The One that Got Away … And the One that Didn’t

I am a Peter Max fan. Max is the first contemporary artist I had ever heard of. I remember his pop-art designs of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Who didn’t have a Peter Max trapper keeper in junior high?

20131203-164719.jpgHis career shifted out of merchandising and more into fine art as he moved into the 1980s and further.

We collected our first Max pieces a few years ago, when we acquired two hand-embellished lithographs: both are iconic Peter Max, the umbrella man and blushing beauty. Last winter we were able to collect our first acrylic “unique work”. It is also iconic … Lady Liberty. Peter (can I call him Peter now that we’ve met?) is a New Yorker. His studio overlooks the Hudson River. In 1976, he started painting pictures of the Statue of Liberty. Six years later he became a leader in raising the funds for her renovation.

In the world of art collecting, every collector has a story of the one that got away. Yesterday, we were highly disappointed that we were not able to win the bid on either of the two works we wanted.

20131203-165930.jpgOne was a painting that was reminiscent of his older style, and one that was painted within the last month or so. Honestly, the one of the “sage” on the beach was out of our price range from the get go … We requested the other be auctioned, but there was too much interest in the piece, and the bids for it were out of our price range within a minute or two … things can run fast at an auction.

We won’t acquire another Max this trip, but we did win the bid this morning on a bronze sculpture (remember me saying we were out of wall space?) by the artist we met last night, François Bouchiex.

20131203-171314.jpg He was introduced as the last of the surrealists. A contemporary of Salvadore Dali and Marcel Moulee, he worked with Picasso. Surrealism often leads to dark and grotesque images, but there is another stream which is more fanciful and optimistic. Bouchiex self-describes his paintings as “jolly.”

Our sculpture is bronze, and it’s called “Liberty”. It includes a number of the images, the iconography, of Bouchiex. The windows are the windows of his apartment through which he views the world. He also tries to capture the music of the songbirds he heard as a young boy growing up in the countryside of France. This work features the violins and the bird. Together the sculpture reaches tall like the hand and torch of lady liberty …