Archive for June, 2009

And Then There Were Three: Gail Potocki, Jeremy Bastian, and Dave McKean.

Posted in Century Guild Contemporary, Dave McKean, Gail Potocki, Jeremy Bastian on 28 June, 2009 by Thomas Negovan

When Stuart and I started Century Guild in 1999, the very first artwork that started us off was an original 19th century poster for an exhibition of paintings by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

The P-R B poster.  Goupil Gallery interestingly counted Theo and Vincent Van Gogh as employees.  Theo attempted to place his brother's artwork at the prestigious gallery, but they were rejected as 'horrors'.

The P-R B poster. On a side note, the Goupil Galleries interestingly counted Theo and Vincent Van Gogh as employees. Theo attempted to place his brother's artwork with the prestigious gallery, but they were rejected as 'horrors'.

More posters by luminaries such as Alphonse Mucha and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec soon followed, as well as Art Nouveau porcelain from Sevres and 19th century Japonist ceramics from Pierre-Adrien Dalpayrat and Clement Massier. We spent untold hours and gained countless frequent flyer miles in tracking down cabaret and theater artifacts from Berlin and Munich and opera artifacts from Italy. Most recently, lithographic works by Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele have been high points of our collection.

In the early days of our business, we brokered primarily for museum level collections. (There is nothing like the thrill of seeing a piece that used to be in your hands behind glass at a museum!) As time went on, we expanded our inventory to be able to assist new collectors in acquiring original period Art Nouveau and Symbolist artworks. Connecting others with the rich history of art is emotionally enriching, and we have made a whole world of new friends who share our passion.

We are proud that Century Guild has become the top gallery in the world in placing the rarest art regarding our areas of expertise.

But…

We have always wanted to be connected to the 21st century as well as the 19th and early 20th.

I spent large amounts of money in buying various contemporary artists, taking them home, and sadly watching them crumble when in proximity to what history has shown to be the very best of earlier days. There is an attention to detail and craft in contemporary art that is sadly, for the most part lost, and it does not reveal itself when viewed in relation to other similar works. Event the top contemporary artists, in my opinion, work best in relation to each other than their earlier peers. Ruprecht Von Kaufmann’s gigantic oil painting “But What if He Comes?” survived. George Klauba’s tattoo art and “Ahab” survived. I have a sneaking suspicion that Chris Berens would survive.

But the first experience that made me consider representing contemporary art was with Gail Potocki.

Gail Potocki's take on the rapturous climax of the Eve myth.

Gail Potocki's take on the rapturous climax of the Eve myth. Oil on linen, Gail Potocki, 2008. 36 x 48 inches. SOLD

GAIL POTOCKI

I had a client from the Detroit Institute arrive in Chicago to view a distressingly-expensive-for-something-eminently-breakable, handmade piece of Art Nouveau porcelain. Mindblowing would not describe the quality. But the strangest thing happened: he could not stop asking questions about the painting hanging above the console, a painting from my personal collection by one Gail Potocki.

Fast forward past Juxtapoz magazine, MTV, a critically lauded show at the prestigious Billy Shire Fine Arts in L.A., and a stream of wonderful letters including:

“A really fantastic artist. It’s refreshing to see a modern painter that has a classic, romantic touch and the skills to add a fresh facet of expression to the new period of Realism.” –Robert Williams, the legendary and controversial god-among-painters.

“Brilliant occult portraits from the Symbolist underworld of the 21st Century. More than just paintings, Gail Potocki conducts seances on canvas.” –Grant Morrison (visionary author, psychic revolutionary, and one of Entertainment Weekly’s Top 100 Creative People in America).

Gail has a special show in the Netherlands this fall, and a new series on display alongside her friend David Anderle plus Elizabeth McGrath and Charlie Immer at Billy Shire Fine Arts in Culver City, LA, opening November 14th, 2009.

You can see artworks from Gail’s Opened Apples series- and the first three edition prints from the never-before-seen Freaks series!- next month in our booth at San Diego Comic Con.

Plastic Vortex: look it up on google, and be depressed.

Plastic Vortex: look it up on google, and be depressed. Oil on linen in handmade custom frame, Gail Potocki, 2008. 42 x 55 inches. Available.

Flip (from the Circus Freaks series), oil on linen, 2009, Gail Potocki.

Flip (from the Circus Freaks series), oil on linen, 2009, Gail Potocki. 18 x 24 inches. SOLD

The next artist on our (very small) roster is wholly impossible to appreciate online. This madman paints black lines with a single hair brush, and to appreciate the artwork requires proper lighting and a very large magnifying glass; it’s like something you would see in The Museum of Jurassic Technology:

The Octopus and The Silver Cello.

