CLOSE
Original image

The Time Sotheby's and Christie's Played 'Rock, Paper, Scissors' for a Cézanne

Original image

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

In 2005, a Japanese electronics company called Maspro Denkoh Corp. decided to sell its Impressionist art collection. From Cézanne’s Large Trees Under the Jas de Bouffan, a landscape worth $16 million (pictured), to smaller works by Picasso and Van Gogh, the pieces Maspro Denkoh had hanging on the walls would have been enough to impress any aficionado.

In fact, experts were impressed—prestigious auction houses Christie’s and Sotheby’s were both eager to get in on the action. To choose between the two potential hosts for the epic sale, Maspro Denkoh president Takashi Hashiyama asked representatives from each auction house to explain how they would go about getting top bids for the Cézanne, the heart of the collection. The proposals ended up being so similar that Hashiyama still couldn’t choose. Rather than make a decision himself, he asked Christie’s and Sotheby’s to convene on their own in order to figure out who would take responsibility for the sales. The two auction houses still couldn’t come to a conclusion.

To settle the matter once and for all, Hashiyama resorted to a technique that has resolved playground disputes for centuries: a rousing game of "rock, paper, scissors." The president of Christie’s in Japan spent the weekend reading up on strategies and consulting experts, including a colleague’s 11-year-old twins, Flora and Alice, who recommended using scissors. “Rock is way too obvious, and scissors beats paper,” Flora explained.

On the other hand, Sotheby’s didn’t prepare at all. “This is a game of chance, so we didn’t really give it that much thought,” Sotheby’s Impressionist and modern art expert said.

Both auction houses were asked to write their “weapon” choices on pieces of paper, which were then turned over to an accountant. “Looking at the face of the accountant holding the piece of paper, you could tell nothing,” Jonathan Rendell, deputy chairman at Christie’s, told NPR. “He looks at it for what was probably 30 seconds, and your heart’s in your mouth.”

In the end, Christie’s preparations paid off. Their scissors beat Sotheby’s paper. The twins were unimpressed with Sotheby’s choice. “You never go paper. It’s a weak move,” Alice said, years later. Flora agreed: “Paper just sounds that it’s not going to win.”

Original image
Ape Meets Girl
arrow
Pop Culture
Epic Gremlins Poster Contains More Than 80 References to Classic Movies
Original image
Ape Meets Girl

It’s easy to see why Gremlins (1984) appeals to movie nerds. Executive produced by Steven Spielberg and written by Chris Columbus, the film has horror, humor, and awesome 1980s special effects that strike a balance between campy and creepy. Perhaps it’s the movie’s status as a pop culture treasure that inspired artist Kevin Wilson to make it the center of his epic hidden-image puzzle of movie references.

According to io9, Wilson, who works under the pseudonym Ape Meets Girl, has hidden 84 nods to different movies in this Gremlins poster. The scene is taken from the movie’s opening, when Randall enters a shop in Chinatown looking for a gift for his son and leaves with a mysterious creature. Like in the film, Mr. Wing’s shop in the poster is filled with mysterious artifacts, but look closely and you’ll find some objects that look familiar. Tucked onto the bottom shelf is a Chucky doll from Child’s Play (1988); above Randall’s head is a plank of wood from the Orca ship made famous by Jaws (1975); behind Mr. Wing’s counter, which is draped with a rug from The Shining’s (1980) Overlook Hotel, is the painting of Vigo the Carpathian from Ghostbusters II (1989). The poster was released by the Hero Complex Gallery at New York Comic Con earlier this month.

“Early on, myself and HCG had talked about having a few '80s Easter Eggs, but as we started making a list it got longer and longer,” Wilson told Mental Floss. “It soon expanded from '80s to any prop or McGuffin that would fit the curio shop setting. I had to stop somewhere so I stopped at 84, the year Gremlins was released. Since then I’ve thought of dozens more I wish I’d included.”

The ambitious artwork has already sold out, but fortunately cinema buffs can take as much time as they like scouring the poster from their computers. Once you think you’ve found all the references you can possibly find, you can check out Wilson’s key below to see what you missed (and yes, he already knows No. 1 should be Clash of the Titans [1981], not Jason and the Argonauts [1963]). For more pop culture-inspired art, follow Ape Meets Girl on Facebook and Instagram.

Key for hidden image puzzle.
Ape Meets Girl

[h/t io9]

Original image
Kehinde Wiley Studio, Inc., Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
arrow
presidents
Barack Obama Taps Kehinde Wiley to Paint His Official Presidential Portrait
Original image
Kehinde Wiley
Kehinde Wiley Studio, Inc., Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Kehinde Wiley, an American artist known for his grand portraits of African-American subjects, has painted Michael Jackson, Ice-T, and The Notorious B.I.G. in his work. Now the artist will have the honor of adding Barack Obama to that list. According to the Smithsonian, the former president has selected Wiley to paint his official presidential portrait, which will hang in the National Portrait Gallery.

Wiley’s portraits typically depict black people in powerful poses. Sometimes he models his work after classic paintings, as was the case with "Napoleon Leading the Army Over the Alps.” The subjects are often dressed in hip-hop-style clothing and placed against decorative backdrops.

Portrait by Kehinde Wiley
"Le Roi a la Chasse"
Kehinde Wiley, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0

Smithsonian also announced that Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald has been chosen by former first lady Michelle Obama to paint her portrait for the gallery. Like Wiley, Sherald uses her work to challenge stereotypes of African-Americans in art.

“The Portrait Gallery is absolutely delighted that Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald have agreed to create the official portraits of our former president and first lady,” Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery, said in a press release. “Both have achieved enormous success as artists, but even more, they make art that reflects the power and potential of portraiture in the 21st century.”

The tradition of the president and first lady posing for portraits for the National Portrait Gallery dates back to George H.W. Bush. Both Wiley’s and Sherald’s pieces will be revealed in early 2018 as permanent additions to the gallery in Washington, D.C.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios