Wednesday, August 27, 2008


In the 19th century anyone who was anyone in Kentucky owned a Carl C. Brenner painting. Brenner was a native of Germany but moved to Louisville in 1853 to begin a career as a sign painter. By 1871 he was painting landscapes and soon became known for his depictions of Beech Trees in Kentucky.

Up for auction on September 6 is this Brenner painting at Brunk auctions is Asheville, NC:

The best market for Brenner's paintings is in Kentucky so, if you are interested, you may be able to get a good deal. In recent years, interest in Brenner's work has been increasing. $2000 is the opening bid with an estimate of $4000-$8000.

"(Kentucky, 1838-1888), "Boulder Canon, Colorado", original label verso with title, size and "No. 2", signed lower left "Carl C. Brenner/1882", oil on canvas, 30-1/8 x 25 in.; modern gilt wood and composition frame. Original stretcher and tacking edge, craquelure, slight stretcher marks, light grime, backed with plywood by artist but not laid down. Provenance: The Estate of the Late John Boone, Owensboro, Kentucky"

Monday, August 25, 2008


Sometimes I go into a home and look at a painting only to find I can not read the signature. Other times, the signature is no more than a symbol or initials. In those cases (which are pretty common, quite frankly) I turn to the signature books. In the case of sculpture, the foundry name is often found on the base. In the case of both paintings and sculpture, the name of the company that supplied the materials (such as the canvas, paper etc.) might be located somewhere on the piece. Other names that might be on the piece include the owner's name or a gallery's name.
Always be aware that if an artist signature is on the piece it doesn't make it authentic. Find out as much as you can about the way the artist signed his/her pieces but also look at the piece and see if it "looks right." If there is a catalogue raisonne (a book of every known piece by the artist) get a copy of it and look up your piece. In other words, although the signature is important, it is not the final word when it comes to researching the maker of your artworks.


Castagno, John, ed. American Artists: Signatures and Monograms, 1800–1989. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1990.
Castagno, John, ed. Artists as Illustrators: An International Directory with Signatures and Monograms 1800 to the Present. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1990.
Falk, Peter Hastings, ed. Dictionary of Signatures and Monograms of American Artists. Madison, Conn.: Sound View Press, 1988.
Jackson, Radway, ed. The Visual Index of Artists' Signatures and Monograms. London: Cromwell Editions, 1991.

Edge, Michael S. Directory of Art Bronze Foundries. Springfield, Ore.: Artesia Press, 1990.
Katlan, Alexander W. American Artists' Materials Suppliers Directory Nineteenth Century: New York 1810–1899; Boston 1823–1877. Park Ridge, N.J.: Noyes Press, 1987.
Katlan, Alexander W. American Artist's Materials: A Guide to Stretchers, Panels, Millboards, and Stencil Marks. Madison, Conn.: Soundview Press, 1992.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Julie Leidner, Oil on Canvas

Tonight is the opening of Launchings at the Louisville Visual Art Association. Launchings is an exhibit which highlights the works of several artists who have recently completed their B.A. and are now in graduate school or are working in their studios.

Last night I had a sneak peak of the show and there are many interesting pieces for sale. Especially interesting were the wood block prints of Sarah Hall and the oil paintings of Julie Leidner. Ms. Hall has submitted two books of wood block prints which illustrate an epic poem or story while Ms. Leidner uses "traditional painting techniques to interrupt digital movie images. "

You don't need an invitation to just need to show up. Prices start at the reasonable level of $125. If you are a new collector, this would be a great place to start.

For more information visit the LVAA website here.
The LVAA is located on River Road at the water tower. For directions, click here.
Water Tower Hours:

Monday-Friday 9:00am-5:00pm
Saturday CLOSED
Sunday 12:00-4:00pm

Monday, August 18, 2008


If you are like me, you can't wait to tune into the Olympics every night after work. So imagine my joy when I arrived at the University of Louisville's Hite Art Institute (on my way to complete some research in the art library for work) to find an exhibit of Olympic art and memorabilia comparing the 1936 games in Berlin with today's games in Beijing. On display were some really exciting things including the 1936 Olympic torch, a 1936 Olympic poster designed by Franz Wurbel,
one of the rings presented to high ranking Olympic officials and bearing the swastika symbol, an original Athenian Lekythos depicting a chariot scene from 480 B.C. as well as two ancient gold leaves which were presented as victory fillets, and photographs of Jesse Owens running at the Berlin games.
In an adjoining room is the University of Louisville's newest collection of German Expressionist prints donated by Dr. and Mrs. Richard Edelson. Among the prints is a moving piece entitled "Warsaw Ghetto" completed by Jack Levine in 1969.

On November 11, 2007, Jack Levine's lithograph "To an Unknown German Photographer in the Warsaw Ghetto" sold at Ivey-Selkirk for $275.

On December 4, 2005, Van Sabben Auctions sold the Franz Wurbel Olympic poster for 1,800 Euro or $2,120 US. The poster measures 39.8" X 24.6"

Exhibit runs through Aug. 28.
Gallery hours: 9 a.m.–4 p.m., Monday–Friday;
10 a.m.–1 p.m., Saturday.
Hite Art Institute Schneider Hall galleries, (map) located on Belknap campus
Admission is free and open to the public.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Fake Armana Princess purchased by the Bolton Museum in England for £439,767

In the art appraisal business every item has a story. But not every story is true. In fact, that painting your mother told you was buried in the backyard during the civil war may have been made fifty years ago.
Enter the forgery business. Although art theft and the black market are often cited as the biggest problems in the art world, in fact, art forgery may be an even bigger problem. There is, perhaps, no better example of this than the case of the Greenhalgh family led by forger and once-aspiring artist, Shaun Greenhalgh. The family was convicted of a seventeen year forgery operation which spanned the years 1989-2006. During that time, the exact amount of forged pieces put out by the family is unknown. What is known is that Shaun Greenhalgh was prolific. In the Greenhalgh family, the forger's father, George, was the salesman. George was seemingly an unlikely art forger. Wheel-chair bound and grandfatherly, he wore thick glasses and lived in public housing. Because of that, he was never suspected. In fact, he was so good at talking and telling stories he sold many museums and auctioneers into believeing that his items were authentic.
Shaun, George, and Olive Greenhalgh
But what about provenance? Provenance is the provable successive history of ownership and it looks like the Greenhalgh family was good at faking it. Through the years the Greenhalghs established the legitimacy of their items in a variety of different ways. George's wife, Olive, said that her father owned an art gallery, there was the great-grandfather who was long dead but was said to have purchased things at auction, and a relative who worked for the mayor of Bolton and had received art as a gift for his service. The Greenhalghs were eventually caught due to the studied eye of Richard Falkiner of Bonhams auction house but not before they sold a fake Egyptian statue entitled The Amarna Princess for £439,767 or approximately $857,083 to the Bolton Museum in England.
So the question remains. If an art museum can be fooled how can I protect myself?
1. Check the provenance of the items. If there is a period of time where the item is unaccounted for don't buy it.
2. Check the Art Loss Register to make sure the piece is not known to be stolen.
3. Consult with a variety of different experts about your piece. Be willing to pay for an expert opinion
4. Look for inconsistencies. The Greenhalgh was eventually caught because of several anomalies with a piece they were trying to unload at Bonham's auction house. In fact, the cuneiform inscription contained a spelling mistake- an unlikely error for a piece that was "intended for the king."