Painting Frank O. Bought A.R.


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Chris, I can't recall if he had an Art Students League connection. He did have a connection of some kind to Joan Blumenthal, who may have recommended the painting to Frank O'C. I knew Hertle in the 70s when we both lived in New York, within walking distance of each other, but I haven't been in touch with him recently.

In the only web reference I could find, the late Stephen Speicher wrote: "...a magnificent young Objectivist artist, Ralph Hertle, who, sadly, gave up painting twenty-five years ago. His work, Until Now, is on my office wall (Ayn Rand had the original painting)..." From here.

As I recall, Hertle saw industrial design as his main profession.

Now I want to visit Brazil, to see what Michael is talking about. The geography of the painting also roughly resembles a view of downtown Chicago from the northern lakefront. Hertle had lived in Chicago at one time also, although I did not know him then.

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  • 7 months later...

This is from a reproduction, shot with my camera phone, but you'll get the idea. I'm sure the original was sharper and brighter - and bigger.

The artist is Ralph Hertle, and the name of the piece is "Until Now".

3153037100_b5c7541806.jpg

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Hello, John,

Thanks for the pleasant thoughts. Thanks. also, for the wonderful poem regarding "Until Now". I hope that you publish that.

Recently, I made an electronic image file of the print of the painting, "Until Now", and the result is a fine original size print.

My plan is to make prints of that in the original size, and also in a smaller size. I don't know what store will want to carry it, and I'm thinking that a gallery to be named may be the distributor.

The high-resolution digital print on new semi-matte finish art paper offers a way to get a good image.

I plan to make digital prints of the pantings,

"Until Now", "Dynamis" [a sequel to "Until Now"], and several color pastel figure drawings.

Send me an email at ralph.hertle@verizon.net for more information.

The painting, "Until Now", was first shown to artist, Joan Blumenthal, and she had a possible buyer she thought may be interested. I was without money at the time, and I wanted the price of $2,000 for it. She said the price had to be $200. I didn't have $.02, and I accepted. Frank O'Connor bought it for Ayn Rand, and she was quite happy with it. She wanted me to bring other works to her, and when I had finished the painting, "Dynamis", I chose not to do that. At the time, I couldn't afford another $200 sale. "Dynamis" was later sold to Cary Steen in California.

Frank and I had the task of hanging the framed painting over the ultra modern aluminum and blue fabric sofa in the O'Connor's living room. There we were, both kneeling on the sofa and holding the picture up to get the picture wire onto the hooks on the wall above. The sofa suspension was of the soft type, and the two of us holding the picture descended down into the sofa. The picture wire missed the hooks. We had a hell of a time getting out. Miss Rand walked by, glanced at our trapped bodies, and gave us a twisted smile as if to say, "What artist geniuses you two guys are!" Funny or not, the picture was placed.

Ralph Hertle

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Ralph:

Welcome to OL. I like your work.

Adam

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1. Hey, Ralph, great to see you here! (You may remember me from the old days in New York.)

2. Michael, I too am intrigued by what you said of Brazilian architecture. There is so much on the web, do you think you could post any photos from the web of futuristic, "Until Now" type architecture.

3. There is a modernist German/American architect who has done modernistic architecture that I like. His name is Helmut Jahn. If you've ever flown thru O'Hare and been in its newest? section, you have seen his work.

4. The story of Ralph being driven down to $200 really makes me tremendously angry. And -morally- disgusted.

"Until Now" is a great, inspired, remarkable painting - if anything a 20 thousand dollar painting or 200 thousand dollar not even a 2 thousand. It probably wasn't Rand but one of the two intermediaries who tried to pay him a lot less than the sweat and imagination and effort he must have put into it. Rand was often very generous. It's actually a false concept of egoism applied to trade to try to squeeze the other party for less than what is needed to allow mutual profit. Nor does it lead to good future relations, either with that potential partner, who will stay away from you, as Ralph did, or by word of mouth to others.

I would go say far as to say the $200 firm price was actually -immoral- in this one particular instance. Because it was not egoistic in the sense of a mutually proper trade in the context of a great work of art, a struggling artist who needs a sign of success, and a purchaser who can clearly afford a proper trading relationship.

And, no, it ain't Objectivism.

