On the heels of the recent French court ruling that found Picasso’s electrician guilty of stealing more than 60 million euros of artwork from him during the later years of his life that the electrician claimed was given to him as a gift from Picasso, comes news of another falsely owned Picasso artwork. A retired Italian framer claims the Picasso painting confiscated this week in a police raid was given to him in 1978 as a thank you gift from a widower for reframing a photograph. The framer claims he did not know it was a Picasso until last year, and once he did realize it he decided to auction it off to Sotheby’s which is how it came to the attention of the authorities.
The Cubist artwork, which depicts a violin and a bottle of Bass beer, was authenticated by police experts as a 1912 work by the Spanish artist and is estimated to be worth $16 million. Due to the murky provenance, an investigation is underway to discover the truth surrounding the work and find the owners should it in fact be found to have been stolen. This once again displays the fine line of a gift and the necessary paperwork that is needed to accompany them when dealing with such artworks and artists.
Francisco Goya “The Third of May,” 1808. Oil On Canvas. Museo del Prado, Madrid
A master on the edge of two worlds, old and modern, Goya was admired for his realistic portraits, romanticism, and later in life his darkness. He was a complicated man who wanted nothing more than to express himself and was able to accomplish that at the highest level, becoming a court painter to the Spanish Crown. He captured the culture and happenings of his lifetime unlike any other painter, and utilized paint in a bold way that inspired successive generations of artists like Édouard Manet, Pablo Picasso and Francis Bacon. As we celebrate his 269th birthday today, it is all of his accomplishments we reflect on and the brilliance of his mind that ushered in a modern era of painting.
Born on March 30, 1853, Vincent Van Gogh is one of the most influential artist’s, although he received little appreciation during his life time. Embodying the myth of the tortured artist, Van Gogh’s paintings are remembered for their expressive use of line and coloration. How we view his artwork is often inseparable from his personal life, more so than any other artist. Through his paintings, and letters to his family, most often his brother Theo, the life of Vincent Van Gogh has been meticulously studied. Without any formal training and his notoriously fragile mental state, Van Gogh has captivated the imaginations of art lovers with his exhilarating landscapes, magnificent still lives, and remarkable portraits.
Today, we celebrate his the beauty that he left with us in over 800 paintings, and 1,100 works on paper.
van Gogh, “Self Portrait,”Autumn 1887. Musée d’Orsay in Paris
A tortured soul, Vincent van Gogh was a unique artist who worked with a sense of urgency which often caused him a great deal of stress. Largely self-taught, van Gogh started his career copying prints and reading nineteenth-century drawing manuals and books. With his signature technique growing out of the idea that to be a great painter, you had to master drawing first. Thus van Gogh felt it was necessary to master black and white before working with color, and so he focused on learning the essentials of figure drawing and depicting landscapes in correct perspective.
Comparison of Early and Later Styles
It was during this formative time and after that Van Gogh completed over 1,000 drawings in total and produced nearly 150 watercolor paintings during his lifetime. Interestingly, many people consider Van Gogh’s letters to be another form of artwork because they include sketches of works that he was focusing on at that time or had just finished. What these sketches are is proof of van Gogh’s growth as an artist, showing the fascinating progression of his masterpieces.
van Gogh, “Wheat Field with Crows”, 1880. Oil on Canvas. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.
The beauty in van Gogh’s masterpieces lie in his technique of deliberately using colors to capture mood, rather than using colors realistically. No other artist was doing this at this time; “Instead of trying to reproduce exactly what I see before me, I make more arbitrary use of color to express myself more forcefully.” He achieved fame long after his death and is one of the most recognizable artists in the world, which is why we celebrate him today and the influence he has had on countless generations of artists and viewers.
With the Kunstmuseum in Switzerland currently closed due to renovations, they have traveled 150 of their most impressive artworks to the Reina Sofia Modern Art Museum in Spain. The artworks will be on display for 180 days and include works by Picasso, Warhol, Van Gogh, Kandinsky, Giacometti, Monet, Klee, Gauguin, Rothko, Cezanne, Munch, Leger, Richter, Modigliani, and Gris to name a few.
Exhibition view. Collectionism and Modernity. Two Case Studies: The Im Obersteg and Rudolf Staechelin Collections, 2015
The exhibition has interestingly enough been split up into two parts, White Fire and Collectionism and Modernity. White Fire consists of 106 pieces of sculptures, paintings, photos, video and collages with a focus on how modern art evolved from the 19th century to the present. Collectionism and Modernity consists of 60 works of art from the collections of Im Obersteg and Rudolf Staechelin with the focus being on current figurative paintings from the 19th century to about 1940.
The reviews for the exhibition have been positive and the show will be available to the public until September 14.
In a case that has garnered attention since it first came to light over a year ago, Pablo Picasso’s electrician, Pierre Le Guennec and his wife, Danielle have been ordered by a French court to return over 271 artworks to Picasso’s heirs. Unknown to the public for decades, the works have an estimated worth of 60-100 million euros.
Pierre Le Guennec, now at the age of 75, says Picasso or his wife at the time Jacqueline, gave him the paintings, drawings, lithographs and collages around 1970 when Le Guennec worked for the renowned Spanish artist. However Picasso’s family has disputed the claims and now with the French court reaching a verdict, the works will return to the family and the Le Guennecs, in addition to losing them will be given a two-year suspended sentence. This now leads to the interesting question of what the family will do with the works; sell them or keep them until they become more valuable?
Marc Chagall “The Studio at Night”, 1980. Lithograph
Gagosian Gallery is currently showing an exhibition titled In the Studio: Paintings from February 17 – April 18, 2015 that explores the subject of the artist’s studio in works of art. It includes over 50 paintings and works on paper by nearly 40 artists that includes Wilhelm Bendz, Honoré Daumier, Thomas Eakins, Lucian Freud, Jean-Léon Gérôme, William Hogarth, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso.
Capturing the happenings in an artist’s studio is one of the earliest and longest standing motifs. From the painter at the easel to pedagogical scenes to images of artists and models, each scene is fascinating to both artists and viewers for they allow a glimpse into another world and exclusive access into the mind of brilliant creators.
Pablo Picasso “Jacqueline at the Easel”, 1956. Lithograph
The space where art is created is often an escape for the artist from the world; a space where they go to for freedom and purpose. In portraying that space they make a statement about their lives and passion. They open themselves up to the world, leaving behind their privacy. Artists such as Chagall, Picasso, and Matisse have strong oeuvres rich in expressions of their creative space. It is through such personal exposure that makes these works so cherished by collectors.