Paul Ben-Itzak’s new 40-page Memoir, including art by Ansel Adams, Robert L. Berry, Lou Chapman, James Daugherty, Gustave Caillebotte, Jacob Lawrence, Sylvie Lesgourgues, David Levinthal, Roy Lichtenstein, Sam Peckinpah, Charles M. Russell, Saul Steinberg, and Frank Lloyd Wright from both current exhibitions and the AV Archives, is now available. To receive your own copy as a PDF or Word document, including 35 illustrations, please send $19.95 to the AV by designating your PayPal payment to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write us at that address to learn about payment by check. Your purchase includes a complimentary one-year subscription to the Arts Voyager and Dance Insider ($29.95 value). Above: Saul Steinberg, “Train,” From the exhibition Along the Lines: Selected Drawings by Saul Steinberg, on view through October 29 at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Willy Ronis (1910 – 2009), “Boulevard Sérurier, Paris,” 1948. Gelatin silver print (circa 1990), 15.95 x 12 inches, including margins. Title, date, and negative number in artist’s hand on back. Artcurial pre-sale estimate: 1,500 – 2,000 Euros. Image courtesy and copyright Artcurial.
Willy Ronis (1910 – 2009), “Le nu provencal (Provencal nude),” summer 1949. Gelatin silver print, 51 x 34.25 inches, including margins. Signed in ink at lower right. (See story for details.) Artcurial pre-sale estimate: 10,000 – 15,000 Euros. Image courtesy and copyright Artcurial.
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2016 Paul Ben-Itzak
If Willy Ronis, from whom a monumental 163 lots of photographs from the 6,000 inherited by his grandson Stéphane Kovalsky spanning eight decades go on sale tonight at Artcurial in Paris (the rest went to the State on or before the photographer’s death in 2009 at age 99), is not as cloying as Robert Doisneau, crafty as Brassai, clever as André Kertesz, lucky as Henri Cartier-Bresson nor eternally naive (in the positive sense) as Jacques Lartigue, none of these worthy peers come close to him as an instinctive chronicler of a proletarian Paris which, if not completely disappeared, has at least been dispersed and upscaled in recent years: the terrain of what would become the parc Belleville before it was a well-manicured garden that closed at sunset; wide-open catty-corners in pre-BoBo (Bourgeosie Bohemian) Belleville-Menilmontant when the drying linen that was still permitted on the balconies became a stage curtain for the intricate charades of ragamuffins; a wine and liquor store that doubled as a charcoal depot before rising pollution threatened to ban chimneys from the Metropole; artisanal glassmakers and above all that ramshackle sky-line before developers started eliminating the former and blighting the latter.
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Helmut Newton (1920 – 1984), “Veruschka on the Terrace of the Presidential Suite, Hotel Meridien, Nice,” 1975. Silver gelatin print, 7.48 x 11.42 inches. Signed, titled, and dated with artist’s stamp on back. Artcurial pre-sale estimate: 15,000 – 20,000 Euros. Image courtesy and copyright Artcurial.
One might think that scheduled as a curtain closer on the same evening as its monumental “From the Willy Ronis Inheritance” sale, which offers 163 lots starting with a 1926 self-portrait and finishing with a 1990 nude, book-ending no less than a photo-biography of a largely mid-20th century popular Paris, an auction entitled simply “Photography” might have trouble holding one’s attention. But if the scale is more modest, the scope of tonight’s second Artcurial auction is in a way more audacious than the Ronis sale, with one predominant — and timely — theme emerging: Frontiers. We’ve chosen to share a some samples, ranging from the intimate to the inter-galactic and finishing with a presidential epilogue, from, respectively, Helmut Newton, NASA, Ansel Adams, Andy Warhol, Man Ray, and Mark Seliger, whose portrait of a retreating Barack Obama is just begging to be Photo-shopped. – Paul Ben-Itzak
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Richard Lindner (1901 – 1978), “Stranger No. 1,” 1958. Oil on canvas, 50 x 30 inches. Artcurial pre-sale estimate: 600,000 – 800,000 Euros. Sold for 802,000 Euros. Image copyright and courtesy Artcurial.
