“Infants of the Same Species”: Washington National Cathedral and Frederick E. Hart

By Reed V. Horth, for CBPMag.com and Robin Rile Fine Art

 

Michelangelo was 24 years old when he completed his “Pietà” in 1499. Oh, if only I were so accomplished by the same age.

Michelangelo (Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, 6 March 1475 – 18 February 1564) installed his most perfect sculpture within the Vatican walls in the dead of night, helped by laborers who refused payment as they felt blessed to place such a masterpiece. Unsigned, Michelangelo later snuck back into the Vatican one evening, chiseling his signature on Mary’s sash after horrifyingly overhearing visitors remark that his “Pieta” was the work of Cristoforo “The Hunchback” Solari.

Uncouth and brash, Michelangelo was the epitome of the Gifted Deviant.

 

For 12 years, I worked in galleries featuring a modern day sculptor whose work garners comparisons (rightly or wrongly) to those of Michelangelo. The artist is named Frederick Elliot Hart (1943-1999). In developing my sales presentation, I discovered that when I mentioned the artist’s monuments, my audience had a hidden familiarity with the artist. The “Three Soldiers” at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC was the easiest image to conjure for most of our visitors. This familiarity allowed me to segue into a presentation about the artist which hopefully, would inspire them to own one of his works. The sculpture people were most impressed with during my presentation was the full-sized clay modele for Hart’s “Ex Nihilo” for Washington National Cathedral. The swirling mass of 4 male figures and 4 female figures stopped people in their tracks. If that did not inspire respect, nothing would. Hart was ahead of his time, brash, confident and a rebel in his own right.

In some respects, Hart could be considered an “infant of the same species” as Michelangelo.

 

17 years after my initial introduction to the work of Hart, I finally visited Washington National Cathedral in Washington DC on a pilgrimage to see the subject of so many presentations, speeches, articles and emails, “Ex Nihilo”. As I slid off the bus which took me the short distance from the Red Line Metro station at Tenleytown, twin cathedral spires dawned from behind a tremendous oak tree. The world’s 6th largest cathedral was coming into view in the dewy morning light. As I approached a powerfully-built, but still spritely, docent ushered a group of 7th graders to the West façade. As he began speaking about the cathedral he mentioned Frederick Hart, so I sat down to have a listen. Despite that fact that I  have lectured and written on the subject of Hart for nearly 20 years, there is always something to learn. The docent, who I would come to know later as Andy Bittner, spoke of Hart by the name his friends called him… “Rick”.

Rick, a troubled teen from Atlanta was kicked out of school at 13 but still was able to matriculate to University of South Carolina to continue his studies. When he later marched for civil rights, the Ku Klux Klan took a contract on his life, so he fled to Washington DC, finding a home as the “Mayor of DuPont Circle” due to his ebullient personality and effusive wit. Hearing about Washington National Cathedral and having a burgeoning talent for meeting girls using his skills as a sculptor, he found his way to the same Tenleytown stop I did.

 

(LEFT) Marble statue of George Washington by Lee Lawrie at Washington National Cathedral, Washington, D.C.

The plan for the Cathedral was originally proposed by George Washington himself on 4 January, 1792, in The Gazette of the United States, Philadelphia. “A church intended for national purposes,” he wrote, “assigned to the special use of no particular sect or denomination, but equally open to all”. While the plans languished until 1891, they were re-purposed and a site was chosen on Reno Hill overlooking the city of Washington. Ground broke in 1907 during a ceremony presided over by President Theodore Roosevelt. The cathedral was metaphorically an “Infant of the same species” compared to the Gothic Cathedrals of Europe which inspired its architecture, theme and detailing. Hart felt an overwhelming sense of spirituality when he walked through the doors for the first time. After a long and deliberate study, he converted to Catholicism shortly thereafter (despite the fact that the Cathedral is Episcopal) . As Tom Wolf described in his posthumous biography of Hart, “The hot-blooded boy’s passion, as Hart developed his vision of the Creation, could not be consummated by Woman alone. He fell in love with God. For Hart, the process began with his at first purely pragmatic research into the biblical story of the Creation in the Book of Genesis. He had been baptized in the Presbyterian Church, and he was working for the Episcopal Church at the Washington National Cathedral. But by the 1970′s, neither of these proper, old-line, in-town Protestant faiths offered the strong wine a boy who was in love with God was looking for. He became a Roman Catholic and began to regard his talent as a charisma, a gift from God. He dedicated his work to the idealization of possibilities God offered man“. (The Artist the Art World Couldn’t See, by Tom Wolfe, New York Times Magazine, January 2, 2000)

 

 

(L to R) Notre-Dame de Reims Cathedral (1211-1275) Reims, France Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral (1163-1345) Paris, France Washington National Cathedral (The Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul) (1907-1990) Washington DC USA

 

Throughout the 1970’s, Hart labored under the tutelage of the Italian stone-cutting masters Roger Morigi (1908-1995) and the jovial Vincent Palumbo (1936-2000) in the lost style of the ancient stone carvers. (The book “The Stone Carvers” by Marjorie Hunt and corresponding Academy Award-winning documentary highlight their work and enigmatic personalities) A quick glance at most modern buildings will reveal the lack of ornamentation which was hallmark of architecture throughout history and moving into the Beaux-Arts styles of the 1930’s and 1940’s. Since that time, stone has been used less and less in favor of steel, glass and modern materials, thereby decreasing the demand for stone carvers of Hart’s ilk. However, under the tutelage of Morigi and Palumbo, Hart learned of the competition to design the tympanum above the main doors of the Cathedral’s West façade. Hart chose the theme of creation, but not with the same sensitivity of subject as Michelangelo applied in his “God Creating Adam” in the Sistine Chapel. Instead, Hart drew inspiration from the writings of Jesuit philosopher and theologian Pierre Theilhard de Chardin who, in his treatise “The Divine Milieu” posited that “Someday, after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love. Then for the second time in the history of the world, we will have discovered fire….[and] Driven by the forces of love, the fragments of the world seek each other so that the world may come into being.” Hart’s original maquette called upon several elements in the natural world, fire, rain, stone, wind to create his Adam and his Eve “Ex Nihilo” (Out of Nothing).

 

Birth is a painful process. A fitful sleep, only to reawaken for another moment of creation… Dawn. Hart’s Adam and Eve struggle and writhe in a pullulating morass of tarry elements Hart described as a “primordial cloud”. Though their bodies are partially articulated and powerful, their essence is still formative. Silently, they grasp at dawn through the chaos for formation. Perhaps this is Hart’s allegory for all life.

Hart’s work, bears a spiritual, if not thematic kinship to French master Auguste Rodin’s most important creation, La Porte de l’Enfer (The Gates of Hell). This is due in part to the fact that both were sculpted in high relief contraposto and consisted of restrained forms in varying forms of activity through a quagmire from which they cannot escape. However, where Rodin’s figures are tortured without hope, Hart’s anguished Adam and Eve seem uplifted and confident. The unified whole, carved by Morigi and Palumbo from Indiana limestone using techniques and division of labor derived from the stone carvers of old, allowed Hart to birth his own renaissance of sorts. His sculpting, combined with the tutelage and expertise of his mentors, made the lost art of stone carving interesting again. Not unlike his sculptural antecedents Michelangelo and Rodin. Hart again proves himself to be an “infant of the same species”.

 

(LEFT) August Rodin (French, 1840-1917) “Adam” (1880-1881), shown in bronze. Portion of composition “La Porte de l'Enfer (The Gates of Hell)”. (LEFT) Frederick E. Hart (American, 1943-1999) “Adam” (1974, cast 2006), shown in bronze. Portion of composition “Ex Nihilo” for Washington National Cathedral

He is the old Adam”, Hart says,

[a] figure emergent from chaos, shaped by the potter’s hand,

the passion and the zenith of creations…

He is also the new Adam, emergent, radiant in light.

He is at once absolutely concrete and absolutely universal.”

 

 

Hart sculpting the full-scale modele with his model Lindy Lain, later Mrs. Frederick Hart posing as the face of Eve

Frederick E. Hart (American, 1943-1999) "Ex Nihilo" (1974-1982) Indiana limestone, Height: 156 inches. Washington National Cathedral, Washington D.C.

 

Our diminutive docent, Irma Stockton, kindly lead a small group of us through the nooks and crannies of the cathedral, pointing out interesting morsels of information on the construction, from the significance of specific windows, bosses and markings, to the belfry where we saw the skeleton of the upper knave arches. She explained that the cathedral was designed in the 14th Century English Gothic style and that it is the highest point in Washington D.C., higher even than the Washington Monument because of its location atop Reno Hill (the highest natural point in the District of Columbia at 409ft above sea level). She led us through the narrow mass with an eight bay knave and six bay transept, pointing out various items of interest in stone, stained glass and wrought iron artistry throughout.

Despite breaking ground in 1907, it was not finished until I was a senior in High School.

After thanking Mrs. Stockton for her time, I reemerged from the Cathedral into the midday light. With this, I too went from a waking sleep into a dawn of my own. Repositioning myself again in front of “Ex Nihilo” I truly gained insights into Hart and the reason for my pilgrimage. The cathedral holds a power and majesty that was not easily summed up in words. Despite its relatively young lineage, its breathtaking scale and impeccable detail reminded me that there were masters of old walking among us. Craftsmanship bordering on the great Renaissance masters is lost on us now, and we are poorer for it with each passing year.

I caught back up with docent Andy Bittner and introduced myself. He took a few moments to impart some of the stories previously mentioned as well as his own formative years at the Cathedral, first as a wayward and free-thinking youth seeking the meaning of life, then later as a patron and docent. In his laid-back, but friendly and enthusiastic drawl, he conveyed that his adventuresome youth was spent exploring nooks and crannies of the magical structure as his parents lived and worked in the greater DC area. (In fact, his father was the “tenor drummer in the Washington Scottish Bagpipe Band, who played in the annual Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan service (the blessing of the Scottish clans in America)” at the Cathedral. After several years of self-described “adventurous, but limiting, decisions“, he returned to its hallowed halls and had a life-altering epiphany. Just as Hart before him, he dedicated his life to the Cathedral and its history. Andy was kind enough to share a broad spectrum of stories, from bona fide miracles, to mysterious coincidences and the humorous deviancy the masons and stone carvers caused in their decades working at the Cathedral. Anecdotally he explained one of the most deviant characteristics of the exterior structure was a protuberant bust of Darth Vader which adorns the Northwest tower. A competition amongst schoolchildren in the 1980’s to design gargoyles for the Cathedral yielded a winning design of the Star Wars villain. The design was then sculpted by Jay Hall Carpenter and carved in Indiana limestone by Patrick J. Plunkett.

 

The Star Wars Villain on the Northwest Tower. Courtesy of Washington National Cathedral.

