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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

I'll Wait for the eBay Knock-offs

According to an AP story seen on Yahoo! Bonhams auction house in London plans to sell some abstract paintings created by Congo, a contemporary of Pablo Picasso. Per the article, "Three tempera on paper works - brightly colored compositions of bold brushstrokes - will be featured" in a sale of "Modern and Contemporary Art" scheduled for June 20th.

I've seen this Congo's stuff; she created something like 400 paintings in the late 1950s. Perhaps unsurprisingly, critics - we know how they are - were unimpressed. While she's no Picasso, Congo is without question an artist.

She's also a chimpanzee. And for all anyone knows, she might still be alive. Or not. When asked if Congo was still alive, a Bonhams spokeswoman said it was not immediately known. Whatever that means.

Not sure how Yahoo files its photos, but you might find a sample of Congo's work here. Hmm, wonder why Congo paintings are "untitled?" Probably just some miscommunication. Either that, or no one at Bonhams wants to admit all the paintings were titled "Hoo-hoo-hoo! Ahh! Ahh!" by the artist herself.

If you can't find a copy to view, don't despair. No doubt someone will buy the three paintings at auction ("I got 'em for chimp - I mean chump - change!"). You'll find hundreds of the same three - all original of course - available on eBay shortly thereafter, if not before. And don't feel bad about paying good money for something like this; Picasso himself supposedly owned a Congo. Painting. At least that's what some say.


If you read the AP story (on Yahoo) you'll notice it has Congo as a male; not so, according to backspace.org. But I digress.

One more thing. If you're skeptical about Congo's status as a bona-fide artist, consider these words from the AP story:
"Congo quickly learned how to handle a brush and pencils, instead of knocking them over or trying to eat them. He painted within the boundaries of the sheet of paper and never allowed the paint to spill over the edge. He also appeared to know when he had finished a painting: He refused to pick up his brush or pencil over the work."

Like me, you probably know at least two or three so-called artists who can't make these claims, especially the part about not eating pencils. And brushes. So laugh if you want; I've got other plans. I have to find the name of an attorney-friend. I see a clear case of artist exploitation in the making here. Anybody have a chimp that (1) looks around 50 years old, and (2) generally avoids eating paint brushes? I'll consider human stand-ins, if the arms look long enough...

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Addendum -

I went to the Bonhams site to preview the June 20 auction items (I'll send you a link if you can't find it). I gotta say, Congo is definitely in her peer group. IMO, her work is superior to many I saw.

Truth is...without artist names, I couldn't tell which ones were hers.

That's gotta hurt.

5/11/2005 01:25:00 PM  

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