Friday, January 6, 2012

Soils spoils

Now and then I find the booking photo of an arrestee striking enough to be featured in Quigley's Cabinet (see Heads and Catching a bear) - but only if the associated story is sufficiently blogworthy. Meet 36-year-old Denver resident Carmen Lucette Tisch (1st image). What does she have to do with influential American abstract expressionist Clyfford Still (1904-1980), pictured in his New York studio (2nd image)? Read on...

"1949-A-No. 1"
This 1949 painting by Clyfford Still was sold by Sotheby’s on Nov. 9, 2011, at an auction to benefit the new Clyfford Still Museum, which has 825 of the artist's works in its collection. The winning bid by telephone for $61.7 million soared past its $35 million high estimate and eclipsed the artist's prior auction record of $21.2 million.

"1947-Y-No. 2"
Painted by Still in 1947 and priced to sell for up to $20 million, this canvas also sold to a telephone bidder at the same auction for $31.4 million. The premium value of these works by a leader of the abstract expressionist movement is said to lie in the fact that only 11 of Clyfford Still's paintings have come up for auction over the past decade.

Minutes after buying
"1949-A-No. 1," the telephone bidder paid another $19.6 million for this 1976 Still painting which had only been expected to fetch up to $15 million. Altogether, the auction raised a total of $114.1 million for the endowment of the museum, established by the City of Denver under the terms of the artist's will.

"1957-J-No. 2"
This painting by Still, which measures nearly 9
1/2' x 13' and is appraised at $30-40 million, was hanging in the museum until late December. That's when an apparently drunk Tisch caused $10,000 worth of damage to it by punching it, scratching it, and lowering her pants to rub her bare buttocks on it.

Tisch, arrested at the time of the incident and held on bond, has now been charged with felony criminal mischief. It's unclear if this was an act of protest and whether it was inspired by the Occupy movement, members of whom demonstrated against economic inequality outside Sotheby's in New York at the time the Still paintings were being auctioned. Also unclear is whether the vandalism will damage the piece more than just physically or whether - ironically - it will add to its value as the incident become's part of the painting's history.

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