Friday, May 25, 2007

Reingold Collection of Scupture

Paul Manship (1885-1956) , "Minerva", 1911

The ever vigilant Robert Mileham has linked me to the sale of the Reingold Collection
of late19th - early 20th C. American sculpture.

Sculptors may make things -- but collectors determine which of them we're ever going to see -- and the narratives of art history are woven to validate their choices.

In sales like this one -- the obscure can rise -- the famous can fall -- all, of course, within the limits of what the collector (the Reingolds) liked and were able to acquire.

From the report of what these items sold for,
expense was really not an issue in their collection (relative to pieces from earlier centuries), since about 90% of them sold for less than what a foundry would charge to cast them today
(so if they were made by living artists -- the artist's share of each sale would be zero)

Not a very encouraging statistic for the sculptors of today !

But there were some famous sculptors,
like Paul Manship, shown above,
whose work has held their value over the century that
followed its production .. and Manship's career shot up like a rocket
after he returned from the American Academy at Rome
where he picked up the energies of archaic classical and Etruscan sculpture
that were re-entering modern European practice.

My favorite Manships come from later in his career,
but the piece shown above
was made while he was still in Rome,
-- and it's among the first to show this new
direction in his work -- a direction that I would call inner -
as opposed to the centrifugal that seems to characterize
popular work of the previous decades

Like this this small (9") Edward McCartan (1879-1947) dancer
that exemplifies, I think, the best of late 19th C. practice

McCartan "Girl with shell"

I guess you could call McCartan old-school,
he just never picked up on the new trends in sculpture,
and unlike the wildly successful Manship,
his career hit the skids, he stopped getting commissions,
(his work still doesn't sell for much)
and the National Sculpture Society had to pay for his funeral.

Annie Matthews Bryant (1871-1933)

So much for the relatively famous names in this show...

(there were many more, like MacMonnies, Saint-Gaudens, Nadelman, Borglum, etc,
indeed, this collection has examples of all the best known
American sculptors of this period, including the Frishmuth piece
that I showed from the recent Artopia exhibit,
but for one reason or another,
none of the pictures seemed that compelling --
and if the sculptors did not have large reputations
based on other work,
these pieces would mostly be quite forgettable

(Like this disposable Lachaise piece, for example, which I think would have sold for
$300 instead of $37,000
if his great name were not attached to it)

So my attention was drawn to those with whom I've been unfamiliar,
like the above Ms. Bryant , who I don't think had much of a career.

Sally James Farnum (1869-1943)

You go, girl !

(As you can see from the above link, Ms. Farnum's descendants have been busy making her a website)

Wilhelm Hunt Diederich (1884-1953)

Diederich was an exciting new discovery for me.

He was a Boston blue-blood (and Prussian aristocrat) who liked adventure, got into
a lot of trouble, and is principally known for his decorative iron screens (one of which is in the Chicago Art Institute. An interesting biography can be found here

I look forward to finding more of his work.

Marius Azzi (1892-1975)

And I'd never heard of this guy,
and wonder whether he ever did anything other than iconic portraits

Brenda Putnam (1890-1975) apparently specialized in the cute,
for which I have very little interest,
but this heavy torso is hardly cute,
and it doesn't it feel like a distinctly woman's view
of a woman's voluptuous body ?

I'd like to see more.

Emory Seidel (1881 -)

Seidel was a member of my art club,
so it's hard to say whether he would
still interest me if there were no family connection.

I like a little more tension - inner force -- sense of volume
than this -- for which the word "prettified"
seems all too appropriate.
(but maybe I'm just not wild about art deco)

Frank Lynn Jenkins (1870-1927)

I feel that this exemplifies the "prettiness" of
English sculpture,
but since this pretty creature is obviously
fleeing from something dangerous ...
I enjoy it
( I can imagine the dangerous figure on my own!)

Heinz Warneke (1895-1983)

This was another exciting discovery for me,
since this German-American sculpture is
working within the modern school,
and I'd never heard of him before.

