Saturday, May 22, 2010

An odd phenomeon

Just a short post tonight as it is very late. I went to a concert tonight. It was great but I got home late. I do love rock and roll. I had dinner with a friend afterwords and we were talking about this and that, and I told him about people sending me paintings for attribution. He thought it would make a good blog post, so here it is.

I am routinely sent e-mails from people who have bought paintings at auction or in a yard sale. They have searched the web and found me. I have some strong auction records, including a painting that brought 25,000 dollars at an auction in Texas. They are hoping that the painting they have is one of mine. But the odd thing is that the paintings they send me are NOTHING like what I do. Above is an example. I would guess it was made about 75 years before I was born. It isn't a plein air picture and except for its subject, snow, bears no resemblance to my work. I don't know why they think it does but perhaps they are hopeful that they have got themselves a deal on a more valuable painting. I get one of these every few weeks or so.

The painting above is not too horrible, but I get mass produced paintings from the workshops in Korea and Taiwan that are obviously production painting that have a misspelling of my name on them (Kerns) and I get weird amateur stuff from yard sales that has an illegible signature, it might say Kresges, who knows. Still they e-mail it hopefully to me.I guess people are just clueless about paintings, perhaps they see only subject matter. It seems so odd that what is so familiar to me is so foreign to most people. But of course they have their own lives and interests and I probably know nothing about what they do know. Maybe one of those sport games? Still it is scary working so hard to make things that only a tiny fraction of the population is interested in. Don't they teach art in school?

The thing that is most surprising to me is the unbelievably low quality of most of the paintings they send. I always begin feeling a little insulted."How could you think I made such a piece of dreck?" but I always calm down and realize that they don't know one painting from another. They have seen the antiques roadshow and imagine they are going to find a treasure. There are lots of bad paintings out there and you can always get them cheaply. But please, only send me those that look professional OK? I have feelings too. Gee.


Sidharth Chaturvedi said...

Art history is pretty much completely excluded from school everywhere I've lived, so most have no idea what a good painting even looks like. I had to do some serious studying before I noticed how awful some of the paintings in my family's home were (mostly the type you find in mall art stores).

Charlevoix Sax Quartet said...

Think of all the people who worship the work of Thomas Kincade (with its multiple light sources and shadows). Ah, mediocrity & ignorance -- with a good marketing plan!

Robert J. Simone said...

They don't even teach art in a lot of art schools, so what makes you think they teach art in the regular schools. Who would teach it? Graduates of the aforementioned art schools?

I get these inquiries a lot, too. You love rock and roll so you should know, "People are strange." said...

Many people are not visual and so visual comparisons on technique, manner, style and skill are not made except for the very few who can discriminate one artist they prefer over another, like your collectors.

Most people just see subject matter; if it's the same, (birch tree and a birch tree) it must be done by the same artist right?

Most people don't by art because they can't tell the difference and they are afraid of making a mistake and buying something "wrong".If we as artists, could only let our egos go and let people enjoy art at the level at which they are capable -because they like "it"- more people would buy art (the good art and not so good art). I think everyone would benefit.

If they do teach art in school these days they kids are all told that everything they do is wonderful and they all get awards.

DennyHollandStudio said...

Boy, art class, wood shop, print shop, metal shop in school, those were the days. Imagine kids today learning how to create and build something with their imagination hands.

DennyHollandStudio said...

...that would be imagination AND hands.

Philip Koch said...

Mariandioguardi wrote: "Many people are not visual and so visual comparisons on technique, manner, style and skill are not made..."

Unfortunately, this is sometimes true. I've known some art historians and art museum curators who know all sorts of facts and dates from art history but who don't really know how to use their eyes. A good example would be the art museums that devote a lot of space to Any Warhols' work. Some people find the ideas in back of his work intriguing ( I don't ), but almost nobody claims Warhol is visually intriguing.

Stapleton's post made me laugh. I can just imagine some of the images that must have been sent to him as candidates for Stapleton-dom. Not to worry- he's a tough bird and can take it.

Richard J. Luschek II said...

It is hard to keep your cool when that happens. There have been times where I may have a students painting in my studio, and inevitably someone walks in the studio and walks past everything else I am working on, points as the amateurish and problematic student painting and asks "When did you do that?"
I is a bad student painting yet they still think I did it. What the heck?

Two years ago at the local art club they had the idea to have the curator of painting from the museum judge their art show. I thought it was a disaster. The painting she picked for first was horrible, one of the worst. I was floored. This person has written books on painting. WHat the heck?

Taste is in short supply these days.
I like Rock and Roll too.

billspaintingmn said...

Rock-n-Roll serves a purpose!
When you have to deal with the world, and you need to refresh, it's good to have some tunes!
Stape, I hope you jam like a rock star!
The lady on Antiques Roadshow got a vase for a few bucks, and it was worth alot!
Doesn't happen that often, but everyones dreaming for the pay day.
Mostly though,I think they get what they pay for.
It used to be called a 'wise investment' when someone purchased
something of perceived value, and became valuable.
Today folks just want the jackpot for nothing.
Why is that?

Stapleton Kearns said...

When I meet people who say their kids want to be artists I always suggest they subscribe to the American Art Review.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Tom Kinkaid is to painting what Hummell is to sculpture.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Then it's up too us, out here in the dreaded private sector.

Stapleton Kearns said...

It is funny that people are so confident about choosing their music. They don't worry about getting that wrong.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I had every kind of shop class you could have, as I was deemed "not college material"in junior high school.. What a lucky thing. It was the most useful stuff I learned.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I am a tough old bird. A sort of human thistle.I don't enter any shows that have such types on the jury. I give that advice to anyone who asks me. Curaters and academics in, I am out.I would enter a show you juried though, you're OK.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Its a broken world!

Stapleton Kearns said...

They know the cost of everything and the value of nothing! I forget who said that.I shudder to think what life would have been like without rock and roll.It is truly one of the good things. Acquire Jeff Beck, Live at Ronnie Scotts.

Stapleton Kearns said...

You haven't fallen from your perch have you?