Portraits as Art Market Currency pt. 3 – artmarketblog.com

Portraits as Art Market Currency pt. 3 – artmarketblog.com

The last installment of “Portraits as Art Market Currency” received an interesting comment from a reader who said: “Is that why we have portraits on our banknotes? hehe! Maybe that’s what they thought when they designed them….”. All jokes aside, this comment is actually a good introduction to the concept of the portrait as a historical document – a concept that I want to explore with this post. Although we tend to think of paper money as merely a means of acquiring goods, the coins and notes that we use everyday are in fact historical documents of great value. The fact that there is such a vibrant and growing market in old and obsolete coins and notes confirms the fact that we place a considerable level of value on the historical value of money. I constantly hear of coins and currency notes being sold for astronomical amounts of money, thousands of times beyond their face value, because of their rarity and historical significance. There is no doubt in my mind that bank currency often has an intrinsic historical value and that most forms of bank currency could be considered to be historical documents in themselves. Considering that one of the most recognisable and common features of paper money is a portrait of some sort, it would be reasonable to assume that those portraits which appear on notes and coins also have a significantly high level of historical value. And if you think that people don’t care what the portraits on money look like then think again. When Australia changed over to decimal currency in 1966 a new portrait of Queen Elizabeth appeared on the one dollar bill . The new decimal currency bills were designed by Gordon Andrews who was widely criticised for portraying the Queen with what some people thought was a look of unhappiness, and for giving the Queen what some people saw as a slight scowl. Mr. Andrews defended the portrait by pointing out that “if you have someone grinning at you on a bank note, which you have to look at over and over again, you get to hate the sight of it”. A fair point I think. Another example of the extent to which the portraits on paper money are assigned value is a newspaper article from 1962 about counterfeit currency in which a US Secret Service Chief advised people to look at the portrait. According to Chief James J. Rowley “Counterfeit currency has a lifeless portrait, the fine cross-lines are not clear or distinct”. Sounds more like the musings of an art critic than a secret service agency.

Some may disagree with the concept of historical value as a type of intrinsic value but I think there is more than enough proof to suggest that the historical value that many portraits have can be considered to be intrinsic. The sort of value I am talking about is the value of what a portrait can tell us about various areas of history, not the value we place on a portrait because of the positive opinion we have for the person depicted – an opinion that could change depending on the information we have about that person. The US National Archives conducted an investigation into the Intrinsic Value In Archival Material in 1982 which came up with some useful definitions and information that is relevant to this post. According to the ‘Report of the Committee on Intrinsic Value’ it was determined that “Intrinsic value is the archival term that is applied to permanently valuable records that have qualities and characteristics that make the records in their original physical form the only archivally acceptable form for preservation. Although all records in their original physical form have qualities and characteristics that would not be preserved in copies, records with intrinsic value have them to such a significant degree that the originals must be saved.The qualities or characteristics that determine intrinsic value may be physical or intellectual; that is, they may relate to the physical base of the record and the means by which information is recorded on it or they may relate to the information contained in the record.” It is also worth noting that the committee determined that one of the characteristics of records with intrinsic value is “General and substantial public interest because of direct association with famous or historically significant people, places, things, issues, or events”. The findings of this committee confirm that historical documents can have intrinsic value.

One of the best sources of evidence that supports the idea that a portrait can have value as a historical document is the fact that the National Library of Australia has Guidelines for the acquisition of portraits that are acquired to “provide a documentary record of Australian life and achievement”. According to the guidelines “The National Library collects portraits of Australians of national significance as well as portraits of individuals and groups who are not necessarily known but who are representative of different occupations or of various social, racial or cultural aspects of Australian life. Portraits are acquired to provide a documentary record of Australian life and achievement”. Even more revealing is one of the selection criteria that the library uses to determine whether a portrait is worth acquiring. The following is one of the selection criteria:

2.2.2 The documentary value of the portrait

Portraits acquired must provide an authentic record of the physical appearance of the subject. In addition, some suggestion of the field of achievement of the subject is looked for in background details, dress or any objects shown in the portrait.

