Lichtenstein vs OA
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This might be off topic and might have been covered before.  I was strolling around in my lunch break today and walked by a contemporary art gallery I had never noticed before that had a few Lichtensteins . One in particular caught my fancy so I enquired a bit about it.  Unique litopgraph featuring a nice close up of female character.  Vey classic Lichtestein, produced in the '60s.  Size a bit larger than a DPS.  Price around 50k USD, so basically in line with some strong super heroes covers from the '70s.  I found it very striking, with a visual impact on par if not superior to my best OA.

This got me into thinking ...should I branch out into more mainstream pop art?  So I wonder, are people on this board exclusive to OA? Are some of us considering or already pursuing other art investments, that might be less emotionally connected but a bit safer in the longer term? And how do the two collecting experiences compare?  How does a litograph by a major widely recognised artist fare in your eyes versus the best, hand pencilled splash by somebody who is known only to us?

Carlo

ps - any experts in things Lichtenstein please send me a PM, would like to ask a couple of things

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39 minutes ago, Carlo M said:

This might be off topic and might have been covered before.  I was strolling around in my lunch break today and walked by a contemporary art gallery I had never noticed before that had a few Lichtensteins . One in particular caught my fancy so I enquired a bit about it.  Unique litopgraph featuring a nice close up of female character.  Vey classic Lichtestein, produced in the '60s.  Size a bit larger than a DPS.  Price around 50k USD, so basically in line with some strong super heroes covers from the '70s.  I found it very striking, with a visual impact on par if not superior to my best OA.

This got me into thinking ...should I branch out into more mainstream pop art?  So I wonder, are people on this board exclusive to OA? Are some of us considering or already pursuing other art investments, that might be less emotionally connected but a bit safer in the longer term? And how do the two collecting experiences compare?  How does a litograph by a major widely recognised artist fare in your eyes versus the best, hand pencilled splash by somebody who is known only to us?

Carlo

ps - any experts in things Lichtenstein please send me a PM, would like to ask a couple of things

I think branching out is fine. I wouldn’t do it for monetary reasons however.I would do it if the art moved or inspired me. Investment is tricky as presumably you’re starting from scratch in a new art field.

i think the potential for bad buys is very high in that market of pop art. I second your call to action though Carlo. Any experienced pop market experts out there?

 

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I certainly feel out of my league here.  The gallery rep described the piece as a "one of a kind" litograph - but I saw three having sold on HA in the last few years!  Same image!  I will need to do a lot of work...

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The last major thread on Lichtenstein... noone's mind was changed in one way or the other.

 

 

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Aye, this has been covered exhaustively.

I think Lichtenstein's art is cool, but like many, don't think it falls under the OA umbrella.  I appreciate that he saw the power of certain panels/compositions (much as we do in our collecting).

He should've done a much better job of attribution. Then again, it'd be like asking Warhol to attribute/thank Campbell Soup.

Interestingly, in modern galleries of late I've seen a ton of art that incorporates/modifies superheroes.

 

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26 minutes ago, exitmusicblue said:

don't think it falls under the OA umbrella.

I don't understand this, care to expand?

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2 minutes ago, vodou said:

I don't understand this, care to expand?

Newp... else I'll become all Lichtenstein'd out again.

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4 hours ago, Carlo M said:

The gallery rep described the piece as a "one of a kind" litograph - but I saw three having sold on HA in the last few years!  Same image! 

Keep the following words in mind and you will do just fine in life:

"How do you know when a [gallery rep][dealer][sales rep][etc.] is lying?  His/her lips are moving."

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Lichtenstein is a hack who can't draw worth S H I T!!!!! He has ripped off many comic book artists and never gave them any credit on the almost line for line copies he did of their works. He was a poor artist but a good con artist.

Edited by Brian Peck

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I'm going to swoop in here and try to get this thread back to the OP's original question. I think you have to do a DEEP dive into studying other art markets before throwing your money in them. There are many, many more pitfalls to be had there versus comic OA (just one of the reasons I think OA is a great hobby for the beginner.) The learning curve is much steeper in other segments -- not just with the works themselves, but with the various players, angles, venues, scams, etc.