Perhaps it was Andy’s encyclopedic knowledge of the structure or a truly divine moment which inspired him to become a permanent fixture at the Cathedral. Perhaps it was more. One common thread struck me as I listened to Andy speak about the Cathedral; that of deviants finding their way. After all, Andy did. So did Michelangelo and Rodin. So did Hart. To some extent, so did I. Is this what Andy meant by “infants of the same species”? Perhaps. Perhaps it is because this structure was, as Washington himself intended, “equally open to all”.

Including we deviants.

The author and "Ex Nihilo" at Washington National Cathedral, August 2013.

 

FOOTNOTE: Of the many stories Andy Bittner conveyed during our discussions, one series resonated. On 23 August, 2011, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck the Washington D.C. area causing significant damage to the Cathedral and its varied structures. On 26 August Hurricane Irene further exacerbated efforts to shore up the structure and caused further damage to the cathedral. On September 7, 2011 a 350 foot crane working to shore up the Cathedral in light of the recent damage, collapsed. Days later, on 11 September, 2011, was to be the 10th Anniversary memorial of the September 11th attacks in Washington and New York. President Barack Obama as well as many heads of state, Senators, Secretaries, dignitaries and heads different religions from around the world were to converge on Washington National Cathedral on that date. Security around D.C. was airtight, but threats were always rampant and fears remained high. Andy maintains that these “Acts of God” served as a warning. The memorial was moved to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Despite an extended series of dramatic disasters, no one was egregiously hurt. No villainy took place. Perhaps, he thought, this is BEST example of God’s benevolence.

Several damaged or fallen spires and gargoyles from the exterior façade.

For more on the restoration efforts ongoing at the Cathedral, please see http://www.nationalcathedral.org/dcquake/

 

Reed V. Horth, is the president, curator and writer for ROBIN RILE FINE ART in Miami, FL. He has been a private dealer, gallerist and blogger since 1996, specializing in 20th century and contemporary masters. www.robinrile.com

 

Cross of the Millennium (1/3- life-scale) by Frederick E. Hart

Frederick Elliot HART (1943-1999)

Cross of the Millennium

Medium      Lucite

Sizes       H 30.5 in

Date of creation 1992

Subject     religion

Movement/period   20th Century Romanticism

Signature   YES

Authentication certificate    YES

Price: on request.

Unveiled at the Easter Sunrise service at Arlington National Cemetery in 1992. One presented to Pope John Paul II in 1996. Arguably Hart’s most important work. Edition of 175.

CONTACT:

Reed V. Horth
ROBIN RILE FINE ART
Miami, FL USA
www.robinrile.com
reed@robinrile.com
PH: (813) 340-9629
Skype: reed.v.horth
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/rvhorth
Facebook: www.facebook.com/robinrile

ART INVESTMENT LESSONS: THE FINAL WORD IS GUTS

An actual letter sent to a client by Reed V. Horth, for Robin Rile Fine Art

Dear B,

Thank you for your email about “investment-level” artworks. Now, I will start by saying that art should not necessarily be bought solely for investment. While everyone’s motivations are different, as a collector myself, I feel there should be some element of passion (Call it pride, love, history or some other motivator) which triggers your purchase. The reason behind an element of pragmatism is that we, as dealers, cannot predict the future. We can merely let you know what we have seen in the past. This being said, I have had several clients do very well on their investments in fine art over the past many years. In the last 10 months, I had a collector flip a prominent original oil from a 20th Century master from $825k to $1.3M in less than 30 days. Another client bought a work at $278k and sold it six months later at $745k. Another bought at $1.78M and the work is now being offered above $5M. Works under $100k always have a few question marks as to their prospective upside. However, the further you ascend above $100k (and provided the work meets certain criteria), the fewer questions surmount as to whether or not it will work is a sanguine investment.

This actually reminds me of a story: My wife and I were recently touring one of our collector’s beautiful homes, when he volunteered a story about the large Pablo Picasso oil which hung gracefully in front of us. The young woman in the portrait, he noted, was an exercise that fit somewhere between tremendous luck and outright stupidity. It turns out that he, as a young newlywed initially making his way in the business world, went on a business trip to Paris in 1974. He was entertaining some of his colleagues and prospective investors who were avid art collectors, when they all walked into a prominent gallery and stumbled upon the young Picasso maiden. Paint still dewy, the price was bandied about by the elder statesmen as they chided the young man in their midst. With a flourish, my client said… “I’ll take it”.

Pablo Picasso, As shown at Art Basel Miami Beach, 2012. Photo by author.

 

“It” was $94,000, and encompassed the vast majority of the funds he and his new wife had set aside for their new home.

A bittersweet pill for his new bride, who blanched at the cost of this “hideous” thing (as Picassos of the late 1960’s were often thought of), he showed up at their modest apartment with a new contract from his duly impressed investors… and a four-foot by three-foot Picasso. A conservative estimate on this painting could place it somewhere between $10-15M USD today. Intervening years have proven to the young bride how sanguine the investment was, as the work has thrived during nearly 40 years of appreciation historically, aesthetically and, of course, monetarily.

We cannot all have the foresight of my client. His was an extreme case and, as the sum in 1974 would have equated to some $429,000 in today’s dollars. However, the buyer had both wherewithal and means to make a purchase of a known commodity which he felt would be a good investment. What is more… he went with his gut. He knew this was the right move which would pay dividends in the future.

