After the late artist Francis Hines stopped in the dark, attracts new attention after a car mechanic rescued hundreds of his paintings from a landfill in Connecticut.
Hines, an abstract expressionist, gained notoriety in 1980 by using fabric to wrap an arch in Washington Square in New York City in an intricate cross-stitch pattern. But he fell silent and passed out of the art world, dying in 2016.
A treasure trove of paintings, mostly using his corporate identity wrapper, was found a year later – and this is where the artist’s path to rediscovery began.
An exhibition of found art will open on May 5 at Hollis Taggart Gallery in Southport, Cannes, which is known for showcasing works by lost or forgotten artists. A smaller exhibit will be simultaneously displayed at the gallery’s flagship location in New York.
Hines made a good living as an illustrator for G. Fox magazines and department stores, and his personal art was related to the process rather than selling or showcasing his work, said Peter Hastings Falk, an art historian who helps curator the exhibition.
So for decades, once he finished the work, he sent it from his New York studio to a barn he rented in Watertown, Cannes, where it was wrapped in plastic and stored.
“For him it was like,‘ Okay, I did it, it was cool; I’ll clean up, ”Falk said. “Once he finished, he finished and moved on to the next project. And if you don’t have a gallery that sells your work, you can stock up on it. “
Taggart, the gallery’s president and art collector, said he had “never seen anything like it before.”
“In the modern world of art, there is a certain interest in different media – textiles, fabrics and ceramics – people are trying to find new and innovative ways to present contemporary art,” said Taggart.
“He did it back in the 80s. He was a kind of visionary. “
Hines used his wrapping technique in other installations, including at John F. Kennedy Airport and Port Authority Bus Station. In his sculptures and paintings, he stretched fabric or other material over or through them to create a sense of tension and dynamic energy, Taggart said.
Hines ’work was kept in Watertown until his death at the age of 96, when his estate decided to get rid of the huge collection because the barn owner was selling the property.
Two 40-yard dumpsters filled with sculptures and paintings were already being dumped when Jared Whipple, a mechanic and skateboard enthusiast from the Waterbury area, got a call from a friend, George Martin, who was helping to get rid of the art.
Since some of the paintings included images of car parts, Martin thought they would please Whipple.
Whipple suggested he could use this art to celebrate Halloween or hang out in his room for skateboarding. As he began to remove the plastic shell from the pieces, he began to realize that he had stumbled upon something special.
“But at the same time, you never think there’s any importance or value because they’re all in the dump,” he said.
Most of the work was signed by F. Hines, but Whipple eventually found one small canvas, written in 1961, which had the artist’s full name: “Francis Matson Hines.”
It was then that a Google search began, and for 4 and a half years he descended into what he called a “rabbit hole,” studying art and knocking on gallery doors, he said.
This research led him to install an arch in Washington Square in 1980, to a book about Hines written by his wife, and eventually to two sons, Falk and Hines, one of whom, Jonathan Hines, is also an artist.
Jonathan Hines is now working with Whipple, adding other works by his father to the exhibition.
“I think it’s fate that Jared will open my father’s job,” Jonathan Hines said. “It had to be someone from the art world. If I hadn’t decided to throw out the art, none of this would have happened. “
The family knew that the work of art had value, but without acknowledging the critical side, they made the painful decision to abandon it all, said Falk, an art historian.
Hines’ paintings, most of which are owned by Whipple, will be on sale at the exhibition, and larger works are expected to sell for about $ 20,000 each, Falk said.
But Whipple says it’s not about getting rich from something that was nearly lost in a landfill.
“I want to get the recognition of this artist,” he said. “And I’d like to get him to some big museums, maybe just get him the recognition he deserves.”
Falk said Hines needs to be remembered as an important American artist for how he fits into the chronicle of abstract expressionism and his unique turn in wrapping technique. The fact that his work was almost forever lost, he said, just helps shed light on it.
“Now we focus only on art, not on what was thrown away, not on what was discovered by a skateboarder, not on anything else,” Falk said. “Just art in itself.”