8 hours ago, Carlo M said:

might be less emotionally connected but a bit safer in the longer term?

Why do you think these don't go hand in hand? I would say the shared emotional connection to OA is precisely why it is a safer place to park your money. Leaving out my love for comic art for the moment and speaking purely about the dollars, you'd be hard pressed to find a more enthusiastic and liquid art segment -- especially so under mid-five figures. There's a lot of stuff out there in other segments that just sits and sits, even when priced right. Because who cares? So much of the effort of fine art galleries is centered around the illusion of event and the illusion of demand. With comic art, there is much less of that hucksterism. We have new books coming out every week, new movies, a thriving collectible floppy hobby that acts as a springboard, etc. The fanbase is legitimate and just has to mature into some buying power. (Maybe not forever, true. But the merry-go-round will turn for awhile yet.)

Other art segments would kill for a fraction of the enthusiasm collectibles can generate. Don't believe me? Look at illustration art when you remove the nostalgia component -- There's Rockwell... a little bump for Parrish and Wyeth... and everyone else. Big price difference. Who generates nostalgia in the pop art market? Maybe Warhol because he tipped himself into the history of Americana. And not many after that. Ask yourself... are you nostalgic for Lichtenstein? If the answer is no, then why expect anyone else to be when it's time for resale? At that point, you're just hoping it keeps its luster as a bragging-rights commodity or goes well in someone's brutalist decor.

I have my long-winded opinions about the future viability of various areas, but that's a long topic. When you've been to Sotheby's or Christie's and overheard handlers walking around retirees explaining why they should buy a Winslow-f'ing-Homer and who he even was, your opinion on a lot of the art market gets pretty, pretty cynical! lol

8 hours ago, Carlo M said:

How does a litograph by a major widely recognised artist fare in your eyes versus the best, hand pencilled splash by somebody who is known only to us?

"Multiples", to use the lingo, are some of the toughest bits to price and probably the easiest way to lose cash for a new buyer. If I were you, I'd stick with vetted smaller originals by name artists from established houses with detailed provenance. Take what you know from comic OA and apply it -- would you buy a $1-2K Alex Ross numbered litho or a small $1-2K pencil prelim by him? If you're an interior decorator looking to fill out a big wall, you get the litho. Everyone else, buy the original.

There are much more experienced hands at this on these boards. I will let them chime in...

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I’m just gonna jump in and point out that the vast majority of comic book OA “just sits” there and is not sold. 

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I wouldn’t buy the Lichtenstein without enormous research. The art market has been pretty hot from what I have casually read, and it is very cyclical. Circumstantially, I have seen various reprints of his work at places like Target; which suggests to me his stuff is high right now for it to be mass marketed. 

If I were you, I do not think this is the time to invest in collectibles. We are less than a year away from a minor recession, IMO, and that is when the prices of this sort of stuff flattens out or falls. If I were you, I would place my money in something safe like blue chip stocks or a conservative index fund (not keen on bonds, in general).

 

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9 hours ago, BCarter27 said:

...speaking purely about the dollars, you'd be hard pressed to find a more enthusiastic and liquid art segment -- especially so under mid-five figures.

I completely disagree.

The Basics of Liquidity

Cash is considered the standard for liquidity because it can most quickly and easily be converted into other assets.

If a person wants a $1,000 refrigerator, cash is the asset that can most easily be used to obtain it. If that person has no cash but a rare book collection that has been appraised at $1,000, she is unlikely to find someone willing to trade them the refrigerator for their collection. Instead, she will have to sell the collection and use the cash to purchase the refrigerator. That may be fine if the person can wait for months or years to make the purchase, but it could present a problem if the person only had a few days. She/he may have to sell the books at a discount, instead of waiting for a buyer who was willing to pay the full value. Rare books are an example of an illiquid asset.

from: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/l/liquidity.asp

I can think of an a more enthusiastic and liquid art segment, most often under four figures too, but for that reason I'm keeping it to myself - I do not need vulture competition.

Comic art is: buy 'n hold 'n pray you get out even (real inflation adjusted) in five to fifteen years. From today. Not talking about buys made two decades ago when the fields were abundant and ripe for pickin' lol

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3 hours ago, Rick2you2 said:

The art market has been pretty hot from what I have casually read

And cooling very hard and fast. It's not a secret, just Google.

3 hours ago, Rick2you2 said:

I have seen various reprints of his work at places like Target; which suggests to me his stuff is high right now for it to be mass marketed. 

Unrelated;immaterial. Lichtenstein is dead. An artist approved edition professionally produced by a lithographer (artists in their own right) released during his lifetime and signed/numbered is completely different from what's at Target fresh off the container boat from China lol Who the lithographer was is going to very high up the importance list re: value (cost to buy but also retention).

I don't have this book, haven't looked at it, but it's going to be a good start to the subject...long before anybody starts spending $50k on anything :)

image.png.734903d152672af42a1979d0cbda36e5.png

https://www.bookfinder.com/search/?author=&title=&lang=en&isbn=1555951961&new_used=*&destination=us&currency=USD&mode=basic&st=sr&ac=qr

4 hours ago, Rick2you2 said:

We are less than a year away from a minor recession

Major. As early as "now" (re: Fed repo market interventions all last week and continuing into this week, the first since...2008). If you don't understand what that previous sentence means...best to play very conservative and hang onto your cash. That's not advice to sell anything (I'm not licensed to give financial advice wherever you are reading this, and I am not giving it here!) just to accumulate a healthy cash cushion as it comes in or is already sitting in your bank/saving/wallet. Art = speculative endeavor, not the best time to be playing the greater fool game ;)

4 hours ago, Rick2you2 said:

If I were you, I would place my money in something safe like blue chip stocks or a conservative index fund (not keen on bonds, in general).

That's what's called unsolicited investment advice by an unlicensed (re: NASD) non-professional. Danger, Will Robinson, danger!

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I own one Lichtenstein. I didn't buy it at Heritage, but here is a link to one they sold. (Hmmm, looks like the link didn't print-go look for Lichtenstein's  "This must be the Place")  It was a poster for the Reuben awards in 1965. While I understand the vehemence with which folks like Brian Peck want to call out Lichtenstein as a hack etc,, I think otherwise and pretty clearly the folks at the National Cartoonist Society felt differently at the very moment that Lichtenstein was doing a lot of his more comic book centric artwork (and while that was perhaps what made him most famous, its clearly only a fraction of the work he did in his career)  If you are thinking about jumping into these waters though, I think just looking at Heritage and at this image in particular, will give you an idea of how difficult it is to really gauge pricing for multiples (lithographs, prints etc)  The copy I have, like the one I linked to, was pencil signed by Lichtenstein. The ones that were not seem to be selling for under 1000 and mostly under 750. With the pencil signature, however, the prices start jumping around and these are for pieces sold within months of each other. Some went as low as 1700 or so, others went as high as 4000. In a sense, these are like buying vintage comics. Condition plays a stronger role than with original art,  as does rarity since these are by definition not one of a kind, most still have some limitation on the total number available. This image was released in an un-numbered edition so I have no idea how many were printed-and some clearly were pencil signed and some were not-but often with lithographs the editions are numbered so you can at least have an idea of the total produced. When I bought mine, I was actually searching for this specific image. It hit several sweet spots for me. Unlike others here, I like Lichtenstein and respect what he was doing at that time (and like later stuff too after he had given up comic images and moved on to other types of work) It also was clearly connected directly to comics, but I don't know if the image is taken from somewhere else (and don't really care)  Lichtenstein released this lithograph as a poster for the Reuben awards, but he also did a "fine art" release of the image without any of the type at the bottom  in a numbered edition. As it so happens, that image was purchased by the parents of my college roommate and it hung in his bedroom at home. I loved it when I first saw it in 1977 and had no idea of its connection to the Reuben awards. When I later found out what it had been originally produced for (some 40 years later!) I looked around and saw that there were both pencil signed and unsigned copies around. I immediately decided to get a hand signed version and pounced when I found one at what I thought (and still think ) was a good price. Based on the Heritage results over the past year I have been proven correct.

