Thursday, May 31, 2012

Yearbook Signed by Ward Kimball

Before legendary animator Ward Kimball became one of Walt Disney's "Nine Old Men," he was a young lad, a high school junior with a talent for drawing. In this 1931 Santa Barbara High School yearbook, he provided forty cartoons summarizing the school year, making it no doubt one of his earliest publications. He signed this copy of the yearbook for a friend and provided a small drawing of a school stage, punningly entitled "Stagescrew." This volume was sold on eBay yesterday with the Buy It Now feature for $295.

Olive and Gold Yearbook
Santa Barbara High School 1931

Ward Kimball yearbook inscription and drawing

Yearbook drawings by Ward Kimball

Ward Kimball, signed high school yearbook with an original signed drawing to a classmate, The Olive and Gold Review, Santa Barbara (California) High School, 1931, hardbound, 8 by 11 inches, 178 pages plus several blank “Remembrance” pages for autographs, in very good condition without any musty odors.  In this yearbook Ward Kimball was a junior.  He has signed one of the Remembrance pages in the back, written his graduation year “1932” beneath it with a small picture entitled “StageScrew.”  There are no pictures of individuals of the junior class.  Kimball is included in large group pictures of his 11-A class, the Scholarship Society, and the Clio Club.  His art is also prominently displayed in the yearbook.  There are 40 cartoons by him illustrating the key moments that occurred in the school year presented in groups of 5 on 8 separate pages (22, 30, 54, 76, 82, 96, 132, and 142).  (An image of page 142 is included in this ad.)   This yearbook represents one of the earliest, if not the earliest, publication of original cartoons by Kimball. 

According to the IMDb web site, Ward Kimball joined Disney Studios in 1934 as an animator two years after he graduated from high school. He eventually became involved in all aspects of animation production, most notably as the designer of Jiminy Cricket for the film Pinnochio. He was also responsible for the redesign of Mickey Mouse. Walt Disney recognized Kimball's achievements by making him one of the Nine Old Men, Disney's semi-official group of advisors. After retiring in 1978, Kimball maintained his ties to Disney, which included designing the World of Motion display at EPCOT. In 1989, he was named a Disney Legend.

Finally, the well known California geologist Thomas Wilson Dibblee, Jr. was a senior and his class picture is included in the yearbook.
[End of eBay listing]


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mischa Richter for Cory Coffee Service

A piece of original advertising art by New Yorker cartoonist Mischa Richter for Cory Coffee Service was recently sold on eBay. I don't know when or where this may have been published. For the record, I recommend stirring with coffee spoons.

Mischa Richter
"Damn it, let's use Cory Coffee Service from now on!"

Mischa Richter's signature

Original advertising art by Mischa Richter for Cory Coffee Service
eBay listing ended March 28, 2012

Original advertising art by Mischa Richter for Cory Coffee Service
eBay item description


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Book Review: Second Chance by James Patterson

2nd Chance (2005)
James Patterson with Andrew Gross

As you might surmise from the title, this is James Patterson's second novel in the Women's Murder Club series.  He has a coauthor credited here, but the writing, if anything, has gotten worse since 1st to Die.  Now, I like a good novel about a deranged serial killer as much as anyone, but Patterson's facile writing and plotting skills have seriously impeded my ability to enjoy his books.  Every emotion experienced by police lieutenant Lindsay Boxer is rendered as a tired cliché.  There isn't an interesting turn of phrase anywhere.  His descriptions of police procedure seem wholly uninformed.

Look, on the plus side, Patterson's an easy read, and he generally takes care to make a few contemporary literary references that sound intelligent.  His serial killers are truly despicable creatures, and hence the not very interesting members of his Women's Murder Club are, by default, who we have to cheer for.  His very popular books leave me very unsatisfied, but that doesn't mean I won't try a few more of them.  I can still wish they were better.


Book Review: Daniel X: Watch the Skies

Daniel X: Watch the Skies (2009)
James Patterson

When I was a teenager I encountered John Christopher's Tripod Trilogy. I don't remember it being called that at the time, but maybe it was. The years may have exalted it somewhat in my memory, but I recall an engaging series of books with pretty good characters and an interesting plot. The tripods were elevated three-legged overland conveyances belonging to aliens who had invaded earth, prompting a group of resourceful teenagers to try to find a way to destroy them. I haven't thought about these books in a long while, but I did just read my daughter's copy of Daniel X: Watch the Skies by the prolific James Patterson and coauthor Ned Rust. It suddenly occured to me that there is still a genre of teen fiction concerning extraterrestrial conflicts, which I'll call teens versus aliens.

Daniel X--he has no last name--is an alien, but, mind you, he's a good alien, and he's humanoid. His parents are dead, but he can still summon them up with his imagination, and he has a quartet of imaginary friends who help him out as well. In my opinion, there are too many imaginary characters in this book, but it makes it convenient for Daniel (and Patterson) to be able to have them come and go at will.

