Wednesday, December 31, 2008
The above sculpture, currently at MIR Appraisal Services, Inc., was created by Ruth Duckworth. She was born in Hamburg Germany in 1919, but fled Nazi Germany for England at the age of 17. Duckworth began her formal art training at the Liverpool School of Art, then studied at the Hammersmith School of Art, and finally went to the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London. Eventually Duckworth would move to Chicago to teach at the University of Chicago, which she did until 1977. She is known to still live in the Chicago and continues to sculpt.
Beyond the facts of Duckworth’s life, what I find interesting about her work is that she produces pieces that are entirely unique to both the art world and to the broader genre of everyday objects. What I mean by this is that her work is removed from common visual forms and preconceived notions of what a ceramic, bronze, or clay object is suppose to look like. Instead Duckworth’s sculptures only attempt to be just what they are, nothing more. In her work, she does not attempt to depict people, animals or bowls; they simply are what they are, art objects. Furthermore, what makes Duckworth’s sculptures interesting is that they are unique extensions of the artist herself. Meaning that although Duckworth has gone through many creative phases processes, in which she has used varied materials, the underlying tie that binds her creativity, appears to be the organic creation of her pieces. In the artists own words “I don’t want to think. I want it to happen by itself, to flow up.” She is creating works that for the first time exist in the world through her intuitive feel for the materials she uses.
The Duckworth sculpture, currently at MIR Appraisal Services, Inc. is an example of the organic creative methods that the artist uses. This ceramic stone ware and mixed media work consists of two long and rounded pieces in the center that converge at one side, but remain open at the other end. Each extremity emerging from the central torso has been extended gracefully by the artist, so that there is a seamless flow throughout the work's entirety. This particular sculpture is a fine example and testament to Ruth Duckworth's creative philosophy with its unique appearance and organically sculpted limbs.
For more information or acquisition inquiries on this newly restored Ruth Duckworth sculpture, please contact MIR Appraisal Services, Inc. in Chicago at (312) 814-8510 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-MIR Appraisal Services, Inc.
Resources Consulted & Further Reading:
Hales, Linda.”Ruth Duckworth: Modernist Sculptor.”Washington Post (Sept. 4, 2006): C01, http://www.washingtonpost.com/gog/exhibits/ruth-duckworth-modernist-sculptor,1127401.html
Stair, Julian.“Duckworth’s volumes and planes: a traveling retrospective examines the 60-year career of sculptor Ruth Duckworth, whose reductive vessels and blocky figures reflect the coolness of international modernism.”Art in America (Dec., 2005), http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1248/is_11_93/ai_n15979877
Monday, December 22, 2008
Meissen is the epitome of European porcelain. The finery’s tradition began in 1710 with the discovery of hard porcelain and the subsequent establishment of the Meissen foundry in Germany. One of the greatest appeals to owning a piece of Meissen porcelain is that every piece is processed and decorated by hand; making all works, whether a table-top figurine or a serving tray, artistically unique. While every piece is essentially an original, Meissen remains true to its traditional form by utilizing the same painting methods for the past three centuries.
The prestige of acquiring Meissen as a symbol of wealth also makes these pieces highly desirable. During the first two centuries of the porcelain’s existence, aristocratic members from every county accumulated Meissen to prove their societal status through culturally-significant items. Popularity of the artistic creations in the upper class caused a shortage of Meissen to the middle class who desired to own the same pieces their heads of state. As a result, the foundry began recreating their earliest examples at a more reasonable cost. Both the 18th and 19th century originals, as well as, the more contemporary recreations are highly collectible.
Need to Authenticate
Inevitably with the high demand of Meissen, an attempt at imitation was sure to follow. As early as 1718, one of the foundry’s own employees tried to counterfeit the porcelain. Due to this attempt, and countless more to follow, a trademark was a necessity. From 1720 until present day, all authentic Meissen bears “Crossed Swords” within the blue underglaze. Many forgeries have attempted to duplicate this trademark and some have succeeded in convincing collectors; inundating the market with highly-believable fakes. With this fact in mind, it is essential to have any piece of Meissen in your collection evaluated for authenticity. Only authentic Meissen porcelain retains its historical significance and monetary value.2010 will mark the third centenary of the porcelain factory’s founding; making today the perfect time to acquire an astounding piece of Meissen. Please contact us regarding any Meissen we are currently offering or with any questions regarding Meissen in your own collection.