The Octopus and The Silver Cello, ink on paper by Jeremy Bastian, 2008. 4.5 x 7.5 inches. SOLD

JEREMY BASTIAN

I personally believe that he is the reincarnation of Richard Dadd. These are not book illustrations, these are individual pieces of art, each telling a long and wonderful tale.  I’ve spent hours poring over a single inch, and still find new things every time I look.  We are limited here to viewing these as best we can in the sad, sad jpeg form, but make a point to see his work in person. You will NOT regret it. (Next stop? Our booth in San Diego!)

Oh- and keep in mind that these are only about SEVEN INCHES tall!!! Quotes from duly impressed parties are below.

“Jeremy Bastian rocks some inky, inky id! How someone can channel such turgid spontaneity into the gossamer precision seen here is beyond rational explanation. Clearly he’s kidnapped his own inner child, plied her with enough Victorian sweets to keep her up for days, and then chained her to a drawing board in a tiny room.” –Jackson Publick, creator of Adult Swim cartoon The Venture Bros.

“It’s all too rare that I see work that is truly original, and I almost never see work THIS original. Jeremy Bastian is a genius.” –Mike Mignola, Eisner Award-winning creator of Hellboy.

“Jeremy Bastian is a transplanted 19th century prodigy who has harnessed the mysteries of the microcosm; with the hands of a surgeon and the mind of a magician he conjures an entire universe in the space of a single drop of ink. Cursed Pirate Girl is our generation’s Alice in Wonderland.” –Gail Potocki (yes, that Gail Potocki.)

The Goblin Warlock.  You can't imagine how many sinister denizens are peering out from the forest; Hieronymus Bosch would be proud at the sinister creepy crawlies.

The Goblin Warlock. You can't imagine how many sinister denizens are peering out from the forest; Hieronymus Bosch would be proud at the originality of Jeremy's sinister creepy crawlies. Ink on paper by Jeremy Bastian, 2009. 4.5 x 7.5 inches. SOLD

The Sextant.  Again, impossible detail.  Even the map on the beetle's back is fully developed.

The Sextant. Again, impossible detail. Even the map on the beetle's back is fully developed. Ink on paper by Jeremy Bastian, 2008. 4.5 x 7.5 inches. SOLD

The third artist that we recommend with the same verve and passion as we do any of our 19th century Masters is a very welcome addition, indeed:

Der mude Tod (Fritz Lang, 1921) by Dave McKean, 2008

Der mude Tod (English: Destiny) (Fritz Lang, 1921). Mixed media by Dave McKean, 2008. 44 x 44 inches. SOLD

DAVE McKEAN

I have respected Dave McKean’s art ever since he came into my field of vision as a cover artist for Neil Gaiman‘s Sandman books. (Even today, the pair still work together; their most recent collaboration, The Graveyard Book, just won a Newberry Award.) Countless CD covers, ad campaigns, and short films later, I was always impressed with how Dave was able to infuse his commercial ventures with recognizable flair and a genuinely fine aesthetic. But nothing to my mind comes close to being career-defining as his current body of work, titled Nitrate, inspired by early cinema.

Our next major event, the Nitrate and Kinogeists exhibition at the historic Portage Theater in Chicago (it was used for the interior of the Biograph Theater in the new Johnny Depp and Christian Bale film Public Enemies), features five of these very large sculptural and painted artworks, with a sixth en route to our booth at San Diego Comic Con. Extremely limited edition facsimile prints of “Destiny”, “Melies”, and “Faust” will be available at both shows.

Dave McKean’s Nitrate series wraps up in early 2010 with a Nitrate and Kinogeists exhibition we are curating at Billy Shire Fine Arts, and a 2010 book documenting all the Nitrate works from Allen Spiegel Fine Arts.

Vampyr (Dryer, 1932) by Dave McKean, 2009

Vampyr (English: The Vampire) (Dryer, 1932). Mixed media by Dave McKean, 2009. 44 x 44 inches. SOLD

Le Sang d'un Poete (English: The Blood of a Poet) (Cocteau, 1930).  Mixed media by Dave McKean, 2008

Le Sang d'un Poete (English: The Blood of a Poet) (Cocteau, 1930). Mixed media by Dave McKean, 2008. 44 x 44 inches. ON APPROVAL.

If you want to be placed on the waiting list for original or edition works by any of our artists, as always, please send a note to me at THOMAS AT CENTURYGUILD DOT NET and we’ll do our best to accommodate you. (Not dot com! DOT NET! Got it?)

Thanks for reading.  Love to you all.

Tom

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Nitrate and Kinogeists street posters!

Posted in Century Guild Events, Dave McKean, Silent Cinema on 4 June, 2009 by Thomas Negovan

Watch for these on a lightpost or abandoned building near you next weekend!

xO
T

Nitrate and Kinogeists weekend.

Nitrate and Kinogeists weekend. (18x24)

Friday night, a special screening of Faust in Dave's honor.