(but there is a book available with his work,
so soon I'll be posting a lot more of him to my website)

Joseph Jacinto Mora (1876-1947)

As the above link reveals,
this artist is really quite well known
(and was even used for the cover of "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" by the Byrds !)

I'm usually not such a fan of cowboy art,
exemplified by Remington,
whose energy is so centrifugal
it's more like an explosion.

This piece feels like it might be enjoyable,
if I could only see it in person.


Which brings us to my conclusion:
why can't collections like this ever make it to temporary exhibits at major museums ?

Yes... I do like Medieval Persian ceramics, African pots, and ancient Mexican bowls,
(all of which had special shows at the Art Institute in the last year)

but why can't more recent American bronzes get the same level of exposure ?

And I sure wish the Reingolds had
taken large multi-view photographs
of their collection before they sold it ...
and then presented it to the internet.

(it really doesn't cost that much .. and people
like myself would be happy to donate the internet space)

(final note: you can click here to download a complete pdf catalog of this sale from the dealer. The catalog is 197 pages of large pictures accompanied by biographical data about the artists)


Blogger Robert said...

I have been intrigued to see which ones you chose to post up from the 194 pages of it. If it isn’t too “Englishly a political expression “here her e” to most of your sentiments. Most of all, I am horrified to see many of the prices these works were sold for. Even if it had been a “£ sign” rather than a “$ sign” some would have been wonderful bargains!
The prettiness so often attached to English sculpture seems evident in some other American sculpture too. I have found some French and German works that also could be described so!

I will be defining the meaning of prettiness before I post them up for you to take shots at! Perhaps you could explain the difference in American English between “Cute” and “Pretty”.

May 26, 2007  
Blogger chris miller said...

We want to cuddle something "cute".. but we just smile at something "pretty"

May 26, 2007  
Anonymous marly said...

Looking at that firm, generous belly and those legs, I can't imagine what her "cute" work must be.


Oh, just looked around and saw some mice and rabbits (evidently made during wartime, when bronze would've been desired elsewhere.) And as mice and rabbits go, they were perfectly adorable.

Evidently she became disgusted with her own work and remade herself after a trip to Florence... Now that would be a good post. Before and after the revolution.

So your sturdy woman must be "after."

June 12, 2007  
Blogger chris miller said...

Marly, I developed a taste for adorable very early in life - and began my collection with two "soft sculptures": "Bell-in-ear" (who was snuggled to the point of disintegration) and "Big Bear" (who was ruthlessly kidnapped from my younger brother)

But here's a real sculpture - found in the display case of a Japanese dealer at last year's Antiques Show.

June 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Reingold's collection was a beautifully edited example of 40 years in a couple life. Who sought out these artists at a time when nobody was interested. They lived amoung these things and enjoyed them both in the hunt and their everyday surrounding. The bought what they liked,not what would bring them the highest return. Honor a collection like this,for as an artist, one day you will find a yourself being collected by a new generation who thinks like the Reingold's did when they were forming and evolving there's.
They have also had several shows exhibiting other aspects of their vast collection.... And the Lachaise,the Lachaise was beautiful and cherished in their home.

August 27, 2007  
Blogger chris miller said...

Thanks, anonymous, for your first-hand report.

I'm glad you got to the see the collection as the Reingolds displayed it -- and I can well believe that the Lachaise looked much better than that photograph.

And I certainly appreciate that they "sought out artists when nobody was interested". Considering that most of these pieces still sold for less than the cost of casting them -- that is still the case.

Can you tell us what else they collected ? Ceramics perhaps ?

August 28, 2007  
Blogger Gary said...

If you're interested, I can provide you with better photos of the Frank Lynn-Jenkins from the Reingold collection. I bought it.

Also, I was pleased to see you pick of the McCartan "Girl with a Shell" to post on your site. In my opinion, it was among the most pleasing pieces of the sale. I was out-bid but, to this day, regret not having gone higher.

Thanks, Gary

June 30, 2010  

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