Joan Miro challenged art as well as himself

Indicating he intended to ‘push this painting to the limit,’ Miró worked steadily on ‘Still Life with Old Shoe’ for four months in 1937. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Department of Imaging Services. Copyright 2008 Successio Miró / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

 

The 1918 wartime tune How ’Ya Gonna Keep ’Em Down on the Farm (After They’ve Seen Paree) was all about U.S. doughboys returning home from Europe, but it might well have applied to Spanish artist Joan Miro – minus the gaiety.

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Alberto Giacometti sculptures: core exercises

Alberto Giacometti, ‘Place,’ 1948-1949, bronze, 21 × 63.5 × 44 cm, Emanuel Hoffmann-Stiftung, Depositum in der Öffentlichen Kunstsammlung Basel, © Succession Alberto Giacometti / 2015, ProLitteris, Zurich, Foto: Martin P. Bühler, Öffentliche Kunstsammlung Basel

 

Alberto Giacometti became one of the most important artists of the 20th century due in large part to the undisputedly unique qualities of his sculptures, which have assured an enduring legacy.

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10 facts about pulp fiction’s illustrious Margaret Brundage

Original art by Margaret Brundage of ‘Weird Tales,’ ‘The Six Sleepers,’ circa 1935, realized $19,375 at auction in 2013, through Heritage Auctions.

 

1. Margaret Brundage was the primary designer of covers for the pulp fiction magazine Weird Tales throughout much of the 1930s, and into the 1940s. She was a pioneer of the pulp era, becoming its first female cover artist. Her covers drew attention and sparked controversy. They often depicted scantily clad female characters—many times in treacherous situations—associated with one of the magazine’s “tales.”

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Overbeck pottery: pure Arts & Crafts

An abstract landscape of houses is the subject matter on this unusual bowl. Measuring 5 inches in diameter, the bowl has the impressed OBK mark on the bottom. Image courtesy Treadway Toomey

 

Working from their modest home in east-central Indiana, the Overbeck family of artists produced a relatively small, but highly regarded, amount of art pottery in the first quarter of the 20th century.

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7 things you should know about Tiffin Modern glass lines

The 6553 Flower Basket in Ruby and Crystal was one of the most popular pieces from the Empress line. This basket has an engraved monogram “H” on one side. Image by Tom Hoepf

The 6553 Flower Basket in Ruby and Crystal was one of the most popular pieces from the Empress line. This basket has an engraved monogram “H” on one side. Image by Tom Hoepf

 

Listings for Tiffin Glass in antiques price guides always mention the company’s black satin glass produced in the 1920s, but in recent years collectors have paid more attention to its art glass made during the 1940s and ’50s.

It was an era of glassmaking in Tiffin marked by continued fine quality, brilliant colors and innovative designs. The most intriguing of these are loosely called Tiffin’s Modern lines.

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7 things you didn’t know about Argy-Rousseau

Argy-Rousseau pate-de-verre diffuser, fan form with stylized flowers. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers and Leslie Hindman Auctioneers

Argy-Rousseau pate-de-verre diffuser, fan form with stylized flowers. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers and Leslie Hindman Auctioneers

 

Gabriel Argy-Rousseau (French, 1885-1953) was a sculptor, ceramicist and master glass artisan who played an important role in the early-20th-century art glass movement. His innovative designs, which included vases, lamps, jewelry, bowls and other decorative objects, spanned both the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods.

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4 Most Popular Types of Political Memorabilia

2016’s contentious political campaigns and the candidates’ saturation TV ads will soon be history, but collectors will see to it that the memorabilia left behind lives to see another day. Presidential campaign mementos – the signs, banners, buttons, hats and other ephemera produced to publicize candidates and fire up voters – rank among the few things besides rocks and bottles that collectors can pick up for free. In fact, there are diehard collectors who, like Deadheads, go from city to city following campaigners and collecting free memorabilia printed or manufactured specifically for a particular region.

