And by that of course we mean fans and fanatics of the magical and sometimes maniacal sport of non-contact Bidding – designed for acquiring weights at our midseason / midsummer LH Selman Gallery’s 78th Paperweight Auction! (To Place Bids Click Here for the Auction Website)
Yes, our American mid-summer classic is here. Where once it truly was a life and death game (at least for the Aztecs) the contest now retains the excitement of those glorious days with the added benefit of the fact that in these more modern times your greatest injury may be no more than severe disappointment. But Know This — repeated auction disappointment can require a sling or even a body cast, and you really don’t want it building up in your joints. So don’t let it happen to YOU; act now and sell off all those dusty Bit-Coins and have your chips ready. Thank the gods and cash-strapped state governments for legalizing off-site betting (sorry, we meant BIDDING!) almost everywhere. The weights we have on deck this time around could fill any stadium with admirers, but with the price of gas being what it is – we figure that many of you will just catch the action from the comfort of home and skip the watered-down beer.
Note of Caution
Dear Fellow Glass Lover, as per usual this is a fatally flawed exercise; it’s an attempt to bring you some real sense of the overwhelming cornucopia that we offer in every auction. So forgive us in advance for missing your own choices and enjoy a few paperweight backstories with us If you’ve the time … and even if you don’t, please make the time! And if you call about a particular weight we didn’t cover, I can make up a story on the spot, just for you. Now that’s service!
AMERICA IS BACK AND MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN EVER!
This quietly effervescent Mount Washington would be an American classic except that it’s SO RARE that we don’t think enough people have actually even seen one for it to be declared a classic! It’s an inspiring, even hopeful design — with the international symbol of peace, (especially since the Picasso sketch in 1949) the striking, lush rose, covered with the blue of well-being, and coupled with bursting buds that celebrate the fecundity of life. This weight is so outstanding you can feel good about charging your friends a fee just to look at it in your home. Soon the weight will be paying for itself, with lines out the door and down the block. Just a thought. Seriously, let the kids find their own ways through grad school. This is your one shot!
FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE?
Dangerously attractive, exotic and mysterious – the very definition of a Russian treasure. Yes, of course I’m referring to Dame Helen Mirren. And this glorious Russian weight has all those same characteristics, so the two reminded me of one another. And now to finally unmask the Academy Award-winning Helen Mirren – or should I say … Elena Lydia Vasilievna Mironova! – daughter of a former Russian aristocrat, and a possible double agent all these years!! We think she’s here to entertain and we never noticed that she’s been busy stealing our hearts in plain sight! And we also think there are secrets here never to be told, residing both within the stunning weight itself as well as in Helen’s little black book. At any rate, we know that Mother Russia would love to reclaim both these treasures, but we’re not issuing and visas for either any time soon. The phrase “You can’t go home again,” was originally written with Russia in mind.
CAUTION: OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR
This is magnificent. Not only is this a classic Clichy green moss carpet ground paperweight, but this example has the most high-octane and ebullient canes we’ve seen in this V12 sports model. We may have to test this one for crystal steroids. I mean stand back, because each cane in this explosive design has its own set of drums and a microphone, and you doubters should ask for close-ups to see for yourselves. And yes, the almost hallucinogenic and vertiginous curves on this outstanding glass sculpture may lure your eyes a bit out of their sockets. Worth the pain.
FRESH SCHOLARSHIP UNCOVERS THE UNCOMFORTABLE TRUTH ABOUT GREAT ART?
The word Baccarat has long denoted life lived with an edge, a cut above. From the world’s leading crystal to the dangerous card game played only in casinos by secret agents smoking unfiltered cigarettes—Baccarat sets you apart. Many of you know this but some of you are viewing this exquisite example of one of the glass house’s finest creations for the first time. The myriad, beautifully disparate elements within the dome come together in a seamless and concise visual statement. The overall harmony is so very pleasing that it belies the careful attention to detail that went into its design. As a matter of fact, I think it’s safe to say that the masters at Baccarat have had an undeniable and crucial impact on the work of the great Impressionist painters. The understanding of how color placement affects the eye differently using discrete juxtaposition as opposed to traditional blending may have been learned not from the close study of the natural world after all – but likely Seurat or Monet just brought a couple Baccarat paperweights to the local bistro, and after several glasses of wine and beer, (back then people avoided water whenever possible) our pantheon of painters began to re-visualize the world. How fitting then, that the magnificent Impressionist holdings in the Chicago Art Institute (thanks largely to one prescient and generous woman) would seem to reside on a foundation in the form of the great Arthur Rubloff Paperweight Collection two floors below!!
LONG BEFORE MUDDY WATERS THERE WAS CLICHY-LA-GARENNE!
What? You say that here have been too many songs written about the color blue. There’s even an entire genre simply called, Blues. You may feel blue, or have the blues but can you play the Blues, if you haven’t lived the Blues? And just when you thought you’d been exposed to every shade, tone and tint of blue that there ever was, along comes this fresh-as-a-daisy Clichy filled with slightly electric baby blue filament twists, and dotted throughout with wonderful complex canes. So take a good look and see if you can resist throwing some chips on the table and going all in for a real beauty and a fresh take on the world’s favorite color, dressing the world’s finest art form.
WITH ANY LUCK, YOU’LL GET ROBIN WILLIAMS!
