Treasure: Print could be from well-known artist, or...
Like many in Metro Detroit, Cindy and Don Sobieski often purchased art for their home from the now-demolished J.L. Hudson downtown store.
They brought two of the works – a lithograph by Ibram Lassaw and an embossed print by Sorel Etrog – down for appraisal to DuMouchelles, where Richard Fedorowicz took a closer look. Of the two works, the appraiser was more interested in the Lassaw piece. Framed when the couple bought it, the piece has since been removed from the frame, they told the appraiser.
Titled “Peace,” it is part of the artist’s Peace Portfolio, a limited edition series by the artist, who was born in 1913 to Russian parents in Alexandria, Egypt, and later moved to New York. Best known as a sculptor, he took classes at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum and lived and worked in New York. In the 1930s, he helped found the American Abstract Artists, which, according to a New York Times piece written about him after his 2003 death, was devoted to nonrepresentational art. He was also part of group of artists known as “The Club,” which included Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline.
During the Depression he also worked for the Federal Art Project. He sold his first significant piece of sculpture in 1951 to Nelson Rockefeller, who ended up buying 10 additional pieces. He enjoyed his first solo exhibition the same year; his sculpture is now in the permanent collection of many museums, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim. “An Abstract Expressionist sculptor and specialist in direct metal, he is best known for his 1950s’ wire and metal linear mazes which explored drawing in space,” according to artprice.com.
There is less information about his prints, many of which date to the 1970s, said the appraiser, but they show a similar sensibility to his abstract sculpture. One of his “Peace” prints was recently auctioned off at Christie’s in New York, where it brought $1,000, on the low end of its $1,000-$1,500 estimate, the appraiser said.
Various other prints by the artist have also been auctioned and sold through the years with varying results and prices, he said.
While he said the piece has good auction potential, Fedorowicz had some concerns about the artwork and its condition. “There are a lot of creases, which definitely decreases the value,” he told the couple. “It can be flattened out, but that’s not the only thing that worries me.”
He pointed out that the signature in the lower corner is also rubbed off, something which sets off warning bells in his mind. “I have to be honest… I don’t like that. Something about it just isn’t right.” He says the subject looks like the artist’s other work, although he points out that he didn’t find this particular print online. “I wonder if something happened to the print and someone put the signature back on. If I were authenticating this, I’d definitely have some concerns.
“That said, I think it very well could be by Lassaw in the end. It may be totally innocent, but I’m still concerned that someone may have messed with it. He’s a quality artist, but this is one of those times we’d have to put it up for auction and let the buyers decide.”
Do you have an object you would like to know more about? Send a photo and description that includes how you acquired the object to: The Detroit News, Trash or Treasure?, 160 W. Fort St., Detroit, MI 48226. Include your name and daytime telephone number. You may also send your photo and description to firstname.lastname@example.org. If chosen you’ll need to bring the items to an appraisal session. Letters are edited for style and clarity. Photos cannot be returned.
Item : Print
Submitted by : Cindy and Don Sobieski
Appraised by : Richard Fedorowicz, DuMouchelles
Value : Undetermined