Author Topic: Vincent Price / Sears Collection Of Fine Art  (Read 6154 times)

fmofmpls

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Vincent Price / Sears Collection Of Fine Art
« on: November 23, 2012, 08:55:09 AM »
Leave it to Vincent Price to take an instructional video aimed at Sears employees on the "fine art" of selling fine art, and still somehow make it entertaining. Believe it or not, Sears used to have an art department in their retail offerings. Not sure if this was "catalog only," or if they had actual in-store art departments? I'm sure our Vincent Price scholar, Robert Taylor, can shed some light on this interesting subject. I would also be curious to know if any Vincent Price collectors out there have some of the Sears fine-art paintings in their collections? And if so, please feel free to share some pics. Meanwhile, I'm going to go pour some wine and sip it while eating expensive cheese.

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fmofmpls

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Re: Vincent Price / Sears Collection Of Fine Art
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2012, 09:27:17 AM »
Directly from the Sears Archive web site:
http://www.searsarchives.com/history/art/index.htm
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Sears and Fine Art   
Vincent Price Collection of Fine Art

In 1962, art was not really new to Sears. As early as 1895, Sears offered oil paintings at prices of 90 cents and up. The services of many distinguished artists, such as Andrew Loomis, McClelland Barclay and Norman Rockwell had designed covers for the Sears catalog. Yet, company executives observed that except for a few major cities, fine art was virtually inaccessible to the general public.

Artist's Studio" a watercolor by Andrew Wyeth offered for sale by Sears' Vincent Price Collection of Fine Art in 1966.

Sears set out to end this isolation by merchandising art throughout the country, in a presentation from which pictures could be readily purchased to enrich American homes. Vincent Price was approached to take charge of this program. Price, although well-known by the public as an actor, was also known in the international art world as a collector, lecturer, former gallery-owner and connoisseur who spent a dozen years studying art at Yale, the University of London and other art centers abroad.

Price was given complete authority to acquire any works he considered worthy of selection. He searched throughout the world for fine art to offer through Sears. He bought whole collections and even commissioned artists, including Salvador Dali, to do works specifically for this program.

At first, the idea of a large merchandising organization, such as Sears, maintaining a serious, top-quality art collection met with skepticism. But the public - and the artists themselves - soon learned that Sears would not compromise with good taste or artistic quality.

On October 6, 1962, the first exhibit and sale of "The Vincent Price Collection of Fine Art" took place in a Sears store in Denver, Colo. Original works of the great masters - Rembrandt, Chagall, Picasso, Whistler and more - as well as those of the best contemporary artists at the time were offered for sale in this first exhibit and throughout the program's existence.

Cover of the 1927 Sears Catalog featuring a reproduction of a painting for Sears by Norman Rockwell

Items ranged in selling price from $10 to $3,000. Sears customers could also purchase items on an installment plan for as little as $5 down and $5 a month. Each work in the program was guaranteed as an original work of quality, just as Sears offered quality guarantees on its lawnmowers and TVs. The program was an instant success. So many pictures were snatched up the first day that an emergency shipment had to be flown in lest the walls be bare the next day.

The program expanded in the weeks that followed, adding exhibits in 10 additional Sears stores including Hartford, Conn., Harrisburg, Penn., San Diego, Calif., Evansville, Ind., Madison, Wis., and Oklahoma City, Okla. After the successful exhibition and sale of these first 1,500 pieces, the program was expanded nationwide to all of Sears stores throughout the country, bringing original works of fine art to the American public in unprecedented quantity and quality.

Works from the collection were also offered for sale through a special catalog in 1963 and 1964. In 1966, the Sears Vincent Price Gallery of Fine Art was opened in Chicago, Ill., providing a mass audience for talented, but less well-known, young artists. The collection also held temporary exhibits in several hundred communities throughout the country and permanent galleries operated in several cities

By 1971, when the program ended, more than 50,000 pieces of fine art passed through a constantly changing collection into American homes and offices.
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typhooforme

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Re: Vincent Price / Sears Collection Of Fine Art
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2012, 04:44:38 PM »
You.answered.your.own.question!...Yes,.you.could.go.to.the.physical.stores.and.roam.the."Vincent.Price.Galleries"...and.buy.REAL.art.for.your.home..Vincent.was.very.disappointed.when.Sears.decided.to.end.the.art.sales...Apparently.the.corporation.itself.was.not.making.enough.money.(to.heck.with.the.public.being.educated.in.collecting.art!).

