Monday, November 23, 2009

Don’t have a cow

Way back in the sixties Dunbar Senior of Dunbar Sloane – that’s the father of the current Dunbar Senior and grandfather of the current Dunbar Junior – was known to hold forth about how a good cow could sell art. “One cow sells, more than one cow sells even better”, he would tell the punters from the auction rostrum. As you can see from the latest Dunbar Sloane catalogue, the current Dunbars have taken this idea on board. Mind you they are not the only ones to understand the cows-for-cash equation when it comes to visual art. The Russian artists Komar & Melamid conducted a survey to find the most wanted paintings and discovered that most countries plugged for a landscape, preferably populated by wild or domestic animals, with the domestic variety most often being cows.

Today Dunbar Sloane leans more towards the views of John Baldessari. The third tip in his 1966-68 painting Tips for artists who want to sell states, “Subject matter is important: it has been said that pastoral paintings with cows and hens in them collect dust… while the same paintings with bulls and roosters sell.” And so Dunbar Sloane, in an anyone-can-make-art moment, have created their own masterpiece by cobbling together two of the works up for sale: a pastoral scene (Justin Summerton’s unfortunately titled Hobbit Hole) and Paul Dibble’s Bull on the fish of Maui.