One of the most under-appreciated artists of the early 20th Century has always been, in my opinion, the French print maker Jean-Emile Laboureur.
|"Self Portrait", 1928|
Laboureur's return to France in 1909 coincided with the emergence of Cubism, a movement he embraced with great enthusiasm. Never overly intellectual, his images maintain an airy, natural quality made even more powerful by the stripped down simplicity of the Cubist line executed in etchings and woodblocks. He recorded his experiences as an interpreter with the British Army during World War I by returning to his roots and the ease of literally "sketching" an image with a burin on discarded metal ammunition cases to create an engraving. He was a devoted graphic artist - determined to create with or without a studio or equipment!
|"Garçon au restaurant"|
Despite professional accolades and reasonable success during his lifetime Laboureur never really achieved what his followers thought he deserved. Certainly his prints and books are coveted by a very specialized group of collectors but it always surprised me that his works, full of charm and wit, seemed rather under valued. However all this started to change last October with the auction in Paris of the Estate of his son, Sylvain. Devoted to preserving the legacy of his father, Sylvain Laboureur had compiled a three-volume catalogue raisonné listing individual prints, livres d'artiste and paintings, drawings and watercolors. With his passing, the family's private collection of works was put up for sale and the results were astounding.
I was fortunate to be able to preview and attend that auction and I was overwhelmed with the plethora of marvelous esoteric lots for sale. I had high hopes of acquiring a special example of a print accompanied by a preparatory drawing and maybe even the copper plate on which it was etched. It became clear very quickly that despite relatively low estimates there were no bargains to be had and I sat in the audience as lot after lot was sold for prices that precluded me from even raising my paddle to bid.
|"Chez la floriste", 1920|