Hey, I'm hiring workers! I'm going to find out just how much you need to avoid starvation and to stay one step ahead of the law and the landlord. And to crawl to work every day in a torn shirt.

Anyone interested????

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I would go say far as to say the $200 firm price was actually -immoral- in this one particular instance. Because it was not egoistic in the sense of a mutually proper trade in the context of a great work of art, a struggling artist who needs a sign of success, and a purchaser who can clearly afford a proper trading relationship.

That's nonsense. If he couldn't sell the painting for more than $200 that was a fair price, determined by a free market. No one is obliged to pay more. Thinking that he was "entitled" to a higher price is the mechanism behind every subsidy for art works. You cannot decide for another person what is a mutually "proper" trade, that is socialist thinking.

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> Thinking that he was "entitled" to a higher price is the mechanism behind every subsidy for art works...socialist thinking

No it's not - you shifted the topic to socialism and -forcibly- subsidizing art works.

Was the point about a good trader trying to offer a price that keeps something he greatly values and is irreplaceable in business in a creative field unclear? We're not talking about selling shoes at Walmart here. Context!

See next post for more =>

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Here's another aspect of why it is not egoistic, is not in the self-interest of the buyer in this case who loves this kind of art work [now if they only thought it was marginal art and only worth very little, then they would not be hanging it in the center of the living room]:

As it turns out it seems possible [i don't want to put words or evaluations into his mouth, but if it were me, this is certainly what I'd be concluding] that they discouraged the creator (in sort of a Richard Halley parallel) - "if this is all I can get for something I worked so hard on, and had such a difficult struggle to get any buyers, even from the top admirers of this kind of art, people I respect for their taste and esthetic appreciation, does it make sense to continue doing this."

So, for the difference between $200 and $2000 -- or what would have cost only $1800 to people who are quite well off on book royalties -- you ought to be able to grasp the message you are sending and the strong likelihood that you will not see or be offered any more of the works you admire.

Not specifically offered to you (as we saw) and maybe not even created anymore (which is also what happened.)

That can hardly be 'egoistic' on their part. Or worth the $1800 when that is a small amount of money for you, compared to the rarity of and valued to you as "emotional fuel" of great art.

In fact, there is a wider context in which dollar amounts are unimportant. If I were a millionaire, it would be enormously to my interest to do what the Medicis did. Find and nurture and subsidize potential great artists, find them commissions, until there is a world in which such artists (and writers, and sculptors, and musicians) can find their footing.

To equate this with socialism or the use of -government- money to support artists during the Depression (the WPA) would simply be an absurd dropping of context.

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I would go say far as to say the $200 firm price was actually -immoral- in this one particular instance. Because it was not egoistic in the sense of a mutually proper trade in the context of a great work of art, a struggling artist who needs a sign of success, and a purchaser who can clearly afford a proper trading relationship.

That's nonsense. If he couldn't sell the painting for more than $200 that was a fair price, determined by a free market. No one is obliged to pay more. Thinking that he was "entitled" to a higher price is the mechanism behind every subsidy for art works. You cannot decide for another person what is a mutually "proper" trade, that is socialist thinking.

I think that the story means that Frank O'Connor had $200 to spend without telling AR what he needed the money for, if it were to be a surprise.

--Brant

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> I think that the story means that Frank O'Connor had $200 to spend without telling AR what he needed the money for, if it were to be a surprise.

Brant, you may be right. But perhaps after that surprise, "Hey, remember that artist....I feel a little badly..."

Even if that were not possible, if the circumstances of a surprise didn't allow, one of the things that rubbed me the wrong way about the example, is that time after time I've known alleged Oists who think or act as if old Ebeneezer was a sterling role model of egoism.

.....

To alter the example of an expanded and less monetary egoism: if my finances allowed I'd spend a great deal of money to spread Oism. It might not go to one of the established think tanks, but what I would do is help start an Ayn Rand Translation Project to get at least one of her works(book or essay or pamphlet or collection of quotes) in each of the major languages of the world. And on the internet. But there are many people who support neither ARI or TAS or any other attempt to spread Oism, with time or money or writing. Unless their circumstances are exceptional or their time demands extraordinary across a lifetime or they have the (silly) idea that it will spread itself, they tend to have a similar false view of egoism:

One of the most selfish things you can do spiritually is to fight to have your values triumph. To remake the world in the image of truth and justice.

