03 January 2016

Bak to Basics

How is it possible that after nearly 200 posts in this blog's eBay category, including dozens of artists, I've never featured a work by one of the best known chess artists of our time? This current edition of Top eBay Chess Items by Price gives me the chance to rectify that. Good thing, too, because just like last year's post-Christmas eBay auction, Chess Stone Lithograph, there was little else to choose from.

The item below, titled 'Samuel Bak b.1933 (Israeli) Chess oil on canvas Lot 69', subtitled 'Part of a live auction event on Sunday, Dec 20', sold for US $3600 after five bids on a starting price of $3000. As with other eBay live auctions (last seen on this blog in Chess Charcoal Drawing), there is no information on the number of distinct bidders.

The description added somewhat cursorily,

Samuel Bak; b.1933 (Israeli); Chess; oil on canvas; H:33 W:24 cm.; signed lower right • Seller's estimate: USD 3500 - 4000

A page titled Chess in the Art of Samuel Bak (chgs.umn.edu: 'Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies - University of Minnesota'), subtitled 'A Question of Survival', informs,

Bak's paintings of battlefields of chess pieces and chessboards seem to describe our world today. The terminology of battle – sacrifice, foot soldiers, construct lines of defense, destroy the enemies, command centers and leaders is represented in these works.

In the dozens of Bak's paintings displayed on that page, the blue Pawn from our eBay auction does not appear. The auctioneer's catalog page Israeli & International Fine Art Auction, offered by Matsart Auctioneers & Appraisers, Tel Aviv, Israel, shows four works by Bak. The only work featuring chess sold for the lowest amount among the four. Someone got a bargain.

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