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Derek
04-23-2005, 02:47 PM
Is Recovered Painting a Haring or Not?

By MICHAEL RUBINKAM
Associated Press Writer

KUTZTOWN, Pa. - The auctioneer billed it as a painting by "one of America's most sought after contemporary artists," an "American treasure" that had been "left for lost" in a woman's attic for 20 or so years.

If true, the 7-foot "Hope" painting that the auctioneer claimed was by Keith Haring, the famed pop artist who died in 1990 at age 31, would likely command tens of thousands of dollars at sale.

But questions about its authenticity and provenance have killed plans to auction the piece, at least for now. Instead, it will merely be put on display Sunday while hundreds of other items are sold at a two-day spring antique auction in nearby Kimberton.

At first glance, and to the untrained eye, the painting looks like something that Haring would have done.

Haring, who grew up in this quaint college town in Pennsylvania Dutch country, mounted shows worldwide and reproduced his work on a mass scale on T-shirts, posters, coffee mugs and other inexpensive items. His art, marked by colorful geometric shapes, bold lines and recurring motifs such as radiating babies, animals and flying saucers, continues to be promoted by the eponymous foundation he started shortly before his death of AIDS.

The longtime president of the Keith Haring Foundation is Kermit Oswald, a childhood friend and perhaps the world's leading authority on Haring's work.

On Tuesday, Oswald declared "Hope" to be a fake. But here's the rub: The seller is his cousin, and the two apparently don't care much for one another. Ed Oswald maintained that "Hope" is an authentic Haring, and said Kermit Oswald is biased because the two had a falling-out years ago. Kermit Oswald said the only thing influencing his judgment is his decades of professional experience.

"The fact is these people were trying to sell something that was absolutely worthless," Kermit Oswald said.

Caught in the middle is auctioneer Ron Rhoads, who had triple bypass surgery a few weeks ago and said he can't take all the stress.

The piece in question was painted on the flip side of a cheap piece of wood paneling and shows a yellow stick figure holding aloft a red heart. The word "HOPE" is printed within the heart's outlines. Thick squiggles radiate outward, a Haring trademark. It is unsigned.

Julia Gruen, the Haring Foundation's executive director, said there are many telltale signs that Haring did not paint "Hope." She declined to go into specifics, saying she did not want to give any help to potential forgers.

Interest had been mounting in "Hope," fueled in part by the story of how the work was discovered.

Kermit Oswald grew up next door to his aunt and uncle, Helen and Fox Cartwright, who knew Haring from childhood.

Fox Cartwright, now 79, said that sometime in the 1980s, he spied "Hope" at an auction and, believing it to be a Haring, bought it. The piece sat on his back porch for a few weeks. He and his wife thought it was ugly, and he considered tossing it. Instead, it wound up in the attic of his print shop, a small building to the rear of his house.

There it remained until a few months ago, when 81-year-old Helen Cartwright ordered her husband to get rid of all the junk he'd accumulated over the years. So he contacted his nephew, Ed Oswald, himself an antiques buff, to sell whatever he could. Oswald rummaged through the print shop and, in the attic, spied what looked like a large painting sandwiched between an old shutter, pieces of plywood and sheets of insulation.

It was "Hope."

Ed Oswald had met Haring a few times and immediately thought "Hope" to be the artist's work. He contacted Rhoads, a well-established auctioneer with plenty of experience selling fine art.

Rhoads and his wife, Eileen, advertised the piece as having been exhibited in New York City at a mid-1980s show called the "Kutztown Connection." There was indeed a benefit in New York for a Kutztown arts foundation around that time, for which Haring produced a poster. But the benefit was a musical concert, not an art exhibition, and "Hope" was almost certainly not a part of it.

There were other holes in the provenance. For example, in a news release, the Rhoadses stated that the piece had been found in the attic of Haring's aunt. And a separate affidavit, whose origin is murky, claimed that Fox Cartwright was Haring's print shop teacher in high school. But Cartwright said he doesn't recall Haring ever having been his student.

Kermit Oswald and Gruen quickly seized on these factual errors as supporting their contention that "Hope" is a fake, probably a high school student's art project.

After learning of the Haring Foundation's position, Rhoads told Ed Oswald on Wednesday morning of his decision to delay the sale. Later in the week, Ed Oswald acknowledged errors in the provenance and offered an olive branch to his cousin Kermit.

"If there is any doubt, I don't want it sold. ... I went into it with my eyes closed and got my (backside) spanked," Ed Oswald said, laughing ruefully.

But he still believes "Hope" to be a Keith Haring original.

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http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireSt...Story?id=695160 (http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory?id=695160)

This is something that's been going on between my father and his cousin. Please give opinions, HONEST unbiased opinions on this matter. You're not going to get banned if you go against me so dont worry about it.

I just want to know, who do you support Kermit or Ed Oswald?

Neil
04-27-2005, 08:11 PM
Not sure, but that moron has that 'rare' piece of art sitting in the gravel scratching the shit out of it!

Mark
04-27-2005, 08:18 PM
You're going to have problems authenticating it if it isn't signed. Did Haring sign his other works?

Derek
04-28-2005, 05:15 PM
Originally posted by Neil@Apr 27 2005, 03:11 PM
Not sure, but that moron has that 'rare' piece of art sitting in the gravel scratching the shit out of it!
That moron is my dad! :lol:

And there is a long story about that picture that you're not going to know. Hahahahah.

And Mark, about 70% of Keith Haring's works were unsigned. He wasn't really into making too much of a big deal about his artwork.

So luckily, the signature has nothing to do with it.

Kęton
04-29-2005, 01:12 PM
Wow, your family got media coverage, Derek! Go Oswalds! :lol:

On a more serious note, I don't know what to think. I would think no matter how much or little Haring signed his work, authentication is going to be hard to determine, so I honestly don't know what to think. I think authentication or some type of acknowledgement from someone who actually saw this painting be done or has documented proof of it will be able to determine whether it is real or fake. Other than that, it'll be a he-says-she-says, or in this case, he-says-he-says case because until there is proof that one word is in fact more closer to the truth than the other, both will have almost equal probabilities of being the truth.

But yeah, your dad is handling that piece of work so roughly, or so it seems in that picture, Derek! :lol: