It Is So Last Century
It was a phenomenal event when Guernsey’s auction house helped Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science realize that they had a mislabeled and forgotten Picasso stashed away in storage. Instead of the instinctual action of displaying it, the museum decided to sell the piece. The problem with “Seated Woman With Red Hat” was that’s type of artwork has not been on the market for almost 50 years and therefore a price tag would be incredibly difficult to estimate. This situation was described by Patricia Cohen in “Long-Forgotten Picasso Is a Museum’s Windfall.”
One can easily understand that there are many financial factors that go into this decision: the maintenance fees associated with upkeep of the piece in whichever institution it ends up in, the value of the piece in itself, the possible revenue it may generate for the institution, etc. The value of the piece cannot be determined by its appearance alone; the value of the piece brings into mind the value of its creator.
The break in price agreement between art analysts and auctioneers is that this piece holds a value that changes with time. The deep-rooted respect that the world has for Pablo Picasso and his work is arguably enough for the market price to be around $30-40 million, which has been estimated according to the article. People are willing to pay exceptional amounts of money to see a skewed conception of a mistress, purely because a man who obtained increasing amounts of credibility over the course of history painted her.
The style of the piece is not originally Picasso’s. It is a gemmaux, which “are made of multicolored pieces of glass, layered and then fused together with liquid enamel.” This technique, when on display, plays around with light and is intensified when subtly illuminated from the back. A French artist named Jean Crotti, who, subjectively, is not as famous as Picasso, developed this technique. Picasso and Crotti lived during the same generation, from the late 1800’s to the late 1900’s. They probably were friends who exchanged ideas for their art. If one were to view some of Crotti’s most widely known works, there are abstract pieces that are more oriented toward geometric figures. When Picasso uses the gemmaux technique on the mistress, he uses geometric figures but adds on bolder strokes of thick black. These strokes arguably accentuate the piece.
In art, as like in fashion, there are in seasons and out seasons. What was “in” during the 50’s has gone out at the turn of the 21st century. Pieces such as Mona Lisa have stood unchanged and have never been devalued, but in our contemporary world, art has to become “modern” and transcend the “classical.” The pricing of the “Seated Woman With Red Hat” is still to be determined, but the question stands: do you feel that classic art pieces should never go out of style? Or should the spotlight of the art world be shifted away from our ancient Greats and move toward more contemporary pieces?