Picasso Breaks the Auction House Record

Written by on May 6, 2010

PicassoNude, Green Leaves and Bust oil paintingOn Tuesday night, Pablo Picasso was restored to what many consider his rightful place at the top of the most important artists in the world. A canvas that he painted in a single day in March 1932 was bought for $106.5 million (£70.3 million) at Christie’s in New York – making it the most expensive work of art ever sold at auction. The news must have turned dealers, auctioneers and art collectors delirious with delight as in the art world, at least, the good times appear to be back.

This is not the first time that Picasso has held this exalted record. In 2004, his Boy with a Pipe, which dates from 1905 at the height of his so-called Rose Period, sold at Sotheby’s in New York for a record-breaking $104.1 million. The extraordinary thing is that Picasso’s Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, which set the new record this week, looks nothing like Boy with a Pipe, in subject matter or style. Most people unfamiliar with modern art would surely assume that the two paintings had been made by different artists.

Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, which was last sold, for $19,800, to a family of American art collectors in 1951, is a very different proposition. It shows a naked woman lying asleep beneath a classical bust and a rampant philodendron plant – but it is not remotely realistic. The bold blocks of colors are flat and intense, bound by thick black outlines. The woman’s skin is an extraterrestrial lavender. Her arms are not anatomically correct, but instead curl beneath her head, mirroring the tendrils of the plant above her. A shadowy profile (a self-portrait?) floats among the folds of the blue cloth in the background, in between the plant and the bust. Overall, the painting has a distorted, dreamy, childlike aspect. Nearly three decades after Boy with a Pipe, Picasso was no longer interested in making paintings that even pretended to be life-like.

The story behind Nude, Green Leaves and Bust helps us to understand why it is considered such a wonderful work of art – and why Picasso, in the words of one of his dealers, illuminated the 20th century like a comet.

The woman is a portrait of Picasso’s muse and mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter, whom the artist met in the 1920s, when he was in his mid-40′s, and she was still a teenager. “When I met Picasso I was 17,” Marie-Thérèse said in an interview with Life magazine in 1968. “I was an innocent young gamine. I knew nothing – life, Picasso, nothing. I had gone shopping at the Galleries Lafayette, and Picasso saw me coming out of the metro. He simply grabbed me by the arm and said: ‘I’m Picasso! You and I are going to do great things together.’”

Picasso and Marie-Thérèse soon began an affair, which rejuvenated the middle-aged artist and quickly suffused his work. He embarked on a run of sumptuously erotic canvases which are the visual equivalent of great love poems. These dazzling paintings, of which Nude, Green Leaves and Bust is a fine example, are characterized by bright, joyful colors and plump, suggestive forms. Their brushwork is lush and fluid. Marie-Thérèse is frequently presented naked and asleep, as though resting after sex.

For better or worse, Picasso took a wrecking ball to six centuries of art history – and, by grappling with the great Western tradition, he fashioned a revolutionary new visual language better known as the modern art era.

“Women in Art” Twitter Sweepstakes

Written by on March 10, 2010

In honor of National Women’s History Month, the popular online gallery, overstockArt.com, is hosting the “Women in Art” Twitter® sweepstakes. The sweepstakes commences on International Women’s Day on Monday, March 8, 2010.

To participate in our FREE Oil Painting Giveaway. All you need to do is include the #overstockart tag in any tweet on twitter. Three winners will be selected at the end of the sweepstakes period. You can be creative with your tweet or re-tweet of our message, don't forget to follow @overstockart to find out if you've won.

Celebrate Women’s History Month and win a Hand Painted Oil Painting! http://tinyurl.com/ycqt7tr #overstockart

Tweet this!

You can tweet #overstockart as often as you like. Each of these tweets will be eligible and a winner will be chosen at random using an algorithm. No bots or automated scripts please, this is meant to be a bit of fun!

Three (3) winners can choose from any of our 20"x24" inch oil paintings featured in our Women's Gallery. After the oil painting is selected, we'll deliver it to your door!

Don't forget to follow @overstockart to find out if you've won.

Checkout our official sweepstakes page for the complete set of rules and to see if you are one of three lucky winners!

