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Live Auction Talk | Rosemary McKittrick

LiveAuctionTalk.com: Blue Dog artist George Rodrigue

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Written by ROSEMARY McKITTRICK   
Thursday, 03 April 2014 12:24

‘That’s Amore,’ oil on canvas, signed, titled and dated, 1996, 24 inches by 18 inches, $39,360. Photo courtesy of New Orleans Auction Galleries.

SANTA FE, N.M. – How many artists gain fame painting evil guard dogs?

Cajun artist George Rodrigue just might be the only one.

George got his start painting the landscapes and people of Southern Louisiana in the third grade while recovering from polio. He also grew up on local stories about the loup-garou, a French word meaning werewolf.

As a kid his mom teased him that if he didn’t behave himself today the werewolf would get him tonight. Except in her version the evil creature wasn’t quite a werewolf. It was more like a ghost dog or crazy wolf that hung out in cemeteries and sugarcane fields waiting to lunge.

Either way the image stuck.

In 1980 an investment group in Baton Rouge asked George to come up with illustrations for a book about Louisiana ghost stories to be sold at the 1984 World’s Fair in New Orleans.

The artist began researching local myths and legends to evoke imagery. He ended up creating one painting over a three-year period for each of the 40 stories in a book written by Chris Segura.

He completed his illustrations long before the text was actually written and he did it from themes and titles relating to well-known regional legends. Full of colossal oak trees and ghostly characters the text is known as the Bayou collection.

There was one story in the collection “Slaughter House” which stood out for people. It told of an evil dog guarding a house. George remembered the werewolf stories of his youth and painted the loup-garou.

In creating the image George remembered his terrier-spaniel Tiffany who died four years earlier. She had the perfect shape and stance he wanted and that’s where the similarities ended.

The blue-gray demon with piercing yellow eyes George painted for the book sat guarding the front of a red haunted house. He liked the color and strong image and over the next five to six years painted dozens more. His mutts were always in the bayou and always harkened back to the Cajun legend of his childhood and the loup-garou.

It’s an iconic, eerie image people say they rarely forget in his work.

“The yellow eyes are really the soul of the dog,” he said. “He has this piercing stare. People say the dog keeps talking to them with his eyes, always saying something different.”

The dog never changes position, just watches you as you watch him. George said the dog is really about life and about people searching for answers and coming up empty.

“The dog doesn’t know. You can see this longing in his eyes, this longing for love, answers,” he said.

Along with his blue-dog paintings Rodrigue continued painting Louisiana landscapes, outdoor family gatherings and genre scenes of the 19th and early 20th century. He also painted portraits including celebrity chef Paul Prudhomme, Huey Long, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev.

George Rodrigue died Dec. 14, 2013. He was 69.

On March 15-16 New Orleans Auction Galleries featured a selection of his paintings in its spring auction. Here are some current values:

Oak on the Broussard Farm, oil on canvas, signed, titled and dated, 1989, 8 inches by 10 inches, $13,530.

Lipstick on My Man, acrylic on canvas, signed, titled and dated, 2004, 20 inches by 16 inches, $23,370.

That’s Amore, oil on canvas, signed, titled and dated, 1996, 24 inches by 18 inches, $39,360.

Yellow Rolls of Jolie Blonde, oil on canvas, signed, title and dated, 1989, 24 inches by 30 inches, $46,740.

Untitled, oil on canvas, signed, 53 inches by 84 inches, $67,650.



ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE

‘That’s Amore,’ oil on canvas, signed, titled and dated, 1996, 24 inches by 18 inches, $39,360. Photo courtesy of New Orleans Auction Galleries. 

 ‘Oak on the Broussard Farm,’ oil on canvas, signed, titled and dated, 1989, 8 inches by 10 inches, $13,530. Photo courtesy of New Orleans Auction Galleries.

 ‘Lipstick on My Man,’ acrylic on canvas, signed, titled and dated, 2004, 20 inches by 16 inches, $23,370. Photo courtesy of New Orleans Auction Galleries.

‘Yellow Rolls of Jolie Blonde,’ oil on canvas, signed, title and dated, 1989, 24 inches by 30 inches, $46,740. Photo courtesy of New Orleans Auction Galleries. 