Perhaps you are not a collector who wishes to (or can) spend nearly a half million dollars (or more) on a given work of art for your home. Truth is, very few of us are. But, when you are, how do WE find these artists before they become this level? How do we find a Picasso when he is still a relative nobody? Well, there is no iron-clad tried and true method of finding a diamond in the rough, or the proverbial needle-in-a-haystack. What we can do is notice trends in both buyers and sellers and try to anticipate what are motivating factors for each. All artists want to sell, it is the nature of the craft. Not all buyers want to buy though, whether they know it or not. Through studying buyer trends since 1996, you notice certain trends though we have noticed a few key plateaus.

Contemporary Art Booth shown at Art Basel Miami Beach, 2012. Photo by author.

1.      Collectors buy items below $5,000 based purely on the visceral reaction to the work and with no preconceived notions about the work being an investment.

2.      Between $5,000-$10,000, some collectors will buy on impulse and others will weigh a potential investment side.

3.      Above $10,000, anyone who is purchasing anything at this level is an investor in something, be it real estate, stocks, funds, art, etc. Therefore the criteria with which they gauge their art purchases must be weighed and buttressed with the same sound rationale they use in their investment purchases, even if they never expect to sell the work and/or expect it to ascend in value.

4.      Above $100,000, this is a serious investor who will scrutinize trends in all purchases and have some expectation of ROI.

Roy Lichtenstein, As shown at Art Basel Miami Beach, 2012. Photo by author.

 

Provided the pricing we present meets the levels of expectations of our prospective buyers, we then know what information and buttressing will be required to make the purchase sanguine for the buyer. As pricing ascends, so does the importance on documentation and peripheral information, trends, comparables, etc. This is the same care an investor would take if they were investing in anything else, so the same level of scrutiny should be expected. Outside firms who can operate at arm’s length are often brought in to provide analysis and prospective, but there are often conflicts of interest which mar these findings. So, just as in other investments, the buyer often must rely on his/her own instincts to make decisions that may be beneficial to them in the future. While we do not all know as much technical data as we might like about the products we are investing in (whether they be pharmaceuticals, real estate, funds, etc.) we do tend know a good deal when we see it.

Provided that all of the “I’s” are dotted and “T’s” are crossed, all that remains are our instincts… Our guts.

Best always,

Reed

Reed V. Horth, is the president, curator and writer for ROBIN RILE FINE ART in Miami, FL. He has been a private dealer, gallerist and blogger since 1996, specializing in 20th century and contemporary masters. www.robinrile.com

Latin American Art Available including BOTERO

 

ARTIST: Fernando Botero (Colombian, b. 1932)

Name” El Poder de la Oracion” (c. 1960)

Original oil on canvas affixed to board

Dimensions: 33” x 39” (each- framed)

18” x 24” (each- unframed)

Certified: Fernando Botero (1992)

PRICE ON REQUEST

 

ARTIST Vicente Dopico-Lerner (Cuban, b. 1945)

Name: La Dama y Los Fantasmas (1998)

Original oil on canvas

Dimensions: 48” x 36”

PRICE ON REQUEST

 

ARTIST: Jose Maria Mijares (Cuban, 1921-2004)

Name: “Muchacha de la Alameda” (1947)

Original oil on masonite

Dimensions: 32” x 37.5” (framed)

22.5 x 28” (unframed)

Certified: by Jose Mijares (1998)

PRICE ON REQUEST

 

CONTACT:
Reed V. Horth
ROBIN RILE FINE ART
Miami, FL USA
www.robinrile.com
reed@robinrile.com
PH: (813) 340-9629
Skype: reed.v.horth
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/rvhorth
Facebook: www.facebook.com/robinrile

New works from Street Artist BASK

BASK original works priced from under $2000.

BASK (Czech-American, b. 1970)

So Hood

Mixed Media with spray paint on wood.

38x 57

 

 

BASK (Czech-American, b. 1970)

Desire To Stay positive

Mixed Media with spray paint on wood

50x 60

 

 

BASK (Czech-American, b. 1970)

Hide and Seek

Mixed Media with spray paint on wood

20x 30

 

 

BASK (Czech-American, b. 1970)

Fun Box Frank

Acrylic, latex, spray paint on wood.

24x 24

 

 

 

BASK (Czech-American, b. 1970)

Metamorphosis

Mixed Media with spray paint on wood

20x 36

 

 

BASK (Czech-American, b. 1970)

Bask In Your Thoughtcrimes

Mixed Media with spray paint on wood

72x 48

 

 

OR… How about a commission from BASK?

A Happy Client: In his own words

BASK “A Protected Nest” mixed media on wood panel. 50″ x 36″ x 3″. SOLD. Private Collection, NYC

One of our clients just requested a specifically commissioned work from our resident artist BASK. He just recently received the work, and here was his response verbatim….

“Dear Reed,

Just went down to new place and opened up crate..

Totally jaw dropping..

Incredible colors and textures

Every time I look at it from different angle I see something new.

Funny how much the kids in the nest actually look like our Sascha and Leo and that robyn’s egg greenish color is what we are using as a palate for our bedroom.

Really beautiful piece in every sense.  Think it deserves it own wall in our living room.

Thank you so much for the kind prints as well.  That was very nice of you guys to include those.

Can’t wait until we move in then we will photo and send to you.  Hopefully before Thanksgiving.

Best

N”

 

CONTACT:
Reed V. Horth
ROBIN RILE FINE ART
Miami, FL USA
www.robinrile.com
reed@robinrile.com
PH: (813) 340-9629
Skype: reed.v.horth
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/rvhorth
Facebook: www.facebook.com/robinrile

NEW BOBAN Original Sculpture Available

 

Boban (Serbian, b. 1963)

“Renaissance Man”

Original, one-of-a-kind, Stainless Steel creation.