All Children Are Born Artists

Written by on March 3, 2010

The month of March is Youth Art Month – an annual observance to emphasize the value of art education for all children and to encourage support for quality school art programs. one might ask, what is so important about art that we need an annual event to observe it?

If we sit and observe whenever little kids draw, finger paint or play, it’s intriguing how they seem without self-doubt, judgment or fear of doing it wrong. A preconceived expectation of the end product doesn’t seem to play a role in what they are engaged in and in that moment they simply get lost in the doing of it. It’s as if they approach their art, free of inhibitions and with an openness to take risks, experiment and most importantly have fun. It’s as if being fully present in the moment and entering that space of spontaneity, comes so easily.

I recently spoke to someone who runs a local community art school. She shared with me that they had noticed a decreased attendance in their children’s art classes. When I asked why, she speculated that it was the result of kids being less and less encouraged to do art for the sake of the experience and for play. Instead, in order for parents to feel they were getting their money’s worth they were expecting their kids to produce a nice finished product at the end of each class. If the art piece resembled something out of preschool, their child must not be learning something valuable.

Is it possible that in this day and age of video games and computers, where shapes are colored within the clean lines of digital images, we’ve suppressed the urge to color outside of the margins? Are our children losing touch of their innate nature to create something in the mud, draw in the sand and venture down the road of their own imaginations? Is the art of trial and error no longer valued?

As we “grow up” the courage to create slowly moves into the background of our lives and we measure what we produce with labels of “Success” or “Fail” with nothing in between. We develop an apprehensiveness towards taking risks and the fear of doing it wrong keeps us from looking foolish in the process. Is learning to suppress free expression, suppressing our own imaginative instincts that we were naturally born with when we first entered this world?

“All children are born artists, the problem is to remain an artist as we grow up.” – Pablo Picasso

I once heard a grade school teacher encourage parents to, “Praise the effort rather then the outcome.” We often have the bad habit of discounting the process in it self. Undermining the steps in the middle that hold moments of exploration while focusing too much on the end product. If we approach our careers or our art giving value to the effort perhaps we will resurrect the courage to create; remembering what it was like to drenched our fingers in paint and draw out of the lines.

Sir Ken Robinson said it best, the ecology of our education will need to change and adapt. Art and creativity will need to take an active and central role for this world to develop and the only way we can do it is by seeing our children for the hope that they are.

Five Revitalizing Decorating Tips for Spring

Written by on February 23, 2010

Spring Decorating Trends Abloom with Floral Prints and Vivid Hues

To spruce up for spring, design expert Dawn Kail of overstockArt.com, has come up with a top five list of decorating trends that will help liven up the look of your home.

“The fashion industry has traditionally been an inspiration and influence over the color and trends of home furnishings and décor,” said Kail. “It doesn’t take transforming the entire room to freshen up your look, just add an accent piece or two to liven up your décor for spring.”

Spruce up your home for Spring with a few design tipsKail shares new home decorating trends and offers the following tips on how to let in the fresh air with the changing of the season:

  1. Lighten Up – Get rid of the winter darks and bring in some lighter colors and fabrics to freshen up your décor. Replace the velvet accent pillows with light cotton or linen pillows. If you have decorative artworks and oil paintings in your living room, great room, den and so forth and they’re darker with a winter look, brighten them up with a lighter-colored frame or replace the colored art and oil paintings with spring themes. If you have dark window treatments replace them with lighter neutral colors such as ivory, white or khaki.
  2. Incorporate Color –There were plenty of neutrals seen on the runway for spring 2010, khaki, brown, taupe and grey, but there was also a color surge with vivid hues like bright turquoise, orange, hot pink and softened colors like coral and lighter shades of turquoise. Add pillows, artwork, an ottoman or a lampshade in these vibrant colors to liven up your look for spring.
  3. Introduce Painterly Prints – The spring 2010 runway was awash in watercolor-like prints. The runway was full of gorgeous abstract and floral prints reminiscent of Monet’s masterpieces – why not add a reproduced Monet oil painting to your home to incorporate this trend? You can also introduce these painterly prints into your home with pillows, lampshades, ottomans and other accent items.
  4. Find Comfort – People are seeking comfort and peace in their lives. Comfort clothing such as slouchy cardigans, boyfriend blazers and tattered and torn jeans infiltrated the spring 2010 fashion collections; this same casual look carries over into home décor. The warm and cozy country home style is back in as seen in many retailers’ spring collections. Add handmade accessories such as hand painted oil paintings or embroidered accent pillows to bring this style back into your home.
  5. Invest in the Best – The economic crisis isn’t over and decorating trends reflect that. Invest in the best and buy less. People are investing in high-quality, durable décor items rather than short-lived trends. All of the oil paintings at overstockArt.com are handmade art reproductions of great masters such as Van Gogh, Monet and Picasso – art by the masters never goes out of style.

