Original Art or Not?

By mwilcox


Even if you have an artist-signed painting, etching, engraving or drawing, it does not necessarily mean that you have a valuable work of art. Paintings like this could very well be the work of a “Starving Artist”. Starving Artist art sales became popular in the 1970s. They are generally held in hotels or convention centers across the country and advertised as the opportunity to own an authentic work of art at a discounted price. The paintings are usually signed with only a first name or illegible signature and a two-digit date such as “72” for 1972. The pieces sold at this type of sale are mass produced by artists for the wholesale company putting on the sale. Typical scenes you’ll find are ocean scapes with crashing waves, lighthouses, street scenes and still-life paintings.

Some paintings like will have labels, recently I have had an onslaught of appraisals for “paintings” with a label or stamp on the back that says “Intercraft Industries” or “Academy Arts.” Intercraft Industries was founded in the 1950s or 1960s to bring affordable art to the masses, from what I could find through my research, the company ceased operation in the early 1980s. From a distance, they look like original works, but when you get close and examine the piece, you notice that it is a print on cardboard with texture added to give the illusion of an oil painting. I have seen some actual acrylic-and-oil paintings on canvas with the same label. The value of the paintings like these on the secondary market depends largely on the subject matter, quality of the piece and the frame, but most sell for less than $150.00