The miner who outsells Monet 2004-03-21Posted by clype in Humanities, Intolerance, Money, Scotland.
Prints of his paintings outsell those of master impressionist Claude Monet, making Jack Vettriano a very rich man. But he is still stung by the disdain with which the art establishment treats him.
‘I would be lying if I said that some of the things they have said over the years haven’t bothered me; they have’, he said.
‘They have a fairly arrogant stance’.
‘There is jealousy, envy, the fact that they had nothing to do with training me, and the fact that I am popular. All of these things fuel their attitude’
— The self-taught former Scottish coalminer said in an interview in his London studio.
His original works, rejected by both the Royal Academy and the Scottish Arts Council in 1991, hang in the homes of celebrities like Jack Nicholson and regularly fetch upwards of 40 000 GBP. Proving the popularity of his works, ‘The Singing Butler’, which Vettriano painted and sold in 1992 for 3 000 GBP, will be auctioned by Sotheby’s on 2004-04-19 when it is expected to change hands for more than 200 000 GBP.
‘My pictures tell stories; there is a narrative in each one.
‘They speak to me and, it seems, strike a chord with other people as well’
— The chain-smoking, unshaven Vettriano said.
Prints of his instantly recognisable early works, featuring often faceless people in romantic poses sell in their millions as posters and greetings cards, reminding many of a latter day Edward Hopper.
But far fewer people know his name. Born in 1951 in eastern Scotland, Vettriano — at that time bearing the family name Hoggan — left school at 15 and followed his father down into the coal mines.
Quickly realising that was not the life he wanted, Vettriano took a variety of jobs, including working in a local shop before one of his string of girlfriends changed his life when she gave him a box of watercolour paints at the age of 21.
It became his driving passion as he devoted increasing amounts of his free time to teaching himself to paint. His break came in 1988 when he showed and sold two paintings — although it coincided with the breakdown of his seven-year marriage and his decision to adopt his mother’s maiden name.
His works struck a popular nerve and his prints now earn him well over 500 000 GBP/year. As his public esteem has grown, to the point where he is dubbed in some quarters ‘The People’s Painter’, his works have become darker and more overtly erotic.
‘I am a melancholic romantic.
‘My paintings are an adoration of women.
‘They are also partly biographical.
‘Sex is so fundamental to our lives’, he said.
‘I paint these people because I am drawn to them. They are motivated by sex, and we all know where that ends. These are not happy people’, he added.
Vettriano, whose new show opens at London’s Portland Gallery opens on 2004-06-19, denies that money was ever his motivation.
‘It is a fabulous feeling lying in bed at night and knowing how many people are looking at my paintings and enjoying them’, he said.