Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Elvgren's 'Bear Facts,' Martignette's favorite, on the block in about two weeks at Heritage Beverly Hills

April 21, 2010
Posted by Noah

The smile on the bear says it all...

Gil Elvgren's essential , magnificent 1962 pin-up, Bear Facts (A Modest Look; Bearback Rider), is going to find a new home in about two weeks when it occupies the centerpiece position of the May 7 Pin-Up & Glamour Art Auction taking place at Heritage Auctions Beverly Hills. It is estimated (quite conservatively, in my humble opinion) at $50,000-$75,000. It's already at $65,000, and we have a ways to go. 'Nuff said.

Perhaps of equal importance to the awesomeness of the piece itself is its enduring fame and its place in Charles Martignette's personal pantheon of Elvgren masterworks. In fact, Bear Facts was Martignette's favorite Elvgren of all. Period. It appeared as the dust jacket cover, and figure 414 of Martignette and Lou Meisel's book Gil Elvgren All His Glamorous American Pin-Ups and also as Figure 82 of The Great American Pin-up, again by the same pair.

I'll sum it up again: The single greatest Illustration Art Collector of all time, Charles Martignette, who assembled the single greatest collection of Illustration Art ever assembled, had a single favorite painting by Gil Elvgren, himself the greatest pin-up artist to ever live, and it was the one you see here, offered for the first time at public auction on May 7.

This painting is going to go big, obviously, and only the very most advanced collectors are going to be vying for this, though every single collector of the form, at every level, is going to be watching and wishing. If I had half a chance I'd buy it myself. I don't, however, have even a quarter of a chance, or an eighth. Or a sixteenth... I would, however, be more than willing to mow your lawn for a year if you buy this for me...

The truth is that, like every Illustration Art Auction here at Heritage in the last year that has featured Martignette's amazing (did I say amazing? I meant AMAZING!) collection, there is much to love and classics of the form all over the sale. There are many that I love, and many I would love to own, none of which I will be able to afford for a long time - but I will someday, and on that day the world will be mine!

Do yourself a favor and take a look through the Illustration Art catalog. Linger a little longer over the Elvgrens, the Vargas, the Armstrongs and the Morans, among the many. Choose one for yourself, one for your best friend, and one for your favorite regular Heritage Blogger whose initials are not JDB (Whoever that may be...).

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-Noah Fleisher

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