-MIR Appraisal Services, Inc.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Traditional Inuit life involved survival in a semi-nomadic society where men hunted and women tended to life at the camp. It has been noted that the Inuit lived in houses made of snow known commonly as igloos and hunted seals and whales, using their skins in order to make warm clothing and footwear. For entertainment the Inuit people told stories (which are greatly reflected in their visual arts), wrestled and played various hand and eye coordination type games in addition to singing and dancing. Additionally, Shamans were prevalent to traditional Inuit culture, serving as a link to the spiritual world. Shamans as well as ordinary tribesmen wore charms and amulets that were believed to be magical.
Inuit life began to rapidly change in the late 1940s through the 1950s. The Canadian government stepped in and established villages and towns for the Inuit that included missions, schools, medical stations, etc. Western culture has since set in. The Inuit people have incorporated western clothing, and rock and roll music can be heard in many of their communities. As a result, the new settled life of the Inuit is in stark contrast to their traditional semi-nomadic society, and many of the social problems associated with western culture now infiltrate the Inuit community. Problems such as welfare, domestic violence, alcohol & drugs, teenage pregnancy, etc. affect the Inuit community and collectively blend with traditional undertones in much of contemporary Inuit art. Overall, producing art has allowed much of the Inuit community to live a semi-traditional lifestyle with some Inuit artists working full-time while others do it on the side for supplemental income.
Various Inuit stone sculptures, illustrated in the images above can be found at MIR Appraisal Services, Inc. and have been researched by our staff.
-MIR Appraisal Services, Inc.
Hessel, Ingo. Inuit Art. Vancouver, British Columbia: Douglas & McIntyre Ltd., 1998.
Leroux, Odette, ed. et.al. Inuit Women Artist. Vancouver, British Columbia: Douglas & McIntyre Ltd., 1994.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
L. Bernelt’s painting depicting an Arab warrior on horseback is a prime example of why consulting a trained appraiser is so important in establishing the value of an art object. L. Bernelt is not a household name and you will learn very little about him by doing a standard internet search on his work. What is known is that he worked in continental Europe during the 19th century. However, Bernelt’s weak Google turnout does not mean that his painting of an Arab warrior is of little value. What the art appraiser’s eye can see is the quality and history behind this work and these are the elements that truly give art works their value.
When looking at this piece, the trained eye can determine the factors that were influencing the artist. In this piece two very strong influences can be seen that correspond to the time and place in which Bernelt would have been working, Jacques-Louis David (French b. 1748 – d. 1825) and Eugene Delacroix (French b. 1798 – d. 1863). Both men’s works would have been available to Bernelt to see, and in comparing their work to Bernelt’s you can see how they have influenced him.
In David’s 1801 painting Bonaparte Crossing the Saint Bernard Pass, see above, we see the backward slant of the horse and the opposing turn of the head, which Bernelt also uses in his Arab Warrior. Furthermore, both paintings juxtapose these sharp angles with the soft movement of the fabrics. In these compositional elements we can see David’s influence on Bernelt.
However, the brushwork of the painting, the color choices, and subject matter show how Bernelt was strongly influenced by Delacroix. Delacroix is known for his orientalist subject matter as exemplified in his painting from 1827 Combat of the Giaour and the Pasha, shown above. In Delacroix’s piece we can see his quick and feathery brushwork, which Bernelt also uses to a lesser extent. Furthermore, we can clearly see that Bernelt was influenced by Delacroix’s use of muted colors with flashes of jewel tones, which brings the viewers’ attention to certain areas like the green of the flag and the red of the saddle in Bernelt’s piece and the red of the turbans and the brilliant white of the clothing in Delacroix’s work.
All of these elements demonstrate how Bernelt’s work fits into his time period and illustrates what artists he would have been influenced by. But, there are also some wonderful stand alone compositional elements to his depiction of an Arab warrior. For example, the difficulty of creating movement in static objects like paintings is often underestimated by the everyday viewer. Granted, Bernelt’s painting does not exhibit movement as masterfully as David or Delacroix, but the backward tip of the horse matched by the backward angle of the flag and the sideways glance of the warrior all make the viewer feel as if the horse and its rider are on the verge of moving either forward or backward. Furthermore, Bernelt does an excellent job of guiding the viewer’s eye through the painting. The viewer is initially drawn to the central warrior because of the strong highlight colors and his tall and slanted flag pole. The slant of the flag matches the angle of two of the horses legs so that are eye is moving towards the base of the painting. The angle of the flag pole is then juxtaposed with the angles of the weapons being held by the warriors to the left of the central figure, drawing our eye in that direction. Finally, the eye is briefly drawn to the right of the central figure by the bright white horse that is set against the other darker horses in the painting. Therefore, while the central warrior is most important, Bernelt is still able to guide his viewer throughout the painting creating a unified composition.
