Collecting

Wuz NOT on da Block?

My better half made me throw away our old auction catalogues.  She was, I must admit, a wee bit justified: 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.  I had started feeling like one of those shut-ins who can’t leave their domicile because they can’t navigate through the obstructing maze of stuff to find the door.  So speaking strictly from memory (and not bothering to look this up online), this season’s Imp/Mod auction catalogues sure 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…

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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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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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Which one of these does not belong?

Q: I have been reading your blog re Picasso and his prints. You say that Picasso didn’t use pochoir, but I have read on other websites that he actually made 200 of them.  Who is correct?  -Sue G A: I can see why you would find this confusing, especially because that fancy French term sounds so very artsy.  But pochoir (French for “stencil”) is a reproductive technique, so of course Picasso didn’t  use it to create art. Picasso made original art. Other people reproduced some of his artworks using the pochoir technique, and at times he signed these reproductions by hand—for a fee.  Although these are by no means original artworks, they do have decorative value (though nothing like the…

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Art as Investment

I might as well start with the disclaimers, since they run both wide and deep:  I’m not an economist. My crystal ball is just as murky as anyone’s. I don’t give investment advice. I am not a certified financial planner. Need I go on?  Despite this rather all-encompassing disclosure, I nonetheless get a steady stream of questions about the investment value of art, which I then need to address.  The typical questions range from whether art is a good investment vehicle in general, to general questions about Picassos as investment, to questions about the investment value of a specific Picasso. In this blog, I have twice previously addressed the subject of art as investment, first in 2004 (http://ledorfineart.com/blog/art-as-investment/)  and again in 2010, when…

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Wuzon da Block?

Starter Picasso Time was you could still land a nice Picasso canvas for under a mil. Today, with few exceptions, you’re looking at a cool 2 or 3 mil, or then some, for a starter Picasso.  Yet, more likely than not, what you get for your money is uninspiring. So along comes this offering at Christie’s London.  I must say that the first time I leafed through their online catalogue, this painting didn’t catch my eye.   That first time around, I had judged it merely as one would a still life and, as such, I readily dismissed it.  After all, Picasso certainly painted many more beautiful and more clever still lifes.  But when my printed catalogue arrived, I gave…

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Best in Show

  This time my “best in show” pick is a clear choice, despite the fact that its estimate is more than an order of magnitude lower than the top estimates.  The “show” to which I’m referring is this week’s battle between the giants, Christie’s and Sotheby’s.  The battlefield is London.   As the forces prepare for battle, perhaps you’ve noticed a stalwart young man among them, the Tête de Jeune Homme (Head of a Young Man), a full-sized drawing and a paragon of Picasso’s Neoclassical Period.  Picasso created it with black conté crayon, my favorite medium in drawing because of the glistening, bold mark it produces.  I must disclose that I haven’t traveled to London to view this drawing in…

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Steal of the Season

Christie’s just completed its first Shanghai auction.  It included but one Picasso, a late oil on panel, but it was a doozie:   Homme assis, 1969 This musketeer brought in 1,906,245 USD on an estimate of 742,693 to 1,023,266 USD. Although many late Picasso paintings are oversized, about as large as a door, the better ones typically fetch 5 to 10 times this amount.  But I’m not one to overweight size relative to quality when determining value.  As for the quality of the painting, assuming late Picasso appeals to you, you may find yourself agreeing with me that it is wonderful.  I could rhapsodize at length about the style and artistic accomplishments of this hilarious musketeer, but I’ll spare you–for now. …

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The Missing Link?

Costume du manager français pour le ballet “Parade”(Costume of the French Manager for the Ballet “Parade”, 1917) This small (23 cm) but complex cubist ink drawing and wash is a delightful discovery, the “missing link” between the preparatory, simple sketches, mostly line-drawings, all of which are in the collection of the Musée Picasso Paris, and the finished costume for the French Manager in the ballet “Parade”.  The costume itself was destroyed and is now known only from the period black-and-white photographs. An example of the earlier drawings The present drawing is the culmination of all of the earlier ones, presumably the final step before Picasso (or his craftsmen) created the actual costume: The French Manager’s costume “Parade” was the first…

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