Hidden In Plain Sight At The McCormick Gallery

If you’ve been following taoStyle for a while, by now you are familiar with Michael McCormick’s eclectic, contemporary gallery here in Taos.

The high ceilinged, lofty space was once home to J.C Penney’s before Michael moved in and converted half of the old department store into one of Taos’ longest running, Fine Art galleries.

For three decades Michael has shown the work of several local (and nationally known), artists such as Miguel Martinez, Bill Baker, Malcolm Furlow, Roberto Ugalde, Michael Archuleta, Bill Rane, R.C. Gorman, Bill Worrell, Jose Canecia, and many others, garnering a reputation as a dealer and Gallerist who not only has an eye for excellent and unique work, but one who actually sells that work.

For more about Michael, you can read about him here, but today I thought I’d open a few of those mysterious drawers that line the circumference of the gallery rooms, beneath the art that covers all the wall space available.

If you are a fan of Miguel Martinez but can’t afford one of the framed originals hanging in the gallery, you might want to take a look at the works on paper (a few originals along with signed prints and posters), tucked away in one of these chests.

A few beauifully rendered rarely seen portraits of Madonnas, lie buried beneath layers of tissue, waiting to be seen, loved, purchased and framed.

Michael is also a collector of old (piggy) banks and other bits of Americana made in the 40’s and 50’s when the World was bigger and far more innocent than now. These nostalgic items recall an Era that has all but faded into the mists of recent history, but would be perfect additions to your Holiday Decorating collection, when that feeling of Hygge is all important.

Rare prints and posters by well known photographers and artists lie buried beneath more tissue and other work of lesser importance and value. There are books and cards. More drawings and lithographs. Drawers of them.

In yet another chest of drawers, page after page after page, stacked between layers of acid free tissue, from an edition of a rare Rembrandt Recueil published either by Henri Louis Basan ca 1789 – 1802 , and/or by his son ca 1803 – 1810, hide in the relative darkness. Whether by father or son, these are all prints taken from the artist’s copper plates that were bought from his estate by the Basan family. The plates were later destroyed to prevent ongoing editions from devaluing the Masters work.

Michael came by these pages serendipitously, by way of a women he knew in Denver, who cared for a major art collector for many years before his death. He bequeathed the Recueil to her, after telling her how he had come across it. A few of them had been sold off for very little money before Michael obtained them, but about 70 prints remain intact.

There are very few of these authenticated prints still available outside important private collections and museums, but if you ask nicely (and quietly), Michael will open the drawers, and prepare to be dazzled by the intricacy of the Master’s etchings.

“These are a few of the “nudes” of Rembrandt,” Michael wrote in the email accompanying these images. “He made several nudes throughout his career although one of the things he is remembered for, is having produced more self portraits than any other artist.”

Looking at these, I recalled seeing them for the first time, and reacting in total disbelief and with awe, that here they were, collecting (literal) dust, in a random drawer in Taos!

My late (grandfather, Charles) and uncle Clive Zeff were esteemed appraisers of Estates – particularly Fine Art and Antiquities – in South Africa (Charles Zeff & Son.) I sent images from Michael’s Recueil to my uncle shortly before he died a few years ago.

His response was as expected.

“Now to your water marks,” He wrote. “They are fantastic, while in St Petersburg and more specifically at the Hermitage and looking at, and admiring the Rembrandt collection which is the largest in the world, and viewing the water marks that you have sent me, they, in a number of cases, are part and parcel of some of the originals in the Heritage collection. I am going to check further for you, as i took a lot of  pictures of the art in the gallery. I will see if they tie up.”

They did and do. My uncle further suggested that Michael send them to Christie’s and/or Sotheby’s to have them properly authenticated, but Michael saw no reason to pay a small fortune to discover what he already knew to be true. As you can see from the watermark on the paper shown above, these are rare treasures indeed, hidden in plain sight!  But all you need to do is say “open the drawers please,” and just like Aladdin’s Cave, these treasures will be revealed.

For more on Michael McCormick’s eponymous Gallery, please visit the site linked below this post.



All images thanks to Michael McCormick

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