Daniel is an Alien Hunter who obtains his malevolent targets from The List of Alien Outlaws on Terra Firma. He spends this book in battle with Number 5, a catfish-like creature who directs morbid documentaries depicting humans being killed in entertaining ways for the bloodthirsty alien media in outer space. A few books more, and Daniel should finally come up against Number 1, the alien who murdered his parents. Somehow we'll all just have to find a way to wait and bear the suspense.

James Patterson writes formulaic books for the teen market as well as for the adult thriller market. Despite the science fiction trappings of the series, it's really constructed as a clunky earthbound adventure. Most of his chapters are just two or three pages and accessible to even the shortest attention spans. As you might guess, I don't think very highly of the book, but I suspect James Patterson is giving his readers what they want, something he seems to be very good at.

For interested young adult readers, I'd still recommend The Tripod Trilogy.


Monday, May 28, 2012

Searching for Halley's Comet

W. Heath Robinson's fascination with mechanical inventions is well-known. Here he imagines comic modifications to the telescope at Greenwich Observatory in the race to sight Halley's Comet. This illustration was published in The Sketch approximately five months prior to perihelion which was to occur on April 20, 1910. Newspaper articles on the celestial phenomenon had already been published with increasing frequency for several months and public fascination with the comet was growing.

W. Heath Robinson, Searching for Halley's Comet at Greenwich Observatory,
The Sketch, 17 November 1909, Chris Beetles Gallery

W. Heath Robinson, Searching for Halley's Comet at Greenwich Observatory,
The Sketch, 17 November 1909, Chris Beetles Gallery

W. Heath Robinson, Searching for Halley's Comet at Greenwich Observatory,
The Sketch, 17 November 1909, Chris Beetles Gallery

December 30, 2012 Update: This piece is no longer listed at the Chris Beetles Gallery. It has apparently been sold.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

James Thurber's Destinations

The versatility of the cartoon art form allows it occasionally to deal with the big issues. We all know where we're ultimately headed, but with any luck we don't muse on it all the time. James Thurber's cartoon, published in The New Yorker in 1933, depicts us everyday folk rushing about town in our ignorance. Its message is as relevant today as when it was first published. Quo vadis?

This original artwork went for quite a lot, but I think the money was well-spent. I mean, you can't take it with you.

James Thurber, Destinations,
The New Yorker, May 13, 1933, p. 13

James Thurber, Destinations,
The New Yorker, May 13, 1933, p. 13

Note:  My most recent post about this artist can be found here. After this serious fare, how can you possibly resist a Thurber post with the title "The Spirit of Nudism?"


Friday, May 25, 2012

Alice B. Woodward's Peter Pan

In February of 2010, Illustration House offered this original watercolor illustration by Alice B. Woodward from the frontispiece to the second edition of The Peter Pan Picture Book by Daniel O'Connor. Here Peter Pan looks like his namesake, the Greek God Pan, and he makes music on the pipes of Pan.

Alice B. Woodward, The Peter Pan Picture Book frontispiece illustration

Item Description, Illustration House, February 2010

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Giorgio de Chirico's Piazza d'Italia

Christie's Milan is offering this surrealist masterwork by Giorgio de Chirico. It is a classic image instantly recognizable as this artist's. Lines of perspective point to the tall structure in the center, while lines of shadow emanate from the hidden sun which must be low over the horizon on the right.

Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978)
Piazza d'Italia 
firmato g. de Chirico (in basso a sinistra) 
olio su tela cm 60x80 Eseguito a metà degli anni Cinquanta
Autentica di C. Bruni Sakraischik, Roma, n. 47/83, in data 25 marzo 1983
Opera registrata presso la Fondazione Giorgio e Isa de Chirico, Roma, n. 47/83


    €350,000 - €500,000
  • ($444,198 - $634,569)
  • May 29, 2012:  Price Realized: €315,800
Sale Information

Milan, Palazzo Clerici 29 - 30 May 2012 

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.
Galleria Cafiso, Milano
Galleria Orler, Mestre

Saleroom Notice
L'opera è accompagnata da attestato di libera circolazione
The work is accompanied by export licence

Camposanto, Giolly Meeting Point, Grandi maestri del 900, 9 - 11 luglio 2004, cat., (illustrato in copertina) 
Post-Lot Text
La licenza di esportazione è stata richiesta per il presente lotto
An export licence has been requested for the present lot


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Roy Lichtenstein's Sleeping Girl

Roy Lichtenstein, Sleeping Girl, 1964

David Barsalou's image showing Roy Lichtenstein's source material for Sleeping Girl, Tony Abruzzo's panel from the December 1964 issue of DC Comic's Girls' Romances.

