Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Farrah Fawcett Original

Here at Jean-Marc Fray Antiques, we currently have the privilege of showcasing a work of art by Farrah Fawcett, a piece not displayed in public for over 40 years. The work is mixed media on paper and depicts a mother and child, likely the Madonna and Christ Child, in a traditional pose: the mother holds the child against her chest and looks out at the audience. In this work, the mother’s gaze is contemplative, yet almost forceful, immediately capturing our attention. The child, the lines defining his face more blurred, gazes up at his mother, allowing her to be the dominating figure in the work. Farrah signed the bottom right corner with her first name (characteristic of her work in the 1970’s) and the date: ’71. 

Originally from Corpus Christi, Farrah Fawcett was a student at the University of Texas at Austin in the late 1960s. She held a job at the Country Store Gallery on Lavaca Street, just a stone’s throw from UT’s campus, where she framed and sold art for the proprietor Raymond Brown. This painting was purchased from the gallery by a local Austin art collector in the late 1980s. (She likely framed the piece herself.)

Farrah also modeled for and worked with the famous Texas sculptor Charles Umlauf during her undergraduate years, a relationship which continued after she moved to Los Angeles. 

Charles Umlauf working alongside Farah Fawcett in his studio.

The Blanton Museum of Art describes Umlauf’s famous portrait bust of the actress as “a more reflective and melancholy side of the young woman” (Blanton Museum) as compared to the more well-known images of the actress with her trademark smile.

Charles Umlauf, Portrait of Farrah Fawcett. n.d., Blanton Museum of Art.

Farrah, of course, was more than just a model for Umlauf. She was also his student, and he obviously had a considerable impact on her own artistic style. In an undated charcoal drawing by Umlauf depicting a Madonna and Child, currently in the Russell Collection (inv #CUE-31), one can see the same loose but precise strokes that Farrah employed in her work. Her Madonna’s features are also strikingly similar, with the small mouth, elongated nose and neck, and sharply defined eyebrows. The large hands in Farrah’s painting mimic many of Umlauf’s works.

Quite a few of Umlauf’s drawing and sculptures depict a mother and child as the subject, perhaps influencing Farrah to create her own interpretation of this scene.

Charles Umlauf, full size casting of scale model from 1964. 1972, Umlauf Sculpture Garden.

A very special work — please find the listing for Farrah’s painting on our website here.

Posted by Jean-Marc Fray French Antiques at 09:11:00 PM
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