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120 Main Street, Upton MA 01568-6193

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Last updated: 6/23/2019
Home / Gallery Tour 1 / Gallery News / Gallery Tour 2 / Artists

Pierre Alechinsky (Belgium, b. 1927) and Snakes

The Dog King / Boxes / Central Park / Critters / Drawings / Faces / Grandes Marges / Hors Texte
Labyrinths / Landscapes / Maps / Mark-Making / Screamers / Snakes / Transformations / Venice / Volcanoes
In the Chinese calendar, the Year of the Snake comes every twelve years. For Alechinsky, a founding member of COBRA (an acronym for the cities that contributed members to the group, Copenhagen, Brussels, and Amsterdam), the Year of the Snake can be an auspicious one. In 1977, also the Year of the Snake, Alechinsky was awarded the first Andrew W. Mellon Prize for Painting and executed one of the prints we are featuring, also called The Year of the Snake. In 1989, Alechinsky's Guggenheim retrospective which had been traveling in Europe for almost two years had finally come to its end, in 2001, we celebrated the Year of the Snake with a large show of Alechinsky's original prints and several drawings; in 2013, the Year of the Sanke will come again, but we have no intention of waiting until then. Only time will tellwhen, but time is whispering in our ears, why not in the fall of 2009 in a salute to Alechinsky's turning 81 (9x9, a number that probably has not significance whatsoever so far as Alechinsky is concerned). We are featuring lots of Alechinsky's favorite images: Central Park, snakes, volcanoes, gardens, dog-kings, smiling crocodiles and sea monsters, and people existing as best they can in a world that often seems to invite extreme emotional responses. (Sometimes you just want to scream!) Still, 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.
The Year of the Snake. Original color serigraph with etching, 1977. 150 signed & numbered impressions on Arches wove paper. Published by the Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute. Although some years actually are "The Year of the Snake" in the Chinese calendar (including 2013, the year in which our current Alechinsky show actually arrived on the walls of the gallery), in another sense, all years are likely to be years fillewd with images of snakes if for no other reasson than that Alechinsky's role as a founding member of the post-World-War II artistic group COBRA (the name came for the initials of the cities where most of the members came—COpenhagen, BRussels, and Amsterdam) started him down the path to world-wide recognition as an artist. Image size: 964x634mm (38x25 inches). Price: $4500. Special sale price during this Year of the Snake: $3600.
Serpent de terre (A. 192). Original color etching, 1962. 60 signed and numbered impressions on Rives paper (of which ours is n. 20/60) printed at Imprimerie Lacourière, Paris. This rare early piece presents us with one of Alechinsky's favorite subjects, a snake (he was one of the founders of the COBRA Group, after all). The serpent lower right is curled about a disembodied head; the one upper left is admiring yet another. The figure top left looks interestingly like a playing-card portrait of a king such as the one who had his tarts stolen by the Knave of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland. Image size: 232x178mm. Price: $3250.
Que se passe--t-il? / What's happening? (A. 189). Original color lithograph, 1963. 100 signed & numbered impressions on Arches (of which ours is n. 15/100) plus an edition (c. 1000 impressions?) signed and titled in the stone for an Alechinsky exhibition at the Stedelijk van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven. Image size: 330x505mm. Price: $3500.

We also have one of the unsigned impressions (with the usual centerfold available for $850.
Plan d'ensemble / Comprehensive plan (A. 225). Original color lithograph, 1964. 75 signed & numbered impressions on Arches, of which ours is n. 38/75 plus 30 impressions from the black plate only. Ours is a very strong impression of a very strong image showing the layers upon layers of colors that Alechinsky has laid down through many runs through the press so that we see the delicate colors only by working through the dark ones. Image size: 460x610mm. Price: $3250.
Tireur de langue profilé / Tongue-puller in profile (A. 232). Original color lithograph, 1964. 80 signed and numbered impressions (of which ours is n. 21/80) plus 2600 signed and dated in the stone for an exhibition catalogue (with fold). Image size: 210x280mm. Price: $3000.
Tous les sept ans changeait de peau / Every seven years the snake changes his skin (A. 321). Original etching, 1967. 35 signed & numbered impressions. Every seven years the snake changes its skin and the artist is reborn! A very rare etching playing upon the favorite beast of the COBRA group. Image size: 75x95mm. Price: $2500.
Vulcanologies III (A. 455) Original color lithograph, 1970. 90 signed & numbered impressions on wove paper. A little-known fact is here demonstrated: volcanoes explode when their snakes feel like they have a fire in their stomachs. Image size: 570x440mm. Price: $4000.