All of the elements that have been discussed add to the quality of L. Bernelt’s piece and can be detected by the trained eye. This demonstrates that although Bernelt is not an easily searchable artist an appraiser would still be able to indicate the value of such an object based on the quality of the piece.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
This miniature vase is a wonderful example of the firm’s mastery of Art Nouveau glass-making. Inspired by Emile Galle, the gold medal winning artist at the 1889 Parisian World’s Fair, the Daum brothers decided they would begin using many experimental artistic techniques in their own designs. The duo revolutionized the art glass industry by incorporating high-pigment powders, acid etching, cameo carving, and enameling into the composition of a single vessel; all which are executed in this vase.
All authentic Daum art glass is signed “Daum Nancy” accompanied by the cross of Lorraine. Daum glass was always a team effort and individual artists are usually not credited for their contributions. During the 1960s, the Daum firm began commissioning artists to produce special editions, including Salvador Dali. The Daum Glassworks is still in business today producing high-end crystal; however, through acquiring an original Daum Nancy Art Nouveau work, one is also acquiring a piece of French history.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
MIR Appraisal Services, Inc.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Madonna of the Chair; Raphael. 1518
Ref.: Madonna of the Chair; Appraised and Currently on Consignment at MIR Appraisal Services, Inc.
The Value of a Copy
The differences found in a student copy make it more valuable then a poster or print of the original. Not only do owners of student copies have the opportunity to own a version of a masterpiece, as seen and possessed by the great museums of the world, they also own a completely unique work of art. This is because each student will bring their own individual style to the work. This is one of the reasons why appraisers find copies to be important and in many cases, valuable. Furthermore, some of the art world’s greatest masters began by learning about and copying the work of their predecessors. Their student copies are highly valued by appraisers because they are examples of the artist’s progression toward their own individual form of expression. In fact, these early studies often influence their later work. In some cases artists have borrowed significantly from their predecessors using the same subject matter and positioning, but they re-invent the image to express their own time and view point. In doing this artists create not only unique works, but entirely original pieces that can themselves become masterpieces. Thus, the student copy becomes a very desirable piece because it shows the artist’s development, as is demonstrated in Manet’s work, shown below:
Venus of Urbino; Titian. 1538
Ref.: Venus of Urbino; Manet. 1856
Olympia; Manet. 1863-65
Copies are often highly valued by appraisers for their insight into an artist’s development as well as being distinctly unique objects in their own right. This is why they should never be confused with the un-valuable forgery. If you have a copy and are unsure of its worth, then you should have it appraised because it might be worth more then you think.
- Anja Keppeler
MIR Appraisal Services, Inc.
Friday, August 29, 2008
As a collector, it is important to fully understand the quality and condition of your objet d’art prior to making a purchase. Both quality and condition directly contribute to value, and a black light is a great tool to use on fine art, antiques, collectibles and other objects of curiosity. Overall, contemporary paints and repairs become evident under black light, and it is a fairly simple method to put into practice, requiring only a black light (either big or small) and a dark room. Note that the use of the black light should also be fortified with additional research, and in many cases, a professional should be consulted. Be careful not to over expose your fine art and collectibles to ultraviolet light.
A black light can be used to inspect paintings for touch-ups and repairs. Tiny cracks in oil paintings will also show under ultraviolet light, and illegible signatures can often be deciphered.
The uranium oxide in collectible Depression and Vaseline glass will glow under a black light. American colorless pressed glass made before 1930 is said to fluoresce with a yellow tint, where as reproductions in most cases will not. It has been said by various professionals that American brilliant cut glass also casts a yellow hue under ultraviolet light (see image). Others say it glows in a pale violet or blue hue. Because of the difference in opinions, it is important to follow up with additional research to ensure authenticity.
Documents & Manuscripts:
Chemical bleaches and dyes used in modern documents and manuscripts will also glow under the black light.
Cast iron was used to make many early 20th century toys. In order to determine if the toy is a modern replica or not, use a black light to check and see if the paint glows. If it does, then the toy is a modern replica.
