Kobi Ledor, MDCasey Ledor
We are a couple who share a passion for Picasso and his creations. We buy and sell his paintings, drawings, and, last but not least, his original prints. We believe that in the hands of Picasso, the greatest artist and the most innovative printmaker of all time, the print medium gave rise to unique and breathtakingly beautiful artistic expressions not at all eclipsed by his achievements in painting, drawing, or sculpture. We have fortunately reached a point in our lives which affords the opportunity to follow our heart. Casey has a BA in English from UC Berkeley and is a former speechwriter. I (Kobi) studied psychobiology at Yale and then went to med school and became a radiologist. But I always wanted to be an art dealer when I grew up. I sold Japanese prints as a sideline for nearly a decade while I still practiced medicine. We have devoted ourselves professionally to buying and selling original works by Picasso since 2003 (although I started collecting them in the early ‘eighties. Ours is a labor of love. As private art dealers without the overhead (and annoyance) of a nine-to-five gallery and, thankfully, without the need to make a tidy profit, we are able to offer these works of art to you at well below the market price.
Speechwriting is one thing, but you might say that dealing in Picasso prints is not such a radical departure from reading X-rays. After all, the images in both cases are generally black-and-white. However, my love of Picasso preceded medical school by a number of years, and Casey’s love of his art by far preceding our own meeting.
Coincidentally, although this has nothing to do with why we love Picasso, “reading” a Picasso is not entirely unlike solving the riddle of an X-ray. After first grasping the overall image, or, sometimes of necessity, in order to grasp it, one finds oneself inescapably pulled into the art by the master prankster. The puzzles each viewer is invited to decipher, in whatever order, include accounting for the number and placement of all the facial features (What clever ways did he depict the eyes and ears this time?); identifying the various twists and turns and other distortions of the remaining physical features (With what enchanting, expressive touches has he endowed the hands and feet? On which sides did the breasts and butt show up?); perceiving his other visual puns, sundry allusions to literature and prior art, and any other hidden meanings; following the lines and spatial planes across the surface of the art as they unite disparate forms, tear asunder previously intact ones, and throw the pictorial objects and thereby the viewer completely off balance; or simply following the elegant neoclassical lines with which he alternately depicted his subject.
Radiology is a pictorial study of human life, what’s right with it, and what goes wrong with it. So it is with Picasso. Picasso, who has been called the greatest psychologist of the twentieth century, filled his canvasses with the counterpoints of beauty and despair. We however prefer to read Picasso, even in the depths of his presumed despair, as a celebration of life. Picasso is about the dignity of life as well as about whimsy, humor, and, of course, sexuality. You might say that, especially in these troubled times, all of us have seen enough tragedy. Clearly we’re more suited for romantic comedy.
And now, for a few words about finding works for you by other artists or, for that matter, works by Picasso that we don’t already own. I hope this doesn’t come across as condescending and that you’re still smiling by the end. I’ll even cop to the charge of paternalism if you wish to invoke it when you catch me trying to make sure that you exercise the best possible taste and judgment when acquiring art. Why do I bother? It’s risky, after all. Unsolicited advice may not be welcome, especially if it’s critical. To date, it seems that all of its recipients have been grateful, though some have heedlessly gone on to do exactly what they had intended in the first place. Which is OK, of course.
Why do I bother? Because of what happens when I turn you loose in the shopping mall! Here’s but the latest example: A client couple, good clients who have since become friends, when we first met (online) had initially expressed interest in our synthetic cubist gouache. They passed on it because of price and instead bought some other works from us (an aquatint and an etching) that were more in line with their budget. But the chap still fancies cubism. Recently, when catching up by phone, he mentioned that they had just bought an oil by a second-tier cubist. I probably shouldn’t have asked to see its photo, but I did. Worse, I even had the bad manners to inquire about the price.
We could debate whether the artist is a 2nd or 3rd tier cubist, but his place in the cubist pantheon is less at issue than the particular painting at hand which, trust me, is a loser. I may not have much talent, but the one thing I can do best (or at least I’ve deluded myself into thinking so) is discerning good art from bad, usually in an instant. More self-delusion: I’m not just an idiot savant who only understands Picasso’s art. And I may not know nearly as much about other artists, but, as far as bad art goes, to pervert the venerable former Justice Stewart’s take on obscenity, “I know it when I see it.”
I suppose you’re thinking sour grapes. But, I swear on the hopefully not untimely grave of the art dealer who sold them the painting, when a friend or client asks me about a purchase made or about to be made from another source, I give my honest opinion. If it’s a good piece at a fair price, I say so. But here, it’s such a bad piece of art that I’d have counseled against it at any price. To add injury to insult, there are many nice works by lesser cubists that are available within my friend’s budget.
Anyway, what does it matter what I think of your art? I’m not so self-important to fail to realize, the main thing is that you like it. However, you might live to regret your purchase once your taste has become more sophisticated and your eye more discerning. Often it’s just a matter of looking at a lot more art. Following that, and maybe with a bit more conversations or reading along the way, you might find some good alternative choices and even grow to prefer them. And your future purchases would certainly be expected to appreciate more rapidly as a result of their improved quality.
Even through my Picasso-colored glasses, I still accept the presence of many other great artists and styles of art. Similarly, I appreciate the need for color as an integral part of the décor one’s home and office, and know that colorful Picassos command a huge premium. Thankfully, there are many great choices to make if one is on a budget. As long as we’re talking about cubism, some of the third tier cubists have quite nice paintings and are certainly much more affordable than Picassos of the same medium.