The Signature

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A signature bearing the artists name on an art print provides potential for the art print to gain value. It is the signature that will make the difference between value added and value not added. This general rule applies to most art prints that bear a signature. What lies behind the signature is the substance to how that value will increase.

Circumstance is everything when it comes to what lies behind the art work. Art produced by an artist will have it’s own hierarchy of importance. If its aesthetic appeal is meshed in with a story of interest pertaining to the artist then the value of that art work will rank above other art works.

It is not a coincidence that notoriety in flamboyance, unique life experience goes hand in hand with those ultra successful artists. The element of contrast that allows for recognition often has the artist moving away from familiarity in exchange for difference. When this happens, a two way thing occurs. New experiences for the artist and those around the artist see a new person of interest which acts as inspiration.

Travel wasn’t a second thought but was a must for those that lived in a time when newspapers were the only form of communication for the public. The Italian word ‘straniero’ is used to describe those that are foreign, you hear it less these days. Times past had the perfect set for those that wanted to see change and open up creatively.

As time moved on, cultures have been covered over with the film of globalism and cultural contrasts are disappearing.

We all know the story of Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin. They are prime examples of two supernova artists who left their countries to explore difference.

Van Gogh had it all when it came to contrasts. Dutch, religious and he painted brown paintings. He left Holland, ditched religion and those gravy coloured paintings. He was tri-lingual, spoke French and English. Failure after failure he endured until he met up with the French set that inspired him to paint, draw and etch beautiful art prints in a limited creative span of 10 years.

It was his artistic clash with Paul Gauguin in Arles that he became renowned for cutting off his ear lobe and giving it to a concierge at the boarding house he was living in. The story has it that it was for a prostitute. But in the Courtauld Gallery in the Strand, London, there is or was a bust of Gauguin in the form of a jug by Gauguin. His head has no ears, blood is glazed in red and eyes closed.

The bust was created soon after the event of Vincent cutting his ear.

The bust is thought to be a symbol of denial, refusing to see and hear. But what about the head being in the form of a jug?

Van Gogh painted a self portrait with his head bound in gauze wrapped over his severed ear. When you look at Gauguin’s bust it pushes the mind further to want to know what does it mean. Having some insight about their relationship and the incident of the mutilation, furthers our intrigue. If you didn’t know what the story was about, then the relationship of understanding is narrowed to just the object.

The playful Labrador

The reason for why Vincent mutilated himself must have come from a blazing fit of rage. Gauguin in one of his letters described the incident, to Vincent’s brother Theo, that he heard Vincent shuffle up behind him. Gauguin turned to see Van Gogh holding a razor in his hand and on sight, Van Gogh then turned and ran off.

The Yellow House, was a dream of Van Gogh. A dream that was shared with Gauguin through pleading letters of invitation after invitation for Gauguin to visit him in Arles. Finally, Paul made the journey, with his own motivation to find favour with Vincent’s brother who was a respected art dealer in Paris.

Vincent described as the Labrador and Gauguin as a cunning creatively thieving Fox was a mix made to explode.

With the anticipation that Paul would eventually arrive, Vincent painted picture after picture only for Paul to dismiss the work as lacking. It was an emotional cliff edge. Vincent discovered art late in life and this was his way out of failure. But his painting could not sell and he desperately needed confidence from an approval by Paul.

Vincent needed Paul but Paul didn’t need Vincent. Vincent’s feelings of failure continued to hound him with this new rejection adding to loneliness and worthlessness.

Long bouts of depression ensued for Vincent, whilst Paul, packed his paints for Brittany and then left Paris for a 2nd time to Tahiti, championed on by so many young admiring artists. A place where it added to the posthumous wealth and recognition for Gauguin.

Without the unique life and stories told, the art work created by Gauguin and Van Gogh would be of lesser value. The signature is a representation of who the person is an intrinsic part of the work itself. If the person is someone that isn’t renowned, then it is unlikely that the signature will bring any substantial value.

So should you buy an art print that has been signed? I don’t know. But there may be a thin sliver of chance that as time moves on away from the minds of the day, just like Gauguin and Van Gogh, that signature can alter in their value.

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