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Category Archives: Art

Man Ray’s objects

In November, Man Ray’s archive will auction at Sotheby’s Paris.

Consisting of over 300 lots the sale will include a wealth of materials from his estate that span his life and career – including a huge array of photographs.

It is the largest collection of his work to come to auction in almost 20 years.

In addition, a number of surrealist objects are offered.

These include a work titled Ce que manque à nous tous or “What we all lack”, which consists of a clay pipe (inscribed with the title of the work) topped by a glass bubble that inverts the world around it.


This forced new perspective was one of the primary aims of the dadaists and surrealists.

Additional lots include a model of photographer Lee Miller’s lips in gold and two modernist chess sets.

Man Ray’s objects are less widely known than his photographs, as the majority have been lost over the years, but are equally fascinating.

He began working on them during the 1920s. Some were intended primarily for use in photographs and destroyed afterwards, meaning collectors covet those that do survive.

This scarcity is partly explained by the story behind Object to be Destroyed (created circa 1922-1923 and not included in the sale), a metronome with an eye photo clipped to the arm, which is housed in the Tate.

He explained: “I had a metronome in my place which I set going when I painted – like the pianist sets it going when he starts playing – its ticking noise regulated the frequency and number of my brushstrokes…

“A painter needs an audience, so I also clipped a photo of an eye to the metronome’s swinging arm to create the illusion of being watched as I painted.

“One day I did not accept the metronome’s verdict, the silence was unbearable and since I had called it, with a certain premonition, Object of Destruction, I smashed it to pieces.”



Nazi-stolen paintings unveiled

The last time the public saw these paintings, Hitler was chancellor of Germany.

These works of art are so important, and so controversial, that their location remains a secret.

But now, for the first time, we have been granted access to a few of them, courtesy of the BBC.

Frank Marc’s Pferde in Landschaft

Franz Marc’s Pferde in Landschaft is among the artworks recovered

I’m talking of the 1,500 or so works of art, many stolen by the Nazis, that Cornelius Gurlitt kept in his house for more than half a century.

They include multi-million dollar pieces by the likes of Picasso, Renoir, Monet and Manet.

Take a look for yourself, and see if you find this video as astonishing as I do.


Unassuming Chinese owl unleashed on Asia Week

As the consignments start to roll in for the annual Asia Week New York (March 14-22), Sotheby’s has announced that the spectacular highlight of its sales will be…

An owl.

Unassuming at first, this owl will have you fascinated by its history

Unassuming at first, this owl will have you fascinated by its history

It’s a rather fine kind of an owl, cast from bronze and designed for use as a wine vessel. Yet, next to the glittering jewels and spectacular artworks offered during the week, it does look a little shabby…

$4m worth of shabby, apparently.

At first, you might dismiss the piece – it’s nice, but perhaps not the most coveted item on your list. However, dig a little deeper and this wise bird begins to reveal its secrets.

The key to the owl’s value is its age; this vessel was created during China’s Zhou dynasty. For those of us that aren’t well versed in ancient Chinese history, that’s the 8th-7th centuries BC.

Yes, that’s right…BC.

600-700 years before Jesus Christ was supposedly born.

To give that date some context, this was a time when the Assyrian Empire dominated Babylon and Egypt, while Nebuchadnezzar was busy building the famous Hanging Gardens.

Meanwhile, my forebears were presumably still mucking about in caves in England, making rudimentary weapons to destroy their enemies.

China was light years ahead, with the country under the grip of the longest dynasty in its history, while their political and culture was already developed enough to draw comparisons with medieval England.

Just some food for thought before you dismiss this unassuming owl…it’s amazing that the piece has even survived the tests of time, let alone made it to auction in fantastic condition.

Learn more about its fascinating provenance.


P.S. You can read all about Asia Week New York and the latest consignments over at Paul Fraser Collectibles’ news site – or sign up to the free newsletter to make sure you don’t miss out.

$142m worth of Bacon

Chances are, if you’ve been perusing the news today, you’ll have seen that Francis Bacon‘s Three Studies of Lucian Freud has become the world’s most valuable painting sold at auction, knocking Edvard Munch‘s $120m The Scream off the top spot by a considerable amount.

And nowhere has covered the auction better than Paul Fraser Collectibles. Read the report on the sale here, or our ten (genuinely) fascinating facts about Francis Bacon, or the 11 reasons why the painting is now the most valuable ever sold.

Just in case that wasn’t enough art news, we’ve also reported on the rest of the sale, which also saw a new world record for a work by a living artist.


Collectibles have made me the man I am

Before I started this role at Paul Fraser Collectibles, I’d never tasted a drop of single malt whisky.

Three years on, and that has all changed. It’s what this job does to you, I’m afraid.

It’s not the tight deadlines, you understand, that have me reaching for the hard stuff.

It’s the immersion in the collectibles business.

When, week after week, you’re researching, writing and proof-reading articles on the world’s finest whiskies, gaining an understanding of the distilling methods, learning how the combination of the malt, the peats, the barrels, the water and the ageing process combine to produce unique tasting whiskies, I think it’s only natural that one might be tempted to try a dram or two.

Jura, The Macallan, Laphroaig …

“Full nose,” I may now be heard to remark of a Saturday evening. “Hmm, caramel undertones.”

In essence, I’ve become a whisky bore.

Somebody slap him.

It’s a process that I’ve recognised in other areas that our news service covers, too.

The other day saw me jumping off the bus in London so that I could take a look at an Inverted Jenny (that’s a stamp) in the British Library, while not so long ago I took myself off to view a collection of paintings by the Group of Seven (there’s eight of them really).

