Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Today would have been Bob Scriver’s 98th birthday. There was never any expectation that he would live this long, but many thought his work might. I watch his sculpture revolve through the auctions that are the life of Western cowboy art now. The small later work is beginning to be joined by his earlier careful sculptures meant to be monuments in the Beau Arts mode. The people who bought them are dying now and their heirs are cashing them in. This means that prices have dropped.
I haven’t followed the Cowboy Artists of America, who were mostly painters anyway. But I tabbed Harry Jackson at AskArt.com and the two sculptors generally go to auction side-by-side, though Harry never produced the many smaller “collectibles” that Bob’s entrepreneurs cast and sold. His inheritors put a LOT of work on the market in a hurry. Some people, who can barely tell a cow from a horse, are not able to see differences between Harry and Bob. Certainly they were personally much alike and very fond of each other.
No significant critic of Western art as it existed in the last century has emerged. Those who are qualified are as old as the artists. They stick to the three R's: Russell, Remington and Rungius. Academics find the subject unworthy, except to attack as childish and just plain wrong.
The pendulum will swing the other way. I have no idea when. Probably not in time for a centennial of the birth of Bob Scriver.