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Thread: Someone overpaid!

  1. #1

    Default Someone overpaid!

    Art

    Another Auction, Another Trophy

    By HOLLAND COTTER

    Published: May 5, 2010

    Whatever the state of the global economy, there’s always a ton of discretionary cash floating around looking for someplace to land. Tuesday night at Christie’s a chunk of it — $106.5 million to be exact — landed on a Picasso painting called “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust,” setting a record for art sold at auction.
    Despite the high figure, the whole thing feels a bit ho-hum. These days so much money is in so many hands, and so many of those hands are after trophy art, that record breaking has become routine, de rigueur.
    Two, three, four million extra? Worth it. After all, if you’re the evening’s big spender, you not only get to own an object you’ve just helped to make fantastically valuable, but your extravagance, with your name attached or not, also buys a mention in the news. You could lay out the same bucks for a hospital wing, but it wouldn’t be the same. (The Picasso is from the estate of Frances Lasker Brody. The Brodys’ Los Angeles home, by the way, where it had hung for decades, just sold for a quarter of the price of the picture.)
    But back to the painting. Madly puffed in Christie’s sales catalog by the longtime Picasso biographer John Richardson, it dates from a single day in 1932 when the artist was, depending on your point of view, at the magical top of his game, or just not trying very hard. With collectors the late 1920s and early ’30s have become a golden phase in Picasso’s career — Acquavella Galleries made the period the subject of a museum-style show in 2008 — thanks to a series of paintings that feature a blond female figure, the same one found in “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust.”
    Standard accounts of Picasso’s art tend to be built on a one-woman, one-style model. The muse for the 1930s series was Marie-Thérèse Walter, who was a teenager when she met the middle-aged Picasso in Paris. A standard tale of lust and deceit ensued. The two became lovers; Picasso was married; everything had to be kept hush-hush, nothing could stop their love, etc., etc.
    To celebrate this passion Picasso painted Walter (whom Mr. Richardson repeatedly refers to as a girl, as in “this simple, sweet-natured girl,” even when she is in her 20s) over and over, usually depicting her nude, recumbent, twisted, sexually available, but with her eyes closed as if in a post-coital doze. It’s a classic dynamic: active lover-artist, passive lover-muse. Picasso reconstituted it in his art over and over throughout his life.
    But, of course, this was hardly the whole story. Picasso’s art is made up of a jumpy bundle of influences: art history, ethnology, popular culture, philosophy, contemporary art. Eros might have been a stimulant, but pure competitiveness kept his motor humming. In the Walter paintings he is looking hungrily at Ingres and with a rivalrous eye at Matisse. The Christie’s picture is like a cartoon version of each, with some wacky stage props added: a classical bust, some Cézanne oranges and Picasso himself directing from behind a curtain.
    It’s an entertaining picture. Picasso was a born entertainer, a comic ham. I think that’s one reason for his immense popularity, though it’s not what’s great, meaning original, in his art. His toughness is. The seed of that is found in early Cubist painting and collage, with their shaking-apart structures, razor-sharp slices into space and disorienting confusions of art, language, time and accident. Everything about that work was new and not easy, and still is.
    “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust” and other paintings from its period are old and easy, art as usual. They keep to the known, the pleasure zone; they keep old orders firm, artist over subject, man over woman, woman as thing, a pink blob with closed eyes. “Ironically, this painting, which celebrates feminine submissiveness, was executed on International Woman’s Day; this would have delighted Picasso.” That’s Mr. Richardson’s final comment on the most expensive painting ever to hit the block.



  2. #2

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    The painting would be a better illustration of the thread's title if it weren't so damn good.

    But in a sense, don't you always overpay when you buy art?
    Last edited by ablarc; May 5th, 2010 at 10:42 PM.

  3. #3

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    if it weren't so damn good
    As a trained and professional artist I have to disagree...
    ... it's NOT so good- it's quite blah!
    I'm more inclined to be on the side of it's "just not trying very hard" and "old and easy, art as usual"
    But in a sense, don't you always overpay when you buy art?
    Depends on what you pay...in this case the title of the thread is almost completely accurate- it's just missing one word...
    someone (way) OVERPAID

  4. #4
    Crabby airline hostess - stache's Avatar
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    I was thinking the same thing, it looks very average. But I like the fruit.

  5. #5

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    Do we have to be trained and professional musicians to judge the quality of a Rolling Stones song ar a Tarantino movie?

    How about architecture? Do we need a degree and a registration to critique Nouvel or Kaufman?

  6. #6
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    Whip It may be an entertaining song to listen to, but it sure as hell isn't something I would consider "great".

    just because something is kind of catchy does not mean it has much more merit than the crying clown, Elvis, or dogs playing Gin Rummy!

    I think the pic looks OK, but it really does not look like it is challenging much. It seems staged, formulaic and kind of blah. If this was one of the first pics like this, then maybe you could call it ground breaking, but this is like Police Academy 5. You may find somethings rather funny, but 90% is "been there, done that".

    In all fairness, a painting made ENTIRELY of dog poo would be better than PA5, but I just could not think of any other sequel....


