art fraud and related misconduct, though sadly commonplace, have spiked in the headlines rather conspicuously of late.  The Panama Papers are but the latest bombshell to explode.  Most dramatically, perhaps you heard that the Qatari royal family tried to seize a sculpture from Picasso’s daughter Maya Widmaier-Picasso, from her apartment no less (it wasn’t there—it was on view in the Picasso Sculpture exhibit at the MOMA), in a dispute involving an alleged double-sale of the plaster to them and to Gagosian.  Gagosian, who…

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Picasso feels the Bern! 

  In channeling Picasso earlier today–you see, he comes to me at critical moments–the old man wanted to make sure I get the word out.  My Spanish is better than my French, so he usually speaks to me in his mother tongue.  My lack of fluency engenders misunderstanding at times, but today there was nothing lost in translation–his meaning was clear: Picasso has officially endorsed Bernie Sanders! Picasso was of course a capitalist, not to mention the wealthiest artist in history.  He was also a member of the Communist Party, though that should be viewed in its historical context.  As a member of the French intelligentsia back then, there was a clear dichotomy: you were either a fascist or you were a communist. Though he…

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WUZON DA BLOCK?

  STUFF ON A TABLE Let’s just start out with the premise that Picasso was the greatest still life painter of all time, just as of so many other genres.  OK, I won’t argue if you go with van Gogh instead—his are breathtaking, too, and you’re entitled to your own opinion.  Or we might agree that van Gogh was the greatest of his era, and Picasso of his.  But I know there’s some sort of consensus in the making, so no need to belabor the specifics. Nor is it easy to compare a Picasso still life from one of his periods to that of another—the styles are so radically different and so many pieces of each period are truly masterpieces…

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“When Beauty Strikes”

In case you missed David Brooks’ touching op-ed in the Sunday Times, “When Beauty Strikes”, you may want to dig it up.  He puts the pursuit of beauty in the most noble and endearing terms, and, since you have made the time to read my tripe, I know you’ll appreciate his far more eloquent words.   It’s a short but lovely essay, and anything I could add would just be gilding the lily.  Here’s the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/15/opinion/when-beauty-strikes.html?emc=edit_th_20160115&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=49782313.

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CATCH IT IF YOU CAN!

  This post is ostensibly about the blockbuster Picasso Sculpture show at the MOMA, but first a bit of kvelling.  Our 13-year-old daughter Gina won an international cello competition, first place in her age group, which led to a solo performance at Carnegie Hall. It provided a good excuse for the entire family to take in the Picasso show. Picasso Sculpture runs through Sunday, February 7.  Words are simply not up to the task of doing this sculptor justice.  Thankfully by now enough critics have tried that I don’t need to further extol the exhibit–apart from just adding this word of encouragement: drop everything right now and go there! It was great to see so many of our faves all at once—they never get old—but it…

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Cheapies

Q: I  have very much enjoyed  reading your blog and have learned a lot from you.  I can understand that you are very particular in your tastes and views about what is great Picasso work. I have even emailed you and appreciate your kindness in that you always even reply back.  I consider you one of the leading U.S. art authorities on Picasso. But I think you do not realize that you are a little intimidating, almost like a Picasso snob. I started by collecting Chagall and then began to branch out in my taste.  Your blog helped me to better understand Picasso’s work.  But sadly I’m not rich; my wealthier friends would be shocked at what I’ve spent on art. The only art they ever…

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