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Last updated: 1/25/2017
Home / Gallery Tour 1 / Gallery News / Gallery Tour 2 / Artists

Pierre Alechinsky (b. 1927): Making Marks

The Dog King / Boxes / Central Park / Critters / Drawings / Faces / Grandes Marges / Hors Texte
Labyrinths / Landscapes / Maps / Mark-Making / Screamers / Snakes / Transformations / Venice / Volcanoes
The central act of Alechinsky's art is the making of marks on a sheet of paper, on a canvas, on a copperplate, on a lithographic stone: for that is what distinguishes artists (visual or verbal) from destroyers. Papiers traités: Restaurant de l'Union, Papiers traités: D. Juin et fils, Papiers traités: Rodriguez et cie. These 3 works are from the set of 6 Recycled Papers in which Alechinsky took old receipts, transfered them to a lithographic stone, drew upon them in ink, and printed them surrounded by marginal decorations in color. As John Russell observed (NY Times, March 8, 1987) in his review of Alechinsky Guggenheim retrospective in which they were featured: "There is in the Guggenheim show a series of six lithographs that take off from a series of engraved invoioces dating from the 19th century. Each has been embellished with a drawing that might be pure fantasy but in point of fact relates to what is given, as possible subject matter, by the invoices themselves. The invoices in question were addressed to the owner of one of the great vineyards of the Bordeaux area. When Alechinsky looked closely at them he realized that they had a story to tell. "There was a bill from a drugstore," he said, "that revealed that the owner of the chateau was seriously ill. Then there was, all too soon, a bill for his coffin. Like many a Frenchwoman who has never had trouble at the bank, the widow saw no point in waste, and the next bill was from a tailor who had worked on her dead husband's overcoat and brought it up, like new, for someone else to wear. In a succession worthy of Gustave Flaubert himself, later bills showed how life resumed its normal course. There was printing to be done. A man had to come and open a safe for which the dead man must have taken the key to the grave. And—not least—there were crediotrs to be kept waiting." Although we still have the paper folder in which they came, before we realized that there was a narrative, wee had solld three of the prints and so the remainder must be treated as single works plucked untimely fro the womb of their making. Original color lithographs, 1978. 99 signed & numbered impressions, of which each of ours is is numbered 39/99. Image size: 680x524mm. Price: $3750 each ( $9750 for the three). Or perhaps we might add to the list of things that make an artist, a sense of the ridiculous in both its comic and tragic guises and the strength to laugh both at it and with it.
Ink. Original color etching, 1989. 90 signed & numbered impressions on handmade rice paper. Like a djinn arising out of a magic lamp, an image of the artist arises out of a bottle marked "ink." Art is no less magic than when the the artist consciously acknowledges his role as a creator. As Chairman Mao might have said, but, to my knowledge didn't, art comes out of a bottle of ink. Image size: 165x110mm. Price: $2750.
L'avenir de la propriété / The future of the property. Original etching, 1992. 60 signed & numbered impressions of w hich this is n. 26. on on a hand-wriiten hisory of the sixteenth century. The sheet is headed "1565" and is concerned with the events of the time. On top of it, however, Alechinsky has superimposed an uncapped bottle of ink out of which is rising a large black question mark. Although numbered 24/60, each of the images must differ with the paper. Image size: 130x78mm. Price: $3250.
Six leçons / Six Lessons. (A. 339). Original etching on biege hand-made Japonese rice paper, each sheet of which is unique, 1967. 30 signed & numbered impressions, of which we have numbers 5/30 and 2/30. One of Alechinsky's rarest and most beautiful prints. The six tightly-packed images sit in the center of a much larger sized sheet of hand-made Japanese rice paper, and the tension of the contrast between the black and beige etchings and the lush and luxurious rice paper give the work a tension it might not have had on plain white paper. We have another impression of this work on another sheet of paper. Because the paper is different, the overall look and feel of each impression differs as well. Image size:180x240mm. Price: $3250.