Friday night, a special screening of Faust in Dave's honor. (11x17)

Saturday night, Mirrormask. People need to see this on the big screen!!!  Dave's vision is so much more than works on paper, and between the large paintings in the lobby, his short films, and this movie, this weekend will be a fantastic way to experience the totality of his breathtaking art.  Allen Spiegel described this movie as "being inside Dave McKean's head for an hour and a half."  (Which I think sounds wonderful.)  (11x17)

Saturday night, Mirrormask. People need to see this on the big screen!!! Dave's vision is so much more than works on paper, and between the large paintings in the lobby, his short films, and this movie, this weekend will be a fantastic way to experience the totality of his breathtaking art. Allen Spiegel described this movie as "being inside Dave McKean's head for an hour and a half." (Which I think sounds wonderful.) (11x17)

goofy bourgeois

Posted in A Day in the Life, Antique Fairs, Gail Potocki, Jeremy Bastian on 3 June, 2009 by Thomas Negovan

Someone typed that on Google and it- curiously- led to our blog.  I’m serious. (And now that I’ve used it as a title, we are actively crawling up that particular search string.)

Too tired from looking at art and posters and making posters for Dave’s show and planning shows and exhibitions and booths and stamping books and packing art and shipping said art and eating leafy greens to do anything productive…

I thought about the interviews where they make an artist put their iTunes on random and make them share the playlist, no matter how embarrassing.  I won’t share the fact that I’m listening to Earth, Wind, and Fire relentlessly as I work on the Kinogeists book, or that my shuffle is now playing Rick Springfield, for fear of losing my massive artistic credibility.  What I will do is this:

Thirteen images, universally lucky number and Baker’s dozen, pulled from my iPhone by their anonymous file code, and presented here unedited and unphotoshopped.  (Let’s hope there’s no incriminating shots of Jack supergluing shut the new and highly controversial Chicago parking meters.)

I can’t wait for the Nitrate and Kinogeists show here in Chicago, I think that we may have a really fantastic new artist to announce before San Diego, and it is impossible to be as Zen-master calm as Allen Spiegel, but we mere mortals can keep trying.  In the meantime, enjoy thirteen magical seconds of my life:

Lovelovelove,

Tom

This one

Oh, this is a good one. Our archivist couldn't find a tube that was long enough to hold the Opium poster, so he wrote warnings on the side for the Merchandise Mart's not-always-so-careful Union handlers. The other sides said "Pushing Down=Murder" and "Push Down, Kiss Your Life Good Bye".

Jeremy Bastian loves Industrial music, and Mexican Food at 4 a.m.

Jeremy Bastian loves Industrial music, and Mexican Food at 4 a.m.

After the midnight show of The Dark Crystal at the Music Box; thankfully we only found one of these tossed aside.

After the midnight show of The Dark Crystal at the Music Box; thankfully we only found one of these tossed aside.

I didn't buy the chair.  But I should have.

Fairies and ghosts love old leather.

Gail Potocki is happy about twice a year.  This was one of those nights.

Gail Potocki is blissfully happy about twice a year. This was one of those nights.

Stuart was so funny this show, I wish we had a video camera.  I'm not kidding.

Stuart was so funny this show, I wish we had a video camera. I'm not kidding.

Every night is Halloween around here.  I love it.

Every night is Halloween around here, and I love it.

I pulled up to a stop sign around 1 a.m. just as this woman stumbled past in her bathrobe.  Not kidding.

I pulled up to a stop sign around 1 a.m. just as this woman stumbled past in her bathrobe. Not kidding once again.

The Reverend Hudson.  Jack touched Hugh Jackman's butt mere moments after this was taken.

The Reverend Hudson. Jack touched Hugh Jackman's butt mere moments after this was taken.

I have no idea.  I think for the wall texture.

I have no idea. I think for the wall texture. (It was very "European Gulag".)

Our Artropolis booth.  You can see the unbelievably sexy original Walter Schnackenberg painting pretty well here.

Our Artropolis booth. You can see the unbelievably sexy original Walter Schnackenberg painting moderately well here on the front column. People's reactions were VERY varied, and VERY entertaining when they rounded the corner and saw "Opium" "Hunger" "Syphilis" and "Cocaine".

This the second day in 2009 when Gail Potocki was wildly happy from playing in the garden.  That's her quota.

This the second day in 2009 when Gail Potocki was wildly happy from playing in the garden. (That's her quota.) This is an old box spring from a sleeper couch that she converted into a trellis for her Clematis. Lyta is wagging her tail as she gets scratched under the chinny chin chin.

Lyta has a magic snaggletooth that is soooo heavy that she just has to rest it sometimes.

Lyta has a magic snaggletooth that is soooo heavy that she just has to rest it sometimes. And, yes, she sits there with her legs straddling the arm of the chair like that every single day. When not sleeping on the back of the chair like a cat.