To see the complete set of 7, please click here.
Peau Neuve / New skin. Original color lithograph, 1973. 120 titled, signed, and numbered impressions of which ours is n. 91/120. Published by les Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique for an Alechinsky exhibition there and reproduced on the cover of the booklet they produced for the exhibition. It is also included in Alechinsky à l'Imprimerie, a retrospective of his prints from 1972 to 1975 held at the Centre Pompidou in 1975, the show circulated to a number of museums in France, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Finland, & Sweden. Image size: 646x503mm. Price: $2850.
Serpent of Bimini. Original color etching, c. 1975. 75 signed & numbered impressions on Japon paper (very rich surfaces with lots of long silky fibers). Both a portrait of his father and a self-portrait, this pieces displays Alechinsky's characteristic mixture of chaos and order. A beautiful impression. Image size: 398x497mm. Price: $3750 .
Central Park. Original color lithograph, 1975. 175 impressions on Arches plus L impressions on japon, of which ours is n. VII/L. There are also 25 impressions H.C. Central Park is also the subject of Alechinsky's most important painting, which depicts Central Park as a monster devouring everyone that enters its domain. Image Size: 495x657mm. Price: $3750.
Snake Fish. Original color lithograph, 1977. 100 signed and numbered impressions on Arches paper published with the deluxe edition of Pierre Alechinsky: Paintings and Writings (Pittsburgh: Carnegie-Mellon Institute, 1977) on the occasion of his award of the Andrew W. Mellon Prize for Painting. This lithograph was originally produced to accompany the deluxe edition of the book, though it has taken on a separate life of its own. The snake on the right appears to resent the process of evolution by which the fish, seen most clearly in his tail (bottom center) appears to be evolving into a life form able to leave the sea behind (unless, of course, he is warmly greeting this new life form by giving it a welcoming sniff with his sensory apparatus . Image size: 300x210mm. Price: $1250.

A signed copy of Pierre Alechinsky: Paintings and Writings will accompany the first purchase of the lithograph (after that, we are all sold out of singed copies of the book, but will be happy to offer an unsigned copy of the book until we are sold out of them as well).
Coin jaune / The yellow corner. Original color lithograph, 1977. 125 signed and numbered impressions. If we begin by focusing on the yellow corner top left, the snake, fangs gaping, comes as something of a surprise. Don't they always! (As Monty Python reminded us, nobody ever expects the Spanish Inquisition; by the same token, no one ever expects to find a snake in the grass of their well-kept lawn!). Image size: 399x201mm. Price: SOLD.
"Chemin de ronde" / The watchman's path. Original color lithograph and linocut, 1977. 150 signed & numbered impressions, of which ours is n. 134/150. This work was one of only 26 prints included in the major Alechinsky retrospective exhibited at the Guggenheim Museum in 1987 and circulated to museums in the U.S., (Des Moines Art Center), Hannover (Kunstverein), and Brussels (Musée Royal d'art moderne). Illustrated in "Margin and Center," the catalogue for the show. Image size: 635x930mm. Price: $5000.
Pour Berggruen / For Berggruen. Original color lithograph, 1979. 100 signed & numbered impressions for Galerie Berggruen, Paris, of which ours is n. 39/100. There was also an unsigned edition printed for use as a wrap-around cover one of the special catalogs published by the Galerie Berggruen of Paris. Among the other artists who were honored with a similar commission are Picasso, Miró, Chagall, Motherwell, and fellow members of the COBRA group Appel and Corneille. Image size: 230x250mm. Price: $1250.
Langue vert / Green tongue. Original color lithograph and etching, 1981. 100 signed and numbered impressions on Arches plus 20 artist's proofs, of which ours is e.a. xix/xx. Alechinsky's COBRA affiliation is glanced at here through the snake's green tongue (like a gardener's grteen thumb?), bringing life to all it points towards. Image size: 790x555mm. Price: $4500.
Rue serpente. Original color lithograph, 1982. 90 signed & numbered impressions on Arches wove paper; our impression is n. 18/90. Starting out on a journey across a map, a snaky road suddenly transforms into a giant serpent with a quasi-human face looming above the map upon which the design is imposed. Image size: 833x600mm (matted in a 36x28 inch sheet of archival acid-free museum board). Price: $3750.
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 good used copies for $50.00 each.

Spaightwood Galleries, Inc.

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