If the Pokémon Company’s video teasing its upcoming collaboration with the Van Gogh Museum was already enough to have you thinking about booking a ticket to Amsterdam, the promise of an impressionistic Pikachu promo card might just do the trick.
It’s a question Monty Hall might have asked on Let’s Make a Deal when the Winnipegger was at the top of the game-show world.
“Would you rather have these three paintings on this desk or this stack of hundred-dollar bills?” one can imagine Hall saying while opening a briefcase full of dough for everyone to ogle.
The contestant would be a winner with either choice, but choosing the art could make that person an instant millionaire. That is, if the estimates are correct for the June 8 sale by Toronto-based Cowley Abbott auction house, which includes a series of Andy Warhol silkscreens the Winnipeg Art Gallery is putting on the block.
The three paintings that were on display at Mayberry Fine Art last week — Nail-head of Trent Reznor by rock legend David Bowie, Tom Thomson’s Ragged Oaks, a 1916 landscape, and Lawren Harris’s Red House — are three priceless objects that will nonetheless be given a value at the auction of paintings and prints in Toronto, which will be livestreamed so buyers around the world can bid.
Rob Cowley, a partner at Cowley Abbott, remembers an auction of a sketch by Canadian painter J.W. Beatty that began at $13,000 — two bidders shot the price up to $140,000.
“You could feel it in the audience, it was like watching a tennis match,” he says. “It was back and forth and relentless. It was a record for a sketch for J.W. Beatty.”
The artists’ names will do much of the heavy lifting when the auctioneer opens the bidding, but so does the painting’s subject, the number of times it’s been presented in exhibitions, and the work’s provenance — its history that confirms its authenticity.
Bowie, the singer and writer of hits including Space Oddity, Starman and Let’s Dance, who died in 2016, was also a painter, sculptor and art collector. He painted the portrait of Reznor, the Nine Inch Nails frontman, in 1995 after they became friends while touring together.
As important for buyers is the fine print within the Cowley Abbott catalogue for the June 8 sale: “Titled and annotated with lyrics; signed, titled and dated 1995 on the reverse.” Its suggested price range is between $35,000 and $55,000.
“Collectors want to know (who owned the artwork), and it’s something we really research and talk to the owner who’s consigning the work to us,” says Lydia Abbott, also a Cowley Abbott partner.
The other paintings are by two of the most notable names in Canadian art: Tom Thomson and his friend Lawren Harris. Harris co-founded the Group of Seven, the renowned art collective that created some of the greatest Canadian landscape paintings of the early 20th century.
The most valuable painting of the three is Thomson’s Ragged Oaks, which he completed one year before his death in 1917; it was in his family’s possession until 1971, when it was bought by an unnamed private collector, who kept it in pristine condition despite it being 106 years old. The estimated price range for the sale is $1 million to $1.5 million.
“Sometimes an artist hits it out of the park in terms of what we celebrate them for, and sometimes it’s just a quick sketch.” Cowley says. “Right now, Thomson’s market is strong and he’s very much in fashion among collectors, especially rare work.”
Harris’s paintings were already highly valued in 2016, but they gained even more notoriety when actor and comedian Steve Martin — a lifelong art collector and fan of the painter’s work — co-curated an exhibition of Harris paintings in Toronto.
While Red House is slightly larger than a dollar bill, the sale catalogue lists its price at $18,000 to $22,000; a much larger canvas of the same subject recently sold for $5 million, Abbott says.
A set of works that checks all of Cowley Abbott’s boxes is four 1985 silkscreens of Queen Elizabeth II by Warhol, the American pop artist.
The WAG is using money from the series’ sales to purchase contemporary Indigenous art that will diversify its permanent collection; Cowley Abbott is donating its commission from the Warhol sale to the gallery’s fund.
The four silkscreens of the queen adorn the cover of the auction house’s catalogue for its June 8 sale, its first to include non-Canadian art. Cowley Abbott has suggested a price range between $700,000 and $900,000 for the set.
