The purpose of a dealer is to make the deal, to sell the stuff and collect a commission. Prior to the internet, the NYC smoke an mirrors could be waved around these minor artists. Like H W Coe in 1920 standing in the Parisian studio, those rubes will be happy regardless.

Born in New York in 1926, Muriel Castanis began her artistic career as a painter but began creating cloth sculptures after noting the effect of glue on a rag. She is self-taught.

An Oregon Arts Commission “panel” bought this piece of artwork, Ideals by Castanis, using percent for the arts money. If from the Administrative Building behind it cost $1,000,000 to build, $100,000 would be spent on this sculpture + transport and maintenance – that’s the general idea.

Buy a postcard of it. Or buy a version yourself from the OK Harris Gallery in Soho.

Castanis has made and sold a bunch of these, all basically the same process and product, different poses, sometimes different materials.

1988 – at the University of Virginia, Untitled (Torso), 1988. Fabric and epoxy resin.

At Arizona State University, Statue of a Woman Looking to the Future. Maybe parked out in front of the library.


Here’s one at the State University of New York, up in Albany, made in 1993. Euphoria. From their web site, “Although she was involved with women artists’ groups in the early part of her career, Castanis felt she could not participate in the organizing and meetings such membership required.” Whatever.

Google gives us some opportunity for vigilance, but what’s lost in the meantime is respect. Certainly respect for the process of selecting artwork for public purchase, but also respect for the struggle to make something beautiful. The high cost of an artwork is really an accounting of the struggle, not a production line. This piece is commercial artwork, well made and curious, if not a bit gruesome, but in the end (and from the inside) not interesting at all.

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