Untitled, oil on canvas, signed, 53 inches by 84 inches, $67,650. Photo courtesy of New Orleans Auction Galleries. 

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 April 2014 13:13
 

LiveAuctionTalk: Golf champion Bobby Jones

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Written by ROSEMARY McKITTRICK   
Tuesday, 04 March 2014 14:37
Color print, signed and inscribed from Jones, published by the USGA in limited edition in 1954:  $1,020. Photo courtesy of PBA Galleries.

SANTA FE, N.M. – Golf great Bobby Jones said he never won a major championship until he learned to play golf against something instead of against somebody. That something was par. It took years and lots of heartache for Jones to learn the lesson.

It was a way of being on the golf course that allowed him to stay focused, serious and away from the gallery and his opponents. It helped quiet him.

From the first day Jones showed up on the championship stage in 1916 as the 14-year-old sensation from Dixie he wowed them. Here was a true child prodigy.

One of the few regrets Jones had about his competitive golf career was his habit of giving up huge leads only to pull it out far less easily than he thought he should have done.

Jones noted that Ben Hogan didn’t have the problem. Hogan was always good at finishing the job, he said. It was like hitting pure golf shots was an expression of who Hogan was, like an artist or composer. It was a golfing intelligence that translated into pure art and one that Jones admired.

Even so, Jones had it all: a sweet full swing, a nice feel in his fingers and perfect hand action – without ever taking a golf lesson. Here’s the paradox: Even though Jones was more talented than most amateurs, his temper tantrums on the golf course got in the way.

He rarely extended much compassion to himself.

Jones was the chief critic of Bobby Jones. He would be on the course getting more and more upset and playing less and less effectively, notorious for throwing golf clubs at helpless elms.

It's amazing how critical genius can be of itself.

In the final of the 1919 Amateur against Davy Herron, Jones was three down with seven holes to go as he readied himself to play the 12th at Oakmont. At the same moment an official started to screech out directions to the gallery through his megaphone. Jones missed the shot and got so upset he never got back into the match. Stressed out, he lost as much as 18 pounds during any given tournament.

Even with all of his emotional turmoil Bobby Jones turned out to be the most successful amateur golfer to ever compete on the national and international circuit.

Between 1923 and 1930 Jones entered 20 major championships and won 13 of them finishing up with the Grand Slam — the United States Open, British Open, and the United States Amateur and British Amateur championships.

He made his living as an attorney and played golf part-time. He retired at age 28 and came out of retirement in 1934 to play in the Masters on an exhibition basis through 1948.

“It (championship golf) is something like a cage,” Jones said. “First you are expected to get into it and then you are expected to stay there. But of course, nobody can stay there."

On Feb. 27, PBA Galleries, San Francisco, featured a selection of Bobby Jones Items in its Golf auction. Here are some current values:

– Book, Golf is My Game, first edition, pictorial jacket, Doubleday, 1960: $540.

– Color print, signed and inscribed from Jones, published by the USGA in limited edition in 1954: $1,020.

– Presentation album, “The Masters Tournament,” National Golf Club, 1952: $1,560.

– Program, 33rd National Open Golf Championship, Jones won defeating Al Espinosa in 36-hole playoff, Winged Foot Golf Club, 1929: $3,000.

– Silver print, Jones in full swing, earliest known surviving original photograph of Jones, matted and framed, taken Aug. 17, 1916, at age 14, 6 3/4 inches by 4 1/2 inches: $4,800.



ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE
Color print, signed and inscribed from Jones, published by the USGA in limited edition in 1954:  $1,020. Photo courtesy of PBA Galleries. ‘Golf is My Game,’ first edition, pictorial jacket, Doubleday, 1960: $540. Photo courtesy of PBA Galleries. Presentation album, ‘The Masters Tournament,’ National Golf Club, 1952: $1,560. Photo courtesy of PBA Galleries. Program, ‘33rd National Open Golf Championship,’ which Jones won defeating Al Espinosa in 36-hole playoff, Winged Foot Golf Club, 1929: $3,000. Photo courtesy of PBA Galleries. Silver print showing Jones in full swing, earliest known surviving original photograph of him, matted and framed, taken Aug. 17, 1916, at age 14, 6 3/4 inches by 4 1/2 inches: $4,800. Photo courtesy of PBA Galleries.
Last Updated on Thursday, 03 April 2014 12:47
 

Live Auction Talk: American folk art

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Written by ROSEMARY McKITTRICK   
Friday, 31 January 2014 15:53

Boxing figural group, American 20th century: $6,875. Photo courtesy of Christie’s, New York.

