Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Steadman's Skyline

Ralph Steadman's fanciful Skyline fixes an ornate dome and cupola atop a modern office tower. The incongruous clash of architectural styles is the apparent subject of the drawing.

 Ralph Idris Steadman (b. 1936), Skyline 
signed 'Ralph Steadman' (lower left) 

ink and wash on paper 
21 x 15¾ in. (53.3 x 40 cm.)

Special Notice Artist's Resale Right ("droit de Suite"). If the Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer also agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent. 

Provenance Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner.

Estimate 800-1200 GBP 
(US $1,200-1,800; 900-1,300 Euros)
Christie's South Kensington 
6 September 2011, 
Lot 1469

Dome of St. Paul's Cathedral, London. This may not be an exact match for what Steadman has drawn.
Image added June 23, 2012
Note:  Alice illustrator Ralph Steadman was featured memorably last year in my inexplicably popular A Mad Tea Party blog post.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Kelmscott Chaucer

William Morris's splendid 1896 edition of Chaucer featured beautiful, detailed woodcuts by Sir Edward Burne-Jones. It was published in an edition of 425 by his Kelmscott Press. The press was shut down after Morris's death the year this book was published. This copy of this most desirable printing was offered at Swann Galleries in New York on February 23. 





Sale 2269 Lot 141
  Feb 23 2012 13:30 
THE KELMSCOTT CHAUCER (KELMSCOTT PRESS.) Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer now newly imprinted. Edited by F. S. Ellis. Printed in red and black in Chaucer and Troy types, in two columns. 87 large woodcut illustrations by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, redrawn by Robert Catterson-Smith and cut by W. H. Hooper. Woodcut title-page, 14 woodcut borders, initial words and letters, all designed by William Morris and cut by C. E. Keates, W. H. Hooper, and W. Spielmeyer. Large folio, original holland-backed boards, paper spine label, mostly worn away, tips rubbed wth some surface loss, few minor soil marks to covers, spine lightly spotted; split between a few signatures at front with some residual loosening, leaves quite clean. [Hammersmith: Printed by William Morris at the Kelmscott Press, 1896]
Estimate $30,000-50,000
Sold for $44,000

one of 425 copies. the first edition of the most famous book of the modern private press movement. ". . . the culmination of William Morris's endeavor"--The Artist and the Book, 45. Morris took orders for 425 standard copies of the work several years before production started and had to refuse orders for hundreds more due to the time constraints of printing. After his death in 1896, the Kelmscott Press closed its doors, Burne Jones's woodcuts for this work were presented to the British Museum and the fonts gifted to the University Press, Cambridge, making it impossible to print any further copies -- [Franklin, The Private Press p.192; Sparling 40; Tomkinson p.117 no.40; PMM 367 note]; Clark Library, Kelmscott and Doves, pages 46-48; Huntington Library, Great Books in Great Editions, 24; Needham, William Morris and the Art of the Book, 101A; Peterson A40; Ransom, Private Presses, page 329, no. 40; Ray, The Illustrator and the Book in England, 258 ("one of the great books of the world"); Tidcombe, The Doves Bindery, 408 and pages 46-61; Walsdorf 40.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Cat in a Cardboard Box

Where is the cat again? Here is an accomplished painting with a sense of fun.

Ruskin Spear, R.A. (1911-1990)

Cat in a cardboard box

signed 'Ruskin Spear' (lower right) oil on board 
11½ x 7 in. (29.2 x 17.8 cm.) 

Price Realized

  • £7,768
  • ($15,077)
  • Price includes buyer's premium
Special Notice
No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 17.5% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis
This lot is subject to Collection and Storage charges
Saleroom Notice
Please note this lot is sold as THE PROPERTY OF A LADY 


Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Illustrated Moby-Dick

On February 23, Swann Galleries sold a copy of this 1979 limited edition (250 unnumbered copies) of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick with woodcut illustrations by Barry Moser. I've never seen a copy, but it certainly appears to be a beautifully designed and illustrated book.

Sale 2269 Lot 25

Feb 23 2012 13:30 
(ARION PRESS.) Melville, Herman. Moby-Dick, or, The Whale. Printed in blue and black on handmade paper bearing a whale watermark. 100 woodcut illustrations by Barry Moser. Folio, full blue Moroccan goatskin, spine slightly but evenly darkened, joints and ends lightly rubbed; internally clean; blue cloth slipcase, unevenly faded and with some surface marks. San Francisco, 1979 

Estimate $5,000-7,500  
Sold for $8,500

one of 250 unnumbered copies of the first trade edition of the Arion Press edition, designed by Andrew Hoyem. One of the greatest achievements in modern bookmaking.


