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Monday, June 1, 2009

Why do artists paint the same subject several times?

This question comes up a lot. Many times clients will come into the gallery and notice that some artists tend to go back to the same subject time and time again. Thomas Loughman, curator of European Art of the Phoenix Art Museum said it well. There are many reasons for multiples, ?but they fall into three large categories; market expediency, pursuit of perfection and experimentation.?(1)

Market Expediency: In my 26 years in the art field, Loughman couldn?t have said it any better. In many cases, an artist may paint a picture that is so well received that it sells right away. Being aware of his or her market, the artist will often repaint the piece realizing the appeal of the subject. They may also change the size to accommodate a variety of tastes. In either case, the artist will never paint an identical image so that each can stand on its own.

Pursuit of Perfection: Christian Nesvadba was best known for his vibrant floral paintings before his untimely death in the fall of 2008. In speaking with him a year prior during his US debut show in our gallery, he told me that he will paint his florals until he feels that they are perfect. This in itself is an oxymoron. I believe that as an artist and a perfectionist, he knew that he would never achieve the perfect painting.

Experimentation: Sticking with Christian, I believe one can argue that his abstracts grew out of the need to experiment. In looking at his abstract oils, many clients have commented on how it appeared as if he took the flowers in his bouquets and charged them with an energy which eventually led to the explosion of color that appears in the abstract works.

In any case, as a collector, the repetition should be something that is embraced. It shows the artists commitment to his subject and his dedication to achieving perfection!

James LaMantia
Co-Owner of LaMantia Gallery

(1) The article appeared in The Arizona Republic, January 20, 2008.

Monday, November 24, 2008

To Collect or to Decorate?

This seems to be one of the most commonly asked questions from clients coming into the gallery. Should they be purchasing art they like, but that doesn?t necessarily work in their home; or should they sacrifice the look, for something that blends better with the décor? This often goes one step further with clients wanting to take a piece they love, and bend and shape the framing in such a way as to better compliment the room.

The answer to this timeless question is that there is no right or wrong. Sorry! It would be easy if I picked one, but it really comes down to the individuals taste.

LaMantia Gallery has always taken the position that we prefer collecting to decorating. The idea being that in ones travels they come across art that touches them in some way. To me, that?s the most important reason for acquiring work than any. I find that the goal of bringing art into your home isn?t just to decorate (which it does) but also to capture memories and stories, or sometimes just an image that we want to look at because it makes us feel good about life. My house is about as eclectic as it gets when it comes to the art. I display a document that pre-dates the Revolutionary War hanging next to a European seascape, oil on canvas from 1912. I have a formal oil portrait of a gentleman from 1810 near a nude watercolor study by Raphael Soyer. And the best part is that it works. These are all pieces that I have in my life because they make me smile. If my wife and I find a painting that touches us, we never say ?where are we gong to put it.? We make room for it!!!

Keep in mind that this isn?t to alienate decorators. It?s simply a different approach. It?s like listening to jazz or rock. The listeners both get the same pleasure; they just get to it in different ways.

James LaMantia
Co-Owner of LaMantia Gallery