Another extremely helpful image from David Barsalou--as if you couldn't tell--allowing comparison of Roy Lichtenstein's painting, right, with Tony Abruzzo's original comic book panel, left
Roy Lichtenstein's Sleeping Girl on display at a Sotheby's preview in London.'s-the-scream-goes-on-display-ahead-of-auction-2012/1420775/Edvard-Munchs-The-Scream-Goes-On-Display-Ahead-Of-Auction

Sleeping Girl from 1964 is one of Roy Lichtenstein's classic "girl" paintings. It sold for an impressive $44.8 million dollars on May 9, a sales record for the artist. I saw the work on display at Sotheby's New York about ten days before the Contemporary Art Evening Auction, and it is quite striking. It is big without being too big. It is everything one wants to see in a painting by Roy Lichtenstein.

Lichtenstein's source was a panel of a weeping, blonde woman from a romance comic book illustrated by Tony Abruzzo. The story title was "Don't Kiss Me Again!" Some of the changes Lichtenstein made seem trivial. The woman is shown sleeping rather than crying. Her hand, which was there to wipe away tears, has been removed from the panel, and much of the emotional content has been removed as well.  Our subject is now just a pretty face, big and blonde and beautiful.

Lichtenstein intensifies the image by ratcheting up the scale. He adds that bold, acid yellow hair and the many dots which are meant to suggest the look of print in comic books, but which certainly are anything but a slavish reproduction of printing techniques. Up close the dots really seem to be following their own design rules, but from a distance or in a reproduction the painting can seem to be a fair approximation of a comic book panel.

My favorite quotation by Roy Lichtenstein concludes an excellent article that appeared in The New York Times on March 31, 1995 when the artist was 71. The article had been part of a series in which the writer accompanies an artist to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The longish title was "AT THE MET WITH: Roy Lichtenstein; Disciple Of Color And Line, Master Of Irony" by Michael Kimmelman.
"I don't think artists like myself, and Ellsworth [Kelly], have the faintest idea what we're doing, in fact; but we try to put it in words that sound logical," he adds, mischievously. "Actually, I think I do know what I'm doing. But no other artist does."

Master of irony indeed!

The Sotheby's auction catalogue listing follows:

Fig. 1.  Andy Warhol Campbell's Soup Can (Tomato), 1962
Private Collection
© 2012 Andy Warhol Foundation / ARS, NY /
TM Licensed by Campbell's Soup Co. All Rights Reserved.

Fig. 2.  Jasper Johns Three Flags, 1958
The Whitney Museum of American Art,
New York
© Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA,
New York, NY
Fig. 3.  Roy Lichtenstein at the 'First International Girlie Exhibit'
7 January 1964
Photo: CBS Photo Archive/ Getty Images
© 2008 CBS Worldwide INC.
Fig. 4  Grace Kelly
© CinemaPhoto/Corbis

Fig. 5.  Grace Kelly
© CinemaPhoto/Corbis
Fig. 6.  Roy Lichtenstein Study for Sleeping Girl, 1964
Collection James and Katherine Goodman
© Estate of Roy Lichtenstein
Fig. 7.  Pablo Picasso Le Rêve, 1932
Private Collection
© 2012 Estate of Pablo Picasso | Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Fig. 8.  The Sleeping Hermaphrodite,
copy after an original of the 2nd century BC,
the mattress is an addition by Gian Lorenzo Bernini,
Musée du Louvre, Paris
Photo: Peter Willi/The Bridgeman Art Library

Fig. 9.  Andy Warhol Shot Blue Marilyn, 1964
Courtesy of the Brant Foundation
© 2012 Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts /
Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Fig. 10.  Gustav Klimt Danaë, 1907
Galerie Würthle, Vienna

Fig. 11.  Constantin Brancusi Sleeping Muse, 1909-10
© 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Fig. 12.  Pablo Picasso Le Miroir, 1932
Private Collection
© 2012 Estate of Pablo Picasso I Artists Rights Society (ARS),
New York

Fig. 13.  The present work installed in the Gersh home
Artwork © 2012 John Chamberlain I Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
© 2012 Frank Stella I Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
© 2005 Estate of Sam Francis I Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Fig. 14.  Ferus Gallery exhibition announcement for Roy Lichtenstein opening
November 24, 1964
Photo: Dennis Hopper, Courtesy of Irving Blum
© Estate of Roy Lichtenstein

[End of Sotheby's auction catalogue listing]

DC Comics Girls' Romances, No. 105, December 1964 with "Don't Kiss Me Again!" The source material by Tony Abruzzo for Roy Lichtenstein's Sleeping Girl appears in this story.
The sale at Sotheby's New York, May 9, 2012

Sotheby's videos:

A Conversation with Irving Blum: 

'Sleeping Girl'

A Conversation with Paul Schimmel: 

'Sleeping Girl'

Roy Lichtenstein, Sleeping Girl, 1964

Note:  My previous post on Roy Lichtenstein's Ohhh...Alright... can be found here.