Thursday, November 1, 2012

Just another big-eyed Parisian street urchin


I bought this portrait of a big-eyed waif at one of those estate sales where I felt like I just had to get something or I'd be mired in regret. It was the estate of a former mayor of my number-one favorite thrifting neighborhood so it stood to reason that it would be jammed with treasure.

Well, it was good, but it wasn't that good. I succumbed to my twin weaknesses—paperbacks and board games—and then caved to yet another: amateur art. This portrait was one of a pair. The folks running the sale speculated that they were portraits of the mayor's children, painted by a street artist while they vacationed in Paris in the late ’60s. I don't know how accurate that tale is, but it's a good story so I'm sticking with it.

Some evidence supports it. You can't see very well from this cropped photo, but the artist incorporated strips of newspaper, Picasso/Braque-style, in the background, and the newspaper is a May 15, 1968 edition of Le Monde. The artist scrawled his illegible signature in black marker on the upper left corner and the word Paris on the right. The other portrait—the one I didn't buy after much hemming and hawing—was of a blonde boy depicted as a harlequin. As I type that sentence, I'm wondering why I didn't buy it. Doesn't that sound cool(ish)? Sigh. I hate to break up a set, but it just seemed like too much. I mean, the family didn't even want their own portraits, possibly the subjects themselves didn't want them and you'd think they had some pretty sweet memories of that trip (Paris in the ’60s? Le pant!). Why should I devote so much wall space to somebody else's kids?

But you gotta admit this one is pretty cute, in that Keane 1960s sad-eye way. Both my daughters claimed it for their respective rooms, and since they couldn't reach a compromise it ended up in the "formal" living room. By formal, I mean the living room without the TV so no one uses it (somehow the broken Telefunken isn't a big enough draw). Its days are definitely numbered, though—the spot is just too prominent. Maybe tomorrow will be the day that I score a more deserving piece of estate-sale art...

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