Mad Souvenirs

Nowadays I don't spend all that much time thinking about Mad Magazine, but it was a staple of my life between the ages of 9 and 16 or so. Here is a collection of three souvenir drawings by Sergio Aragonés, Don Martin, and Don Piraro. They were recently sold on eBay for what today seems a reasonable price.

Alfred E. Neuman (1996, bottom), Sergio Aragonés
I admire how Aragones dealt with the obtrusive presence of the postmark.

Best Wishes, Don Martin 
Bizarro (1998), Dan Piraro

Note:  My last mention of Mad Magazine was in the "Big Barcodes" post here.


Friday, February 24, 2012

A Souvenir of Snoopy

Here's a desirable copy of Charlie Brown & Charlie Schulz by Lee Mendelson "in association with" Charles M. Schulz. It's an odd choice of words for a collaboration. It sounds as if animation producer Mendelson did the writing and Schulz provided the background information, perhaps through a series of interviews. Judging from this copy on eBay, the two men probably attended at least one book-signing together.

The spot drawing of Snoopy is quite nice and it's signed by Schulz. The inscription  by Mendelson is less interesting, but it seems to lend additional authenticity to the page. To me, the Buy It Now price of $5,595 is a bit hard to swallow. This item apparently has been on eBay since at least July, so others interested in Schulz's art may feel this price is too high as well. With the Make Offer option, one could presumably shave a few hundred dollars off the price, but at what point does this become a good deal?

Charles M. Schulz, Snoopy, signed, with an inscription above by Lee Mendelson 

Lee Mendelson in association with Charles M. Schulz, Charlie Brown and Charlie Schulz 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Book Review: The R. Crumb Sketchbook, Vol. 10: June 1975 - Feb. 1977

The R. Crumb Sketchbook, Vol. 10: June 1975 - February 1977 (2004)
Robert Crumb
Crumb indulges in both sexual and racial stereotypes in a drawing he deemed suitable for the cover.

Volume 10 of The R. Crumb Sketchbook covers the time period from June 1975 to February 1977. I recall that a handful of the more memorable pages were published in Esquire magazine at the time. R. Crumb himself selected those sheets from his sketchbook that are reproduced here. Not surprisingly, it's something of a mixed bag.

Crumb's pen-and-ink technique is quite proficient, and many of these so-called sketchbook pages really have the look of finished drawings. Others have a more tentative feel.

The domestic scenes and pictures of Aline posing are indeed quite nice. Other more disturbing pages depict abuse or acts of violence against women. These seem to highlight Crumb's psychopathology pretty explicitly.

Having talent and knowing what to do with it are two different things. Crumb's demons are intermittently on view here, and it can be difficult at times to comprehend why he's the object of so much adulation.

Crumb here looks harmless and old-fashioned

For a sketchbook drawing, this seems very finished.

Crumb has a very impressive hatching and crosshatching technique here. There is a nice sense of depth.

Angst Comics. I don't think the comic strip lives up to the title.

Crumb seems to demonstrate a Protestant work ethic even as he mocks it.

Note:  My recent post on Crumb's correspondence is here.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Book Review: Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett

Eye of the Needle (1978)
by Ken Follett

This is a book my father read. I saw the 1981 movie so the story was already familiar. Basically, during World War II the Nazis order their best spy in Britain to observe troop concentrations prior to the Allied invasion of Europe, with the goal of determining where the Allies are likely to land. This master German spy, "The Needle," is as cunning as he is ruthless, and he uncovers a secret that can change the course of the Second World War.

I came to this book after reading World Without End, Ken Follett's grand, somewhat annoying historical epic. Eye of the Needle is a much better book. Much shorter, too. Ken Follett was never a great writer, but no matter. Here he has a great spy story to tell. The tale is compelling, the characters are interesting, and the pacing is taut. The story is quite plausible and, as the author notes, it's hard to believe such a thing didn't happen!

Note:  My brief book review of Ken Follett's World Without End is here.


Monday, February 20, 2012

George Washington Saturday Evening Post Cover

J. C. Leyendecker was one of the Saturday Evening Post's great cover artists. On February 25, 1939, the Post published this sober portrait of George Washington with a ruddy complexion. A poster of this magazine cover was sold on February 2 at Swann Galleries in their Vintage Posters sale.

Sale 2267 Lot 387

Feb 02 2012 10:30

27 3/4x21 3/4 inches, 70 1/2x52 cm.
Condition B+ / A-: creases and abrasions in margins and image. Paper.

Estimate $800-1,200
Sold for $1,200

Note:  My previous post concerning poster art was published just yesterday!


Sunday, February 19, 2012

The New York Symphony Orchestra at the Exposition Music Hall

The New York Symphony Society was founded by Leopold Damrosch in 1878.  His son Walter became music director following Leopold's death in 1885. New York's Carnegie Hall was completed in 1891, built by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie for the exclusive use of the orchestra. In May of 1893, the orchestra performed two concerts at the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago. This poster publicizing the concerts was sold at Swann Galleries in its Vintage Posters sale on February 2. Curiously, the date of the performance noted on this poster is historically incorrect.