Approximate Dimensions: 6′ x 5′ x 3.5′

PRICE: SOLD

For years Chicago’s Lincoln Park was graced with master sculptor Boban’s public installation “Renaissance Man”, a proud and graceful creation of steel, confidently stepping forward from a perfect point of balance, ready to take on the challenges of a new becoming in the 21st century and beyond. This creation is another prime example of, and tribute to, the skill, vision, and unique style that is Boban, and that has brought so much energy to the world of contemporary sculpture. “Renaissance Man” has truly found his most tenuous, yet energetic, point of balance, as he faces the future with tireless determination and intensity of focus.


 

 

 

Boban (Serbian, b. 1963)

“Dancer in the Wind”

Original Stainless Steel Spoon Creation

One-of-a-kind

30” x 40” x 26”

 

ALSO:

Boban (Serbian, b. 1963)

“Power of Violin”

Nickel plated bronze edition of 25 (SOLD OUT)

54” x 62” x 23”

PRICE: On request

 

Price and availability can change without notice

 

BOBAN ILIC (Serbian, b. 1964)

Exhibitions –
-Various galleries in Europe (1986 – 1990).
-Toyamura International Sculpture Biennale 2001, Japan
-Makati shangrila –Grand art Gallery –Philippines , May 7, 2002
-International Artexpo New York 2002-2003.
- Lincoln Park art initiative – Chicago -2003
- Premiere Gallery & Alexandros Foundation- June 20th -2003
-MG Gallery 676 N Dearborn-Chicago- Permanent displays
- 100 + one man show’s in the period 1985-2004
Awards –
-First place for sculpture design at North Shore Art League 1992,Chicago IL
-Award of Excellence Port Clinton Art Festival 1998 (Best Art Work of the show)
-F Price (Best of the Show) Toyamura International Sculpture Biennale 2001
Sapporo, Japan
- Annual Sculpture Exibit “Linkoln Park Art Initiative 2003” First place.
Special Projects –
-Monument of Shaka Zulu figure for Oak Park Community displayed outside at the City of Chicago.
-Sculpture of Pegasus displayed outside on Montigo Bay, Jamaica.
-Complete Interior Design and Art at Palette’s Gallery, downtown Chicago.
-Sculpture commissioned by McDonalds Corporation displayed with McDonalds art collection.
-Sculptures for Mobile Oil Corporation displayed outside of headquarters, Texas.

Media Exposure
“Wild Chicago” on WTTW Ch 11, Chicago video show.
“What’s Working” program about Boban’s art on WTTW Ch 11.
“Good Morning America” on national television.
“ Starting Over” N.B.C. on national TV

 

Recently completed commission, “Homage to the Michael Jordan Monument” (2013, 54” x 36” x 18”- private collection, IN USA)

2013 Diamond Award for “Best Small Business”!

Mr. Brainwash Original Works Available

Are you a fan of the hottest artist working today, Mr. Brainwash? Yeah. We are too! We saw Banksy’s film “Exit Through the Giftshop” and that was enough for us! That is why we were honored to have been contacted about representing his original paintings to our clientele. We have a large group of fantastic originals available presently, but you have to inquire if you want to see them!

 

Contact us at:
Reed V. Horth
ROBIN RILE FINE ART
Miami, FL USA
www.robinrile.com
reed@robinrile.com
PH: (813) 340-9629
Skype: reed.v.horth
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/rvhorth
Facebook: www.facebook.com/robinrile

ARMAN silver sculpture “L’âme de Vénus” (Mind of Venus)

Arman (1928-2005)

L’âme de Vénus” (Mind of Venus)

Black glass and pure silver (DAUM Glassworks of Nancy, France)

Base in Bronze (Bocquel Foundry)

Numbered AP #3/4

Edition of 8 plus 4 proofs

solid silver and black Daum crystal glass full length standing figure, of typical sliced composition, raised on integral silver and further bronze rectangular section base, etched signature to the base of the glass Arman Daum France HC4, h.74cm (29″)
Footnote; This particular goddess is the conclusion of the trilogy of the Daum’s Venus, Symbol of Beauty and Love. Produced in an edition of eight plus four artist proof, this one 3/4 artist proof. One example of “L’Ame de Venus” sold at a Paris auction for a price of $215,000 [Massol, Paris. June 1, 2007- Lot 107] (Another example also was sold in New York’s Madison Avenue in February 2007 for $235,000. USD.) It is accompanied by the original certificate of authenticity from DAUM glassworks.

PRICE: On request to reed@robinrile.com

CONTACT:

Reed V. Horth
ROBIN RILE FINE ART
Miami, FL USA
www.robinrile.com
reed@robinrile.com
PH: (813) 340-9629
Skype: reed.v.horth
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/rvhorth
Facebook: www.facebook.com/robinrile

Peeling Back the Campbell’s Soup Label: THE WARHOL I NEVER KNEW

by Reed V.Horth for CBPMag.com and Robin Rile Fine Art

I have a fantasy about money:

I’m walking down the street and I hear somebody say in a whisper

‘there goes the richest person in the world’” ~Andy Warhol

 

 


The building is not at all what I expected. Perhaps I did not know precisely what to expect. One side of my brain expected a multi- colored eyesore that city commissions would have surely been bribed to accept. The other side of my brain had not actually formulated a concept. But as our little white rental car rounded the top of the Warhol Bridge spanning the Allegheny River I was not quite prepared for the austere building which occupied the corner of East General Robinson Street and Sandusky Street; A building which, despite the mid-1950’s governmental exterior, housed The Andy Warhol Museum.  As we approached, it perhaps came as a surprise to find that my thoughts gravitated to the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas (the building from which Lee Harvey Oswald shot John F. Kennedy in 1963) which we had visited only a few months prior to our sojourn to Pittsburgh’s most famous museum.

