16 October 2016

'Just Like You and Me'

In this fortnightly series on Top eBay Chess Items by Price, a live auction usually involves a painting. We saw this a few months ago in Not Your Typical Black Knight (July 2016), and we're seeing this again in the latest item.

Titled 'ALBERT PELS (AMERICAN, NY, 1910-1998), OIL ON CANVAS, THE CHESS GAME, ... Lot 261', the item pictured below sold for US $700.00 after 15 bids on a starting price of $250. The auction apparently lasted 30 seconds.

To see the details of a closed auction on eBay, you have to follow the page returned by eBay search and click on 'See original listing'. Clicking for this auction I received the message

We had trouble finding some information about this item. Please come back to try again in a few minutes.

but the message persisted. The abbreviated description on the search page added only 'Seller's Estimate: USD 500 - 800' and repeated the auction title plus 'SIGNED. 16 X 20"'.

Who was Albert Pels? Tumblr.com has a page Albert Pels '1910-1988; Born May 7, 1910, Cincinnati, Ohio; The Paintings of Albert Pels' [NB: d.1988 looks to be correct] with dozens of examples of his work. One section informs,

1937-40 WPA Artist, NYC. Paid $24 a week plus supplies, Albert had to turn in a painting every week. Plus several mural projects in the East and Midwest.

Wikipedia explains that WPA stood for Works Progress Administration:-

The Works Progress Administration (renamed in 1939 as the Work Projects Administration; WPA) was the largest and most ambitious American New Deal agency, employing millions of unemployed people (mostly unskilled men) to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads. In a much smaller but more famous project, Federal Project Number One, the WPA employed musicians, artists, writers, actors and directors in large arts, drama, media, and literacy projects.

In The 'flavor' of life in 91 paintings Cincinnati.com informs,

CPS [Cincinnati Public Schools] got a donation of 91 paintings from Cincinnati native Albert Pels. The work will be spread among the district's 55 schools. [...] "It was incredible," said [Isidore] Rudnick, Cincinnati Public Schools' Fine Arts Curriculum Manager. The work "captures the spirit, flavor and imagination of everyday life -- people just like you and me." The paintings are a posthumous donation from Cincinnati native Albert Pels, who grew up in the city and studied at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. In the early 1930s, he moved to New York on a scholarship for the Art Student’s League. Albert died in 1988, but his son, Richard Pels, sent the art to CPS.

I like that: chess players 'just like you and me'.

No comments: