Dada is the sun, Dada is the egg. Dada is the Police of the Police.

6/21/2005

Congo, the (non-representational) chimpanzee painter

Chimp art outsells the rest:
Paintings by chimpanzee outsell Warhol, Renoir at London art auction

LONDON (AP) — Monkey business proved to be lucrative Monday when paintings by Congo the chimpanzee sold at auction for more than $25,000.

The three abstract, tempera paintings were auctioned at Bonhams in London alongside works by impressionist master Renoir and pop art provocateur Andy Warhol.

But while Warhol's and Renoir's work didn't sell, bidders lavished attention on Congo's paintings.

...Congo, born in 1954, produced about 400 drawings and paintings between ages 2 and 4. He died in 1964 of tuberculosis.

His artwork provoked reactions ranging from scorn to skepticism among critics of the time, but Pablo Picasso is reported to have hung a Congo painting on his studio wall after receiving it as a gift.

I like how they make sure to mention that the paintings are 'abstract' ... if a chimp ever manages to create a representational painting, it should sell for a lot more than 25 grand. But Congo was a real artist:
At first Congo splashed the paint on, as any chimp would. But ... over two years in the late 1950s Congo suddenly changed the way he held the brush and became much more intense about his paintings.

Dr Morris said: "I was amazed. He focused on what he was doing. Every line he made logically followed the last one."

Congo confined his work to the sheet of paper or canvas in front of him, rarely letting the paint dribble on to the table or floor.

The chimp also seemed to know when a picture was finished, putting down his brush. If the picture was taken away and brought back later he would refuse to work on it. But if a fresh canvas was presented he would set to work again.

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