Sunday, March 27, 2011

L. Kohn European artist?

unnamed, L. Kohn, 4" x 9", oil on canvas

    This is an ebay find. The seller claimed it was the work of Ludwig Kohn and that they had found two images of paintings with identical signatures in old auction catalogues. That may or may not be true, but I was fairly easily able to locate an example of a work by Ludwig Kohn on the Internet and the style and signature did not resemble the work of this artist. Ludwig Kohn seems to have signed with his full first name, not the initial "L". That being said I like this artist's work. I suspect he or she worked in Europe, possibly in France. I found another work by an L. Kohn that reminds me of this artist's style and the signatures are very similar, too. Several folks have contacted me who also have works by this artist. Any information about this artist would be appreciated.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

No Hope for New Hope?

unnamed, unknown, 22" x 28", oil

    I don't often buy unsigned paintings because it is usually very hard to find out anything about them and it thwarts my enjoyment in doing research. I am a sucker for winter paintings though, especially colorful ones, so here we are. This one was purchased by the previous owner at an estate sale in Hopewell, NJ in early 2009 and described as in the New Hope School style and guesstimated to be 1930s vintage. I tend to agree on the age, judging by the board it is painted on and the frame it is in. The board is canvas board that has a built in paper backing that is darkened and quite brittle. The scene could certainly be 1930s-1950s. It is a mixture of naive and fairly sophisticated painting, obviously done by a painter of some experience, though perhaps not formally trained. I don't have any hope that I will be able to find out more about it. Just planning to enjoy it on those hot, Midwestern July afternoons. I have a slim hope that someone may be living who actually saw this painting hanging in someone's home or may recognize the artist's style.

Don't Bale on me now!

unnamed, Bale, 3" x 5", watercolor

    I found this one at a local thrift shop and paid very little for it. For such a small painting, it is very complex and colorful. It was simply but nicely framed and matted, and I half expected I would find it was some kind of print when I removed the cardboard backing to replace it, I have this one hanging to the right of my kitchen sink, so get to look at it a lot and never get tired of it. I have not been able to find out anything about this artist, though the signature is very unique. I think this dates from the 1980s or 1990s. 

Too many Peter Shostaks!

"Snow on Onondaga Road", Peter Shostak, 17" x 29", acrylic, 1977

    This painting was sold to the folks I purchased it from as the work of well known Canadian artist Peter Shostak. I contacted the artist, however, and he confirmed that this is not his work. The painting is signed verso both "P. Shostak" and "Peter Shostak". The sellers took the painting back to the people they had purchased it from to ask for a refund, and they were apparently rudely turned down, even though I sent them the email from Mr. Shostak, claiming they had sold it as his work in good faith, believing it to be a painting by him. The question now becomes did the original sellers sign the work in an attempt to pass if off as the work of Canadian artist Peter Shostak, or were they also duped, or is this work by another artist also named Peter Shostak? I like the painting and the cost was very little, so I decided to keep it and use it as a research opportunity. The painting depicts the Syracuse Mony Towers, as they were then known (now the AXA Towers) as seen from Onondaga Road in winter.
    My initial research showed that there are up to nine men named Peter Shostak now living in the US. I also found the record of another Peter I. Shostak 1913-1989 who was born in New Hampshire, lived in New York state, and died in Orlando, Florida. His WWII enlistment record shows that he had four years of college and was working as an actor at the time of his enlistment. He was the son of Russian Jewish immigrants John G. and Annie Shostak. He married Anna Yaroush on 11 October 1964 in Stratford, CT. There were also several other men by the same name, who were too old to be the creator of this painting. I have not been able to find contact information for the nine living men, but will keep trying.
The painting is titled verso. The second seller is from Baldwinsville, NY and the original sellers live nearby. I tried unsuccessfully to find an image of the Mony Towers from this perspective.

Spragg as in Sprague

unnamed, Spragg, 12" x 16", oil on board

    No idea who this artist is, but I love this painting, and it is one of my favorites. I purchased it from a seller in Townsend, MA, who estimated the board it is painted on to be pre-WWII. It is a small painting in a really nice vintage frame, was cheap, and I am a sucker for bleak winter scenes, especially with a small pop of color like the red in the woman's shawl.     I researched a man named Spragg who I though might be the artist, but it was a false lead. What I did learn is the name Spragg is Norwegian and pronounced the same as the surname "Sprague". Any help in identifying this artist would be appreciated.

Mystery "Z" painting!

unnamed, unknown, 7" x 6", oil

    Another little ebay find. I like small paintings, because I don't have much free wall space. So small is among the first things I liked about this work. Then I liked the colors and motion in it. And lastly, I liked the $9.99 price, which is what I paid for it. The signature is close to readable, and is a good research opportunity. The name looks like "A. Zosber" or "A. Zesber". It could also be Zesbet or Zosbet. It came in an interesting frame that makes me think it is a 1950s, or early 1960s work. Just a guess. The seller was in Gouldsboro, PA, but this kind of feels like a California painting to me. Help!


Tennessee Williams artist?

unnamed, Williams, 14" x 11.5", oil

    Don't really expect to find out anything about this painting, but it is a bit unusual. It is an odd size, painted on a home made canvas glued on a thick plywood board. The signature is a bit unique, composed of upper and lower case letters. I like the simplicity of this piece and the colors. It was purchased on ebay in March 2011 from the Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee. Just a fun and colorful painting.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Mimmoy? Is that a name?

unnamed, Mimmoy, 24" x 30", oil

    I found this at a local thrift shop for $18. It appears to be signed "Mimmoy". I have been able to find out nothing about this artist. It appears to be coastal scene, judging by the fact that this seems to be painted at low tide. It could be a Maine scene. It is painted on a Grumbacher 24 canvas, and has kind of a 1950s or 1960s feel to me. Just a guess. Any help on this one would be appreciated. 

Wailing Wall painting signed in

unnamed, unknown, 9.5" x 13.5", oil

    I found this painting at a local thrift shop. It appears to be a scene at the Wailing Wall. It was very well framed in a modern metal frame and archivally matted, and seems well painted, but in a primitive style. It is signed in Hebrew in the lower right, but I have not been able to translate it using what on line resources I have been able to find. I would appreciate if someone could translate the signature for me. I removed the painting from its frame to examine the back, but there is, unfortunately, nothing written there, so these are all the clues we get. I looked at this painting for several weeks as it migrated from a place on the wall beside the checkout register, to less glorious places, and finally to an odds and ends painting pile. I always liked the colors and style, but kept putting off buying it, until "next time". I finally decided that I couldn't live without it, so here we are.