If we survive the Apocalypse… MUCHA, GOLDSCHMITT, and FRIEND

Posted in Uncategorized on 25 November, 2012 by Thomas Negovan

Three amazing artists with bizarrely apocalyptic visions. An infinite number of possibilities.

Coming January 12, 2013. Just in case the Mayans were wrong.

Alphonse Mucha

Alphonse Mucha

Bruno Goldschmitt

Bruno Goldschmitt

Richard Friend

Richard Friend


January 12, 2013: After the Apocaplypse

January 12, 2013: After the Apocaplypse



Holiday Sale announced! December 12-24, 2012!

Posted in Uncategorized on 25 November, 2012 by Thomas Negovan

Come see the new gallery!  December 12-24, 2012
6150 Washington Boulevard in Culver City

Noon-10pm daily- to make holiday shopping easy!

Century Guild Holiday Sale

Century Guild Holiday Sale

Jeremy Bastian and His Cursed Pirate Girl Return!

Posted in Century Guild Contemporary, Century Guild Events, Jeremy Bastian, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 10 November, 2012 by SeanMChase

As you know, Century Guild has relocated its gallery from Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California, and we are very pleased to announce that our new location will open with a very special book signing with none other than our good friend, Jeremy A. Bastian.  We will be holding a Grand Opening for the new gallery on December 1st, 2012 from 6-9pm.  Jeremy will be there in person to sign books, including advanced copies of his graphic novel, Cursed Pirate Girl, which is being published by Archaia Entertainment.  We will also be displaying exclusive artwork from Cursed Pirate Girl for the first time.

Cursed Pirate Girl: The Collected Edition, Volume 1 (Archaia Publishing, published Dec. 2012)

The ongoing story of Cursed Pirate Girl tells the whimsical tale of a young girl as she sets sail for adventure in search of her missing father, who is one of the legendary Pirate Captains of the mythical Omerta Seas.  On her voyages, both above and below the surface of the ocean, she encounters a series of bizarre, charming, and grotesque characters that leap forth from the page with such vitality and imagination that they rival the fantastical creations of Lewis Carroll, Winsor McCay, and Terry Gilliam.

Jeremy A. Bastian, attending San Diego Comic-Con 2012, stops by the Century Guild booth to meet fans and sign autographs of his work.

At a time when just about everyone seems to be familiar with comic book characters and their worlds, primarily due to the high-end film adaptations of superhero comic books, it has become increasingly rare for comics fans to stumble across anything original.  As Hellboy creator Mike Mignola has said, “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.”
Continue reading

And Then There Were Three: Century Guild Moves To Los Angeles

Posted in Uncategorized on 3 November, 2012 by Thomas Negovan

“I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)”? “Your Own Special Way”?  Both were nominal hits for Genesis in 1974 and 1976, respectively, and if you recognize either of them, you’re clearly a Prog Rock fan or have spent quality time in my basement with my record collection.  But 1977 was the year when everything changed for Genesis…  And Then There Were Three was a pivotal re-mapping of territory which took the best of their art and tempered it with a commercial agenda, and also marked the most successful lineup of the band- the trio that carried Genesis forward would remain the solid lineup for more than two decades.  I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Peter Gabriel fan, to be certain, but I can say for certain I never would have discovered the genius of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway if Mssrs Rutherford/Banks/Collins hadn’t opened the doors for me with Abacab and a decade of radio hits in the 1980s.

In 1976, “Follow You, Follow Me” was the first hit on ...And Then There Were Three…  and the beginning of their most celebrated era.

Why the Genesis reference?  Because every ending is a beginning.

Century Guild in Chicago has closed its doors.

Century Guild Chicago

Century Guild – Chicago

For thirteen years, we’ve been thrilled to call Chicago home.  From our years as a staple at Chris Kennedy’s fantastic Merchandise Mart International Antiques Fairs to the opulent Winnekta Modernism and other North Shore events, we’ve been lucky to work with some of the top collectors in Chicago in the fields of Art Nouveau, Arts+Crafts, and early Modernism.