The extent to which the portrait offers insights into the personality and character of the sitter, and the originality of the portrayal, are also considered important. For some individuals an original portrait as well as a photographic portrait may be acquired if it is considered that they provide differing insights. However, for an original portrait to be preferred to a photographic portrait when both are available, the original work should display this quality to a much greater degree (see 2.2.1).

In the case of original works, a portrait painted from life is preferred to one painted from a photograph, as being more likely to provide the added dimension of character insight. The relationship of the artist to the sitter may also be of relevance here.
From a really young age, we learn to read faces. They have a language and can articulate themselves with nuance in a way that nothing else in the world around us can quite reach. The way an artist paints a face is highly distinctive, and portraiture tells you far more about the artist than it does about the subject. Get to know the vernacular of one artist’s face compared to another, and you can use that knowledge to hunt down other examples.

Non-representational works of subjects are not collected as generally these do not convey documentary information about the subject’s appearance.

Cartoons that offer insights to personality and character will be considered for acquisition.

As far as I can see the value that can be placed on portraits because of their status as historical documents is the sort of future proof intrinsic value that will always remain with the portrait and cannot be disassociated from the portrait.  It is this sort of intrinsic value that makes the portrait a good candidate for use as currency – a concept that I will continue to explore.

To be continued……………….

**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications

Who Purchased What Art 2nd Half 09 – artmarketblog.com

Who Purchased What Art 2nd Half 09 – artmarketblog.com

THE PROPERTY OF THE EARL OF JERSEY'S TRUST - SIR ANTHONY VAN DYCK ANTWERP 1599 - 1641 LONDON SELF PORTRAIT  2,000,000—3,000,000 GBP Lot Sold.  Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium:  8,329,250 GBP

THE PROPERTY OF THE EARL OF JERSEY'S TRUST - SIR ANTHONY VAN DYCK ANTWERP 1599 - 1641 LONDON SELF PORTRAIT 2,000,000—3,000,000 GBP Lot Sold. Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium: 8,329,250 GBP

I always find it interesting and very useful to find out who is purchasing what at auction and for how much.  The information below comes from the auction houses who are only allowed to reveal the identity of those buyers who choose to have their identity revealed which, unfortunately,  is usually not many.   It is interesting to note that Philip Mould is a well known purchaser of undervalued or mis-attributed works of art which he then tends to re-sell for considerably more than he paid.

Christies
Important American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture
New York – Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Sale no: 2225 – Top Ten
Raphaelle Peale, Still Life, oil on panel
Estimate: $300,000-500,000
Price Paid: $842,500/ £507,530/ €557,947
Purchased by: Richard Rossello/Avery Galleries

Purchaser Details:
www.artnet.com/ag/galleryhomepage.asp?gid=102

Christies
Victorian and British Impressionist Art Including Drawings and Watercolours
London – Thursday, 16 December 2009
Sale no: 7788 – Top Ten
Alfred Munnings reading by Harold Knight, R.A. (1874-1961)
WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR THE ARTIST
Estimate: £30,000 – 50,000
Price paid: £115,250/ $187,281/ €128,850
Purchased by: Richard Green Gallery, London

Purchaser Details:
www.richard-green.com

Christies
Old Masters & 19th Century Art
London – Tuesday, 7 July 2009
Sale no: 7743 – Top Ten
Michele Giovanni Marieschi (Venice 1710-1743), The Courtyard of the Doge’s Palace, Venice, with the Scala dei Giganti, Saint Mark’s Basilica beyond
Estimate: £2,000,000- 3,000,000
Price paid: £2,169,250/ $3,512,016/ €2,518,499
Purchased by: Otto Naumann Ltd

Purchaser Details:
www.ottonaumannltd.com

Sotheby’s
Sale Results London, Bond St
Sale L09637 Old Master & British Paintings – Day Sale 10 DEC 09
James Seymour, Portrait of the racehorse Sedbury, with a groom, oil on canvas
Estimate: £80,000 – 120,000
Price paid: £505,250/ €558,553/ $820,526
Purchased by: Richard Green Gallery
***NEW AUCTION RECORD FOR THE ARTIST***

