Historic find in possible Reinhardt art

Friday, March 9, 2012
Randy Hayes shows Feb. 27 a collection of Siegfried Reinhardt prints. (Fred Lynch)

Randy Hayes gets excited around beautiful works of art. But after his most recent purchase, he might just explode.

Hayes has recently found and purchased several sets of what he believes to be authentic and original prints, some signed and numbered, crafted by legendary artist Siegfried Reinhardt. Although Hayes has yet to have them professionally certified, he has no reason to think they are anything less than genuine.

"My jaw completely dropped when I came across them in a warehouse in St. Louis. The presentation, the signature, the boxes they are packed in. It all adds up to a very real find," Hayes said. "These could very well be the last project he was working on when he died in 1984. It's just an extraordinary feeling to have them."

Reinhardt is known as a prolific artist, based for most of his career at Washington University in St. Louis. He was also a prominent member of the St. Louis Artists Guild, and his best-known work is perhaps the 142-foot mural he executed at the Lambert-St. Louis International Airport illustrating the history of aviation. He was a pioneer in combining elements of realism and surrealism in a style sometimes known as supersurrealism. From 1949 to 1984 he also worked in the design and execution of stained glass windows.

Reinhardt's works are housed around the world in several prominent museums, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo., and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. He is among the few Americans with work in the Vatican Museum's permanent collection. Reinhardt was also the subject of a feature in Life Magazine in 1952, and in 1950 the magazine listed him among the 19 most important young artists.

He also had work on display in Cape's Missourian Art Show twice during the 1950s and '60s.

"With Reinhardt, you're talking about one of America's finest artists ever," Hayes said. "As far as I know, these are works that have never before been made available to the public."

"It's just astounding to think pieces like these would be floating around," said Barb Duncan, secretary of the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri. "I've always wanted to purchase some Reinhardt works myself, but they are so rare and price-prohibitive. His is truly art to behold and treasure."

Artwork created by Siegfried Reinhardt.

Hayes, a big supporter of local theater and member of the local arts council, has donated some of the Reinhardt sets to be sold to help raise money for the River City Players. John Buckner, owner of Razing Cain in downtown Cape Girardeau, hopes to have the pieces on display and up for auction at the restaurant.

"This is very interesting and attention-grabbing work. Once we get them up, I think they will really sell," Buckner said. "We haven't had them appraised or anything, but I'd estimate a price point to be anywhere from $500 to $650 for a complete set."

Reinhardt has several regional ties, including serving as artist in residence at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale (1950-1954 and 1968-1969) and St. Louis Community College at Meramec (1971-1984). His works have sold for up to $11,500, which is why Hayes is taking extra precaution.

"I'm keeping them locked up. I knew immediately I couldn't keep them here at my house," Hayes said. "It's a shame because I'd love to display them. But I have to keep them safe and get them out there, educating young artists."

The Southeast Missourian attempted to contact sources to authenticate the works but was unsuccessful due to their availability.

jsamons@semissourian.com

388-3641

Pertinent address:

32 North Main St., Cape Girardeau, MO

11 S. Spanish St., Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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