When, exactly, did political items become collectible, and which categories are rising the fastest in value? We asked two of the hobby’s top experts – Hake’s Americana founder Ted Hake and the company’s Americana specialist, Scott Mussell – to name the four most popular categories of political memorabilia and to share their insights on each of them. 

Campaign Buttons

James M. Cox/FDR jugate button depicting the Democratic running mates from the presidential/vice-presidential election of 1920. Estimated value: $25,000+. Image courtesy of Hake’s Americana

James M. Cox/FDR jugate button depicting the Democratic running mates from the presidential/vice-presidential election of 1920. Estimated value: $25,000+. Image courtesy of Hake’s Americana

 

The large-scale commercial production of campaign buttons began in 1896. Today, buttons have the largest following of all the various types of political memorabilia. 

“Collectors like them because they’re small and easy to display,” said Hake, who authored his first edition of the groundbreaking reference The Encyclopedia of Political Buttons in 1974.

“They’re high-end artworks in a small format. You get a lot of bang for the buck,” Mussell observed. “Some buttons have sold for $100,000 or more, but many nice, early examples can be purchased very inexpensively. For instance, you can get colorful 1896 McKinley or Bryan buttons for as little as $15 to $20. Tons of them were made because they were a novelty at the time.”

Hake and Mussell say the best way to stay on top of the market for campaign buttons is to study auction prices realized, attend shows, and view fellow hobbyists’ collections.

 

Textiles and Flags

1860 parade flag “For President, Abram Lincoln For Vice President, Hannibal Hamlin,” was sold by Hake’s Americana on July 12, 2016 for $31,625. The exemplary 11 x 17-inch glazed-cotton flag is considered special because of its visually pleasing star pattern and the unintentional misspelling of Lincoln’s first name. Image courtesy of Hake’s Americana

1860 parade flag “For President, Abram Lincoln For Vice President, Hannibal Hamlin,” was sold by Hake’s Americana on July 12, 2016 for $31,625. The exemplary 11 x 17-inch glazed-cotton flag is considered special because of its visually pleasing star pattern and the unintentional misspelling of Lincoln’s first name. Image courtesy of Hake’s Americana

 

There’s a long tradition of textiles in political campaigns. In addition to flags, which are highly desirable, the category also includes banners, handkerchiefs, bandannas and ribbons.

“Every campaign until the 1900s has had flags, but it’s harder for a beginning collector to get into them because even a reasonably priced flag could cost you $2,500,” Mussell said. “The really big money is in the earlier ones, from before the 1884 campaign.”

The greatest prize a textile collector might aspire to own is a Lincoln campaign flag, from either the 1860 or 1864 campaign. But it won’t come cheaply. A private sale in excess of $150,000 has been confirmed. Nevertheless, collectors should never give up the search, as a treasure could appear where you least expect it. In the 1980s at a local auction in the Midwest, a lucky buyer purchased an antique quilt whose backing was composed entirely of campaign flags, including Lincoln flags. The quilt was carefully dismantled so the flags could be salvaged.

 

Posters

William McKinley ‘Prosperity’ color litho poster produced for the incumbent president’s 1900 re-election campaign. Estimated value: $10,000-$20,000

William McKinley ‘Prosperity’ color litho poster produced for the incumbent president’s 1900 re-election campaign. Estimated value: $10,000-$20,000. Image courtesy of Hake’s Americana

 

Graphic campaign posters date back to the 1840s, but the golden age for this sort of ephemera was 1888 to 1908. Many beautiful lithographed posters were created in support of William Jennings Bryan’s candidacy against William McKinley in 1896 and 1900, Hake noted.

In the 1930s, campaign poster art entered a new era when artists started to design them. A trailblazer in the political poster field, “social realist” Ben Shahn, designed posters from the Franklin D. Roosevelt period through the 1968 Eugene McCarthy campaign. Roy Lichtenstein designed a Bill Clinton poster, and, of course, there was the famous Shepard Fairey “Hope” poster with an image of Barack Obama. The poster’s artwork became the focus of a 2009 legal dispute in which Fairey sued the Associated Press for claiming he had infringed on their photo copyright. [n.b. – The suit was settled out of court, with neither side disclosing the terms or surrendering its view of the law.]

