1936 Yasuo Kuniyoshi Lithograph
Appraised Value: $4,000 - $6,000
IMAGE: 1 of 4
Appraisal Video: (3:30)
Prints & Posters
Director, Works of Art on Paper
Swann Auction Galleries
GUEST: I got it from my grandmother's collection. She was an artist, so I have some of her paintings, but included in the collection was also this.
APPRAISER: And she collected prints?
GUEST: No, she had other paintings and sculptures and things like that. But this is the only print that I am aware of.
APPRAISER: The artist is Yasuo Kuniyoshi. Kuniyoshi was born in Okayama, Japan,but emigrated to the United States in 1906. He studied art in Los Angeles and then moved to New York and worked between New York City and Woodstock. He summered at the artists' colony in Woodstock and spent most of his time in New York City. And this is a lithograph. He made about 100 different lithographs. And this is a lithograph of not a specific person but a vaudeville queen. He's best known for the dozen or so lithographs he did of burlesque and vaudeville performers.
GUEST: What does it mean to be a lithograph? I'm not sure I know what that means.
APPRAISER: A lithograph is a print-- it's a multiple, which is made by drawing on a stone. The stone is inked and then a paper is put on it and run through a press. So it's sort of like an etching or a woodcut but just a different technique. And you can see it was made in 1936. And down here, closest to me, it says "100 ed." It's an edition of 100, so there are 100 impressions of this subject taken. And that's fairly normal for Kuniyoshi. His lithographs date from the 1920s and 1930s, and this is certainly his most popular imagery. This is what people are looking for when they buy Kuniyoshis. It's these sort of urban, a little bit gritty, New York views. I love how she's standing there, hand on hip, the cigarette in the holder. You get a sense of the footlights from the stage lighting her from below there; wonderful plumed hat. It's so evocative of the '20s, the '30s in New York. I think it's a great image
for that time period. Now, it's in fairly poor condition. If you look at the edges of the mat, you can see that it's browned. There is some spots around; there's a little spot up here. And then, if I'm to take it off like this, and lift the mat, you can see that it's actually glued down. The sheet itself is all glued down. This is not unusual
for the time period. It was probably framed up in the '30s or '40s and it was pretty common for framers to glue things down. We would never do something like that today. It's absolutely ruinous to the value. That being said, you can take this to a paper conservator and they can bathe it and float the print off the backing and they can clean that staining up. That's something that costs between $200 and $300, probably.
GUEST: And would that take away from the value to do something like that?
APPRAISER: No, it would absolutely add to the value.
GUEST: Oh, okay.
APPRAISER: The condition it's in right now takes away from the value.
APPRAISER: So, in this condition, it would be about $4,000 to $6,000. In good condition, in as close to new condition as possible, at auction, this would sell
for between $5,000 and $8,000.
APPRAISER: But for a few hundred dollars, you could increase the value of this print by about $1,000. Definitely worth it.
GUEST: Right, yeah.
APPRAISER: Thank you for bringing it in, it's a great image.
GUEST: Thank you, yeah, it's great, I love it.
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