    Maybe European Vacation? Star Wars "I"?
    Last edited by Ninjahedge; May 6th, 2010 at 02:53 PM.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by ablarc View Post
    Do we have to be trained and professional musicians to judge the quality of a Rolling Stones song ar a Tarantino movie?

    How about architecture? Do we need a degree and a registration to critique Nouvel or Kaufman?
    No- and i never said you did
    But someone trained in a specific field, to see something the average person has not,
    might be a better judge of it's true value (not it's beauty- that will remain in the eye of the beholder).
    That's why most people buying art at this price level hire art advisers, when making their art investments- (if they did with this -they got bad advice)
    And after all- I started this to talk about the paintings financial worth (or not)- not so much what it looks like.
    For Picasso, compositionally, and technically this is barely an "average" image- not worthy of what was paid for it.

    "you not only get to own an object you’ve just helped to make fantastically valuable, but your extravagance, with your name attached or not, also buys a mention in the news."

  8. #8

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    ^Bad advice?

    The multi-billionaire who bought this became a billionaire because he knows what he's doing. And he can sell this in 10 years and make a few more million. Billionaires don't over pay for anything.

    The article says the painting was: "madly puffed in Christie’s sales catalog by the longtime Picasso biographer John Richardson..."

    Note the bio of the man doing the puffing:

    "During the next ten years he lived in France and became a close friend of Picasso, as well as of Braque, Léger and de Staël. Besides writing books on Manet and Braque, he embarked on an analytical study of Picasso’s portraits, now part of his four-volume biography, A Life of Picasso."

    "In 1960, Richardson moved to New York, where he organized a nine-gallery Picasso retrospective in 1962 and a Braque retrospective in 1964. Christie’s then appointed him to open their US office, which he ran for the next nine years. In 1973 he joined M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., as Vice President in charge of 19th- and 20th-century painting, and later became Managing Director of Artemis, a mutual fund specializing in works of art. In 1980 he decided to devote all his time to writing. Besides working on his Picasso biography, he has been a contributor to The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker and Vanity Fair. In 1993 he was elected to the British Academy and in 1995 was appointed Slade Professor of Art at Oxford."

    "The first of four planned volumes of Richardson's A Life of Picasso biography was published in 1991, winning a Whitbread Award. The second volume was published in November 1996, followed by the third in 2007. The final volume has not yet been published."

    "In 1999 he published a memoir, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, and in 2001 a collection of essays, Sacred Monsters, Sacred Masters. The author is currently working on the fourth volume of his Picasso biography. In 2009 the Gagosian Gallery held an exhibition of Pablo Picasso’s late works entitled Mosqueteros which was curated by John Richardson."

    ^ In other words, the world's foremost authority on Picasso. The value of the painting is guaranteed.

  9. #9
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    Are you saying that people who are known for their expertise can give genuine opinions of the worth of an undefinable enigmatic object and then vouch of its worth and salability at a later date?

    *cough*GoldmanSachs*cough*

  10. #10

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    The value of a painting is never guaranteed (even if the worlds foremost authority sets it)
    economy, among other things, can sway the value of art as much as anything else.

    example:


    Considered the most expensive still life ever sold at auction, Rideau, Cruchon et Competier
    was painted towards the end of the 19th century by French artist Paul Cezanne.
    It was sold at Sotheby's, New York in May 1999 for over $60 million. It was later sold for a loss.
    This happens all too often, but kept quite because it's not good for the business

  11. #11

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    ^ Agreed but among Masters I just doubt that it happens often. It would be interesting to see the value of that painting today.

    " economy, among other things, can sway the value of art as much as anything else."

    Yes, and we're in a down swing. The economy goes up and down. Anyway, let me know when there is a fire sale on Picassos.

    -------------------------

    "Are you saying that people who are known for their expertise can give genuine opinions of the worth of an undefinable enigmatic object and then vouch of its worth and salability at a later date?"

    Yes, happens in the art world all the time.

    The actual worth of the painting is zero... it's an old piece of canvas with 10 dollars worth of paint smeared on it.

    It's not so much as giving opinions about the paintings worth .... it's actually more a matter of creating the paintings worth.... and that is done by critics, curators, dealers, gallery owners, history etc. If not, you tell us why a Picasso or a Cezanne or a Pollack has value.

    And oh, BTW this is a Picasso... it is not an "undefinable enigmatic object."

    ---------

    And the above article leaves out the following: "Part of the sale proceeds will benefit the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, Calif."

    As well as the fact that in 2004 a Picasso sold for 104.2 million.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/0..._n_563763.html
    Last edited by Fabrizio; May 6th, 2010 at 05:55 PM.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by scumonkey View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ablarc View Post
    The painting would be a better illustration of the thread's title if it weren't so damn good.

    But in a sense, don't you always overpay when you buy art?
    Quote Originally Posted by scumonkey View Post
    As a trained and professional artist I have to disagree...
    ... it's NOT so good- it's quite blah!
    Quote Originally Posted by stache View Post
    I was thinking the same thing, it looks very average. But I like the fruit.
    … at least partly because the fruit is comfy old shoes familiar from a dozen Cezannes.

