Friday, April 28, 2017

Another Quirk Maritime Painting Comes to Light

Through a friend of Francis Quirk, we obtained another image of a painting by Quirk for our image library. 

The painting below has a bit of a cubist bent and currently hangs above a doorway.  It is the first time we have seen Quirk working in the cubic style with the subject matter not being a person. The palate of cool blues, purples and green certainly works well.

Quirk Painting Sailboats, Francis J. Quirk, Artist Quirk, Cubist Painting
Cubist Rendition of Sailboats by Francis J. Quirk

Monday, April 24, 2017

Harpo Marx and Art More About Francis Quirk's Friend

Earlier we had written a bit about Francis Quirk's friendship with Harpo Marx as the two of them often looked at art together.

After a cursory look into it, we learned that there was more to Harpo than meets the eye. Besides being a surprisingly good harp player with recorded albums, he was quite an art collector. Harpo attended Thomas Hart Benson's 1946 show and was the first to buy a painting- Spring on the Missouri. He was visiting Chicago to perform and stopped in at the opening at the Associated American Artistis Gallery. The painting was completed in 1945 and depicts a recent flood. This painting now hangs in the North Carolina Museum of Art.
Spring on the Missouri by Thomas Hart Benson  North Carolina Museum of Art

Newspaper Clipping Showing Harpo Marx and Thomas Hart Benton's Painting "Spring on the Missouri"

"Spring on the Missouri hanging in Harpo Marx' home

Harpo also collected Salvador Dali who was a personal friend, George Grosz, Joseph Hirsch, LeRoy Nieman, Doris Lee, and John Decker. Joseph Hirsch spent time in Philadelphia, Provincetown and New York in periods that overlapped with Quirk so they may have known each other. 

Below is a painting of Harpo by Salvador Dali. You can learn more of the back story by visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art site. Or learn a bit about the Marx Brothers and the Surrealists by going here.

Harpo Marx by Salvador Dali
Salvador Dali with Harpo Marx
John Decker Painting of Harpo Marx as Blue Boy Which sold for $11,875 in 2013

We are reaching out to Harpo's estate to see if there was a Francis Quirk painting in his collection.

Going beyond his collecting of American Paintings, Harpo would also paint. He sold his paintings to benefit various charities. To see his paintings you can visit Harpo's Place for more information on his paintings and his musical recordings.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Conversation with Friend of Francis Quirk

Recently we had the pleasure of speaking with a friend of Francis Quirk. This gentleman and his wife had taken a painting course taught by Quirk at a Pennsylvania community college. They were friends for approximately six years prior to the famous artist's death.

The threesome enjoyed many evenings together over beers. He said that Quirk was an inquisitive and curious person of good humor. He was fascinated by new technologies and what their adoption would mean for society. Quirk was down-to-earth and fun to be around.

Quirk could be stubborn and had determination. Fore example, he once had a stroke in Florida. Rather than being treated at a Florida Hospital, he drove 36 hours back to Pennsylvania for medical care.

When it came to art and drawing Quirk had amazing talent. On a cocktail napkin, he once executed a wonderful drawing of a person without lifting the pen off the paper. He also liked to experiment with different materials and techniques. For example Quirk figured out that he could get images similar to watercolors from old Flair pens that were running out of ink.
Quirk was an eloquent speaker and analyst of paintings. He could discuss the merits of a painting like a wine connoisseur evaluating a select varietal.

Flair Pens

Quirk's transportation was a Mercury Station Wagon which he purchased because it had the largest back entrance and therefore could hold the largest paintings possible.

When our contact met Quirk, his wife Anna had already passed. Apparently she spent a significant amount of time in Coastal Maine as her allergies were exacerbated by the pollen in Pennsylvania. (Note that Quirk also once had a house in Arizona as well. Perhaps the arid climate aided her condition.)
Friend of Painter Francis Quirk, Harpo Marx
Harpo Marx Friend of Francis Quirk

Quirk also had traveled in some interesting circles.  The famous writer Edgar Lee Masters rented a room from him when Quirk was teaching at the Ogontz School. The Pulitzer Prize winning Poet Carl Sandburg also called him a friend. And perhaps most interestingly, Harpo Marx and he would frequently go and look at Art together in New York.