“Oftentimes you’ll see one of the Warhols, but what’s great here is the collector who donated them (to the WAG) did assemble them in two separate purchases,” Abbott says.
Alan Small has been a journalist at the Free Press for more than 22 years in a variety of roles, the latest being a reporter in the Arts and Life section.
Downtown Kingston’s fall Art After Dark ‘biggest one yet’
Art After Dark returns to downtown Kingston this Friday as art galleries and art-loving businesses open their doors and invite patrons to browse and buy some of the best in local art.
Friday, Sept. 29, 2023, from 7 to 10 p.m., art enthusiasts are invited to wander, chat, and maybe start or add to their personal collections. While the public is taking in the beautiful art and meeting fascinating local artists, they can also enjoy light refreshments, friendly conversation, and compelling displays at art galleries and in local shops in the downtown core.
“The eagerly-awaited fall edition of Art After Dark promises to be the biggest one yet, as attendees embark on a free walking tour of more than 20 participating studios, galleries, and art-loving businesses downtown,” the Downtown Kingston Business Improvement Area (BIA) said in a media release dated Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023.
“Art After Dark is a beloved community event that celebrates the talent and creativity of local artists and the dynamic arts scene in Kingston,” the BIA continued. “This year’s fall edition brings an array of new and exciting experiences that will inspire and entertain.”
In the release, the BIA shared details on what attendees can expect this year:
- Artistic Adventure: Explore the heart of Kingston’s artistic community on a captivating walking tour. Visit studios, galleries, and art-centric businesses throughout downtown Kingston, where you can engage with artists, view their latest works, and even purchase unique pieces to add to your own collection.
- Art After Dark Outdoor Lounge: New for this year’s event is the Art After Dark Outdoor Lounge, in partnership with The Caesar Company. Located on Sydenham Street (between Princess and Queen), this outdoor oasis will provide a cozy and relaxed atmosphere for attendees to unwind and socialize. Sip on specialty drinks, listen to live music, and plan your next stop on the Art After Dark walking tour.
- $500 Grand Prize Draw: While you enjoy Art After Dark, enter to win $500 towards the purchase of original artwork. Each gallery you visit offers another chance to win. Contest details will be available at all participating stops.
Art After Dark is a family-friendly event that welcomes art enthusiasts of all ages. For seasoned art collectors or those simply curious about Kingston’s thriving art scene, this event offers something for everyone, the BIA noted, adding that attendees must be 19+ to enter the Outdoor Lounge.
Pokémon are coming to the Van Gogh Museum to teach the world about art
In celebration of the Van Gogh Museum’s 50th anniversary, it has teamed up with the Pokémon Company for a special event designed to introduce young artists to Van Gogh’s work, and to teach people about the way he was profoundly influenced by Japanese art.
“This collaboration will allow the next generation to get to know Vincent van Gogh’s art and life story in a refreshing way,” the Van Gogh Museum’s general director Emilie Gordenker said in a press release. “The Van Gogh Museum and The Pokémon Company International have drawn on many years of educational expertise to create a special experience for children, their supervisors, and we hope many others at the Van Gogh Museum.”
Along with on-site activations that guide museum visitors through a selection of Van Gogh’s paintings and delve into the stories behind them, an online exploration of his fascination with Japanese culture will also be available. Along with on-site activations that guide museum visitors through a selection of Van Gogh’s paintings and delve into the stories behind them, an online exploration of his fascination with Japanese culture will also be available.
Even if you can’t make it to the actual museum to snag a ‘Pikachu with Grey Felt Hat’ card in-person, the promos will also be available through the Pokémon Center included in orders from a special collection inspired by the collaboration. But for those looking to make a trip of it, the Pokémon x Van Gogh Museum collaboration is set to run from September 28th until January 7th, 2024, and tickets for general admission to the museum (which are required to get in and can only be purchased online) are available now.
A Cartoonist Appreciates the Art at the Metropolitan Museum – The New Yorker
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