Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Yard Sale Art

There are many people out there who love the weekend yard sales. One of my favorite tales is the woman, who lived here in Southern California, who bought a painting at a yard sale, only a few miles away, for I believe 50 cents.It was a rather glittery, silvery painting, very abstract in the style of Jackson Pollack. Since he was an easterner, it had to be from a painter who admired Pollack and not an original.

As a child I remember growing up with Pollack. Life magazine seemed fixated on him and all of his antics were duly recorded first in black and white and later in color on those magazine pages. I will never forget the nude model who smeared with paints wiggled on a a huge canvas under his direction in the newsreel of the day at our weekly movie showing. You can bet all the boys talked about that for days.

I think the first time I actually saw a Pollack painting was a few years ago in a room off the spiral of the Guggenheim Museum in NYC. It was like entering a room that suddenly breathed life. I was truly stunned. Painting after painting flowed around the room with wild splashes, and blobs and globs of paint in a wild cacophony of colors. There was a depth, a kind of luminosity abstract paintings don't usually possess.

Our yard sale lady was convinced the painting was real, and went to dealer after dealer trying to get proof. Since it was not signed and there was no provenance, no one was convinced it was anything but "in the style of" kind of painting. Watching the TV show that documented her purchase and journey, it was hard to believe it wasn't a Pollack. There was something that elevated it above a mere copycat art work.

Finally, one curator decided to see if there was a fingerprint in the paint that could give him a clue. And after dusting and taking the print he found, realized that it was Pollack's. (Goodness, he was in jail enough for drunken driving so his fingerprints were known). Now, with proof that Pollack had in someway done or at least helped create the painting, the value suddenly was $5 million. What was she doing to do with it? She didn't know. At the end of the show, it was back on her wall in the living room.

The point of this story is that you NEVER know when and where you will find a treasure. Stories like this are more common than we want to believe. If you enjoy flea markets, antique stores (though here some are better than ever in trying to find that treasure at a bargain price - if they say antique they know it has more than piddling value), yard sales as the lady of our tale does, you just might find that piece of gold midst the chaff.

Always be on the lookout. As many a person on the ANTIQUES ROADSHOW has found out, it just might be the real thing. However, if it means something to you, who cares?

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