I.can.tell.you.one.thing.that.isn't.generally.known--Price.liked.the.art.he.chose.for.Sears.to.sell.SO.much.that.he.collected.some.of.it.himself...In.my.Price.collection--which.is.considered.(by.Victoria.Price.no.less!).to.be.fairly.extensive,.I.have.a.half.dozen.pieces.of.fine.art.which.hung.in.Vincent's.home.which.have.the.Sears/Price.labels.on.the.reverse!...my.favorites.are.a.pair.of.19th.Century.illustrations.of.monkeys--ink.and.watercolor.

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Re: Vincent Price / Sears Collection Of Fine Art
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2012, 05:21:00 PM »
Why am I not shocked that our venerable Elder Robert has some of the pieces in question? STAGGERINGLY cool!! From what I recall, many of the Sears stores that sold the Price collection had watercolor portraits of Price in the gallery. How much would you LOVE to have one of those??

It's a crying shame the program ended when it did.
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fmofmpls

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Re: Vincent Price / Sears Collection Of Fine Art
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2012, 09:43:01 AM »
Fantastic photos Robert! I knew you had to own some of these pieces of art. Very cool, my friend, very cool.
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typhooforme

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Re: Vincent Price / Sears Collection Of Fine Art
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2012, 12:37:52 PM »
A.couple.more.pieces.of.art.from.Vincent.Price's.collection...this.is.a.sketch.of.a.couple.horses.done.by.American.artist.Scott.Leighton.(1847-1898)...Leighton.specialized.in.equine.paintings.

An.intaglio..print.with.pen.and.watercolor.by.Canadian.artist.Lucille.Gilling.(1905-1997).from.her.series.of.scenes.from.Chaucer...this.is."The.Merchant's.Tale".and.there.is.something.suspicious.going.on.in.that.pear.tree!

A.lithograph.by.French.satirist.Honore.Daumier.(1808-1879)--and.knowing.Price's.sense.of.humor,.I'm.sure.he.got.a.kick.out.of.this.one...it.shows.an.outraged.adult.taking.his.kids.through.the.art.museum.and.being.shocked.at.the.ancient.statues'.nudity..."These.artists,".says.the.narrowminded.parent,."are.all.perverts!"

Although.the.Sear/Price.gallery.sales.ended.in.the.early.1970s,.you.can.still.find.pieces.of.art.with.the.Sears/Price.blue.label.on.the.back.for.sale.on.line.on.various.auction.sites...Vinnie's.plan.for.getting.real.art.into.the.homes.of.American.collectors.is.still.at.work,.sort.of!
Robert in Ohio

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fmofmpls

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Vincent Price / Sears Collection Of Fine Art
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2012, 12:58:42 PM »
Robert, were most of these Sears prints one of a kind pieces of art, or were they prints of original art?


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typhooforme

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Re: Vincent Price / Sears Collection Of Fine Art
« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2012, 02:37:18 PM »
No,.not.prints.of.originals...each.was.the.real.thing...In.the.case.of.ones.that.WERE.prints,.they.were.prints.done.by.the.artists.themselves,.usually.signed.and.numbered--but.nothing.was.a.print.of.a.pre-existing.painting.or.anything.like.that...This.was."the.real.deal"--that's.what.Vinnie.insisted.on!
Robert in Ohio

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fmofmpls

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Vincent Price / Sears Collection Of Fine Art
« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2012, 02:51:36 PM »
Wow. That's impressive of not just Vinnie's insistence about selling original art, but with Sears corporate decision to do so. I would imagine it would have been a whole lot easier to peddle prints than securing original pieces of art for retail purposes.

Thanks again Robert for the "price-less" info!


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neonnoodle

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Re: Vincent Price / Sears Collection Of Fine Art
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2012, 01:25:56 PM »
I was just reading Victoria Price's biography of her father, which goes into detail about how this arrangement came into being, and how Price selected the works.  It's great to see it discussed here, and great to see some photos of pieces in Robert's collection!
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