(Sort of) Original Art

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.

Waiting for Wind, by Jacques Henri Guyot, ca 1960s

Waiting for Wind, by Jacques Henri Guyot, ca 1960s

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.

My favorite ginormous oil painting, Untitled, by Nobody, is a great example of a sofa painting

My favorite ginormous oil painting, Untitled, by Illegible Signature, is a great example of a sofa painting

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.

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2 Comments

  1. Erin
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 5:23 am | Permalink

    I also have, what I believe to be, a Guyot painting. The style and signature matches what I can find online for this artist. I just can’t find the exact one I have. Since you seem to know a bit more about him I wondered if you have any tips for me about finding out whether it is his work or not.

    • Austin
      Posted June 6, 2013 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

      Hi Erin, The truth is I really don’t know much about the artist and not much information is available. My guess would be, if you have a work with a signature that matches what is around the internet, there’s a good chance it is his work. From my research, it appears Guyot created a great deal of original art, but like many mid-century artists, may have produced multiple studio versions of his popular paintings for sale. You may have a one-of-a-kind piece, or one that there are relatively few of so it just doesn’t show up too often. I only know of one other example of mine. To find out more, I’m afraid you’ll need to talk to an art expert. Of course we’d love to see it! Feel free to send us a picture at info@snag-blog.com or post it to our Facebook page, Facebook.com/snagblog

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