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UD does not suffer from generalized fear of paintings, only fear of several paintings that, until last week, hung in her own wee ‘thesdan house. She acquired them in 2005, on the death of her father-in-law, Jerzy Soltan, who had himself acquired them in the form of gifts from his old friend Wojciech Fangor.

By virtue of being Poles who lived through most of the twentieth century, Soltan and Fangor got served up absurd, atrocious, obscene, ridiculous sorts of early lives – picaresque farces where they were always leaping about trying to survive the latest global disaster. It’s a bit of luck that either man survived to mid-century, and even more amazing that both eventually returned to the very privileged lives into which they were born.

The early ‘seventies saw Soltan a Harvard professor and Fangor the subject of a one-man show at the Guggenheim.


Yet not much happened for Fangor after that show; he remained obscure, and during the subsequent years I knew him in upstate New York, was simply one more struggling artist, working hard in his studio, getting occasional teaching/lecturing gigs, trying to sell canvases.


So when Les UDs sat on the floor of Jerzy’s Cambridge studio sifting through his art collection and dividing things up with Mr UD’s sister, they treated the Fangors the way they treated all of the other mildly significant artworks Jerzy, who knew many Polish artists, had gathered. Mr UD put one of Fangor’s circles on his office wall at the University of Maryland, and the other circles went in La Kid’s room.


When did UD start idly checking the prices of Fangor’s circles online? Aucune idée. But it gradually occurred to me that the numbers were going up and up and up, and that articles about his hotness were proliferating. “Take that Fangor off your office wall and bring it home!” UD screeched at Mr UD one day. “And while we’re on the subject, we need to put all of these behind glass and insure them or something…”

Les UDs both became more and more uneasy as they realized they were holding onto, and not taking particularly good care of, paintings that had suddenly become insanely valuable. It was time to sell.

UD sent exploratory emails to Sothebys, Christies, and Bonhams. The first two sent polite form letters asking to see some pictures of her Fangors. A Fangor specialist from Bonhams almost immediately got on a train from New York City to DC and visited our pictures. She spent hours in the house, scrutinizing, taking notes, taking pictures, chatting to me about Fangor and the paintings, and of course offering us a contract.


More to come.


Photos Tamara Trocki.

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4 Responses to “UD and Sportaldislexicartaphobia : Part One.”

  1. Bernard Carroll Says:

    Bonhams understand interactions with potential clients… it’s personal and human. Sothebys and Christies seem to operate in impersonal transaction mode.

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Barney: I think they’re more personal if you have a $25 million Warhol rather than a $200,000 Fangor.

  3. Bernard Carroll Says:

    No doubt — so all the more credit to Bonhams in this case.

  4. University Diaries » Red Meat for the Fourth. Says:

    […] steaks. Their neighbors, the Trockis (Tammy, an excellent photographer, took pictures of our Fangors), will cook the meat, and we’ll all gather at their place for a holiday […]

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