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Charles Addams (1912-1988) Original Artwork
Starting Bid - $2,000.00, Sold For - $11,750.00
Charles Addams (1912-88) possessed a special talent among artists. Macabre humor, especially in the form of a cartoon, requires a delicate balance of sensibility and wit, a fine line that few artists have ever been able to tread successfully. Addams not only walked that line, he raced down it at breakneck speed, leaving us today with more than 1,300 classic cartoons, many of which elicit both a laugh and an involuntary shudder. Addams was born in Westfield, New Jersey, in 1912 and, surprisingly, enjoyed a fairly normal childhood. Aside from his predilection for spending time alone in cemeteries, his early life followed a normal course of development. After beginning his studies at Colgate University in 1929 and transferring the following year to the University of Pennsylvania, Addams soon decided that the academic life was not for him and that he would pursue a career as a cartoonist. In particular, he desired to work for
The New Yorker,
one of the nation's most prestigious periodicals. In pursuit of that dream he enrolled in the Grand Central School of Art in New York City. During his tenure at the art school, he became a freelance contributor to
The New Yorker.
His cartoons were a hit with readers and in 1935 he was hired by the magazine as a regular staff member. Two years later he created the ghoulish clan that would soon be recognized as his signature creation. The clan consisted of pale, thin, witch-like woman, her unseemly husband, their deformed butler, two nasty little children, a strange uncle, and other less frequently seen family members. Though they were never referred to by name in print, they came to life on television in 1964 as
The Addams Family
. The show, which ran for two years, was well received by both critics and viewers, and its popularity resulted in Charles Addams becoming a household name. New incarnations of
The Addams Family
were later seen in the form of a cartoon and two feature films. Aside from a few occasional submissions to other magazines, such as
, nearly all of Addams' cartoon work during his career was published by
The New Yorker
. Addams' cartoons were also collected in twelve books published between1942 and 1988, and a thirteenth volume was published posthumously in 1991. Always regarded as one of America's foremost cartoonists Addams has been honored by exhibits of his work at numerous prestigious museums. The New York Public Library also exhibits his works, on a rotating basis, throughout the year. Today, his cartoons continue to delight each new generation of fans and his signature creation,
The Addams Family
, lives on as one of America's most famous cultural institutions.
The following twenty-one lots represent one of the finest collections of Charles Addams original artworks ever assembled, and by far the most significant collection to ever appear at auction. All of the artworks are the property of a single consignor who has inherited the works from the previous owner, a very serious collector who assembled this collection from auctions and private dealers over a period of many years. Charles Addams original artworks are rarely seen offered at public sale, as most are housed in public museums and institutions, and a smaller number in prestigious private collections.
Original Charles Addams cartoon, signed by the artist in the lower right. Date: 1947. Description: This "Addams Family" cartoon pictures Morticia decorating the family's version of a Christmas tree as Pugsley and Wednesday look on. Caption: none. Medium: Ink and wash. Image Area: 6.5 x 11.5 inches. Publication History: This cartoon appeared in the book Addams and Evil , published by Simon and Schuster in 1947. Its prior publication history is unknown; however, it may have been originally created as a Christmas card design. Condition: Fine. Provenance: Purchased in May 1994 from Illustration House, the world's premier auction house specializing in illustration art. A formal appraisal in writing by Frederic Taraba (necessary for the settling of the estate) accompanies and lists an appraised value for this work of $12,000. Matted and framed to total dimensions of 13.25 x 16.25 inches. Reserve $2,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $11,750.00
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