We were ahead of our time as dealers in artworks of the Vienna Secession, and while our early displays of Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele works on paper were met with many a confused look, over the years we steered many of the abovementioned collectors out of more traditional collecting paths and into Secessionist work.  Thanks to the faith and trust- and good taste- of those collectors, the last few years saw our collective risks rewarded, and our reputation in Chicago was cemented as ahead-of-the-curve curators in the world of Art Collecting.

Our Midwest presence also allowed us to see works which we earmarked in our inventory as top examples enter the extraordinary permanent collections of The Art Institute of Chicago and The Detroit Institute of Art.

Thomas Negovan giving a Detroit Institute of Arts tour on Gustav Klimt and The Vienna Secession:

Thomas Negovan and Stuart Tomc in Chicago, 2009

Thomas Negovan and Stuart Tomc in Chicago, 2009

All that said, we have come over time to realize that with very few exceptions the art that we were most passionate about, most excited about handling, was being shipped to California.  Cabaret artworks, Silent Film posters, rare theater and romantic, occult-themed artworks from the 19th century… these are the things that get our blood racing!

So, as of the day following the Gail Potocki exhibition in Chicago, Melissa, Chandra, and I have moved to Los Angeles to oversee the opening of the new Los Angeles Century Guild gallery.  Our friend Jerry Suqi is managing a pop-up location in Chicago through the end of the year nextdoor to the historic Logan Theater on Milwaukee, and expect to see Stuart and Jack pop up from time to time at both locations as events allow.

Chandra Darling, Thomas Negovan, Melissa Chapel - New York 2011 - Staff of Century Guild - Los Angeles

Chandra Darling, Thomas Negovan, Melissa Chapel – New York 2011 – Staff of Century Guild – Los Angeles

We will continue to curate and deal in 1880-1920 artworks, and will continue to push the envelope of what we feel is exceptional- yes, we will still have Klimt and Schiele, but much like ten years ago when we were encouraging collectors to take a risk on “this Klimt fellow” we are looking forward to devoting more attention specifically to the careers of Gail Potocki and Jeremy Bastian.  We think they’re pretty special, and are certain that you will agree.

The gallery formally opens December 1, 2012 with a book signing by none other than Mister Jeremy Bastian.  Artworks from his book Cursed Pirate Girl will be on display, and in a rare opportunity will be available for sale for one weekend only.

Jeremy Bastian's Cursed Pirate Girl

Jeremy Bastian’s Cursed Pirate Girl

I can’t tell you how excited we are… the space is grand, the ceilings are high, the location is prime.  We’re right in the center hub of the Culver City Arts District, and have amazing exhibitions planned.

We always appreciated when people would travel from out-of-town to attend one of our Chicago exhibitions, and we can say without hesitation that our Los Angeles shows will take it even farther.  Watch our calendar, book your tickets, and we will see you on the West Coast!





Artist will be present to sign special Advance Hardcovers with Limited Edition bookplate.


Clinging to Life: An Examination of Gail Potocki’s “The Raft of the Medusa”

Posted in Century Guild Contemporary, Gail Potocki, Uncategorized with tags , , on 18 October, 2012 by SeanMChase

Amongst humans there is an inherent fascination with the sea and with the water from which we once sprang.  Over the years we have come to understand not only the life-giving and life-sustaining necessity of our oceans, but also the primal beauty of them.  Because of water’s inconstancy and ability to adapt to its environment, it has been used as a representation of the human emotional condition, but also as a symbol for the vast cosmos with its many changes and unknowns.  We have imbued water with symbolic importance, as we have observed the connection between the tides and the cycle of the moon, and how those cycles reflect the very changes of human and animal life on Earth.  We have created myths and fables: of seductive water nymphs and sirens who lure sailors to their dooms; of indomitable gods and goddesses who were borne of and ruled over the seas; of heroes whose mightiest weapons were plucked from mystic waters; and of babies sent in rafts either to meet their demise or to seek sanctuary by divine providence in new lands.