Papiers Traités: Restaurant de l'Union. Original color lithograph, 1978. 99 signed & numbered impressions on Arches wove paper. Published by Maeght Editeur. For the works in this series, Alechinsky begain with a lithograph after a receipt from a 19th-century business. He decorated these with ink, added some appropriate background, and a border drawn on the stone with a lithograph crayon. This is one of only 26 prints to be included in Alechinsky's 1987 Exhibnition at the Guggenheim Museum. The show then travelled to the Musées Royeaux des beaux Arts in Brussels and the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Image size: 660x520mm (matted in a 36x28 inch sheet of archival acid-free museum board). Price: $3750.
Papiers Traités: Rousseau Freres. Original color lithograph, 1978. 99 signed & numbered impressions on Arches wove paper. Published by Maeght Editeur. For the works in this series, Alechinsky begain with a lithograph after a receipt from a 19th-century business. He decorated these with ink, added some appropriate background, and a border drawn on the stone with a lithograph crayon. This is one of only 26 prints to be included in Alechinsky's 1987 Exhibnition at the Guggenheim Museum. The show then travelled to the Musées Royeaux des beaux Arts in Brussels and the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Image size: 660x520mm (matted in a 36x28 inch sheet of archival acid-free museum board). Price: SOLD.
Papiers Traités: D. Juin et Fils. Original color lithograph, 1978. 99 signed & numbered impressions on Arches wove paper. Published by Maeght Editeur. For the works in this series, Alechinsky begain with a lithograph after a receipt from a 19th-century business. He decorated these with ink, added some appropriate background, and a border drawn on the stone with a lithograph crayon. This is one of only 26 prints to be included in Alechinsky's 1987 Exhibnition at the Guggenheim Museum. The show then travelled to the Musées Royeaux des beaux Arts in Brussels and the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Image size: 660x520mm (matted in a 36x28 inch sheet of archival acid-free museum board). Price: $3750.
Papiers Traités: Rodrigues et Cie. Original color lithograph, 1978. 99 signed & numbered impressions on Arches wove paper. Published by Maeght Editeur. For the works in this series, Alechinsky begain with a lithograph after a receipt from a 19th-century business. He decorated these with ink, added some appropriate background, and a border drawn on the stone with a lithograph crayon. This is one of only 26 prints to be included in Alechinsky's 1987 Exhibnition at the Guggenheim Museum. The show then travelled to the Musées Royeaux des beaux Arts in Brussels and the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Image size: 660x520mm (matted in a 36x28 inch sheet of archival acid-free museum board). Price: $3750.
En votre aimable dérèglement / In your aimaiable disorder. Original color lithograph, 1986. 150 signed & numbered impressions on Arches paper, of which ours is n. 88/150. The painter at his easel is one of Picasso and Chagall's favorite themes. However, instead of presenting the artist as a heroic figure, Alechinsky shows the artist working hard at this easel painting on a canvas, imposing his vision not on a blank slate, but on an invoice for things already bought. Image size: 545x355mm (matted in a 32x24 inch mat of archival acid-free museum board). Price: $3250.
Lettre ouvert / Open letter. Original color lithograph, 1975. 400 signed & numbered impressions on Arches wove paper; our impression is an artist proof annotated e.a. xix/xxx. The central figure is holding a paper down and drawing on it to "open" it up. Image size: 760x535mm (matted in a 36x28 inch sheet of archival acid-free museum board). Price: $3250.
Pierre Alechinsky-Claude Simon, Placard. Original color lithograph, 1986. 500 signed and numbered impressions of which ours is n. 181/500. Simon, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, and Alechinsky, winner of the first Andrew W. Mellon Prize for Painting, the Nobel Prize for artists, collaborated on this piece in which Alechinsky gives us a speaking picture of Simon's text. Since Simon's Nobel was awarded him, this piece has become quite scarce. Image size: 586x776mm (matted in a 36x28 inch sheet of archival acid-free museum board). Price: $1750.