    Like Tarantino, Picasso’s just quoting from something he likes. Also like Tarantino, he changes style just for the fruit. Like using Ennio Morricone.

    Currying favor.

    But that’s far from where the eclecticism ends. The plants are quotes from arch-rival Matisse, spiced up with Pablo’s own favorite motif, the female pussy. This is mixed with an ass or two (or three?) from different vantage points (that old satyr!), while the pedestaled bust clearly descends from the Ancients, via Chirico. (It’s even pock-marked with age –been so long! --like PP himself, I can stare for a thousand years.)

    If I owned this thing, I would ache daily to plunge into that pillowy expanse of purplish flesh, wedging tongue into the enchanting mysteries of the letter “y”. (Before it was fashionable, did Picasso’s models shave their pubes? Did he priapically insist? Did he just take after Ingres?)

    The profile reappears as ghost in blue, projected on the drapes of Caesar’s tent, beyond which surely flames do rage, while inexplicable, tentacular grey shadows reach down to envelop the nude --utterly abandoned, like Ariadne in the wilds of sleep. With a single deft line that a million artists would kill to concoct, her arm describes a position we all adopt nightly, but her fingers: can that be a configuration familiar in certain Pompeiian wall paintings? And do they target a vaginal ear? Oh, sometimes a thumb is just a cigar.

    Quote Originally Posted by ablarc View Post
    Do we have to be trained and professional musicians to judge the quality of a Rolling Stones song … ?
    How about architecture? Do we need a degree and a registration to critique Nouvel or Kaufman?
    Sorry scumonkey, it was the credential-waving that set me off, partly because having some of my own, I can also form an idea of their worth –which I think you and I can agree is less than the unwashed think. It’s true that professionals see more, but sometimes it’s trees they see, not forest. Just check out the condition of our legal profession.

    Quote Originally Posted by scumonkey View Post
    But someone trained in a specific field, to see something the average person has not, might be a better judge of its true value…
    That may or may not be true.

    But in any case the folks assigned to determine the dollar value of a visual artwork are not artists themselves, but art historians or art critics --like John Richardson, the gent Fabrizio researched. These guys are worth something as appraisers; they can be trusted because they’re only interested in money. When mulling a purchase, Mrs. Gardner trusted Berenson, not Whistler.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ninjahedge View Post
    Are you saying that people who are known for their expertise can give genuine opinions of the worth of an undefinable enigmatic object and then vouch of its worth and salability at a later date?

    *cough*GoldmanSachs*cough*
    Right, and right.

    Quote Originally Posted by scumonkey View Post
    That's why most people buying art at this price level hire art advisers, when making their art investments
    That’s exactly right.

    My own art world credential is in this field; the thesis course was called “connoisseurship.”

    Quote Originally Posted by scumonkey View Post
    (not its beauty- that will remain in the eye of the beholder).
    The word was used by you. Artists talk about this concept.

    I was told in school: “We will not use this word.”

    After art history, I veered into architecture; I didn’t want to sound like Ronald Colman.

    If, at the crossroads, I had taken the path less traveled, I might be advising a mafia chieftain on art. I would recommend that he send a coupla goodfellas to steal this painting and mount it over his mantelpiece –not because there’s any chance that he or his heirs could ever re-sell it—but because its rich mysteries would keep his mind occupied and enchanted well past the onset of senescence.

    He might even decide to become an educated person in (an utterly hopeless) quest to plumb the painting’s mysteries.

    This one is better than a Vermeer –and think how much less time the old whorebag took to crank it out. A day? That’s efficiency; no wonder his output was so prodigious that he died a billionaire.
    Last edited by ablarc; May 6th, 2010 at 08:59 PM.

  13. #13

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    While I can appreciate most of what you posted...

    I absolutely have to disagree with this:
    This one is better than a Vermeer
    I'd take one Vermeer over almost any Picasso any day (and I would dare venture to say -so would most museums).
    I know I'm in the minority but I believe Picasso is so overrated.
    I'd much rather surround myself (and do) with the traditional African art that he drew most of his inspiration from than a Picasso painting such as this.
    (his earlier works- now that's a different story)

  14. #14

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    That Picasso is decorative and very chic.

  15. #15
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scumonkey View Post
    (his earlier works- now that's a different story)

    Artists have a tendency to have more....motivation when they are hungry.

    Most of their stuff is not as refined or smooth, but it has much more power and more of a chance for a unique direction.

    The hard part is finding the balance point between hunger and practice.

    And Fab, what I was saying (I know you know this) is that no matter how much people say something like this is worth, it is only "worth" the materials it is made out of and the time it took to make it. Any other value assigned to it is purely ephemeral and subject to the whims of the time.

    The fancies of the human race are strange, where even a comic book can be considered valuable no so much as for what is in it, but how old it is and how many others are still available in the world.

    I think this picture is pleasant, but the mere fact that something like this costs more than the GNP of many third world nations sickens me to the core.

    I am not preaching for redistribution of wealth, but it is just sad that there is so much of a disparity, even in "modern times" that a pretty picture can go for an amount great enough to feed a country.

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