 

Perhaps it is fitting…. Warhol always had a thing for Kennedy.



 

I like to think that the unique duality would have amused Warhol as much as the perceived connection to Kennedy amused me. After all, Warhol was known for turning convention on its ear, portraying tragedy in Technicolor and having a very real knowledge of what being shot is like. Further, Warhol and Kennedy both stood out as very singularly romanticized icons in an era of icons, perhaps some of the most enduring of the 20th Century.

 

While most of us think of Warhol as glitzy New York, he was in reality, a Czech Steel Town graphic designer from Pittsburgh. He made no secret of his aversion to the city of his birth, preferring New York’s bustling business people and freedom of artistic expression over blue collar, callused hands and sports teams that hallmark much of Pennsylvania. It might also be true that New York might garner more visitors numerically, but part of the charm of the Warhol Museum being in Pittsburgh was walking the halls nearly unmolested by the throngs that typically clatter through New York museums. Further, the highly successful efforts to re-brand Pittsburgh as an arts center is part of a multi-year project by city leaders to revitalize the downtown districts. With support of families with names like Carnegie, Heinz and Hillman, the Warhol Foundation has arguably had the most influence on the artist’s stature and pricing than any other single entity. This is due, at least in part, to the fact that the Warhol Museum collection consists mostly of work completed prior to his being shot by crazed feminist “Factory Girl” Valerie Solanas in 1968. Warhol’s work post his near-death experience is a dramatic departure from his previous output. In some sense, the old Warhol figuratively died that day and was replaced by a graphic designer who would paint nearly anything asked of him.

 

When the museum opened its doors in 1994, Warhol was a largely undervalued and only moderately appreciated artist whose presence in museums of modern art was apparent, but not significant. He was still considered to be little more than a glorified designer. Intervening years have allowed Warhol to become a beacon of all things “Art”. Museums started snatching up significant but relatively inexpensive works from the Warhol Foundation who were using the nearly $30M raised from the sale of estate works to sort out legal wrangling which took place just after the artist’s passing in 1987. This influx of major works into the market and museum-scene, along with simultaneous donations of major pieces to New York’s MOMA such as “Gold Marilyn Monroe” (1962) and “Orange Car Crash Fourteen Times” (1963) perpetuated Warhol’s bona fides as a True Blue Icon. When Warhol’s “Four Marilyns”, the 1962 painting of Marilyn Monroe four times, sold for $38.2 million at Phillips Auction House in May of 2013, Warhol works completed the 180 degree turn from blue collar graphic design to museum-level Icon. Further, this congealed the importance of the Warhol Museum’s collection consisting primarily of his early output which is so important to the telling his tale… Past, present and future.

 

ANDY WARHOL Four Marilyns (1962) acrylic, silkscreen ink, pencil on linen. 29 x 21 1/2 in. (73.7 x 54.6 cm.)

 

The pixie-like docent that warmly greeted us at the door of the Warhol Museum ushered us past the extensive lower-hall renovation which was underway. Photo-ops were hard to come by in the only area of the museum that photos were actually allowed.  Museums often disallow photography in their halls, particularly with modern technologies and reproduction techniques being what they are. So these prohibitions are understandable and will be offset in the future by the Museum’s re-worked entry-hall which will be more-picture-friendly for Instagram, Twitter and Facebook users who often drive traffic to events and spaces.  Much like the exterior, the interior was sparse and built the anticipation of knowing that the best was yet-to-come. As we ascended to the 6th floor, the idea that we would see some chronology of the events that shaped the artist’s early life vanished, as looming video screens obliquely hung on all sides in the darkened corridor. Screens were everywhere, each clicking away at some black and white loop of beautiful people in random acts… smoking, brushing their teeth, sitting, sleeping, over-acting, etc. Edie Sedgwick’s nymph-like visage stared at me with meter-wide eyes. Warhol produced thousands of hours of footage of all sorts. Viewers silently glided amongst these motion pictures, some with frenetic energy and others with drunken lethargy. This was one of Warhol’s favorite media, Video. It was fresh and new and there were ample avenues for him to explore with the famous people whom he loved to be surrounded by. Between 1964 and 1966, Warhol created a studio in his “Factory” (studio) where he made nearly 500 screen tests of famous and iconic personalities of the day on a clicking 16mm camera. These 3 minute-long screen tests included art-world luminaries such as Salvador Dali, Dennis Hopper and Edie Sedgwick and were virtually unknown outside the private world of the Factory itself. Later, Warhol morphed his interviews segments into full-blown question-and-answer sessions with the famous faces of Darryl Hall, David Bowie, Grace Jones, LAII (Keith Haring’s young protégé), Rob Lowe, Sammy Davis Jr, and a veritable cornucopia of 1980’s MTV bubblegum royalty. One video, shot from a roof-top, showed famed photographer Peter Beard bisecting a New York street corner with a delicate model balanced precariously on a chair. According to the title-plate, the model spent time in a Nazi prison camp because her father tried to assassinate Hitler during WWII.  Duality indeed. In another clip Warhol awkwardly discusses having dinner with Larry Rivers’ soon-to-be ex-wife the week prior. Both seemed unprepared for the conversation. The rooms felt naughty. As if we were watching titillating things, conversations and private moments, that we shouldn’t be watching. The whole room made me uncomfortable. In some way… I guess it was supposed to.