The blank paper outside the black lines that forms the border is actually white. Athough I don't know very much about Claude Simon, I know that in addition to Alechinsky, he was friendly with other artists, including Claude Garache, who was staying with us in Madison WI when the news that Simon had been awarded the Nobel Prize in literature was broadcast. Garache immediately called the other Claude to congratulate him, suggesting how easily artists and writers get along, at least in France.
Encrier de voyage / Inkwell travel. Original color lithograph, 1984. 75 signed & numbered impressions on Arches wove paper; our impression is n. 59/75. In this work, from an open ink bottle, a swirl of ink arise like a genie from Aladdin's lamp and the map behind the white square (a blank sheet of paper?) a whole universe of images arises to cover the map upon which the design is imposed. Image size: 725x518mm (matted in a 36x28 inch sheet of archival acid-free museum board). Price: $3250.

For additional works that are based upon maps, please click here.
Louisiana I. Original color etching, 1983. 150 signed & numbered impressions on Arches paper, of which ours is n. 88/150. 99 signed & numbered impressions on Arches, of which this is n. 85/99. In 1975, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebaek, Denmark, established a permanent Alechinsky Room. This etching is a tribute to the museum done on the occasion of Alechinsky's donation of a number of drawings to the museum. Maek-making in its purist form! Image size: 560x450mm (matted in a 30x24 inch mat of archival acid-free museum board). Price: $4000.
Louisiana II. Original color etching, 1983. 150 signed & numbered impressions on Arches paper, of which ours is n. 88/150. 99 signed & numbered impressions on Arches, of which this is n. 83/99. In 1975, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebaek, Denmark, established a permanent Alechinsky Room. This etching is a tribute to the museum done on the occasion of Alechinsky's donation of a number of drawings to the museum. Maek-making in its purist form! Image size: 560x450mm (matted in a 30x24 inch mat of archival acid-free museum board). Price: $4000.
Louisiana III. Original color etching, 1983. 150 signed & numbered impressions on Arches paper, of which ours is n. 90/150. 99 signed & numbered impressions on Arches, of which this is n. 83/99. In 1975, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebaek, Denmark, established a permanent Alechinsky Room. This etching is a tribute to the museum done on the occasion of Alechinsky's donation of a number of drawings to the museum. Maek-making in its purist form! Image size: 560x450mm (matted in a 30x24 inch mat of archival acid-free museum board). Price: $4000.
Premier Acte / Act One. Original color lithograph, 1976. 120 signed and numbered impressions on Arches, of which ours is n. 106/120. Images size: 1000x620mm. Mat size: 48x36 inches. Price: $7500.

Bottom left: Seoul '88. Original color lithograph, 1988. Commissioned for the 1988 Seoul Olympics, the work was never published: the publisher of the Olympic Art Portfolio went into bankruptcy and the works were tied up in court. A mock-up of the cover of a book on Contemporary Art & The Olympics (Seoul, Lloyd Shin Gallery, 1988) showed Alechinsky's work on the dust jacket (Art Gallera International, July/August 1989, p. 12), but I know only a review of the book and not the book itself. We acquired some impressions from one of the creditors who, on his last visit, told us that the remainder of the pieces had been damaged by water from a leaky roof in the warehouse where they were in storage and had been destroyed. The original edition was for 300 signed and numbered impressions for public release plus CCC for the Olympic Art Committee, of which ours is CXLVI/CCC; the actual number that survived was much smaller than that. Image size: 760x560mm. Mat size: 36x28. Price: $3750.

Spirale I. Original woodcut, c. 1975. 300 signed and numbered impressions on Arches paper (of which ours is n. 98/300) measuring 655x505mm. Woodcuts are rare in Alechinsky's print oeuvre, but the spiral or labyrinthine or serpent form is one of Alechinsky's favorites. Image size: 495x362mm. Mat sizze: 30x24 ibches. Price $3250.
Deuxième Acte / Act Two. Original color lithograph, 1976. 120 signed and numbered impressions on Arches, of which ours is n. 106/120. Images size: 1000x620mm. Mat size: 48x36 inches. Price: $7500
Troisième Acte / Act Three. Original color lithograph, 1976. 120 signed and numbered impressions on Arches, of which ours is n. 106/120. Images size: 1000x620mm. Mat size: 48x36 inches. Price: $7500
The Year of the Snake. Original color serigraph with etching, 1977. 150 signed & numbered impressions. In 1977, which was the Year of the Snake in the Chinese calendar, Alechinsky was awarded the Andrew W. Mellon Prize, then roughly the fiscal equivalent of the Nobel Prize. This work was made to commemorate that event and to serve to introduce a retrospective of Alechinsky's works at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh. Image size: 964x634mm (38x25 inches). Frame size: Mat size: 48x36 inches. Price: $4500.

During the show (until 5/4/14), we will see the first impression of this work for half price ($2250). Our last impression will then be priced at $4500..
Chicago. Original color etching and lithograph, 1991. 99 signed & numbered impressions on Arches of which this is n. 55/99. This was the official featured print at the 1991 Chicago International Art Exposition. Image size: 1013x750mm. Mat size: 48x36 inches. Price: $8500.