Remember Aladdin’s Lamp? Sure you do. Well the wonderfully twisting stem of this classical arrangement makes the weight, weightless, appearing to rise like smoke from the bottle or lamp. At least that’s how it struck me. (And why is it always Aladdin’s LAMP but then you also always hear about putting the genie back in the BOTTLE?). And boy, it was hard to tell if the Robin Williams’ genie was actually a jinn, or he was just full of gin, so manic was he in the role. Anyway, this weight is beautifully balanced in shapes and colors with the star-cut base providing the icing on the cake – or is it the frosting on the glass? Wait a minute; that’s frost on the glass and ice refers to jewels, right? All this technical nomenclature becomes overwhelming – just take a good look, folks; it’s a knockout bouquet that will add chic styling and enviable pizzazz to your antique holdings. Ask for close-ups!
NO MORE BRASS KNUCKLES IN CYBERSPACE, PLEASE!
Just wanted to point out that these playful and compact modernist creations DO come along from time to time. If memory serves, there was some serious dueling recently at auction that had us all a little concerned… OKAY, Just Kidding – it was fun to watch! But truth be told, that iteration was engraved. Here, the macedoine’s design resembles a bright and cheerful little square puzzle in a circular frame; the happy and motion-filled twists are barely restrained by the more delicately spun latticinio segments — and the interplay results in a very satisfying harmony. Lot 35 presents a good opportunity for those of you, who are still not sleeping well for having fallen by the wayside last time around in digital battle over the last macedoine. Who knew a little salad could cause such a stir?
HE’S GOT THE WHOLE WORLD IN HIS HANDS
Sometimes you’ll see Paul Stankard’s name misspelled as Paul “Standard,” and you know what?Maybe artificial intelligence with its aggravating auto-correct is on to something; after all – Paul has set the STANDARD, so it would be only fitting that he owns the very word. This wonderful orb is only a further argument in favor of a name change. Wherever you look, turning this glass earth around in your fortunate hands, you see life in all its manifold glory erupting and uncoiling from the soil, stretching the ligaments of life heavenward. Be grateful
that the fine glass gives the weight’s unbelievably fertile elements a finite universe to explore, or you could wake up one morning on a pillow of ferns and covered in dew, with a full forest inside what was your home the night before.
DOING IT RIGHT, DOWN UNDER
Word on the street has it that Andrew Byers has been edging past both Mad Max (look him up) and the lovable Crocodile Dundee to become the best-known and most-loved artistic Australian/New Zealander! Or is it that we’re just a little myopic around these parts? Anyway, Byers is certainly favored among serious paperweight collectors, and here we have a trio of varied designs to satisfy different desires. Lot 100 is especially special if you’ll pardon the parlance, with the artist’s lively constructions and cheerful pastel palette on full display. And just think – you didn’t have to go to the other side of the world to purchase this. Oh, unless you already live over there and want to bring the weight back to the Southern Hemisphere!
SEEING YOUR WORK ALL THE WAY THROUGH!
Inspired. In the most fundamental sense, there are two basic approaches to sculpture. You build up or you break down. (There are all kinds of variations and crossover and hybrid techniques, but for our purposes, it holds.) The more difficult of the two techniques is breaking down; that is to say when you begin with a mass of your medium, and you know the finished artwork is trapped or hiding within that block, (whether it’s of wood, marble or glass). You have to free the finished artwork by subtraction. You know what you want to do and likely have made endless measurements in your notebooks because in this approach, mistakes are deadly. Michelangelo was and is the world’s greatest sculptor, and this is how he worked.
A similar dedication is apparent in Lot 120, this small glass masterpiece, where the artists had managed to coax the complex and delicate floral forms out of the solid glass surrounding them, while avoiding terrible accidents (including possible cracks from flawed glass). Think of how the tension must build; the closer you get to finalizing the work the more devastating the outcome of an error. Excavating these wondrous shapes and often gossamer-like designs is not for the faint of heart. You have to be pretty tough to work with these flowers!
BEWARE THOSE WHO WALK BENEATH!
This remarkable bird situated in its palpably humid environs has the visceral presence of a Fauvist painting in three dimensions. (Fauvism, or “wild beasts,” was a pre-WW I French school of painting.) Seriously, there’s an enlarged detail of the parrot on the inside rear cover of the auction catalogue that begs to be framed. With a coat of breath-taking blue (yeah, that’s an official color name now) this bird perches almost regally on the branch. He’s ready for lunch and someone better be ready to bring it, or else. A marvelously dimensional experience. Ask to see the hologram! Oh, wait those are still in production; until then we can still offer Marty’s magnificent Spin Videos!
MATISSE WOULD HAVE ASKED FOR LESSONS!
This looks and feels like a wizard’s magical glass basket! The lively, moving and breathing shapes resemble a school of happy-go-lucky sea anemones in a wild dance! The multiple techniques Michael recruited for the vase’s execution require more explanation than we have time or room for in this setting, so suffice it to say you are in the hands of a true master, who is so very accomplished, he makes it all look a bit too easy. Don’t be fooled. Yes, we know – it won’t fit in your paperweight cabinet, but you do have a table somewhere on premises that would allow you to make a glorious statement with this magnificent creation, don’t you? Honestly, this masterful sculpture has the design and flair of a Matisse! This is so striking, it will set the tone not only for the room it is in, but for any room adjoining that space! And you are going to be the one to own this. Get ready.
Okay fellow glass lovers, we’re out of time today and we’re raising the shades and letting light back in the room. It’s time to go home and reflect on how much more attention you need to pay to any weight that you see in this auction. If you like something, you really owe it to yourself to contact us with any questions and to request more photographic variations by which you can make more fully informed decisions. For those folks who actually make it to the gallery to review what they’ve chosen online to bid for, they invariably are surprised at two things — how much more appealing are the weights they already favor, but also, how positively struck they are by a good number of other weights that they glossed over and / or missed entirely!
So, don’t be a glosser! Enjoy the catalogue slowly and ask us about anything…
Thank you for your time in an overcrowded world of blogs and postings; we appreciate your
support. And good luck in the auction.