SANTA FE, N.M. – Folk music is the music of the common folk in the same way that folk art is the art of the everyday man. The innate talent of these homespun artists hasn’t been buffed with academic training and exposure to the masters of the past.

They don’t really know or care about such things and their work works. It’s enchanting.

It’s the vintage duck decoy, faded tavern sign and child’s embroidered sampler. It’s the basketry, sculpture and utensils of the untrained and often anonymous craftsman. They’re our culture’s social historians and their craftsmanship shows up in paint, wood, stone, metal, clay and cloth.

It’s Grandma Moses in all her glory announcing her gift through unsophisticated and uncomplicated paintings.

The bright, bold colors in folk art are childlike and the scenes often include lots of decoration like animals, trees, waterfalls, children, fruit – you name it.

The folk artist isn’t concerned about realistic size and scale. One person in the painting might be huge and everybody else tiny. It’s his way of telling us who’s really important here.

The idea of perspective, what’s near and what’s far away, doesn’t seem to matter either. Forms are distorted and often stylized, straightforward and undemanding. Folk art is art without all the hoopla. It doesn’t leave you scratching your head about its meaning.

Grandma Moses said she painted from the top down. That is, first the sky, then mountains, hills, houses, cattle and finally the people. Everything’s layered. Children seem to get that naturally and Moses never lost it.

You’ll find folk art in virtually every indigenous culture around the globe. It’s one of the ties that bind human beings culture-to-culture. Deciding what’s good and not so good comes down to a matter of taste and instincts.

No folk art collector understood that more than Kristina Barbara Johnson. Her collection of folk art pieces numbered in the thousands. Each and every object in the collection came with its own story.

Johnson’s life has been described as a voyage of discovery. The lawyer and art collector was that way about people, places and the folk art objects she treasured.

“(Kristina) was a passionate collector, intent on living with her objects and being surrounded by their aura of individual creativity and purpose,” said friend and fellow collector Ralph Esmerian.”

Born in Germany, Johnson loved anything and everything American. And it wasn’t just folk art. She had a whaling collection of artifacts, books and manuscripts as well. Through the collection she became an authority in the field, founding the Whale Research Foundation in Princeton, N.J.

Johnson drove and collected vintage American cars. She opened her home for adults and children to share in her collections as well as explore the garden and feed her 200-plus-year-old pet tortoise, George, who had been a member of Queen Victoria’s court. Johnson also had one of the largest hooked rug collections in the country.

She died April 18, 2013.

On Jan. 23 a selection of folk art pieces from Johnson’s collection went on the block at Christie’s, New York. Here are some current values:

– Boxing figural group, on associated stand, polychrome-decorated wooden boxing figures, American 20th century, 11 1/2 inches by 14 inches: $6,875.

– Horse, carved walnut figure, American probably Midwestern, circa 1880, 23 1/4 inches by 25 1/2 inches: $18,750.

– “Gen. Washington Noblest of Men / His House His Horse His Cherry Tree and Him,” wool pictorial hooked rug, American early 20th century, 30 1/2 inches by 53 inches: $30,000.

– Lady Liberty, carved walnut figure, American 19th century,18 5/8 inches high overall: $20,000.



ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE

Boxing figural group, American 20th century: $6,875. Photo courtesy of Christie’s, New York.

Carved horse, American, circa 1880: $18,750. Photo courtesy of Christie’s, New York.

Lady Liberty, carved walnut figure, American 19th century, 18 5/8 inches: $20,000. Photo courtesy of Christie’s, New York.

George Washington, hooked rug, wool, American early 20th century, 30 1/2 inches by 53 inches:  $30,000. Photo courtesy of Christie’s, New York.

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 April 2014 12:42
 

Live Auction Talk: Rene Lalique

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Written by ROSEMARY McKITTRICK   
Tuesday, 14 January 2014 13:51

Crystal Ispahan vase decorated with molded roses, signed ‘Lalique France’ in etched script; 9 1/4 inches: $799. Photo courtesy of New Orleans Auction Galleries.