There was also an unsigned offset lithograh with poater text available at the Expo as a souvenir.
The winner of the first Andrew W. Mellon Prize for Painting (1977) and the French Grand Prix National for painting in 1984, Alechinsky has been recognized in recent years as one of the most significant living artists. (The art market has also noticed his stature: one of his paintings sold at auction about 15 years ago for over $2,000,000.)

Alechinsky was just barely out of his teens when he burst onto the art scene as one of the original members of the COBRA group, and over the years he has emerged as one of the most imaginative and witty artists of our times. Alechinsky fans are everywhere. John Russell, who in 1986-87 devoted three separate columns in The New York Times to Alechinsky, sees him as "a man of strange blameless passions. Decorated invoices, worthless stock certificates, obsolete air-force navigational charts and ancient hand-written archival materials spark his imagination. . . . He has a taste for nature’s upheavals." Carlos Fuentes, the Mexican novelist for whom "the garden is the center of the world," has described Alechinsky as a man who "paints gardens. . . . He knows that the history of gardens is the history of all of us. . . . Alechinsky . . . chooses any of the forked paths of the manicured gardens at Blois or Hampton Court and then transforms them, ferociously, into the savage gardens of the primitive mind, the original unity of dream and awareness, reason and imagination, desire and reality." Indeed, it may be that it is his dream of recovering that lost unity that makes him, as The Times called him, "a poet of entanglement, [who] resolutely turns the emphasis away from himself, preferring to act rather as historian and referee than as autobiographer. . . . His touch is light, his thought rapid, his view of the world as sharp as it is benign. There is no better companion, and not many who keep us so consistently amused and are so generous with their findings."

Alechinsky has had major retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art and The Guggenheim Museum in NY, The Museum of Arts, Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh (in 1977, the Year of the Snake), The Palais des Beaux-Arts and the Musées Royeaux des Beaux Arts in Brussels, the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Vile de Paris and the Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Boymans-von-Beuningen in Rotterdam, the Louisiana Museum in Humlebaek, and museums in Aalborg, Brême, Copenhagen, Darmstadt, Des Moines, Düsseldorf, Gordes, Hanover, Marseille, Metz, Mexico City, Munich, St. Paul de Vence, Toronto, and Zurich.

Select Bibliography: General works: Daniel Abadie and Willy Van Den Bussche, Pierre Alechinsky (Ostend: PMMK, 2000); Pierre Alechinsky, Cent vingt dessins, donation de l'artiste (Brussels: Musees Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels 1973); Pierre Alechinsky, Divers faits (Vevey: Musee Janisch, 2000); Pierre Alechinsky, Au Pays de l'encre (Paris: Centre Pompidou, 1998), Pierre Alechinsky, Dotremont et Cobra-foret (Paris: Galilee, 1988); Pierre Alechinsky, Drawings and Prints (Jerusalem: Musee d'Israel, 1970); Pierre Alechinsky, Hoirie Cobra (Caen: L'Échoppe, 1990); Pierre Alechinsky, Ideotraces (Paris: Editions Denoel, 1966); Pierre Alechinsky, Le bureau de titre (Paris: Fata Morgana, 1983); Pierre Alechinsky, Le test du titre: 6 planches et 61 titreurs d'elite (Paris: Yves Riviere Editeur, 1974); Pierre Alechinsky, Margin and Center (NY: Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, 1987); Pierre Alechinsky, New Work: Pains de terre émaillé, Flora Danica drawings, Revalorisations (NY: Andre Emmerich Gallery, 1991); Pierre Alechinsky, Notes sur Orsay (Caen: L'Échoppe, 1989); Pierre Alechinsky, Paintings and Writings (Pittsburgh: Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, 1977); Pierre Alechinsky, Pierre Alechinsky: Werke 1958-1968 (Düsseldorf. Kunstverein fur die Rheinlande und Westfalen, 1969); Pierre Alechinsky, Reponses a un questionnaire (Caen: L'Echoppe, 1987); Pierre Alechinsky, The Future of Property. Fourteen Specimens re-evaluated by Pierre Alechinsky (NY: Lefebre Gallery, 1970); Pierre Alechinsky and Georges Duby, Alechinsky (Zurich: Maeght Zurich, 1980); Pierre Alechinsky, and Amos Kenan, Les Tireurs de Langue (Paris: Yves Riviere Editeur, 1974); Pierre Alechinsky and Karel Appel, Two-brush paintings. Their Poems by Hugo Claus. Foreword by Christian Dotrement (Paris: Yves Riviere Editeur, 1980); Karel Appel & Pierre Alechinsky, Encres a deux pinceaux (Paris: Yves Riviere Editeur, 1978); Alain Bosquet, Alechinsky (Paris: Le musee de poche 1971); Jacques Busse, Pierre Alechinsky (Chicago: Arts Club Of Chicago, 1965); Pierre Descargues, Alechinsky Bouches et Grilles (Paris: Galerie Maeght Lelong 1986); Christian Dotrement et al., Appel et Alechinsky: Encres à deux pinceaux, peintures, etc. (Saint Paul De Vence: Fondation Maeght, 1982); Georges Duby, Alechinsky (Zurich: Maeght Zurich 1980); Jacques Dupin, Alechinsky: Laves Emaillees (Paris: Galerie Lelong, 1988); Petit journal: Made in France 1947-1997 (Paris: Centre Pompidou, 1997); Jacques Putnam, Alechinsky (Paris: Celiv, 1990); Alain Robbe-Grillet, Pierre Daix et al., Pierre Alechinsky (Valencia: IVAM Centre Julio Gonzalez, 2000); Alain Robbe-Grillet, John Yau, Daniel Abadie and Pierre Daix, Pierre Alechinsky (Paris: Jeu de Paume, 1998); Michel Sicard, Alechinsky Sur Rhone (Paris: Galerie Lelong, 1990); Michel Sicard, ed. Pierre Alechinsky: Extraits pour traits (Paris: Galilée, 1989); Giorgio Soavi, Alechinsky: XXXVI Biennale de Venise, Pavillon Belge (Venice: Venice Biennale, 1972).