The image of the shipwreck has permeated all cultures as a cautionary metaphor for what happens when we drive ourselves too far, ignorant of the many consequences, or when we allow ourselves to be seduced by convenience and comfort rather than rationality.  Where once the shipwreck was a symbol of human failure or death, today, with the advances of technology allowing for mass transportation of passengers and cargo, the shipwreck is frequently a disaster not only for those immediately affected.  It is also a disaster for the environment and for the thousands of different forms of aquatic life that must survive, or do not survive as so often is the case, through the aftermath.  So, it should come as no surprise that there must be a cautious equilibrium between ourselves and the oceans lest we wish to face catastrophe.

“The Raft of the Medusa” by Gail Potocki (2012, Oil on linen, custom frame).   Taking her title from Théodore Géricault’s 19th Century painting of the same name, Gail Potocki has created another masterpiece of environmental symbolism.  This particular painting is both a lament for the destruction of nature in the past and warning of the inevitable effects should such destruction continue unchecked.


The idea that a man-made tragedy can now take a great toll on non-human life as well and wreak havoc upon the environment and ecosystems is the predominant theme in Gail Potocki‘s 2012 painting, “The Raft of the Medusa“.  The painting is a stark work of environmental symbolism that summons up an unforgettable image of a catastrophic shipwreck, which leaves in its wake a fire and plumes of smoke, a slick of oil on the ocean, and various birds and animals desperately clinging onto a woman, who represents all of humankind, for survival.  While the proverbial rats leave the sinking ship and turn the woman’s collar into a makeshift raft, birds doused in thick oil panic and struggle to survive as they flail their wings trying to free themselves from the crude.  The woman, who is garbed in an opulent dress and seemingly oblivious to the destruction and turmoil around her, discards a partially eaten apple with insouciance.  Upon that apple is a sticker with a bar code, a further reminder of humanity’s attempt to control and capitalize upon nature at nature’s expense.  In Gail’s own words, “I’ve often used the apple as a symbol of the Earth.”

Detail from “The Raft of the Medusa” by Gail Potocki (2012, Oil on linen).  The woman’s hand lets go of the apple from which she has bitten into, letting it fall into the sea.  The apple, which represents the Earth or the environment, has been used as a resource, a mere commodity, harnessed by humankind to suit their purposes and then unlovingly discarded.  Meanwhile, the oil-soaked birds flail in distress around the woman.

Detail from Gail Potocki’s “The Raft of the Medusa” (2012, Oil on linen). Here, we can see the rats as they become dependent upon the woman, clinging to her collar for survival from the wreck which her species was responsible for.  Standing on the back of her collar is a Vacanti mouse.  The Vacanti mouse or “earmouse” as it has commonly been referred, was a SCID mouse (severe combined immunodeficiency), which are frequently used for research in biology.  The Vacanti mouse had bovine cartilage grown under its skin, which then developed into the shape of an ear.  Experimentation on rats and other rodents is yet another example of how humans have benefited from nature and from creatures for our own gain.


The title of Gail’s painting is an appropriation of and homage to Théodore Géricault‘s 1819 painting Le Radeau de la Méduse, which was one of his best known works and is a cornerstone of 19th Century French Romantic movement in art.  Géricault’s painting was an ambitious work by which the French artist hoped to secure his place among the great Romantic painters of his day.  Inspired by the 1816 wreck of the naval frigate, the Méduse, off the coast of what is now modern-day Mauritania.  This wreck was attributed primarily to the inexperience and incompetence of its captain, the Viscount Hugues Duroy de Chaumereys.  The ship was poorly navigated and had drifted a hundred miles off of its charted course, which lead to it running aground on a sandbank in West Africa.  The ship carried over 400 people, of which 160 were crew members, but the capacity of the life boats was only 250 people.  Those who could not be afforded room in the lifeboats built a makeshift raft, which was intended to be towed by the lifeboats, but the 147 people upon the raft was too great a number and almost immediately the raft began to take on water, so the raft was cut loose and the people on it left to their own devices.  Within the first day, they had eaten the only food they had and their drinking water was lost amidst an on-board scuffle.  The survivors were driven mad by exposure to the elements and starvation.  Weak, malnourished, and mutinous, they began to turn on each other, eventually resorting to murder and cannibalism.  By the time a rescue crew attempted to save those on the raft, only fifteen of the 147 people were still alive.  The rest had perished by starvation, by sickness, by being consumed as food, or by being thrown into the sea and some of those did so of their own volition.  The resulting press surrounding the tragedy became a scandal and an embarrassment for the French monarchy.

