Sunday, January 24, 2016

looking at fine art auction catalogs

     This painting was begun last year but recently completed. The model held a guitar with no strings so I had to complete that later with references. I'm not quite sure what to call it-- "Castles in Spain"? "Far away Places"? Hmmm- something to suggest that she is thinking about travel, inspired by the poster and wishing she was elsewhere.
     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 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 ?

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