Sunday, 17 December 2017

EbookCoverWelcome to the George Quaintance blog. Your hosts, John Waybright and Ken Furtado, are the authors of QUAINTANCE: The Short Life of an American Art Pioneer, the only complete, authoritative biography of Quaintance ever written. Our book fills a cultural, historical and academic void for this seminal 20th century artist. It is packed with photos and available as an ebook at Smashwords, for the low price of $12.99. We are excited to have exclusive access to hundreds of never-published photographs from Quaintance’s personal scrapbooks and family archives. Sadly, John passed away in May 2013, before seeing the book published. We hope you will use this site as a platform to exchange ideas, information and images related to this under-valued artist, as well as to learn more about him. Please send your email to kfurtado@georgequaintance.com.

 

alt-kissI'd like to challenge the belief that the chalkware sculpture shown here was created by George Quaintance.

This much is indisputable: In 1936, Quaintance created three sets of male-female faces that were cast in hydro-stone and marketed and sold by The House of Shaw in New York City. They are The Kiss, Wind Blown, and Sea Breeze. He added a fourth set of separate faces in 1939, calling them We Modern. Collectively, he called them masques. There's a full-page publicity flyer in which they are pictured and described in detail. You can see that flyer here.

A different chalkware sculpture titled The Kiss is seen fairly often on Ebay, almost always represented as the work of George Quaintance. In it, the female has a hibiscus flower in her hair. The example above has been painted with metallic paint.

The Quaintance estate is in a fine mess and entrepreneurs have been exploiting it for years.

fun house greeting cardsThis is an over-simplification, but when George died in 1957, he bequeathed his estate, both business and personal, to his longtime friends and business partners, Tom Syphers and Victor Garcia. The will is a matter of record. Tom died in 1964, and either he did not leave a will (I have been unable to find one) or he left a will that was not probated, but privately executed. Thus, his half of the estate goes into legal limbo.

Victor died in 1987, leaving his share to his sister; she died in 2009, passing it along to her two children. I have been in touch with one of them. It would be very costly to pursue the legal steps necessary to reassert legal rights to the Quaintance estate and enforce cease-and-desist actions against the people and organizations that have been profiting from the illegal sale and reproduction of Quaintance's art. They have no interest in doing so, and they have no interest in transferring their share of the rights to anyone else.

crapshootersChristopher Clark is a tough guy to pin down, and the commonness of both his given name and his surname turn Internet searches into gargantuan tasks with few rewards.

Clark was a contemporary of Quaintance and, like Quaintance, his early career was spent in part painting portraits of prominent social figures. A Florida native, Clark was born in 1903. I was not able to find a date of death. The entry on Clark in Alfred R. Frankel's book, Artists of Old Florida 1840-1950, states that he was also a muralist (you can see his art in Radio City Music Hall) and that his work was featured in the Saturday Evening Post and Forbes Magazine. The article goes on to list many awards and prizes, citing specific paintings, but Internet searches turned up only one of the paintings named: The Crapshooters.

Rita MillionsI get asked this question frequently. Conventional wisdom apparently dictates that an original work by Quaintance is "priceless."

To give two examples, consider the infamous "Rita Hayworth." Despite the fact that this full-sized portrait is of a former Los Angeles socialite named Mrs. Milton Stevens (details here), and that I provided incontrovertible proof of this to the owner, it was offered on eBay in 2005 for nearly $2 million. It was relisted numerous times, the price dropping precipitously each time, and it repeatedly failed to sell. Eventually it was consigned to an auction house where it sold for $4,000. The seller continued to insist that the subject was Rita Hayworth.

Narcissus-bronze-sprayAn item that appeared recently on eBay elicited a flurry of questions that, in turn, elicited this posting. The item was a bronze Narcissus sculpture.

This was a solid bronze figurine, not one of the hydrostone sculptures sold by the Quaintance Studio that someone had dunked in bronze like a pair of baby shoes or spray-painted with metallic paint, such as this image at the left. And Narcissus has four bronze brothers! Here's their story.

In 1989, German publisher Volker Janssen printed The Art of George Quaintance, the first-ever book written about the artist. (Now in its 3rd edition, it remains in print.) While on a visit to the USA in the 1980s, Janssen purchased Narcissus and the four male swimmers from the Neptune's Children series and brought them back to Germany. These were hydrostone figurines produced by the Quaintance Studio.

darkladyAbout once a year I have a conversation with George Quaintance's closest living relative. (I won't disclose her name or whereabouts, for fear of unleashing hordes of well-wishing strangers upon her.) We talk about health and family and, of course, George, and we share any new information we may have encountered since our previous conversation.

This woman, whom I will call The Dark Lady, is the grand-daughter of George's mother's sister. She wields the reins of a family archive that includes written documents, hundreds of photos, and a dozen or more canvases that George painted — most of them while he was still living at home.

One of those paintings is itself titled The Dark Lady. The canvas measures 14 by 20 inches and is dated 1925. It shows a woman's head in profile. Her hairdo resembles dreadlocks, but back then they were banana curls. There's an interesting story behind this dark lady. Here it is, told in the first person by the "other" Dark Lady.