Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Robert Lostutter ~ Dutchman #3

During one of my seminar courses in grad school, I was given an assignment to create a lecture on any topic within contemporary art. The professor thought it was important that we were able to present a lecture at a moments notice. Looking back, I realize that it was a way to get the grad students familiar with what was happening in the Chicago art market. I remember making my way downtown to the River North gallery district in Chicago, where I became acquainted—and latter obsessed—with the work of an artist named Robert Lostutter.

It was the late eighties and more than a decade had passed since Lostutter had completed the Dutchman series… a body of work presenting entangled, masculine bound and hooded acrobatic figures. He had moved on to a more subtle presentation of hidden-passion resulting from societal prejudice. The work of the late eighties presented brightly colored images of men with bird-like features. Even with this new visual language, it was obvious to me that the elaborately detailed feathered faces were symbolic of the masks we use as a means of survival… a persona, which veils reality.

Lostutter’s work inspired me. I used his observations as a jumping off point to create a series of pieces, which I titled “Uniforms”. That series was the basis of my graduate school experience. Briefly, the Uniform series was a symbolic presentation of abstract portraiture. It explored the idea that we are constantly trying to evoke the illusion that our insecurities are non-existent. We create protective barriers—or uniforms—to deflect society from the space within.

Roughly twenty years have passed since grade school. My work has changed dramatically, yet I continue to follow Lostutter’s career. His work still inspires me.

Well, last week, I received a phone call from a friend informing me that one of Robert Lostutter’s Paintings—from the Dutchman series—was going up for auction. It was “Dutchman 3” from 1974. I was intrigued. I have a Lostutter lithograph in my collection but here was an opportunity to actually own one of his larger canvases. Why was it at auction? …And why was the posted value so low? …Did they not know what they had? I took the evening to establish how much I could afford. The next morning, I made a call and placed my blind bid. I hoped that this masterpiece would go unnoticed by the affluent. It didn’t. On Sunday afternoon, I was informed that the painting was sold for more than three times my bid. The piece is worth much, much more.

Robert Lostutter, Dutchman #3, 1974, oil on canvas, 50.5 x 47.8"

1 comment:

  1. I was lucky enough to score The Birds of Heaven 14, Red-Fronted Conure, from the same auction. We, too, were shocked that we got it so cheap! The Dutchman was beautiful in person, by the way. My husband really, really, wanted to bid on it but I didn't think we had room for it. We love our new Lostutter!