MIR Appraisal Services, Inc.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Essentially, contemporary art is cutting edge. Conceptually it stirs up norms or may adhere to them in the most patronizing way. Either way, it gets the wheels turning. Fiscally, it is often times too expensive and risky of an investment for the average fine art collector, leaving the playing field open to Fortune Global 500 corporations and billionaire art collectors. Part of the lure of Damien Hirst is that he is essentially a brand from embalmed and encased animals on the high end, fine art auction/gallery level to jeans and poster prints that flirt with the less fortunate art appreciators and aspiring collectors. Hirst has created such a name for himself that he not only has the attention of current pop culture but every current reputable art forum perceives him as being one of the most powerful and influential artists on the contemporary art market if not history.
Here’s a brief recap of previous record sale holders:
Lucian Freud: $33.6 million (Christie's New York)
Lucian Freud’s painting entitled Benefits Supervisor Sleeping, depicting Sue Tilley, a London Jobcentre Supervisor earned $33.6 million at Christie’s auction in Manhattan back in May 2008, setting a world sale record for an individual piece by any living artist. According to the London Times, Roman Abramovich, Russian tycoon and owner of the British Chelsea football club, bought not only Freud’s piece but an $86 million painting by the late Francis Bacon entitled Triptych.
Jeff Koons: $23.6 million (Sotheby's New York)
Jeff Koons’s Hanging Heart (Magenta/Gold), sold for $23.6 million at Sotheby’s New York in November 2007 to Larry Gagosian of the Gagosian Gallery, one of the most prominent dealers in the United States.
Damien Hirst: $19.1 million (Sotheby's London)
Damien Hirst’s Lullaby Spring pill box sold for $19.1 million at Sotheby’s London in June 2007 to an anonymous bidder. Many of Hirst’s most valuable pieces have been sold by galleries. Art market analysts have observed that the Hirst’s saleroom prices have been a good indicator of his demand on the market, resulting in a boost in auction estimates and results for the two biggest auction houses (Sotheby’s and Christie’s).
MIR Appraisal Services, Inc.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Lollapalooza may be long over, but the music still lives on and so does the art. After all, music and art make a perfect couple. Just looking around our office at artwork left for research, I can see pieces by artists that have at some point created album covers for popular bands throughout the 20th and 21st century. For example, Mid-20th century American pop artist, Andy Warhol created iconic images, such as “Banana” for the Velvet Underground & Nico album in 1967, and British pop artist, Sir Peter Thomas Blake did the same for The Beatles’ album, “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band,” on the other side of the Atlantic in 1966-67. 20th century American outsider/folk artist, Rev. Howard Finster co-designed R.E.M.’s album, “Reckoning,” with the lead singer, Michael Stipe in 1984, in addition to designing the cover for the Talking Heads’ album, “Little Fingers,” in 1985. Czech art photographer Jan Saudek designed Soul Asylum’s double-platinum album, “Grave Dancer’s Union,” in 1993. In comparison to paintings and sculptures from genres past, most of the cover art on rock albums are derived from contemporary art prints which tend to be easier on a collector’s pocketbook. (Check out art prints at MIR's online gallery: http:www.chicagoartappraisers.com)
Here are a few of the cover artists for several of the headlining acts at Lollapalooza 2008:
Radiohead was the solo headliner on Friday night at Lollapalooza. Over the past 15 year or so, they have had produced seven full length albums with distinguished album covers. Stanley Donwood, a British artist Thom Yorke met at the University of Exeter in the UK and has designed every Radiohead album cover art piece in collaboration with Yorke aside from “Pablo Honey,” Radiohead’s debut album. His commercial works consist primarily of limited edition colored screenprints with whimsically dark subject matter, many of which include pointy toothed bears. On the retail market, his work is sold in the $300.00-$400.00 (USD) range depending on size, subject matter and how extensive of a design technique he used.
Rage Against the Machine, headlined on Saturday night, drawing an immense crowd. Having produced a fistful of albums since their self-titled debut album in 1992, the cover art of their debut album illustrates one of the most powerful images throughout history taken by Associated Press journalist and photographer, Malcolm Browne, depicting Thich Quang Duc, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, burning himself to death in Saigon in 1963. He was protesting President Ngo Dinh Diem's administration for oppressing the Buddhist religion. The confrontational photograph is well paired with the music of Rage Against the Machine, expressing strong activist ideals with their intense lyrics and aggressive sound. Photographer, Malcolm Browne was awarded the World Press Photo of the Year in 1963 in addition to a Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting in 1964. In 2006, a print of the photograph with an inscription by Browne sold at auction for $6,500.oo (USD) in New York City.