Edited by furthur

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26 minutes ago, vodou said:

I can think of an a more enthusiastic and liquid art segment, most often under four figures too, but for that reason I'm keeping it to myself - I do not need vulture competition.

Hint ??  Is the art usually smaller than 11 x 17 ??

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10 minutes ago, Will_K said:

Hint ??  Is the art usually smaller than 11 x 17 ??

No.

Where did you get that idea from?

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1 hour ago, vodou said:

No.

Where did you get that idea from?

I just wanted a hint about that mysterious art segment.

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2 hours ago, vodou said:

And cooling very hard and fast. It's not a secret, just Google.

Unrelated;immaterial. Lichtenstein is dead. An artist approved edition professionally produced by a lithographer (artists in their own right) released during his lifetime and signed/numbered is completely different from what's at Target fresh off the container boat from China lol Who the lithographer was is going to very high up the importance list re: value (cost to buy but also retention).

I don't have this book, haven't looked at it, but it's going to be a good start to the subject...long before anybody starts spending $50k on anything :)

image.png.734903d152672af42a1979d0cbda36e5.png

https://www.bookfinder.com/search/?author=&title=&lang=en&isbn=1555951961&new_used=*&destination=us&currency=USD&mode=basic&st=sr&ac=qr

Major. As early as "now" (re: Fed repo market interventions all last week and continuing into this week, the first since...2008). If you don't understand what that previous sentence means...best to play very conservative and hang onto your cash. That's not advice to sell anything (I'm not licensed to give financial advice wherever you are reading this, and I am not giving it here!) just to accumulate a healthy cash cushion as it comes in or is already sitting in your bank/saving/wallet. Art = speculative endeavor, not the best time to be playing the greater fool game ;)

That's what's called unsolicited investment advice by an unlicensed (re: NASD) non-professional. Danger, Will Robinson, danger!

I agree the art market is beginning to cool, but the dealer is probably trying to maximize his return on investment when he can.

The fact that junk shows up at places like Target means there is general public interest in his work. That results in a boost to prices overall; if people like the decorative stuff, then collectors will be influenced in their choice of purchases. Like the OP.

I stand by my statement on the coming recession. These things tend to come in cycles, as you certainly know, and the last one was mostly caused by bad banking/loans which have been somewhat fixed.  What will happen is worse than it should be because the GOP tax reduction combined with high spending has resulted in a high deficit that should rob the Congress of a major ability to effect fiscal policy, while low interest rates has cut into the Fed’s ability to lower rates further.

Personal borrowing on unsecured loans, not counting student debt (a major problem) is lower than during the last recession, and we are running at full employment (excluding frictional unemployment). There are more jobs available than openings (but they are not well distributed in the economy). I predict only 2 quarters of recession, but a slower recovery, due to the debt problems which will later effect demand.

I will take my chances with the SEC.

Edited by Rick2you2

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Thank you all for the various contributions.  It looks like Lichtenstein (and other similar artists as well) has too much uncertainty about replicates for me to go into right now.  I will need to do more research.  His stuff looks really good but shelling out USD50k for something of which I do not know exactly how many copies there are and in which form does not look like a good idea.

On one comment I agree though.  Comic art has been fantastically liquid, at least vintage OA.  Every time I have decided to monetise, it has been extremely easy and has come at values on average in line with expectations.  However, I have almost always lost money on contemporary comic OA, so I am not sure I would qualify it as "liquid".

I would also not underestimate the logistics: OA is extremely easy to ship around, which would not necessarily be the case with art on canvas or similar mediums.  That is definitely a plus vs painted fine arts.

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