As a trained graphic designer, I’ve endured years of being referred to as an artist and assumptions that I love all things fine art. Without getting into a windy discourse about the differences and commonalities of fine art and graphic design, let me just say I’m not an artsy person in general. I fully appreciate the works of the old masters—but you won’t find a print of Van Gogh’s Starry Night hanging on my walls. My personal tastes lean toward more graphic images and, of course, some mid-century flair.
That being said, I love having original, hand-painted artwork around. Whether by a starving artist or a name-brand Picasso—if I love the work, I love the work. This weekend while at a local vintage shop, I fell in love with this work.
In fairness, I saw this a few weeks ago and just finally convinced myself to go ahead and buy it already. I tried to talk myself out of it, but I knew I’d regret it if someone else got to it first. Entitled Waiting for Wind, this huge 46 x 28 inch oil on board-mounted canvas painting was actually done by a somewhat notable artist, Jacques Henri Guyot. Research hasn’t yielded much about the French artist other than he was most active in the 1960s and 1970s. The majority of his paintings are abstract or cubist and appear regularly in art auctions, fetching prices in the $300-1200 range. Surprisingly, the EXACT same composition showed up in a San Francisco art auction’s catalog from 2010.
Multiples of original art? It must be a copy, right? Actually, this wasn’t so uncommon, especially in the 1960s. Art and design became a major status symbol and sign of sophistication among America’s rising mid-century middle class. To make art more accessible, “original” paintings were often churned out en masse from an artist’s studio. Over time these oversized paintings became ubiquitous and earned the nickname sofa paintings for the predictable space they occupied in living rooms everywhere.
Although common, some of these can still be quite valuable. Unlike a mechanically produced print, these paintings are still hand produced and no two are exactly alike, even if the composition is the same. Much like the generation that appreciated them before me, I love the authenticity it brings to my non-artsy walls.