Nine Inch Nails participated in the first Lollapalooza tour in 1991 and returned this year as a closing headliner on Sunday night. Founding member Trent Reznor hired American graphic artist and photographer in 1999, Rob Sheridan at the ripe age of 19 initially to maintain the band’s website but eventually he became their art director creating album cover designs as well as contributing to additional multi-media projects. Sheridan has also worked with fellow Lollapooza act, Saul Williams who played on the same day as Nine Inch Nails. Sheridan sells limited edition art prints on archival paper at etsy.com in the $60.00-$80.00 (USD) price range.
MIR Appraisal Services, Inc.
Friday, August 1, 2008
Would you take a medication or vitamin that wasn’t FDA approved? Would you hire a lawyer that didn’t pass the Bar Exam? If you needed surgery, would you Google surgery methods or watch a tutorial on YouTube and do it yourself? Most likely (hopefully) your answers are no, so why would you choose an appraiser or not use an appraiser that wasn’t an accredited member of a professional appraisal organization?
Many of our clients that call in with service inquiries (312-814-8510) have had previous experiences with appraisers that have taken them for a ride, and that is the main reason for today’s blog. My colleagues and I have compiled a list of “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for the average person, when choosing a fine art & personal property appraiser:
· Don't have an appraisal without having a purpose for the appraisal. There are different types of appraisals for different reasons. If you have an item whose value you are unsure of, or if you are looking for a general value to sell it at, you would need to know the fair market value. The FMV is basically its worth on the current market between a willing buyer and seller who have a general knowledge of the item. The popular PBS show, Antiques Roadshow is a perfect example of people obtaining the FMV for their items. At MIR Appraisal Services, Inc. we call this service a verbal evaluation (call our office for more details on our services… 312-814-8510). If you are going to insure your items on your insurance policy or are filing an insurance claim, you would need the insurance replacement value. This value tends to be higher than the FMV, and is used only for insurance appraisals
· Do ask questions before deciding on an appraiser and an appraisal service. Be cautious of appraisers that make you feel uncomfortable about asking questions. Read through their web site and/or ask for them to send you supplemental materials for you to read at your leisure. Client testimonials are a great way to check out an appraiser’s experience and repertoire. All fees should be discussed upfront before business is conducted Before receiving an appraisal service, you should feel completely comfortable and have an understanding of fees prior to doing business with them
· Don't rely on a free appraisal or appraisers that charge on a percentage-of-value basis or other types of contingent fees. It is unethical and automatically skews the professionalism of that appraisal. An appraisal is a professional service that is unbiased to the value of an item. That service should be the same hourly rate whether or not the item is a poster print or an original masterpiece. Service costs may vary depending on the type of appraisal or the amount of research backing it up but as stated before, all fees should be discussed upfront
· Do refer to appraisal associations that outline appropriate ethical codes with regard to fine art and personal property appraisals. It is simple for an appraiser to be a member of one of the organizations by merely paying the appropriate fees for membership. However, it is important that the appraiser be an accredited member of one of the following organizations, which means that they have taken the proper courses and passed a comprehensive exam. The following organizations (but are not limited to) require their appraisers to adhere to specific standards of ethical behavior:
· Don’t sell your items to an appraiser that has appraised them. Plain and simple, it’s a conflict of interest. An appraiser can function as a dealer and vice versa, but only if the functions are kept separate
· Do inquiry about consignment possibilities. Many appraisal firms will help to sell your items on consignment or they will be able to refer you to a venue where your item can be sold such a reputable auction house or collector
Feel free to contact MIR Appraisal Services, Inc. with any inquires.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
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- Welcome to our blog site! MIR Appraisal Services, Inc. is a fine art and personal property appraisal company dedicated to serving clients throughout the United States and abroad since our incorporation in Chicago in 1994. We specialize in the multi-faceted field of appraising fine art, jewelry, antiques, and decorative items. We also provide professional fine art restoration and conservation treatment for various media, including but not limited to, artworks on canvas, board, masonite, and paper. We offer professional and precise appraisal services carried out by our team of accredited appraisers for the purposes of insurance coverage and claims, charitable donations, estate planning and probate, equitable distribution and fair-market value. We started our art commentary blog site as a venue for colleagues and fellow art enthusiasts to share their experiences within the art community.
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