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2016 Paul Ben-Itzak
I was all set to slam that someone had paid 802,600 Euros — just over Artcurial’s pre-sale estimate of 600,000 – 800, 000 at its December 6 post-war and contemporary art auction in Paris — for Richard Lindner’s 1958 “Stranger No. 1,” (I even had my headline: “Is the art market crazy, or am I clueless?”) The hodge-podge style, which bears traces of German Expressionism and hints at Pop Art things to come, seems to dilute both. Inspired by various schools, Lindner — a Hamburg-born illustrator who only really began painting at the age of 49, producing just 120 tableaux over 28 years — at first appeared in this painting to be a master of none. But then I took a closer look at the hi-res jpeg sent to me by the kindly Artcurial stagiare (intern) before reducing the file, and discovered 100 years of art history contained in one 50 x 30 inch oil painting.
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Georges Papazoff (1894-1972), “Tete,” circa 1928. Oil on canvas, 92 x 73 cm (36 1/4 x 28 3/4 inches). Signed at lower left. Pre-dates by 17 years Duchamp’s intergallactic View cover. Artcurial pre-sale estimate 20,000 – 30,000 Euros. Image copyright and courtesy Artcurial.
Ferdinand du Puigaudeau (1864-1930), “Jeune fille à la bougie,” 1891. Oil on thin cardboard laid down on canvas, 50 x 72 cm (19 3/4 x 28 3/8 inches). Signed and dated lower right. Du Puigaudeau landscapes available in this auction are also breathtaking. Artcurial pre-sale estimate: 20,000 – 30,000 Euros. Image copyright and courtesy Artcurial.
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2016 Paul Ben-Itzak
“The opposite of war isn’t peace – it’s creation.”
–Jonathan Larsen, “RENT”
As my longtime readers know, even if Artcurial may be best known as France’s leading auction house, I venerate it as setting a curatorial example more museums would do well to follow. Not just because of its storied past as an art gallery which unabashedly announced its arrival in the mid-sixties, under the glamorous patronage of L’Oreal, in the previously hushed gallery ghetto of Paris’s 8eme arrondissement, but because of the artists I’ve been able to discover by thumbing through its auction catalogs, many of whom have been neglected by museums which have stashed their holdings away in the basement….
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Besides Tintin, among the 68% of lots on offer sold during Artcurial’s Paris Bandes Desinées (Comics) and Hergé sales last week-end which helped the auction house gross $4.72 million, surpassing its pre-sale estimates by nearly $500,000, was, above, a rare Sunday color strip from George Herriman (1880 -1944)’s surrealistic “Krazy Kat” strip. The china ink and watercolor signed and framed original, measuring 57 x 37 cm, is one of only 12 remaining color strip originals.. Estimated pre-sale at 35,000 – 45,000 Euros, the lot sold for 38,300 Euros, or $40,598. Image copyright and courtesy Artcurial.
It may represent just one small step for Tintin, Snowy, and Captain Haddock, but the price paid by a European collector Saturday at Artcurial Paris for the original page depicting the Hergé characters’ landing on the moon from the 1954 “On a marché sur la lune” (We walked on the moon) represented one giant leap for Tintin-kind: 1,553,312 Euros ($1,646,510), doubling Artcurial’s pre-sale estimate of 700,000 – 900,000 Euros and the most ever paid for a single original page by Hergé. An ensemble of the originals for 20 Christmas-themed cards created in 1942-43, meanwhile — pre-sale estimated at 60,000 – 120,000 Euros a pop by the leading auction house for all things Tintin — yielded a total of 1.5 million Euros, or $1.5 million. It’s enough to leave even a life-long Tintin fan… speechless. Above: Hergé (Georges Rémi dit), historic page from the album “On a marché sur la lune,” published in 1954. Copyright Hergé / Moulinsart 2016. — Paul Ben-Itzak