Art by renowned portraitist selling on Amazon

AP News
Posted: Jun 11, 2014 6:41 AM
Art by renowned portraitist selling on Amazon

NEW YORK (AP) — Leading American portraitist Everett Raymond Kinstler has painted the world's most recognizable faces, including seven U.S. presidents and thousands of luminaries in film and theater.

Now 24 of his portraits — 22 of which have never been offered for sale — are available for purchase on Amazon.

They include drawings, portraits and studies and two lithographs from the New York artist's personal collection of Katharine Hepburn, James Cagney and other stars of the big screen.

"Kinstler & Hollywood," a monthlong exhibition of the 24 works, is on view through July 7 at the Mountainsong Galleries in Carmel, California.

They range in price from $5,000 for a 1979 picture of John Wayne to $150,000 for a portrait of Christopher Plummer as Prospero in Shakespeare's "The Tempest."

Some are signed by the subjects, including a pencil sketch of Hepburn priced at $30,000. A life-size oil portrait of the actress, who posed for Kinstler many times, hangs in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

Kinstler, whose work has also appeared at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, has many anecdotes about his subjects.

With Hepburn, he said, he didn't have a clue how to interpret her.

"She was very much like the image of her in the movies: She was feisty, opinionated, difficult and an extraordinary person," he said.

"I told her I'm not a salesman" — and that broke the ice, he said. "She said to me: 'Of course you're a salesman. I'm a salesman. What's wrong with being a salesman?'"

All the works are available for purchase on Amazon Art, an online marketplace launched last year offering over 60,000 original and limited edition artworks from some 300 galleries and dealers.

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The 87-year-old Kinstler said he decided to part with the works after asking himself "What will happen to these sketches and drawings when I won't be around?"

They include one of Ronald Reagan, who is included in the Hollywood collection because of the former president's many years as an actor. The portrait is for sale for $80,000 and is an oil study of Reagan for his official 1990 White House portrait.

"These are pieces of American history," said Stephanie Plunkett, chief curator at the Norman Rockwell Museum, which presented an exhibition of Kinstler's works in 2012. "His portraits are very strong in the sense of personality of his sitters, and certainly in the likenesses. They also reflect important aspects of our American culture and history."