Time to call a spade a spade!

The Emperor’s New Clothes are very much in evidence in de Vere’s Sale of “Outstanding Irish Art & Sculpture” on the 23rd July.

Many of the Lots in the auction fall into the category of “WTF!” – utter tripe masquerading as art when in reality it’s all about money pure and simple. What bona fide art collector would have the money for or be seen dead with Lot.14. Sean Scully’s “Double Window” on their wall? Carrying an eye watering estimate of €600,000 – €900,000 it is worthless rubbish from any rational artistic point of view and in real terms worth no more than the price of the material that it is painted on – if that. Yet, we have a well known member of the Irish Art hierarchy, Dr.Frances Ruane RHA, eulogising the work in de Vere’s catalogue and giving it, supposedly, some sort of official nod of approval?

Lot.14. “Double Window” (1998) Oil on linen, 54″ x 48 1/8″. Est: €600,000/900,000.

“Scully is undoubtedly one of the most significant artists alive today, with an impact that reverberates worldwide. To think about him in terms of Minimalism is to miss the mark. While the Minimalists tried to strip away subjectivity and self-expression to concentrate on the neutral aesthetic demands of the picture surface, Scully’s work oozes his personality. His paintings urge the viewer to feel something…..”

“Double Window has the gutsy, muscular feel that is Scully’s hallmark. When you look at it, you can feel the streetwise physicality of the artist. The brushstrokes are full of raw energy, dragged powerfully across the surface. To call the characteristic stripes “lines” don’t do them justice – they are heroic “slabs” of colour that cry out with confidence and intensity.”  Dr.Francis Ruane RHA, from the catalogue blurb.

Lot.1. “Summer Bog” a child like work by the late Sean McSweeney is more modestly priced (€2,500/3,500) but at best resembles something a primary student might have attempted and been reprimanded for by their teacher. As for the dreadful works of Tony O’Malley and Barrie Cooke….less said the better.

Lot.21. “The Street Performer” Est: €180,000/240,000 is yet another daub by Jack B Yeats – an artist that could paint when he started out but lost his way before gradually losing his sight. His friends and colleagues obviously hadn’t the heart to advise him to give up painting.

Lot.69.”Evening on the Lagan” Watercolour and ink, 9 ¼” x 11 ¼”. Est.: €1,500/2,500.

The same could be said of the late Basil Blackshaw who was another artist that could paint horses and people after a kind but also went down the abstract route – Lot.69. “Evening on the Lagan“, while not completely abstract, is a fairly embarrassing example of his later work. Put it this way, I can’t paint but if I produced this mess it would have gone on the fire. Worthless except for its apparent provenance – inscribed but not (?) signed.

All in all there’s little for the genuine art lover in this sale save for a solitary Paul Henry and a fine watercolour by Maurice Canning Wilks. Apologies to anybody I’ve offended – you can put my increased narkiness down to the lock-down blues.