Sunday, 22 October 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.

 

4masques

In the 1930s, Quaintance seemed preoccupied with depicting disembodied heads. He did it in lithographs, on book dust jackets, in advertising imagery and, when that was not enough, he ventured into the third dimension. The result was a series of wall plaques in high relief that he collectively called masques, while giving individual titles to the various faces.

ad masquesFirst was The Kiss, in 1936, a male and a female face joined at the nose and at the lips. The advertising copy, riddled with spelling errors, is almost embarrassing in its prose: "beautiful faces wear expressions of pure spiritual ecstasy so finely wrought that they appear vibrant and changing before one's eyes." There are two versions of The Kiss, one in which the woman has flowers in her hair and one in which she does not. This masque was followed by Wind Blown and Sea Breeze. The sculptures originally sold for $21.60 per dozen, individually boxed. Each was two-tone blue, two-tone brown or two-tone gray, although many of those that surface today have subsequently been painted other colors by their owners.

signatureWe Modern was a later sculpture in which the male and female heads are separate pieces and the colors are "Wedgewood Blue, copper, gun metal and porcelain." There was also an untitled lone female face, with hair parted in the middle and flying out to both sides. These singles sold for $7.20 per dozen.

This was Quaintance's hair era, in which he designed hairstyles for celebrities of stage, screen and society and traveled to promote hair products and lecture about hairstyling. Consequently, the hair on these masque models is fabulous, right down to details of eyebrow, eyelash and sideburns.

selfThe sculptures are signed on the back with a stamp that bears the name Quaintance, a copyright symbol and the year. They were cast using a material called Hydro-stone, an extremely hard and strong relative of Plaster of Paris that is still used today for casting.

Quaintance also cast a life mask of himself, though it was never mass-produced nor offered for sale. In one of his scrapbooks there's a snapshot of him, cigarette dangling from his lips, contemplating his own visage in plaster.

Comments   

#1 CHARLES VERRASTRO 2012-06-19 19:48
I have the piece second from the left. Curiously, mu Mother displayed the one immediately to it's right (with both facing the same way and slightly superimposed) in our kitchen for years when I was small. I always thought of it as a kitchy art deco piece. Who knew it was a Quaintance? Wish I still had it.
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