“Le Radeau de la Méduse” by Théodore Géricault (Oil on canvas, 1819).  In selecting the subject matter for what he hoped would be the painting that brought him acclaim, Géricault chose to depict the harrowing moment in which the fifteen survivors of 147 upon the raft see in the distance an approaching vessel sent to rescue them.  Géricault had thought that he could rise to prominence by featuring the wreck of the Méduse and its survivors as his theme, however, the painting became controversial during its 1819 unveiling at the Paris Salon in part due to its aesthetic departure from the serenity of the Neo-Classical, but also due to the sensitive subject matter and the heightened emotional response it elicited.

Gail Potocki‘s painting echoes some of the same themes as Géricault’s, such as the struggle to survive in the wake of disaster and the incompetence and arrogance of mankind.  While Géricault’s painting was inspired by the wreck of the Méduse, Gail took her inspiration from more recent disasters such as the Exxon Valdez in 1989.  The analogy is there and basically the same, but the great difference is that over the years we have better developed our ability to save human lives through safety precautions and rescue efforts, however, so often lessening the devastation wrought upon nature and wildlife isn’t made a priority until it’s too late.

An oil-soaked bird from the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989.

A detail from “The Raft of the Medusa” by Gail Potocki (2012, Oil on linen).  All too true to life, Gail’s meticulously detailed and emotionally wrought depiction of the birds covered in oil is representative of the thousands of birds who have been affected by oil spills and similar man-made calamities.  Through her art, we are allowed to experience their anguish, to empathize with them, and to accept that there must be change.


Eventually we must ask ourselves:  What happens when we overestimate our own abilities and underestimate nature?  Any conflict which arises from such a circumstance almost invariably sees a drastic loss in life, though not always human, and yet there are often consequences of horrendous proportions which some of us choose to see while others do not.  We have a responsibility to ensure that the planet we depend on, and that all systems of life depends on, is taken seriously and respected.  Nature is not to be trifled with.  This theme, this reverential treatment of nature has oft been expressed in poetry and the arts, as has the warning for humankind not to let their ambitions outreach their grasp.  Gail’s environmental paintings are a bold, always beautiful yet often unsettling, and essential reminder that we are a part of nature, that our actions do carry with them an effect (be it for good or bad), so there must be an attempt to protect the natural world around us or accept that its demise will also be our own.

– Sean


Posted in Century Guild Contemporary, Gail Potocki with tags , , , , on 29 September, 2012 by Thomas Negovan

It’s been a long time coming.  Exhibitions at museums and galleries around the world, but never a major show in Chicago.  Tonight, Chicago is rewarded for its patience and support with the most comprehensive exhibition of Gail Potocki paintings to date.  Many of these paintings have never before been offered for sale as Gail culled them aside as her favorite works from each exhibition.

The most comprehensive exhibition of Gail Potocki’s paintings to date, with important works never before offered for sale. Contact thomas@centuryguild.net for details on individual paintings.  CLICK on image for substantial enlargement.

Something else that has been a long time coming: tonight, after the gallery closes its doors, the keys will be handed over to our technical division and the art and staff will start packing up.  Yes, tonight is the last exhibition in our gorgeous loft in Chicago… because we are opening a retail location in Los Angeles!  I don’t want to take away from the importance of Gail’s art, so more details on that will be forthcoming.
But tonight, come celebrate thirteen years in Chicago at our final exhibition!  Please dress nicely, your date will thank you.




Saturday 29 September 2012

6-9 pm Exhibition, 10pm performances.

Doors open from 6-9.