“The ‘Hope’ poster became an icon that transcends politics and moves into the art world,” Hake said. “I’m waiting for art buyers to discover the incredible artistic qualities of political buttons in the same way they’ve discovered the posters.” 

Pricewise, the high end for political campaign posters is in excess of $30,000.

 

Pre-1896 Campaign Buttons and Related Items

Those who collect only pre-1896 political memorabilia clamor for items such as this clothing button commemorating George Washington’s inauguration in 1789. It is inscribed ‘Long Live The President.’ Estimated value: approximately $3,000. Image courtesy of Hake’s Americana

Those who collect only pre-1896 political memorabilia clamor for items such as this clothing button commemorating George Washington’s inauguration in 1789. It is inscribed ‘Long Live The President.’ Estimated value: approximately $3,000. Image courtesy of Hake’s Americana

 

There seems to be a line drawn in the sand that separates campaign materials produced before and after 1896. There are many collectors who want only the earlier, pre-1896 pieces that were not mass-produced. That would include pre-pinback buttons.

“When the pinback button came along in 1896, there was no obvious metal except on the back. You had a round button with a photo under celluloid,” Hake said. “Up until that time, campaign badges were ferrotypes with photographic emulsion on metal, or they were cardboard with a metal frame.”

The auction record for a pre-1896 political badge is $47,800, which was paid for an 1864 Abraham Lincoln/Andrew Johnson shield-shape ferrotype.

Of the current crop of campaign buttons they’ve seen, Hake and Mussell agree that the Donald Trump “crazy hair” pin is their favorite. “From the Jimmy Carter campaign onward, only a handful of buttons from each candidate has remained desirable,” Mussell said. It’s having the foresight to predict which buttons – and other campaign material – will hold their value that makes collecting political memorabilia so much fun.

Tipped to become a classic collectible from the 2016 presidential campaign, a Donald Trump ‘crazy hair’ button, which has an estimated value of $20-$50. Image courtesy of Hake’s Americana

Tipped to become a classic collectible from the 2016 presidential campaign, a Donald Trump ‘crazy hair’ button, which has an estimated value of $20-$50. Image courtesy of Hake’s Americana

 

There are endless educational and networking opportunities available through the American Political Items Collectors (APIC), Mussell said. “There are more than 2,000 members, including US presidents, Members of Congress, museum curators, campaign staffers and journalists. There’s a high level of access within the group.”

Click to view and bid on high-quality political memorabilia on LiveAuctioneers.

Judith Leiber has firm hand on artful minaudieres

Chronicling the career of Hungarian-American accessory creator Judith Leiber (b. 1921-), the Thames and Hudson Dictionary of Fashion and Fashion Designers concluded, “It is her whimsical rhinestone-studded evening bags, often crafted in the form of minaudieres, which have brought her lasting fame. Brightly colored, small-scale and delicate yet sturdily engineered, they are covered with handset Austrian crystal and semiprecious stones, duplicating flora and fauna.”

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Tulane professor sparked revival in Mexican silver

Beginning in the 1930s, workshops clustered in the mining town of Taxco, Mexico spearheaded a revival in traditional silver craft. At the same time, the artists and artisans working there took a new direction in design that mixed age-old motifs from native cultures with 20th-century Modernism.

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Picasso left lasting mark on Madoura art pottery

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) had a restless artistic temperament and continually sought out new forms to which his inspiration could be applied. A chance meeting on the French Riviera after World War II revealed the possibilities of clay as a receptive surface for Picasso’s art. His decorative ceramic designs were executed in numerous limited editions, increasingly in demand for collections of 20th century art, where they hold their own alongside multimillion-dollar paintings.

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