Prints-ipality of Schmidt Dean

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I stopped by Schmidt-Dean Gallery yesterday to see the print show — some vintage ’60s era works by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Alex Katz in the front rooms and digital prints by Randy Bolton in the back. [image shows two of Bolton’s new works]

Pop art superstars seemed a departure for S-D which (in my memory) has focused on contemporary work by artists with a local connection. What’s the story here?

“Some of my artists prefer me to show more of the blue chips,” said gallery owner Chris Schmidt who apparently needed some encouragement to take on the task of showing work whose dollar value is so high he had to double his liability insurance to house it.

“The artists like to be in this company,” he said, pointing to another local gallery, Locks, which also mixes local contemporary art with exhibits by New York artists like Frank Stella. He didn’t sound real convinced, but when I asked about sales, he said one of the Warhol’s, the “Silver Marilyn,” at $36,000 was on hold.

Schmidt said the work came from clients who wanted to de-acquisition but were reluctant to go through the New York auction houses, both tainted by recent scandals of price fixing.

“It’s real rare stuff…the Lichtensteins and Warhols were early and the quality was high.” [see detail shown here of “Real Estate” 1969 by Lichtenstein]

Warhol silkscreens — two Jackies, a Chairman Mao and a Silver Marilyn were such a draw that staff from the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh came over to see them, Schmidt said.

In fact, it’s wonderful work and feels amazingly contemporary, maybe because we’re still living in irony’s grip (something started with pop). The work’ll be up for the month in the front, then move to the back space after that.

As for Bolton, his new digital prints — some of which look like penants from a child’s bedroom — have saturated, cyber-zappy colors and the artist’s trademark cautionary tales. My favorite is “Choose your leaders wisely” which shows a pig on a scooter — oblivious to dangers ahead — leading two children off a cliff…echoes of current events anyone? Bolton also had several works of a different ilk, Japanese almost in their haiku-like reduction and piercing color. I liked them better. [see diptych “Leaf” pictured here with its improbable aqua background.]

Sometimes things come together across time and space and after talking with Schmidt, I remembered a story I read in the Financial Times last week (sept 6/7) about “the super-rich” and how they’re demanding that their financial advisors help them invest in art these days instead of in the “depressed” stock market.

One anecdote that resonated in Antony Thorncroft’s story was about how JP Morgan Chase recently told an unnamed, big-bucks American entrepreneur to invest in “the art of the 1960s.” Mr. no-name should come to Philadelphia.

(Note, you’ll have to pay to read Thorncroft’s article on the FT website since it’s gone from the “free reads” section.)

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