Not surprisingly, this was also one of my wife’s favorite parts of the museum.

ANDY WARHOL Film Stills The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; Founding Collection Contribution The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. © AWF

We also had the opportunity to make a 3-minute video as part of the Warhol Screen Test (http://screentest.warhol.org/). This opportunity was rewarded with perhaps the most uncomfortable video I have ever been a part of. A few screen shots of our video make it pretty clear who had more fun during the screen test. Welcome to my life.


As we descended one flight of stairs, we stumbled into a small room which revealed an entirely different side of Warhol, that of story-board artist and stream-of-consciousness drawing. “The Autobiography of a Snake Called Noa the Boa” was a 1950’s-1960’s illustrated series depicting the world travels of a snake named Noa, drawn for Fleming Joffe leather company, which sold shoes, handbags and other leather merchandise. After many collegiate nights of story-boarding my own movie and Ad concepts, I was struck by the imaginary notion that Andy hurriedly sketched these during the course of an idea-soaked night of booze and cigarettes. The drawings are not detailed or controlled, which is part of the appeal, instead they are a skeletal depiction far-removed from Warhol’s traditional meaty oeuvre.

 

ANDY WARHOL “Noa the Boa” The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; Founding Collection Contribution The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. © AWF

The next turn is what made my heart stop. “Elvis 11 Times”. Now, I am not an Elvis fan, per se… But, this silver image of the standing Elvis with outstretched gun (from a publicity shot from the 1960 film Flaming Star) stretching the length of a long wall was an impressive sight to behold. The work was originally intended to be cut down and used for 11 individual works which remained incomplete at his death. Andy himself remarks, “the rubber-stamp method I’d been using to repeat images suddenly seemed too homemade; I wanted something stronger that gave more of an assembly-line effect. With silkscreening you pick a photograph, blow it up, transfer it in glue onto silk, and then roll ink across it so the ink goes through the silk but not through the glue. That way you get the same image, slightly different each time. It all sounds so simple — quick and chancy. I was thrilled with it.” The “Rubber Stamp” method he refers to is more commonly known as silkscreening (sometimes called Serigraphy or screen printing) which, by and large, has received a negative connotation in the last decade or so. However, in the early 1960’s this was a largely ignored, but ancient (dating to 960-1279 AD China) artistic media and something worth investigating for an inquisitive talent like Warhol. Many of his best known, iconic and valuable works were made with a combination of screenprinting and over painting.

 

ANDY WARHOL Elvis 11 Times (1962) acrylic, silkscreen ink, pencil on linen. 432 inches x 78 (1097cm x 198 cm.) The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; Founding Collection Contribution The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. © AWF

The effect of such a large and overwhelming sight of Elvis in repetition is that of a fun-house mirror, playing the same image over and over and over. Molding it. Updating it. Modernizing it. Elvis can no longer be relegated to the past. He is the future. Cowboys are no longer a mythological persona in “Old West” storybooks, but an Icon worthy of adoration.

Standing back, I immediately sensed the scope with which Warhol saw the world. Not merely piece-by-piece as we often do, but in much broader strokes. No boarders or limitations. Turning left or right the room revealed its other contents, invisible to me only a moment prior. Marlon Brando’s “Wild One” on a natural unprimed canvas, Jackie O’s repeated portraits before and after her husband’s assassination, Natalie Wood, Mao, Hammer and Sickles, Cecil the stuffed dog. etc. All important, and all quite dead. The tendency with many artists, writers, poets and the like, is an preoccupation with death, mortality and existence beyond this mortal coil.

 

Everything I do is connected with death

~Andy Warhol

 

Andy Warhol “Suicide (Fallen Body)” 1963. The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; Founding Collection Contribution The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. © AWF

Warhol’s “Death and Disaster” series, including “Ambulance Disaster”, “Gangster Funeral”, “Electric Chair”, “Catastrophe” and others, create a discomfort as the larger-than-life images hang over you and you instinctively seek out vestiges of life from within the hazy faces buried in silkscreen ink. American audiences are particularly sensitized to these images due in part to a puritanical press-corps which prohibits photographic depictions of the dead in news stories far more than their European counterparts. Elegant in their starkness and relative abstraction, their beauty comes in spite of their morbidity. Warhol’s “1947, White”, a hauntingly serene work, was based on Robert C. Wiles’ death-photos of 23 year-old model Evelyn McHale who leapt from the 86th floor of the Empire State Building in 1947. In her left hand, the elegant strand of pearls around her neck lay clutched as her body lay cradled in the roof of a parked Cadillac, in what has been dubbed the most “Beautiful Suicide”. She is famous only for her death, not her life. The ongoing, daily repetition of this tragedy,  as well as the throngs of onlookers still gazing at her prone body drives home that we are sometimes remembered only for what is best forgotten.