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Phil: "If I were a millionaire, it would be enormously to my interest to do what the Medicis did. Find and nurture and subsidize potential great artists, find them commissions, until there is a world in which such artists (and writers, and sculptors, and musicians) can find their footing."

I've often had the same thought. I've seen so many enormously talented young people who couldn't afford to do the work they loved, and had to take jobs that were meaningless to them in other fields. And I've wondered why wealthy Objectivists -- who surely know the value of ability -- don't seek out and aid such people, at least among Objectivists. There are endless foundations that support the disabled and the sick, but so few that support the able and the gifted. Starving in a garret is not good for the soul, or the character-- and does not nurture talent.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to see an organization created by Objectivists that was dedicated to finding and aiding talent in any field?

Barbara

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Here's another aspect of why it is not egoistic, is not in the self-interest of the buyer in this case who loves this kind of art work [now if they only thought it was marginal art and only worth very little, then they would not be hanging it in the center of the living room]:

As it turns out it seems possible [i don't want to put words or evaluations into his mouth, but if it were me, this is certainly what I'd be concluding] that they discouraged the creator (in sort of a Richard Halley parallel) - "if this is all I can get for something I worked so hard on, and had such a difficult struggle to get any buyers, even from the top admirers of this kind of art, people I respect for their taste and esthetic appreciation, does it make sense to continue doing this."

So, for the difference between $200 and $2000 -- or what would have cost only $1800 to people who are quite well off on book royalties -- you ought to be able to grasp the message you are sending and the strong likelihood that you will not see or be offered any more of the works you admire.

Not specifically offered to you (as we saw) and maybe not even created anymore (which is also what happened.)

That can hardly be 'egoistic' on their part. Or worth the $1800 when that is a small amount of money for you, compared to the rarity of and valued to you as "emotional fuel" of great art.

Doesn't it occur to you that the buyer may not have found it great art at all? That he may have thought that the painting really isn't worth more than $200? Perhaps it wouldn't have bothered him at all that the artist wouldn't offer him any other works. You cannot think for another person, and certainly not in matters of artistic taste. Not everyone is interested in having precious masterpieces on the wall, just a pleasant decorative work will do.

To equate this with socialism or the use of -government- money to support artists during the Depression (the WPA) would simply be an absurd dropping of context.

But thinking that paying a small sum for an artwork by an unknown artist is somehow "immoral" is at the basis of the philosophy that such evil must be remedied, and as it cannot be done on a voluntary basis, that this should be done with government money - even if that may not be your personal intention. By claiming that a voluntary trade can be immoral, you're giving up the first line of defense against government intrusion.

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> I've often had the same thought. I've seen so many enormously talented young people who couldn't afford to do the work they loved, and had to take jobs that were meaningless to them in other fields. And I've wondered why wealthy Objectivists -- who surely know the value of ability -- don't seek out and aid such people, at least among Objectivists. There are endless foundations that support the disabled and the sick, but so few that support the able and the gifted. [barbara, emphasis added]

For Objectivists, I think it is largely the false understanding of rational egoism I alluded to, the "hole" in their personal ethics, the failure to understand that benevolence is not optional but a *virtue* (including kindness and generosity in this instance) as Kelley explained in his "Unrugged Individualism: monograph [and I tried to concretize further in my talk at the 2002 TAS Summer Conference on "How To Be Benevolent" and how to deal with the obstacles].

But I wonder why the pro-innovation, pro-individualism, pro-great men and great achievement subculture within conservatives, with all their billions, have not done so. Probably such a foundation would have to start among the conservatives. But the problem is that they would tend to mis-identify who the recipients should be. Think of the ideologically-correct people that the MacArthur grants too often support. What the conservatives do support is education...

>Starving in a garret is not good for the soul, or the character-- and does not nurture talent. Wouldn't it be wonderful to see an organization created by Objectivists that was dedicated to finding and aiding talent in any field?