Inverted Jenny

An Inverted Jenny: well worth getting off the bus a stop early for…

Would I have been doing this four years ago?

Would I heck.

I’ve always been fascinated by both history and the collecting world, but before this job I had never involved myself with the minutiae of any one subject.

That’s all changed.

“How many signed Beatles albums exist in the world?

“Who is the world’s most valuable living artist?

What year did Neil Armstrong stop signing autographs?

I now know the answer to all three questions, and so could you, if you become a regular reader of our news site.

So thank you Paul Fraser Collectibles for making me the man I am today.


Disney magic? More like skill, artistry and dedication – a look at undervalued animation art

This past weekend, I spent some time reliving my childhood by watching countless Disney films. Hey, it was raining outside and you’re never too old for a Disney…

Having not really seen any of the films since I was a kid, I was amazed at how the scenes were still firmly imprinted in my mind, every lyric to the songs instantly flooding back. I’d imagine it’s the same for every grown kid who was raised on the Disney diet.

But what I didn’t realise while gawping at the colourful images as a boy was quite the level of artistry that went into the production of these movies (pre-teens aren’t exactly known for their connoisseurship, I know). Of course, it’s something that Disney is renowned for, but is too often taken for granted as the films become as familiar as Mickey Mouse’s ears.

And it’s not just with Disney films, the exquisite art of many of the top animation houses is simply mind-blowing. It’s not hard to see why collectors clamour for original production cels and drawings from their favourite films.Snow White, Seven Dwarfs, Production Cel, Animation Art, original, rare, memorabila, Disney

The skill and dedication required to make an animated movie are perfectly demonstrated in Heritage Auctions’ forthcoming Animation Art Signature Auction, led by a cel from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – Disney’s first full-length movie and one of the finest animated movies of all time.

Also included are works from Eyvind Earle, the master animator behind Sleeping Beauty, who reportedly took 10 days to complete each hand-painted background for the film. Disney spent much of the 1950s in production for the film, resulting in a masterwork that, despite bombing at the box office, remains a firm favourite of dedicated fans today.Sleeping Beauty, Eyvind Earle, background, cel, production, animation, art, rare, Disney, Memorabilia, for sale

For me, these are pieces of art that easily rival my favourite works of fine art – especially when compared to some of the monstrosities I’ve seen in galleries that I would only vaguely describe as “art”.  Combine this artistry and skill with the nostalgia you feel then looking at the original art or cels from your most beloved movies and you have a brilliant collectible, all at a fraction of the price of a Picasso!

Even at the top of the market, these works seem undervalued. Iconic, beautifully crafted and rare, animation art could see a boost in value once collectors realise its worth.

Pinoccio, original, art, animation, production, cel, for sale, rare, Take a look at our animation art for sale.


October’s auction highlights – top consignments for collectors

Following the summer vacation, the auction world is back in full swing, with an exciting line-up of consignments announced at the world’s top auction houses. Paul Fraser Collectibles looks at what October has to offer for collectors:

Record-breaking diamonds

Premier Blue, Diamond, Sothebys, Fancy Blue,

The Premier Blue is the world’s biggest fancy vivid blue diamond and looks set to see a new record pre-carat price

Sotheby’s will kick off its Fall season in Hong Kong on October 7 with a selection of the world’s finest diamonds, including the Premier Blue, the world’s largest “fancy-blue” diamond, which is expected to see around $19m. Also starring is the huge 118.2-carat flawless white diamond, valued at $30m.

Original condition classic cars1918, Locomobile, Bonhams, Preserving, Automobile, Model 48, Classic Car,

Bonhams presents its second annual Preserving the Automobile auction on October 7, returning to the Simeon Automotive Museum.

The auction showcases early classic cars in original condition, with collectors jostling for a select-group of survivors.

Among the stunning consignments is an 1903 Oldsmobile Model R, a 1910 Sears Model P, and a 1934 Packard 1101, each of which is offered without reserve.

Elvis Presley’s spiritual ringElvis, Elvis Presley, Spiritual Ring, Ring, Memorabilia, Jewellery, auction

It’s not all high-end offerings in October, with Ahlers & Ogletree selling a ring given to Elvis Presley when he visited the Self-Realization Fellowship in Los Angeles in the 1960s.

A bizarre but fascinating addition to the sale, it isn’t going to fetch much, but will undoubtedly excite dedicated Elvis lovers.

George Orwell’s Spanish civil war scarvesGeorge Orwell, Spanish Civil War, Homage to Catalonia, Scarves, Memorabilia, Rare, For Sale,

My personal favourite of October’s offerings, the scarves that George Orwell wore while fighting fascists in the Spanish civil war, will be sold for just £800-1,200 at Bloomsbury Auctions on October 3.

One of the scarves is the same that the great writer (and literary hero of mine) wore when shot in the neck by a sniper. It still bears his blood and a bullet-hole.

A trio of sublime stamp collections

1869 Pictorial Issue, Invert, 15 cents, 15c, stamps, philately, collecting, United States

The 1869 15c Invert – valued at a cool $1.2m

On October 9-10, Robert A Siegel will offer a trio of astonishing US stamp collections, including the Dr Irvin Heimburger Collection of 1869 Pictorial Issues and the Beverly Hills Collection of US Inverts.

While out of the reach of most of us (few will have a spare million or so lying around), the stamps are a brilliant ogling opportunity for those aiming for the top. Some of the finest offered for decades, the catalogues alone are worth a look – if you can deal with the jealousy!

Of course, if none of these take your fancy, there’s sure to be something to suit your tastes in our online store.

by Joe

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