 

The ascendancy and success Warhol experienced in the 1960’s coincided with and antithesized the melancholic Cold War as well as the Kennedy assassination (1963) and later with those of Bobby Kennedy (1968), Martin Luther King Jr. (1968). Seizing upon the angst of these external factors, Warhol satirized and iconized banal subject-matter such as Coca-Cola bottles, Campbell’s Soup Cans, Brillo boxes and other commercial objects which are purchased by the rich and the poor alike. He states, “A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum of the corner is drinking. All Cokes are the same and all Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it… And you know it.”  His perceived embrace of rampant consumerism in the face of political turmoil created a scandal around Warhol’s work and persona. His use of heavy subject matter like tragic death juxtaposes his use of the mundane and places each in the context of the other. Death becomes commonplace and Soup becomes extraordinary.

The 1980’s were a period of resurgence after the relative calm of the 1970’s. Warhol’s post-shooting output paled in comparison to those produced prior to the assassination attempt. The 80’s were bullish and embraced all things excessive. Warhol’s was now the venerated “old guard” for the New York Art scene. He was deified and served as mentor and friend to the new-generation of artistic powerhouses, Basquiat, Warhol, Schnabel, Salle, Scharf and others. Warhol’s Brooklyn Bridge glittered with diamond dust. Trump Tower oscillated between light and shadow. The Statue of Liberty shone in variegated colors and even camouflage. But, still Warhol gravitated to his morose roots as New York was gripped by an epidemic in gun violence. This constant televised reminder underscored his own ever-present and painful scarring and his brush with death. The stark depiction in red and black provides a reminder of how little things change.

 

ANDY WARHOL Gun (1982) acrylic, silkscreen ink, pencil on linen. The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; Founding Collection Contribution The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. © AWF

Even the room filled with 15 floating metallic balloons remind you of the impermanent nature of life. Adults shuffled through the room like post-modern angels flitting between passing clouds. Fans gently ushered silver, pillow-shaped floating balloons around the rectangular space. This installation, originally the gallery concept for Leo Castelli’s opening night, was intended to be shown with floating lights attached to the balloons, but the balloons could not carry the weight. In the end, the balloons themselves sufficed as their own surreal statement. Snowflake-like fingerprints flecked upon the surfaces and for the first time, this Warhol seemed almost whimsical and approachable. Adults looked like kids. Present day was transported to the space-age, and angels seemed not so distant a concept.

Balloon Room at the Andy Warhol Museum by Carlos Hernandez

Warhol’s “time capsules” captured the innocent and banal of early 1980’s life, but also show what life was like for Warhol day-to-day. Trips to the laundry, the theatre, postcards, sketches, stamps, magazine and newspaper clippings and other ephemera. In total, Warhol kept 612 separate boxes of literally everything that he got his hands on from 1973 till his death in 1987. We scanned through personal photographs of Warhol goofing with friends, Basquiat, Schnabel, Neiman, Scharf and reminisced about the inherently collaborative nature of the artist. Inspired by a young street artist known by the moniker “SAMO” Warhol took up painting on canvas again to collaborate with his many followers. “SAMO”, now better known as Jean-Michel Basquiat, had a contrarian personality that Warhol could relate to as he re-made his life in an image that better suited him. Specifically, where Warhol grew up in a working-class Pittsburgh neighborhood, Basquiat rejected an upper middle-class upbringing in Queens and embraced a life on the city streets of New York City.  “Jean-Michel got me into painting differently, and that’s a good thing.” Coming from a world where image is so carefully trimmed, primped and preened, it was refreshing to see images that were rough, imperfect and truly experimental.

 

The re-energized Warhol toyed with true abstraction including hyper-scale gems made with diamond dust, creating a shimmery surface, shadows, camouflage, oxidation (metallic pigment and urine on canvas) and Rorschach tests. The Rorschach Test was commonly used by psychologists in the 1960’s as a method of determining homosexuality, which at the time was regarded as psychopathology. This stigma would have been intimately familiar to Warhol.

 

 

Jean-Michel Basquiat/Andy Warhol, Collaboration, 1984-85 Acrylic and oil stick on linen 76 x 104 1/8in. The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; Founding Collection Contribution The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. © AWF

As we descended the final staircase, the pixie emerged once again. She politely asked us about our favorite aspects of the museum and informed us about the upcoming unveiling of the new lobby area. She noted that students study art downstairs and she is learning in the best possible place to be inspired.

 

What was our favorite aspect of the Andy Warhol Museum? The answer is hard to pin down to one thing or another. However, It might be this…. We left with a much clearer understanding of Warhol beyond Campbell’s Soup Cans and Marilyn prints. We learned that Warhol liked to make videos of friends and TV shows of celebrity culture. He loved the Art of the Interview, no matter how awkward or difficult his subject might seem. (These interviews included Warhol’s own mother, who looked like an aged Andy in drag.) We learned he was obsessed with celebrity and all of the trappings of it. So much so that he kept a cache of black-and-white photos of Jayne Mansfield and Rock Hudson nearby at all times. We learned that he experimented with balloon installations, printmaking techniques and his Artistically–minded contemporaries. We learned that he created Interview Magazine in late 1969, and it since been dubbed “The Crystal Ball of Pop”. Reams of his magazines featuring covers with Katy Perry, Lil’ Wayne and Brad Pitt sit side-by-side on the wall with the likes of Sting, Grace Jones and Brooke Shields. This melding of MTV era celebrity and contemporary Pop culture updates Warhol and brings his influence solidly into the 21st Century.

 

In short, we learned that Warhol was not a two dimensional artist, but a multi-dimensional thinker. A person who took risks and paid a price for many of them in public and private life. Ultimately he was vindicated by history and remembered as someone great…. Not unlike Kennedy at all.