Tuesday, 24 January 2017

EbookCoverWelcome to the George Quaintance blog. Your hosts, John Waybright and Ken Furtado, are the authors of QUAINTANCE: The Short Life of an American Art Pioneer, the only complete, authoritative biography of Quaintance ever written. Our book fills a cultural, historical and academic void for this seminal 20th century artist. It is packed with photos and available as an ebook at Smashwords, for the low price of $12.99. We are excited to have exclusive access to hundreds of never-published photographs from Quaintance’s personal scrapbooks and family archives. Sadly, John passed away in May 2013, before seeing the book published. We hope you will use this site as a platform to exchange ideas, information and images related to this under-valued artist, as well as to learn more about him. Please send your email to kfurtado@georgequaintance.com.

 

Rita MillionsI get asked this question frequently. Conventional wisdom apparently dictates that an original work by Quaintance is "priceless."

To give two examples, consider the infamous "Rita Hayworth." Despite the fact that this full-sized portrait is of a former Los Angeles socialite named Mrs. Milton Stevens (details here), and that I provided incontrovertible proof of this to the owner, it was offered on eBay in 2005 for nearly $2 million. It was relisted numerous times, the price dropping precipitously each time, and it repeatedly failed to sell. Eventually it was consigned to an auction house where it sold for $4,000. The seller continued to insist that the subject was Rita Hayworth.

Narcissus-bronze-sprayAn item that appeared recently on eBay elicited a flurry of questions that, in turn, elicited this posting. The item was a bronze Narcissus sculpture.

This was a solid bronze figurine, not one of the hydrostone sculptures sold by the Quaintance Studio that someone had dunked in bronze like a pair of baby shoes or spray-painted with metallic paint, such as this image at the left. And Narcissus has four bronze brothers! Here's their story.

In 1989, German publisher Volker Janssen printed The Art of George Quaintance, the first-ever book written about the artist. (Now in its 3rd edition, it remains in print.) While on a visit to the USA in the 1980s, Janssen purchased Narcissus and the four male swimmers from the Neptune's Children series and brought them back to Germany. These were hydrostone figurines produced by the Quaintance Studio.

darkladyAbout once a year I have a conversation with George Quaintance's closest living relative. (I won't disclose her name or whereabouts, for fear of unleashing hordes of well-wishing strangers upon her.) We talk about health and family and, of course, George, and we share any new information we may have encountered since our previous conversation.

This woman, whom I will call The Dark Lady, is the grand-daughter of George's mother's sister. She wields the reins of a family archive that includes written documents, hundreds of photos, and a dozen or more canvases that George painted — most of them while he was still living at home.

One of those paintings is itself titled The Dark Lady. The canvas measures 14 by 20 inches and is dated 1925. It shows a woman's head in profile. Her hairdo resembles dreadlocks, but back then they were banana curls. There's an interesting story behind this dark lady. Here it is, told in the first person by the "other" Dark Lady.

1937dupeWhen undertaking research for the Quaintance biography, one of the questions John and I were asked most frequently was, "Did Quaintance ever paint the same canvas more than once?"

The answer to that question was always a qualified "no." The qualification was needed because Quaintance modified several designs in order to appease censors and overcome legal objections, when certain of his images were published in periodicals of the day. Other than that, there was that pesky Kanaka Fisherman, which to date exists in three distinct variations. The distinctions are so minor, you'd probably not notice them unless you were looking at all three canvases side-by-side. Everything mentioned in this paragraph has already been thoroughly documented elsewhere in this blog.

Zaro Rossi as photographed by Dave MartinQuaintance model Zaro Rossi was an Italian Stallion long before Sylvester Stallone made the cheesy 1970 erotic film of that name. Zaro was born in Los Angeles, on Sept. 29, 1934 and became interested in bodybuilding while in his teens. A military veteran, he served in the Air Force, in Korea. Photographer Dave Martin, a master of light and shadow, recorded Zaro's development as a bodybuilder in hundreds of full-frontal nude photos, many of which can be found in a quick Internet search.

Zaro posed for the Quaintance Studio in 1953, for the paintings Sunrise and Sunset. He was still eighteen at the time. He was dark-haired and handsome, 5 feet 8 inches tall and not yet at his peak muscularity.

Taschen GalleryFifty-eight years after his death, George Quaintance is finally getting his first one-man show. Approximately two dozen of his iconic male physique canvases, plus a large pencil sketch, a formal portrait of handsome young Peter Barclay, and two sculptures, will be on display at the Taschen Gallery, located at 8070 Beverly Blvd. (at Fairfax) in Los Angeles. Many of the pieces are for sale.

The show runs from July 3 to August 31, 2015. It is titled "The Flamboyant Life and Forbidden Art of George Quaintance." Gallery hours are 11am-6pm, Tuesdays through Saturdays and noon to 5pm Sundays. The gallery is closed Mondays. Admission is free. Those who are not able to visit can take a virtual tour by clicking here. (Note: if you are reading this after the show closes, the link may not work.)