It would be absolutely wonderful. It would be one of the single most effective things Objectivists could do in changing the culture. Since it is great men, geniuses, innovators who change the world, what could be more effective than helping them in a very hostile, uncomprehending culture, preventing them from giving up, from being ignored to death, having to end up as second assistant bookkeepers for life, falling through the cracks, from becoming Stephen Mallorys?

John Galt, Howard Roark, Hank Rearden,(and Richard Halley and Hugh Akston presumably after the strike)and Dagny Taggart (although she was almost defeated and driven out by her brother) did not end up as SAB's. But that is a story in a novel. Lots of them do in real life.

The phrase of art, the terrible euphemism is: "underutilized".

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"Until Now" is a great, inspired, remarkable painting - if anything a 20 thousand dollar painting or 200 thousand dollar not even a 2 thousand. It probably wasn't Rand but one of the two intermediaries who tried to pay him a lot less than the sweat and imagination and effort he must have put into it. Rand was often very generous. It's actually a false concept of egoism applied to trade to try to squeeze the other party for less than what is needed to allow mutual profit. Nor does it lead to good future relations, either with that potential partner, who will stay away from you, as Ralph did, or by word of mouth to others.

I would go say far as to say the $200 firm price was actually -immoral- in this one particular instance. Because it was not egoistic in the sense of a mutually proper trade in the context of a great work of art, a struggling artist who needs a sign of success, and a purchaser who can clearly afford a proper trading relationship.

And, no, it ain't Objectivism.

Adjusted for inflation and other considerations, paying $200 for a painting in the mid 60s to early 70s (assuming that that's when Ralph's painting was sold) would be like paying about $1300 today. Paying $2000 would be like paying $13,000 today. From what I've seen of the art market, Ralph's painting was probably a bit underpriced at $200, but would have been overpriced at $2000. I'd estimate that in a reputable gallery today at last year's prices, it might sell for somewhere between $2800 and $3600.

J

Edited by Jonathan
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> I've often had the same thought. I've seen so many enormously talented young people who couldn't afford to do the work they loved, and had to take jobs that were meaningless to them in other fields. And I've wondered why wealthy Objectivists -- who surely know the value of ability -- don't seek out and aid such people, at least among Objectivists. There are endless foundations that support the disabled and the sick, but so few that support the able and the gifted. [barbara, emphasis added]

For Objectivists, I think it is largely the false understanding of rational egoism I alluded to, the "hole" in their personal ethics, the failure to understand that benevolence is not optional but a *virtue* (including kindness and generosity in this instance) as Kelley explained in his "Unrugged Individualism: monograph [and I tried to concretize further in my talk at the 2002 TAS Summer Conference on "How To Be Benevolent" and how to deal with the obstacles].

But I wonder why the pro-innovation, pro-individualism, pro-great men and great achievement subculture within conservatives, with all their billions, have not done so. Probably such a foundation would have to start among the conservatives. But the problem is that they would tend to mis-identify who the recipients should be. Think of the ideologically-correct people that the MacArthur grants too often support. What the conservatives do support is education...

>Starving in a garret is not good for the soul, or the character-- and does not nurture talent. Wouldn't it be wonderful to see an organization created by Objectivists that was dedicated to finding and aiding talent in any field?

It would be absolutely wonderful. It would be one of the single most effective things Objectivists could do in changing the culture. Since it is great men, geniuses, innovators who change the world, what could be more effective than helping them in a very hostile, uncomprehending culture, preventing them from giving up, from being ignored to death, having to end up as second assistant bookkeepers for life, falling through the cracks, from becoming Stephen Mallorys?

John Galt, Howard Roark, Hank Rearden,(and Richard Halley and Hugh Akston presumably after the strike)and Dagny Taggart (although she was almost defeated and driven out by her brother) did not end up as SAB's. But that is a story in a novel. Lots of them do in real life.

The phrase of art, the terrible euphemism is: "underutilized".

I think that what talent needs less than patronage is mentorship. The biggest barrier to success is the inability to market and sell talent. Young people need to learn how to find an environment where they can make mistakes and not have them be fatal. Most of it is figuring out how to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right product and the right message.

Of course patrons can create markets where genius and creativity survive, but isn't it so much the better if talent is mentored and becomes self-sustaining?

