1937 Clyfford Still Oil Painting

Value (2012) | $500,000 Insurance
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GUEST:
My husband was a student at Washington State University, and he had an art professor by the name of Clyfford Still. Then, as the years went by, he went on and got his doctorate and came back to Washington State. And the chairman of his department, they owned the painting, they gave it to us as a housewarming.

APPRAISER:
Very generous of them. Very nice gift.

GUEST:
Yes, it was, very nice indeed.

APPRAISER:
Good heavens. And what do you know about Clyfford Still? Did you follow his subsequent career?

GUEST:
Well, we followed him for a little bit. He left Pullman and went back east, and at that time, we heard that he was a Guggenheim protégé. Whether he was or not, I'm not certain, so...

APPRAISER:
And this painting, as we can see down here, is signed and dated "Clyfford 37." And the subject of the painting is...?

GUEST:
Grand Coulee during the time they were building the dam.

APPRAISER:
Right.

GUEST:
It's a big dam in the state of Washington.

APPRAISER:
Which is, of course, near Spokane, where he grew up and studied and graduated.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
He's best known as really one of the founders of the Abstract Expressionist movement.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
He and Rothko and Franz Kline and de Kooning and Jackson Pollock. And Mark Rothko introduced him to Peggy Guggenheim, who was responsible for his first one-man show in New York. This is an earlier work by him. This is from 1937, when he was still doing figurative work. Now, around about 1938 to 1942, he started to make that transition from figurative, representational work to more abstract art. And amongst the other artists, such as Kline and de Kooning, he was really the first to do that. He was ahead of them. They were still working in a figurative manner into the '40s. So he was a little ahead of the curve. Now, have you had this appraised before?

GUEST:
No.

APPRAISER:
And you need to have it appraised for what purpose?

GUEST:
Insurance purposes.

APPRAISER:
It's an insurance figure. Well, I really feel that given the importance of the artist, given the importance of this painting, I believe that this shouldn't be insured for anything less than half a million dollars.

GUEST:
Really?

APPRAISER:
Yeah. We have to put that in context. Bear in mind that a painting painted ten years later than this, in 1947, sold a few years ago for $21 million.

GUEST:
Oh, really?

APPRAISER:
That painting that made $21 million was a new benchmark for him.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
So, in fact, it may turn out that I'm being rather conservative when I say half a million.

GUEST:
Well, but that gives us a basis of where to put our insurance.

APPRAISER:
I have to say, in all my years on the Roadshow, it's probably the most exciting find I've had.

GUEST:
Oh, really?

APPRAISER:
I'm absolutely thrilled that you brought it in today.

GUEST:
Well, thank you.

APPRAISER:
So thank you.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Freeman's Auctioneers
Philadelphia, PA
Update (2012)
$500,000 Insurance
Appraised value (2008)
$500,000 Insurance
Event
Palm Springs, CA (June 07, 2008)
Form
Painting
Material
Oil
December 17, 2012: We contacted appraiser Alasdair Nichol for an updated appraisal in today's market.

Current Appraised Value: $500,000 (Unchanged)

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