Acclaimed modern Symbolist painter and Century Guild exclusive Gail Potocki will be featured in her very first Chicago solo exhibition later this month. The exhibition will feature a large assortment of Potocki’s latest works exploring her criticisms and concerns over mankind’s relationship with the environment. Gail Potocki is a graduate of Chicago’s School of Representational Art and has been featured in Juxtapoz Magazine and The Huffington Post. A monograph of her work was published in 2006 by Olympian Publishing entitled The Union of Hope and Sadness: The Art of Gail Potocki, with text by Thomas Negovan and contributions from Disinformation’s Richard Metzger and author Grant Morrison. She has exhibited globally, including The H.R. Giger Museum, the Laguna Art Museum, and seminal Los Angeles art gallery La Luz de Jesus; she was also one of a select few artists hand picked to provide an original work to the Metallica tribute exhibition “OBEY YOUR MASTER” at Los Angeles’ Exhibit A Gallery. A solo exhibition of her work was held in Culver City, CA at Billy Shire Fine Arts.

The Raft of the Medusa

The Raft of the Medusa. Oil on linen in handmade frame, 2012.

A Sensual Fantasia from the Mind of Dave McKean: A Review of “Celluloid”

Posted in Dave McKean, San Diego Comic Con, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 23 August, 2012 by SeanMChase

When it comes to the subject of erotica in art and literature, I consider myself to be a person of discerning tastes.  Outside of John Cleland’s Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, the writings of Donatien Alphonse François, le Marquis de Sade, and D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, I have found most explicitly erotic literature to be banal and mechanical.  So often, it merely serves a primal function,  but rarely offers up anything more than titillation or sexual catharsis.

When it comes to art, a great example of this would be the erotic illustrations of  Édouard-Henri Avril, one of the premiere pornographic artists of the late 19th Century, and an artist whose work I admire very much.  However, while Avril’s work is splendid in its timeless appeal and subject matter, what it lacks, what it fails in, is that it’s fairly unimaginative and unexpressive.  The compositions are predictable and the use of color is minimal and overly restrained.  Though his illustrations succeed in providing an iconic visual counterpart to the erotic literature it accompanies, it rarely ever offers provocation of the mind or evocation of the emotions.  In other words, it is simply visual eye candy displaying a wide range of physical experiences without the enrichment of genuine expression.

Yet there is another kind of erotic art that manages to do so much more than this.

Artists such as  Gustave CourbetFélicien RopsGustav Klimt,  and  Egon Schiele  found their own unique way to convey erotic themes and ideas through artwork, and their works, while varying in style and predilection, all display a level of personality and expression that was unsurpassed during their lifetimes.  This was art, not for the sake of arousal, but art for the sake of art and with the power to elicit feelings of passion, desire, loneliness, and introspection.

With the commercial rise of erotica in the late 19th Century and early 20th Century, there has been an ever outward-growing spiral of mediums to accommodate those in desire of exploring their carnality and sensuality vicariously through the creations of others.  Today, we have artwork, literature, music, cinema, and countless other media with which to express ourselves, so unsurprisingly human desire has spilt over into all of these areas, although in some areas more than others.

One art form that has been proliferating in the public eye since the late 1930s is comic books and graphic literature.  Strangely, with the exception of lasciviously humorous cartoons and buxom heroines in tight-fitting costumes (or no costumes at all, in some cases), the medium hasn’t explored sensuality as in-depth as other narrative mediums.  Outside of Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie’s Lost Girls, it is difficult to think of one well-known work of erotic graphic literature… until recently.

Last year saw the publication of an exceptional work:  Dave McKean‘s text-less graphic novel, Celluloid.

The cover of “Celluloid”, an erotic graphic novel by Dave McKean.

Celluloid, which was published in 2011 by Delcourt in Europe and by Fantagraphics Books in the United States, is perhaps a different kind of erotica than what people have come to expect.  Firstly, it is a graphic novel, and unlike so many graphic novels, it does not revolve around superheroes, monsters, or crime.  It’s a work of fantasy and like most works of fantasy, it is about a journey, but this book is about a journey inward into the sensuality of the human mind and into the mysteries of human desire.  It is “fantasy” in the purest sense of the word.

Continue reading