Purchaser Details:
www.richard-green.com

Sotheby’s
Sale Results London, Bond St
Sale L09636 Old Master and British Paintings – Evening 09 DEC 09
Sir Anthony van Dyck, Self portrait, oil on canvas
Estimate: £2,000,000 -3,000,000
Price paid: £8,329,250/ €9,207,960/ $13,521,704)
Purchased by: Alfred Bader in partnership with Philip Mould
***NEW AUCTION RECORD FOR THE ARTIST***

Purchaser Details:
http://www.alfredbader.com/
http://www.philipmould.com/

Sotheby’s
Sale Results London, Bond St
Sale L09663 19th Century European Paintings Including Spanish Painting, The Orientalist Sale, And German,
Austrian, Scandinavian and Symbolist Works 24 NOV 09
Adolph Menzel, Umgestürzter Teekessel (Upturned teapot), oil on canvas
Estimate: £40,000 – 60,000
Price paid: £373,250/ €413,301/ $617,393
Purchased by: French and Company

Sotheby’s
Sale Results London, Bond St
Sale L09699 20th Century British Art 11 NOV 09
Sir Stanley Spencer, John Donne arriving in heaven, pencil, pen and ink
Estimate: £12,000 – 18,000
Price paid: £87,650/ $146,831
Purchased by: Daniel Katz Ltd

Purchaser Details:
www.katz.co.uk/

Sotheby’s
Sale Results London, Bond St
Sale L09699 20th Century British Art 11 NOV 09
Frank Auerbach, Head of Leon Kossoff, oil on canvas
Estimate: £200,000 – 300,000
Price paid: £1,777,250 ($2,977,249)
Purchased by: Offer Waterman Fine Art Ltd on behalf of Private Collector

Purchaser Details:
www.waterman.co.uk/

Sotheby’s
Sale Results London, Bond St
Sale L09693 A Life in Pictures: The Collection of Lord and Lady Attenborough 11 NOV 09
Graham Sutherland, Thorn Head, 1947, oil on canvas
Estimate: £150,000 – 250,000
Price paid: £481,250 ($806,190)
Purchases by: Daniel Katz Ltd
***RECORD FOR THE ARTIST AT AUCTION***

Purchaser Details:
www.katz.co.uk/

**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications

The Art of Fernando Carpaneda – artmarketblog.com

The Art of Fernando Carpaneda – artmarketblog.com

Todd 2004

Todd 2004

I sometimes come across artists that I just have to let the world know about and Fernando Carpaneda is one of those artists, but be warned, because Carpaneda’s work is very confronting and will be not be to everyone’s taste. Those willing to keep an open mind and explore Carpeneda’s work will be glad they did because he is a truly amazing artist. A brave artist too. Brave enough to use rent boys, thieves, punks, goths, homeless people, and other unsavoury types as the subject of his work. If you are intrigued then please read on.

When I first saw a picture of one of Carpeneda’s works I didn’t know what I was looking at. What I saw looked like a photo of a person but had a surreal element to it that suggested that there was more to Carpeneda’s work than the image revealed. As soon as I found out that I was looking at a clay sculpture I was completely blown away. The level of detail and the amount of work put into each sculpture is quite astonishing especially for a clay sculpture. To give each sculpture a personal association with the person they depict, Carpaneda uses objects connected to that person in the sculpture. Carpaneda says about his work on his website that: “All his portraits are like a relic, a holy place, a moment caught in time. He uses objects that have a connection to the portrayed person to composing his work, such as cigarette butts, condoms, beer cans, underwear, semen, empty toothpaste boxes. In other words, things that are part of these people’s real world, and his own. He uses such objects and remains as a beginning for his portraits”

Most of the people we see on a day to day basis whether it be at work or at social event dress and prepare their appearance so that the look as one would expect a normal person leading a normal life to look. Most of the people that Carpaneda depicts, however, dress and prepare their appearance in a way that reflects their true personality.  These are the sort of people one would normally want to stare at but would try and refrain from doing so because we are taught that it is rude to stare. Instead of depicting the perfect male figure that most people are familiar with as a result of classical sculptors, Carpaneda utilises classical methods and materials to construct highly detailed analogues of what many would consider to be the outcasts of society.