SANTA FE, N.M. – Rene Lalique’s workshop was always full of flowers. They inspired him.

Lalique possessed a relationship with glass like few other 19th century glassmakers. He started out as a jewelry designer and turned to glassmaking late in midlife. In fact he was one of France’s major jewelry designers by the age of 30.

And you can see the jeweler’s eye in his handiwork, in his sculpted female nudes and streamlined vases. He avoided using the large, showy rubies and diamonds that were popular in jewelry design of the era and shocked the world with a piece of jewelry decorated with an entirely nude female form.

After people calmed down nudes became commonplace. He also made faces and hair an ornamental facet of his intricate work.

All the elegant ladies and actresses of the day wanted to wear Lalique’s jewelry.

A true draftsman, Lalique didn’t miss much and possessed a particular devotion to nature in his design and a commitment to express that devotion in glass.

So it was no surprise his first glass factory was located in the country. Lalique was one of the grandfathers of the Art Nouveau movement, a new art form heralding the magnificence of nature.

He managed to capture the withering of a leaf, the subtle curves of a mermaid and the busyness of grass in his creations.

“Everywhere the eye meets flying, creeping or contending insects: the thick plated beetle, the slender dragonfly with long transparent and rainbow colored wings, the fluffy bee quivering with activity, the radiant butterfly,” wrote Gustave Geoffroy about Lalique’s work in a book dedicated to the master.

If Rene Lalique’s art glass had been music it would have sounded soft and passionate. His earliest pieces were hand-done using a metalworking technique rarely seen in glassmaking, a lost-wax process.

Some collectors say the modern crystal produced now lacks softness. They crave the pieces made under his personal care before World War II.

By the 1920s Lalique’s designs became more geometric and he emerged as a leader in the Art Deco movement. He was also fascinated with mass production and the possibility of creating art glass on the assembly line with reusable molds, which he did.

Lalique marked almost all of his pieces “R. Lalique.” But signatures in and of themselves do not authentic pieces. In reality it’s the other way around. Pieces authentic the signatures they show.

In the past two decades the Lalique company has had three different owners. The current owner is Art & Fragrance, a Swiss company headed by the perfume magnate Silvio Denz. Their goal is to make Lalique one of the most daring luxury brands available.

Lalique crystal objects are developed entirely in-house and manufactured at the factory in Wingen-sur-Moder, France. The company currently focuses on perfumes, cosmetics, crystal glass, jewelry, high-end furniture, living accessories and art.

On Dec. 6, New Orleans Auction Galleries featured a selection of Lalique items in its auction.

Here are some current values for Lalique:

Two crystal cats, one crouching and the other seated; France; signed “Lalique France” in etched script; 3 1/4 inches high and 8 1/4 inches high: $799.

Crystal lion’s head vase, molded lion’s head on the base, signed Lalique France in etched script, 6 1/2 inches high: $799.

Crystal Ispahan case, decorated with molded roses, signed “Lalique France” in etched script, 9 1/4 inches high: $799.

Crystal cockatoo, molded, signed “Lalique France” in etched script, 12 inches high: $1,045.

Crystal Poseidon vase, turquoise opalescent glass, signed “Lalique France 79/99” under the base, retains original box and foam liner; 11 3/4 inches high: $7,995.



ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE

Crystal Ispahan vase decorated with molded roses, signed ‘Lalique France’ in etched script; 9 1/4 inches: $799. Photo courtesy of New Orleans Auction Galleries.

Crystal cats, signed ‘Lalique France’ in etched script; 3 1/4 inches high and 8 1/4 inches high: $799. Photo courtesy of New Orleans Auction Galleries.

Crystal lion’s head vase, signed ‘Lalique France’ in etched script; 6 1/2 inches high: $799. Photo courtesy of New Orleans Auction Galleries.

Crystal cockatoo, ‘signed Lalique France’ in etched script, 12 inches: $1,045. Photo courtesy of New Orleans Auction Galleries.

Crystal Poseidon vase; turquoise opalescent glass, signed ‘Lalique France 79/99,’ 11 3/3 inches: $7,995. Photo courtesy of New Orleans Auction Galleries.

