Archive for August, 2013

August 7, 2013 |  by  |  No Comments

Did Eric Sloane really paint 15,000 paintings in his lifetime?

Probably not. This statement stems from a quote of Eric’s that appeared in a well-circulated publication of the early 1970’s and, unfortunately, I repeated the statement in the Aware biography. It is hard to tell if Eric was exaggerating the truth, simply using a comparatively large number to attempt to convey the amount of artistic work he did over the course of his career, or if it was an accurate estimate of how many paintings he started (like many artists, Sloane began many more works than he finished). While we will never know exactly what Eric meant by this statement, it is probably reasonable to assume that the truth amalgamates aspects of all three of these possible explanations.

August 7, 2013 |  by  |  No Comments

Eighty, Eric Sloane’s last book, is available in two different editions. The text, illustrations and paintings are essentially the same in each. There are, however, two important distinctions between the two editions. One edition is a beautifully bound hardcover edition that is made to slide into a hard slipcase. These were limited to 350 copies that were to be numbered and signed by Eric, and an additional 26 copies for private distribution, lettered A-Z. Those who purchase only the slipcover version feeling that this is the more “valuable” of the two copies to own should consider purchasing the other hardcover “standard” edition of Eighty for the dust jacket alone. It features, in my opinion, one of Sloane’s paintings that truly straddles the line between reality and abstraction.

Sloane literally ran to a warehouse to pick up a case of (slipcover edition) books for the Eighty show at Hammer Galleries in New York. The bulk of the shipment of books was to be ready for the show, but production delays made that impossible. At any rate, Sloane brought a case of books to the show, signed them all and gave them away to friends and family. The number of books actually signed is in dispute – I have heard estimates from 7 – 50. Eighty was a heavy book and was likely packed into cartons weighing less than 50 lbs., so my estimate is closer to the 25 copy range than the 50. Additionally, it would make sense that the books lettered A-Z would be packaged together, making a case of 26. He was able to sign some (I have heard estimates as low as 7 copies) or all of the books for private distribution, but none of the books that were numbered 1 to 350. It would be an interesting piece of investigative work to determine what happened to all 26 of the privately distributed copies. I have first hand knowledge that 1 signed copy went to Reverend Schuler of “Crystal Cathedral” fame and 1 is owned by Joan Martin (?), the woman who was curator of the Sloane-Stanley Museum at the time. The remaining copies numbered 1-350 were left unsigned and a piece of onion skin paper was inserted that read:

“Due to the untimely death of Eric Sloane, EIGHTY: An American Souvenir, was regrettably left unsigned. This publication, the last of his over forty books, will remain as a legacy to his place in the world of American arts and letters.”

A place was left for hand numbering and a signature by his widow, Mimi H. Sloane.

August 7, 2013 |  by  |  No Comments

Books by Eric Sloane*

 

  • Clouds, Air and Wind
  • Camouflage Simplified
  • Gremlin Americanus
  • Your Body In Flight
  • Skies and the Artist
  • Eric Sloane’s Weather Book
  • American Barns and Covered Bridges
  • Eric Sloane’s Almanac and Weather Forecaster
  • Our Vanishing Landscape
  • Book of Storms
  • American Yesterday
  • The Seasons of America Past
  • Return To Taos
  • Look at the Sky
  • Diary of an Early American Boy
  • Folklore of American Weather
  • ABC Book of Early Americana
  • A Museum of Early American Tools
  • The Little Book of Bells
  • A Reverence for Wood
  • The Sound of Bells
  • An Age of Barns
  • The Cracker Barrel
  • Mister Daniels and the Grange
  • Don’t
  • The Second Barrel
  • Look at the Sky…And Tell The Weather
  • I Remember America
  • The Little Red Schoolhouse
  • Do
  • The Spirits of ’76
  • Recollections in Black and White
  • For Spacious Skies
  • Legacy
  • Return to Taos: A Twice Told Tale
  • Once Upon A Time, The Way America Was
  • Eighty: An American Souvenir

*This list includes those titles in which Eric Sloane was the principle author. It does not include other books Eric Sloane contributed to, the multitude of articles he wrote over his career or “compilation titles” that grouped previous books into one title for a subsequent printing.