Jim

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Phil mentioned in #8 that:

"3. There is a modernist German/American architect who has done modernistic architecture that I like. His name is Helmut Jahn. If you've ever flown thru O'Hare and been in its newest? section, you have seen his work."

Here is the link with plenty of photos - it is the United Airlines Terminal at O'Hare in Chicago - beautiful.

http://www.greatbuildings.com/buildings/UA_Terminal-O_Hare.html

Adam

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> I've often had the same thought. I've seen so many enormously talented young people who couldn't afford to do the work they loved, and had to take jobs that were meaningless to them in other fields. And I've wondered why wealthy Objectivists -- who surely know the value of ability -- don't seek out and aid such people, at least among Objectivists. There are endless foundations that support the disabled and the sick, but so few that support the able and the gifted. [barbara, emphasis added]

For Objectivists, I think it is largely the false understanding of rational egoism I alluded to, the "hole" in their personal ethics, the failure to understand that benevolence is not optional but a *virtue* (including kindness and generosity in this instance) as Kelley explained in his "Unrugged Individualism: monograph [and I tried to concretize further in my talk at the 2002 TAS Summer Conference on "How To Be Benevolent" and how to deal with the obstacles].

But I wonder why the pro-innovation, pro-individualism, pro-great men and great achievement subculture within conservatives, with all their billions, have not done so. Probably such a foundation would have to start among the conservatives. But the problem is that they would tend to mis-identify who the recipients should be. Think of the ideologically-correct people that the MacArthur grants too often support. What the conservatives do support is education...

>Starving in a garret is not good for the soul, or the character-- and does not nurture talent. Wouldn't it be wonderful to see an organization created by Objectivists that was dedicated to finding and aiding talent in any field?

It would be absolutely wonderful. It would be one of the single most effective things Objectivists could do in changing the culture. Since it is great men, geniuses, innovators who change the world, what could be more effective than helping them in a very hostile, uncomprehending culture, preventing them from giving up, from being ignored to death, having to end up as second assistant bookkeepers for life, falling through the cracks, from becoming Stephen Mallorys?

John Galt, Howard Roark, Hank Rearden,(and Richard Halley and Hugh Akston presumably after the strike)and Dagny Taggart (although she was almost defeated and driven out by her brother) did not end up as SAB's. But that is a story in a novel. Lots of them do in real life.

The phrase of art, the terrible euphemism is: "underutilized".

I think that what talent needs less than patronage is mentorship. The biggest barrier to success is the inability to market and sell talent. Young people need to learn how to find an environment where they can make mistakes and not have them be fatal. Most of it is figuring out how to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right product and the right message.

Of course patrons can create markets where genius and creativity survive, but isn't it so much the better if talent is mentored and becomes self-sustaining?

Jim

Mentoring, as it currently exists in the visual art world, is often little more than one artist trying to find additional sources of revenue by convincing other artists of his alpha status over them. It's often more about increasing the income and prestige of the mentor than it is about helping the students. When I hear the word "mentor," I sometimes think "vampire."

But if by "mentor," you mean something more like a business coach, agent or representative who can manage an artist's marketing (while not also managing his own competing public image), or to guide an artist on how to manage it himself, I agree that most artists could benefit from such guidance, if it came from a business professional.

As for what makes or breaks artists, I think it depends on the individual. Starving in a garret in the middle of a brutal war between two competing tyrannical factions might be just what one artist needs to find his voice, where comparatively milder obstacles would quickly make another artist give up. One artist might need praise and financial support to find his confidence, where the same praise and support would turn another artist into an insufferable prima donna who never reaches his potential because he believes he's perfect already.

Artists being aided by wealthy Objectivists who want to "change the culture" by establishing arts foundations would probably result in a bunch of mediocre artists being motivated to remain mediocre as artists but to deliver the "right" moral message that their wealthy patrons wanted to hear.

Objectivists are generally no more informed about art than others, nor are they more sensitive to what is or is not good art. In fact, since Objectivists often tend to equate moral judgments of art with aesthetic judgments, I doubt that most Objectivists who made their money in non-art-related businesses would have much of a clue about which criteria to use in identifying who has talent worth nurturing and who doesn't, and I think that any Objectivist arts foundations would likely come across as people who know nothing about art presuming to try to buy some influence over those who do.

J

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