Fine Art Connoisseur

THE ART OF THE ONE-HIT WONDER

In the annals of popular music, there are artists remembered only for a single hit song: Norman Greenbaum’s Spirit in the Sky of 1969, for instance, or the 2000 Grammy Award-winning Who Let the Dogs Out by the Baha Men. The phenomenon of the one-hit wonder also exists in the world of fine art where, seemingly out of nowhere, there appears an extraordinary work by an artist largely unknown, a work so exceptional as to be virtually inexplicable in the context of the artist’s lifetime oeuvre.

What prompts the appearance of these minor masterpieces, and what circumstances explain the absence of comparable works from the same artists? The answers are not readily evident, as we shall discover through two paintings now in my family’s collection. As far as we can tell, neither was exhibited publicly, yet both are superb

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