“The key to home decoration is to keep your furniture neutral so you can easily add a piece of artwork or another accent to give the room a whole new look,” said Kail. “The best thing about purchasing reproduced oil paintings at overstockArt.com is that for the same price of purchasing a print image you get a hand painted piece of art which will add the look of luxury to your home – with the low cost you can easily purchase several oil paintings to display seasonally.”

overstockArt.com, is offering a selection of handmade oil painting reproductions that are perfect for spring in their Seasonal Spring Paintings gallery, http://www.overstockart.com/seasonalspring.html. Prices start as low as $39. In 2009, overstockArt.com sold more than 45,000 oil paintings. They are one of the Web’s most successful distributors of wall décor items with over 10,000 daily visitors and 100,000 loyal customers.

Top 10 Oil Paintings of the Decade

Written by on January 14, 2010

overstockArt.com, the leader in handmade oil painting art reproductions, has officially released its Top 10 list of the most popular oil paintings from the past decade. Topping the list is Vincent van Gogh’s irrefutable magnum opus, Starry Night.

“We release an annual Top 10 list and thought it would be interesting to look back over the past decade to determine the trendiest and most sought after hand painted oil painting reproductions,” said David Sasson, CEO of overstockArt.com. “Not surprisingly, the notoriously eccentric artist, Van Gogh, leads the list with his masterpieces Starry Night and Café Terrace at Night.” According to overstockArt.com’s statistics, Van Gogh’s total sales numbers have far exceeded those of any of the other great masters.

TOP 10 OIL PAINTINGS OF THE DECADE Most popular art on the planet: courtesy of overstockArt.com
#1 Vincent Van Gogh Starry Nightt
#2 Vincent Van Gogh Cafe Terrace at Night
#3 Gustav Klimt The Kiss
#4 Claude Monet Poppy Field at Argenteuil
#5 Leonardo Da Vinci The Mona Lisa
#6 Pablo Picasso Le Rêve (The Dream)
#7 Pierre Auguste Renoir Luncheon of the Boating Party
#8 Edvard Munch The Scream
#9 Georgia O'Keeffe Red Cannas
#10 Salvador Dali Persistence of Memory

In the past decade overstockArt.com sold more than a million oil paintings. They are one of the Web’s most successful distributors of wall décor items with over 10,000 daily visitors and 100,000 loyal customers. “As the Modern Art movement was conquering the auction floors getting record breaking numbers in Sotheby’s and Christie’s, we slowly became the destination for art lovers who could not afford the high price tags of galleries, but wanted to enjoy the hand painted art of the great masters in their homes,” explained Sasson.

One of the interesting points that the top 10 oil paintings of the decade presents is that the modern artists from the turn of the last century such as Van Gogh, Monet and Klimt are still the most desirable artists in the world. “Our numbers indicate that as the years turn and our world evolves some things remain consistent,” said Sasson. “People are still captivated by the elegance and beauty that the classic artists bring to their home. It will be interesting to see when, if ever, this trend begins to fade.”

Matching Portrait of Woman with Hat

Written by on December 30, 2009

The fashion community, Polyvore, which is a site that lets you mix and match products from any online store to create outfits or any kind of collage, created a great collage that focuses around the Amadeo Modigliani painting – Woman with a Hat:

I love the way this collage was mixed and matched with fashion items and all to emphasize the color scheme that the oil painting can go oh so well with…

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