Prints: Pierre Alechinsky, Alechinsky a l'imprimerie: 150 estampes (Paris: le Musee national d'art moderne, 1975, 1977); Pierre Alechinsky, Alechinsky. (Rome: Edizioni 2RC, 1988); Pierre Alechinsky, Aux petits soins (Paris: Atelier Clot, 1989); Pierre Alechinsky, Ces robes qui m'evoquaient Venise. (Montpellier: Fata Morgana, 1988); Pierre Alechinsky, L'avenir de la propriéte (Montpellier: Fata Morgana, 1992); Pierre Alechinsky, Communication: 16 Manifestations d'Hypertrophie Calligraphique (Vouvière (Belgique): Editions du Daily-Bul, 1967); Pierre Alechinsky et al., The Complete Books: A Reasonable Catalogue (Antwerpen: Ceuleers & Van de Velde, 2002); Pierre Alechinsky and Michel Butor, Le Chien Roi (Paris: Daniel Lelong Editeur, 1984); Franck Bordas et al, Les Impressions de Pierre Alechinsky (Paris: Bibliothèque nationale de France, 2005); Michel Butor et Michel Sicard, Pierre Alechinsky: Frontières et Bordures (Paris: Editions Galilee, 1984); Michel Butor et Michel Sicard, Alechinsky: Travaux d'Impression (Paris: Editions Galilee, 1992); Michel Draguet et al., Alechinsky from A to Y (Tielt, Belgium: Lannoo, 2007); Rainer Michael Mason et al, Pierre Alechinsky: Noir sur blanc (Geneva: Caninet des Estampes du Musee D'Art et D'Histoire, 1998); Yves Riviere, Pierre Alechinsky: Les estampes de 1946 a 1972 (Paris: Yves Riviere Editeur, 1973).
Pierre Alechinsky, Paintings and Writings (Pittsburgh: Carnegie Museum, 1977). Published on the occasion of the award of the first Mellon Prize to Alechinsky, the deluxe edition of 100 is signed by Alechinsky. The book contains essays by Alechinsky on artists like Joan Miró and Bram van Velde, stories by Alechinsky, a photoducmentation of COBRA, and a good selection of Alechinsky's most important early paintings. The work is decorated by reproductions of drawings done especially for the volume. Although unsigned copies are presently selling for as much as $125 in the used book market, we are pleased to be able to offer several used copies for $50.00 each.

Spaightwood Galleries, Inc.

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