Collecting

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 …

Which one of these does not belong? Read More »

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. I have previously touched upon the subject of art as investment in this blog, first in 2004  and again in 2010.  Time has …

Art as Investment Read More »

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, the painting Nature Morte à la Cruche (1937; above) 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 …

Wuzon da Block? Read More »

Best in Show

This time my “best in show” pick, the 1923 TÊTE DE JEUNE HOMME, 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 …

Best in Show Read More »

Steal of the Season

Christie’s just completed its first Shanghai auction.  It included but one Picasso, a late oil on panel, but this 1969 Homme Assis was a doozie.  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.  Suffice it …

Steal of the Season Read More »

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 …

The Missing Link? Read More »

Drawings are on a Tear

Seems to me that drawings are on a tear, much as sculptures have been for the last several years.  Oils have long outpaced works on paper and 3-D objects, by more than I would have expected.  Of late however there has been a meteoric rise in the value of works in both of these laggards. Three very high-end sculptures have recently been sold (the $100M+ Giacometti, and a Matisse and a Modigliani each topping $40M), which is a big step in correcting this market disparity.  (Picasso sculptures have topped out at just under $30M, more because of lack of availability than desirability, I believe.)  With drawings, it might be too soon to be conclusive, given the small number of recent …

Drawings are on a Tear Read More »

In the Eye of the Storm

  My hats off to the Yanks!  You are truly irrepressible!  These have been the toughest days any region of the country has faced since NY was hit by 9/11 and New Orleans and vicinity by Katrina.  As a result, the NY Stock Exchange was closed for two days this week, but it took but one day for the art market to resume in full force, at least uptown where the floodwaters were not as severe.  Auctions this week went on as scheduled or were delayed by no more than a day.  Downtown, where the depredations of the storm were more severe, repairs are already underway.  It is truly amazing how quickly you jumped back and resumed business as usual. …

In the Eye of the Storm Read More »

Wuzon da Block?

There are a number of lovely Picasso paintings and works on paper in NY this season, but the one that stands out the most is the above oil painting of Françoise at Christie’s.  Although Picasso created quite a number of beautiful drawings and prints of his new lover, his paintings of her were generally not among his best. Tête de femme (1952) is that much more remarkable, because it certainly ranks as one of the finest paintings of Françoise, arguably one of the two best.  The other one, La femme-fleur (The Woman-Flower), is in the subject’s private collection.  (In the end, it seems Françoise didn’t fare that badly….) Picasso must have been pleased with this painting.  The day before he had painted …

Wuzon da Block? Read More »

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 …

A Picasso for $14? Read More »