A classical sculpture of a nude male figure is an image that almost everyone is familiar with and is able to view without feeling uncomfortable, embarrassed or repulsed. A sexualised image of a homosexual male, however, is a totally different story. Carpaneda’s sculptures challenge our perceptions of gender and identity as well as questioning the labels that society put on people who do not conform to the accepted norm. Yes, his work is confronting and will not be to every one’s liking but it is undeniably the work of a talented artist who is not afraid of challenging the boundaries of artistic practice and confronting viewers with the issues of stigma and division in modern society.

For more information on Fernando Carpaneda and his work visit
http://www.fernandocarpaneda.com/

and for information on the newly released book on his work see:
http://www.artslant.com/chi/articles/show/8249

**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.

Boo Saville at Trolley Gallery – artmarketblog.com

Boo Saville at Trolley Gallery – artmarketblog.com

'Residual Condition' biro on paper

'Residual Condition' biro on paper

There is no doubt that British artist Boo Saville has a fascination with death and the effects that different causes of death have on the human body and it’s appearance. The latest solo exhibition of Boo’s work titled ‘Butter Sunk’ is currently on shown at London’s Trolley Gallery and consists of a new body of work that explores the symbolic and ritualistic images of human remains and archeological remnants.

To get an idea of the sort of images that inspire Boo’s work all you have to do is check out her blog which contains many images that are definitely not for the faint-hearted. The works of art that she has created as a result of these rather disturbing images are, however, not anywhere as gruesome or gory as her blog would suggest. In fact, I would go as far as to say that Boo has managed to extract a sort of beauty from the macabre. By removing the colour from the images of bodies in various states of decay Boo also seems to have removed the elements of the images that would normally evoke a reaction of disgust or distress. Without the distraction of an overwhelming emotional response the viewer is able to interact with the image on a whole other level as well as appreciate the exploration of shapes, textures and surfaces that is a major part of Boo’s work.

The most intriguing and spectacular works in the show are undoubtedly the monochrome ballpoint pen drawings that are created using a technique that Boo pioneered and continues to experiment with. According to the press release “Her focus is also the texture and surface of drawing, harnessed through her intuitive use of simple biros and pens: fine details of bones and hair are coupled with layer upon layer of shaded lines to produce tones and depths that resonate the shadows and amplify the echoes of these post-human forms”

'Undefinable' oil on canvas

'Undefinable' oil on canvas

In contrast to the pen drawings, Boo uses a lack of detail to create the ghostly images that appear in her minimalist oil paintings which have titles such as ‘Grey Screen’, ‘Veil’ and ‘Shroud’. According to Boo “The new paintings are suggestions of an idea rather that the illustration which is achieved in drawing. The paint has a much more lucid quality which I want to exploit.”

Unlike some artists who rely on shock tactics to attract attention to their work, Boo has used creativity, technical skill and an obvious dedication to her craft to develop what can only be described as a extremely impressive body of work that is both challenging and intriguing. It is artist’s such as Boo Saville, who are genuinely passionate about their work and don’t go after the sort of artificial fame that plagues the art world, that are the true art stars.

If you want to see an exhibition of work by an artist whose work displays a combination of technical skill, talent and dedication rarely seen in the contemporary art world then get down to Trolley Gallery quick smart.

BUTTER SUNK
Boo Saville

29th January – March 14th
Trolley Gallery
73a Redchurch Street
London
E2 7DJ
tel +44(0)20 7729 6591
http://www.trolleynet.com

For more information on the show and a virtual tour go to:
http://www.trolleybooks.com/gallery.php?gallery=272

**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.