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 April 2014 12:42
 

Live Auction Talk: Stan Musial

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Written by ROSEMARY McKITTRICK   
Thursday, 05 December 2013 14:16

World Series championship ring presented by the St. Louis Cardinals to Musial, 2011. Price realized: $191,200. Photo courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

SANTA FE, N.M. – How good of a baseball player was Stan Musial? “He was good enough to take your breath away,” broadcaster Vin Scully said. And so it was.

The St. Louis Cardinals outfielder and first baseman was a hitting machine. He ended his career in 1963 with 3,630 hits – 1,815 at home and 1,815 on the road.

“I consciously memorized the speed at which every pitcher in the league threw his fastball, curve and slider,” Musial said. “Then, I'd pick up the speed of the ball in the first 30 feet of its flight and knew how it would move once it has crossed the plate.”

He hit 475 career home runs and won seven National League batting titles. For 16 straight seasons Musial batted over .300 and seldom struck out. He was also named the National League’s most valuable player three times.

For 22 seasons, from 1941 through 1963, “Stan the Man” proved himself to be one of the greatest hitters in baseball history. In 1963, Musial’s No. 6 uniform number was retired.

Musial’s stance in the batting box was like no other. He crouched, coiled like a corkscrew. Early in his career coaches tried to get him to take a traditional stance. He looked shaky and they figured a good pitcher could get him out easily.

Musial insisted the stance not only helped him see the pitches but also sense them. He said he could tell the pitch just by how fast it was coming at him. Some people didn’t know what he was talking about – and still don’t.

As a kid Musial regularly played on a field with a short left-field fence because there were trolley tracks behind it. There the lefty hitter learned to go with the pitch and drive the ball to left field. As a result Musial developed into an outstanding opposite-field hitter.

"The nicest man I ever met in baseball," Cardinal’s pitcher Bob Gibson said. Musial was never thrown out of a game in 22 seasons in the major leagues.

He married his high school sweetheart and led a life without any scandal. When he smoked a cigarette he did it under a stairwell to be sure no kids saw him. He wanted to be a role model and actually was.

Once Joe Black, the Brooklyn Dodgers right-hander, pitching against the Cardinals, was subjected to racial slurs coming from the St. Louis dugout.

“Don’t worry, Stan,” someone in the Cardinals dugout shouted, “with that dark background on the mound you shouldn’t have any problem hitting the ball.”

In the clubhouse after the game Black looked up and Musial was standing there.

“I’m sorry that happened,” Musial said. “But don’t you worry about it. You’re a great pitcher. You will win a lot of games.”

That was Stan Musial.

Musial died Jan. 19 at the age of 92.

On Nov. 8, Heritage Auctions in Dallas featured the Stan Musial Collection on the auction block.

Here are some current values:

– Spikes, game-worn, early-1960s, Spalding, possibly the shoes worn for his final season: $6,275.

– Baseball and photo, 1,000th run batted in baseball and photo, Sept. 12, 1952, an eighth-inning home run at Ebbets Field off Dodgers ace Joe Black, 12 inches by 14 inches: $10,158.

– Rookie card, 1948, Musial’s personally owned rookie card, Bowman no. 36: $11,950.

– Letter, 1963, Branch Rickey handwritten signed letter on personal letterhead to Musial, “I am simply downright proud of you.”: $19,120.

– World Series championship ring, 2011, presented to Musial, St. Louis Cardinals, red ruby cardinal perches on a golden bat on a field of diamonds: $191,200.



ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE

World Series championship ring presented by the St. Louis Cardinals to Musial, 2011. Price realized: $191,200. Photo courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

Musial’s game-worn Spalding baseball shoes, early 1960s. Price realized: $6,275. Photo courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

Baseball and photo, commemorating Musial’s 1,000th run batted in, a home run hit off Dodgers pitcher Joe Black at Ebbets Field on Sept. 12, 1952. Price realized: $10,158. Photo courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

Although Stan Musial made his major league debut in 1942, collectors consider the 1948 Bowman no. 36 to be his rookie card. Musial personally owned this baseball card, which sold for  $11,950. Photo courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

Signed, handwritten letter from Branch Rickey to Musial, 1963. Price realized: $19,120. Photo courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

 

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 April 2014 12:43
 
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