Sunday, January 24, 2016
looking at fine art auction catalogs
I've been looking at catalogs from "Fine Art Auctions". They are all Canadian art - some I love and some I wouldn't want at any price, let alone what they are listed at. There are some outstanding Emily Carr ones - and some dreadfully dreary ones. She should have had a clean-out before she died. She did leave the sorting task to Lawren Harris - but then her sister rescued many from the "destroy" pile. You have to do the destroying yourself, like Robert Genn did. I have had more than one clean-out. A fellow artist I know finds it very hard to get rid of anything but I think that you have to look at your work and ask yourself if you were to die, would you want those left to represent your work? Let's face it, *everything* is not a masterpiece. Some pieces are experiments, some are learning efforts that could lead in new directions even if they don't quite make it except as #1 in the series, some are lacking in some basic element- "weeding" has to be done. Yet, there is also a lot of good work out there that gets little recognition. I was looking at some nudes in one of the catalogs and thinking that a lot of the work produced in our group sessions is certainly the equal....it just lacks the signature of an already-recognized artist. Too bad people don't trust themselves and buy what they like as it would be possible to have a very fine collection at very reasonable prices - fractions of prices in the catalogs.
Catalog information is not always accurate- there are two Krieghoff's with obviously the same reference used for the male figure. The write-up for one paintings notes that the size is out of proportion to the other figures- but, in the other painting, there is the same dis-proportion with no mention. Then there is "Dorabell Lee", a watercolour by Emily Carr. The description refers to the figure as that of a child - but, it is obviously a doll -probably belonging to a child where Emily was staying to study in France. The proportions, the way it is lying down, the shapes of the arms, the face- it is a doll with a bisque head, probably bisque forearms - smoothly round-, and very slender legs . No doubt someone carved the sabots for its feet - and they are a bit large. If you look at other figure studies of actual people- and some are actual portraits- there is no doubt that Emily Carr was capable of doing a good figure or portrait study. No, Dorabell Lee is not a child- it is a doll lying on the grass. Even the name is like a child's made-up name for a doll, not so likely that of a real child in France. I wonder who bought the painting over 6 years ago- and I wonder if they realize the Dorabell Lee is a doll? I haven't done any actual paintings of dolls, although I have done sketches. I'm a bit afraid of producing something on the sentimental side, so I have to admire the casualness of Dorabell Lee- just left on the ground. I think it was just an experiment with colours, using a subject that just happened to be there. I wonder if the owner ever knew that her doll was immortalized and would end up in a catalog with an estimated price of $30,000 to $70,000 ?