August 7, 2013 |  by  |  No Comments

It is unusual to find a work by Eric Sloane that is not signed. Usually Eric signed his work Sloane, Eric Sloane, or Eric Sloane, N.A., depending on the year the painting was executed. I have seen one painting in over a decade of studying Eric’s work that was signed Everard Hinrichs. Eric did not, however, always sign his paintings on the front – some he signed on the reverse and he often included the name of the town in which he resided at the time. Additionally, in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, Eric would sometimes use a symbol over his signatures. One of the most common looks like three semi circles, one on top of two in almost pyramid fashion. This symbol was a Native American (specifically Taos, N.M.) symbol for clouds/sky. I have anecdotal evidence that Eric returned to using this symbol in the mid to late 1970’s, during which time he focused a great deal of attention on painting clouds and sky because of a renewed interest through painting the “Earth Flight Environmental” for the National Air and Space Museum of Washington, D.C., and writing and illustrating For Spacious Skies. I say “anecdotal evidence” because I have only heard of such use-I have not actually seen any paintings from this era with the cloud symbol. Last year, I was surprise to see a symbol of a duck landing in water over Sloane’s signature on a painting hanging in the Eric Sloane Museum, also of early 1950’s vintage. As far as I can recall, these are the only two symbols Sloane used. Please email if you have run across more! Remember too, that Eric also”signed off” under his paintings using “Sky top Studios” or “CAVU” (which stands for Ceiling and Visibility Unlimited) and some other locations where he was painting at the time – these additions usually occurred c. 1945-1950.

August 7, 2013 |  by  |  No Comments

Are there fraudulent Eric Sloane paintings and how do know if a painting you are considering is authentic?

I offer the information contained in these paragraphs because of a call I recently received from a gentleman who was seriously considering purchasing an Eric Sloane being offered at a nationally known gallery – a painting that was not, in my opinion, one executed by Eric Sloane (at least not “my” Eric Sloane – the painting was signed “Eric”).

There exists both outright copies of Eric Sloane paintings with either a fraudulent signature or no signature at all, and there exists a number of known painters who have become exceptionally good at copying his techniques. In the latter case, the works are usually – but not always – signed by the artist. While I do not have any knowledge or suspicion that some of these artists have attempted to sell their unsigned works as Eric Sloane originals, I remain concerned that an unscrupulous dealer or reseller might. Most reputable dealers and sellers will accept a deposit and allow you to take the painting to a professional independent appraiser for his or her opinion.

There are a multitude of fakes on the market. Quite a few have appeared on well-known auction sites  lately. Some I believe were sold by sellers who did not know they were fakes and some by unscrupulous sellers who knew (or strongly suspected) that they were selling a fake, but sold it anyway. The same advice applies: arrange to have the painting authenticated by an independent appraiser. The expense of doing so well outweighs the distaste and disgust of realizing you just spent a good deal of money on a fake.

Please understand that the process of authentication is a different process than appraising. Many appraisers are not authenticators of Eric Sloane paintings. We have the knowledge and experience to do both.

August 7, 2013 |  by  |  No Comments

How can you tell if an Eric Sloane painting is a print or an original?

This isn’t as easy a task as it is for other artists. One aspect which makes the distinction difficult for the lay person is that some of the prints from the 1970s were VERY good. They were made that way on purpose. Color printing technology had advanced to the point where it was relatively inexpensive to print a very good image. In addition, a “coating” could be applied to the print to make it appear as if the “painting” had been varnished, complete with definite “brush strokes”. Then the image was glued to a Masonite backing – creating a convincing overall impression of an original in oil.

As an aside, a print never has to be “numbered”-ones that are not numbered are usually referred to as “open editions” as opposed to “limited editions”, which is supposed to signify that only a certain number are to be printed (100, 250, 500 are some of the more common edition sizes). However, keep in mind that the numbered editions are for that specific printer. It is quite possible for a printer to print a painting in a limited edition of 500, only to have the same painting printed years later by another printing firm-hence, another “limited edition” of the painting. In most cases, Eric Sloane paintings that were printed in limited editions were not re-issued later in limited edition format by another printer. This could change as the rights to his works are still controlled by the estate – a decision could be made to have a printer make another print run of a previously published print that was a “limited edition”, though I am not aware of any current plans to do so.

If you want to learn more about Eric Sloane prints, one of the best (and cheapest-its free) steps to take is to access an auction site like eBay (www.ebay.com) and spend some time familiarizing yourself with the prints that are for sale. If you are considering buying but are unsure if the image is a print or an original, consider purchasing a loupe. A loupe is a small, inexpensive but powerful magnifying device that will usually allow you to see the color “dots” that make up a print – but only in person and not from a computer screen or photograph. Of course, an original painting or drawing will not reveal these printing dots.