According to Wikipedia, the Society's name was not officially changed to the New York Symphony Orchestra until 1903, although this poster suggests this name was in common use at least a decade earlier. In 1928, the Orchestra merged with its rival Philharmonic Society of New York which tended to play more Germanic orchestral works. Today this entity is known as the New York Philharmonic and they still play in Carnegie Hall. Damrosch Park in Lincoln Center is named for Walter Damrosch, who died in 1950.

Sale 2267 Lot 10
DESIGNER UNKNOWN THE NEW YORK SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA. 1893. 28 1/4x41 1/2 inches, 72x105 1/2 cm. The Springer Litho. Co., N.Y. Condition B+ / B: expertly recreated bottom margin; extensive expert overpainting in margins; restoration along vertical and horizontal folds; repaired tears at edges. Walter Damrosch and the New York Symphony Orchestra played two concerts at the World's Columbian Exposition (the Chicago World's Fair) in May, 1893. The dates of these concerts has been recorded as the 19th and 20th of May, which suggests either there may have originally been some confusion about when the concerts would take place, or perhaps some of the posters were misprinted. rare 
Estimate $3,000-4,000
Sold for $2,400

Note:  Don't miss my recent post about an autograph musical quotation by Shostakovich here.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

More from a Blogger's Birthday Wish List

Here's a finely festive cartoon by Richard Taylor. I've never actually seen anyone pop out of a cake, so today's selection of illustrations will just have to do.

"My compliments to the chef."
Richard Taylor, The New Yorker, December 4, 1954

Note:  En garde! My previous post on Richard Taylor is here.


From a Blogger's Birthday Wish List

Sometime's it's fun to wish for what you can't have, isn't it? (Yes, I'm referring to this illustration art. What did you think I wanted for my birthday?)

Ronald William Fordham Searle (b.1920) 
Happy Birthday to You 
signed and dated 'Ronald Searle/1994' (lower left) pencil, pen and black ink, watercolour and coloured crayon, unframed 
18 x 12¾in. (45.7 x 32.5cm.) 

Price Realized

  • ($2,123)
  • Sales totals are hammer price plus buyer’s premium and do not reflect costs, financing fees or application of buyer’s or seller’s credits.
    £1,000 - £1,500
  • ($1,390 - $2,085)

Sale Information

Sale 9131 Lot 211
14 June 2001
London, South Kensington

Note: I know, I know. It's been four long days since my last Searle post for Valentine's Day.


Birthday Bloggery Musical Theme

"Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll:  Too Young to Die!" (1976) by Jethro Tull, is featured in a typically tasteless but amusing video from "Slipstream" (1980):

Jethro Tull, "Too Old To Rock 'n' Roll:
Too Young To Die" (1976)

"The old rocker wore his hair too long..."

Jethro Tull, Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll:  Too Young to Die! (1976)
Artwork by Dave Gibbons

Jethro Tull, Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll:  Too Young to Die! (1976)
Artwork by Dave Gibbons

Jethro Tull, Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll:  Too Young to Die! (1976)
Artwork by Dave Gibbons

 Note:  My last Jethro Tull post appeared at the last solstice. Coincidence?


Friday, February 17, 2012

Paging Dr. Sherman...

This fascinating case study, "Doctor and Nurse," is a pair of self-portraits by Cindy Sherman. I doubt whether I would deduce that these were photographs of the same subject if I didn't already know; not one of their features looks the same. How she transforms herself like this is a little beyond me. Besides having great photographic skills at her disposal, there's a large element of performance art here as well. It's just that the performance is going on before a camera rather than an audience.

The doctor and nurse are, I think, equally retro. They do not seem to have a lot of technology at their disposal; not even a stethoscope is visible. The doctor, male of course, appears very engaging, almost aggressively so. His personality seems to dominate this diptych and, in my view, he's interested to a great extent in the social aspects of the practice of medicine.

The nurse, female of course, is young and still in possession of very lofty ideals. She became a nurse to do good in this world.

I also get the sense that these two young professionals know very little about the realities of patient care.

Sale 2270 Lot 102
"Doctor and Nurse" (diptych). Sepia-toned silver prints, each 9 1/2x7 1/2 inches (24.1x19.1 cm.), and each with Sherman's signature and dates, in pencil, on verso. 1980; printed 1992
Estimate $5,000-7,500

Note:  I have herein previously published my musings on Disney's attitude toward the sex-role stereotyping of health care practitioners in Paging Dr. Mouse. It's not required reading in any medical school, but you can still make it a part of your syllabus.