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
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)