In the spirit of Valentine’s
Day, Cowley Abbott profiles a selection of some of our favourite artist
couples. These artists shared a personal chemistry which helped form the
background of their lifelong artistic pursuits.
Painter Rita Letendre met
Kosso Eloul while travelling in Italy in 1962. The couple married two years
later, moving between Los Angeles and New York before settling together in
Toronto in 1969. The two shared many fundamental artistic ideas, and their
respective predilection for geometric abstraction both contrasts and
compliments the other in interesting ways.
When Paterson Ewen met
Françoise Sullivan in 1949, their relationship formed the basis of a fruitful
creative exchange. Sullivan was a member of the influential group Les
Automatistes, and introduced Ewen to an entirely new milieu. Ewen’s
artistic development was deeply impacted by the Quebec group’s experimental
Over the course of a
24-year relationship, Joan Mitchell and Jean Paul Riopelle lived and painted
together. The two influential painters sustained a rich exchange of creative
ideas, sharing their deep commitment to their art. As documented in the Art
Gallery of Ontario’s 2018 exhibition Mitchell/Riopelle: Nothing in Moderation,
similar formal and intellectual concerns become clear when viewing the work
of both artists side by side.
Among the most notable
artist couples of the 20th century are Josef and Anni Albers. The two met in
1922 during the heyday of the Bauhaus art and design school in Weimar, Germany.
In 1925, they married in Berlin. Following the closure of the school in 1933,
the couple fled Nazi rule and resumed their careers at the Black Mountain
College in North Carolina. The Albers’ extraordinary union fueled
one another’s creativity,
each developing into leading figures of twentieth-century modernism. Josef and
Anni Albers were married for 51 years.
Romantic partnerships can
form the basis of a dynamic, fruitful exchange of ideas, artistic concerns and
formal practices. Cowley Abbott invites you to watch for the works of these art
power-couples, along with many more, featured in our upcoming auctions.
is our western Canada representative, offering services related to private sales of
fine Canadian artwork. Prior
to establishing Ohler’s Fine Art in 2018, Peter’s career began in 1980 at
Masters Gallery in Calgary. His role in the Canadian art world has
certainly evolved since then, having handled many, many works of art and
carving a distinctive role for himself within the industry. In 2022, Ohler’s Fine Art was acquired by Cowley
Abbott with Peter joining the firm as the company’s Western Canada
Representative, continuing his work in private sales while pursuing artwork for
inclusion in Cowley Abbott’s live and online auctions. Peter continues to
advise clients who wish to buy or sell art, providing expert evaluation and
advisory services through this new venture with Cowley Abbott. Peter recently came to Toronto for a brief visit and we were
able to pick his brain on a few things!
you are a new member of the Cowley Abbott team and we are delighted to have you
join the ranks! You reside in Calgary, your hometown, and act as our western
Canada representative – a very exciting development for the firm as we begin to
represent the country from coast to coast! Can you share a bit about your role
at the auction house and what services you are providing for western Canada?
far, I’ve done lots of shipping for you. You seem to be landing some great
pieces for your upcoming auctions. It makes sense that your western clients
would want to send their fine art east where the market seems to be stronger.
This is not a surprising development but a big change for me as I have spent
most of my career sourcing things in the east to sell to clients out west.
While I will continue my work as a private dealer, I will also assist Cowley Abbott any way I can. Primarily working to secure consignments for your exciting online or live sales. I happen to know where a lot of great art is hanging.
is evident that you enjoy handling works by artists that involve research
and mining for information. In that vein, do you have a favourite artist,
period or movement? Perhaps there is an artwork or artist that has had a major
influence on you?
I’m old school so the Group of Seven is still where it’s at for
me. The first Canadian art book I read was Russell Harper’s Painting in Canada.
The stories of the early group members canoeing and painting in northern
Ontario were captivating. Of the group JEH MacDonald has always been my
favorite. Man could he paint. If I only end up with one picture at the end of
all this, I would like to own a great MacDonald Algoma oil sketch. I’ve had a
couple recently but of course I sold them.
If you wish to discuss acquiring or selling an artwork
privately contact Peter at [email protected]to discuss how we
can provide this fast, confidential and stress-free service. We will also buy
artworks if you would like a quick sale.
is our Montreal Representative with nine years of experience in the Canadian
auction industry. Together with her academic background in art history, she has
developed a specialty in the Canadian post-war abstract art movements. She is
passionate about writing – on topics of fine art, art collecting, and the
Katherine, you have been a
member of the Cowley Abbott team since 2016 and your role has greatly evolved
over the last few years. You now reside in Montreal, your hometown, and act as
our Montreal representative – a very exciting development for the firm as we
begin to represent the country from coast to coast! Can you share how your role
at the auction house has advanced and what services you now provide for the
province of Quebec?
started working at the Cowley Abbott Toronto gallery in 2016 in a Client
Services position, and then became a Canadian Art Specialist in 2018. In 2020,
during my maternity leave, I moved to Montreal and returned to Cowley Abbott as
the Montreal Representative. My current role involves many of the same aspects
as when I lived in Toronto, such as online valuation inquiries and writing for
the auction catalogues, but I am also excited to now offer a face-to-face and
bilingual service in Montreal and its surrounding areas. I meet with clients in
person to view and pick up artworks, and I organize regular shipments to
Toronto for a hassle-free consignment process. I have to say though, I do miss
Toronto and seeing the Cowley Abbott team in person on a regular basis, and I
am really looking forward to more trips back to the city in this upcoming year!
As a lover of art, you have
always promoted collecting art at auction and we know that you wish to
encourage younger audiences to become active in the auction world. Can you tell
us a little bit about why this topic interests you? You have started a new blog
on art collecting at CowleyAbbott.ca. We can’t wait to read the next
am an art historian and art lover, though I feel very strongly that art can be
appreciated at many levels and price ranges. Of course, I swoon over the
enormous Riopelle and Borduas paintings at museums, but I also get excited
about a $300 etching that can bring colour or charm or mood to your own walls
at home. There has been a recent resurgence of interest among young people in
home decor that is unique, vintage and sustainable, rather than what you’d find
at a big box store. I think this trend is also carrying over into art
collecting, and online auctions are the perfect fit for this audience, being a
platform for finding original and quality artworks at a wide price range. My
blog aims to dispel some misconceptions about the auction world and make it
approachable to new collectors. So stay tuned!
Abbott has rapidly grown to be a leader in the competitive Canadian auction
industry since its foundation. Our expansion into the international art market
with a dedicated department and the offer of a rare painting by the enigmatic
superstar David Bowie in our first International Art Auction in June 2021 led
to notable exposure for both the artwork and the firm, selling for $108,120 (a
new global auction record). We
invite you to become acquainted with our specialists in our new blog series and learn more
about Cowley Abbott’s pivotal role in the auction industry.
Perry Tung, Senior
Canadian and International Art Specialist
Perry is a fine art specialist and auctioneer with over 20
years of experience in both the primary and secondary art markets, with
knowledge of both Canadian and International Art. Perry joined Cowley Abbott in
December of 2020 and began building the International Art Department, a very
exciting venture for the auction house. Did you know that Perry has volunteered
his time for countless charity auctions over the years and also was a guest
judge on a hit tv television show?
Perry, you have been a regular commentator
and lecturer on Canadian art and the auction market in Canada during your years
in the industry. As a guest judge on an episode of the acclaimed Netflix show, Blown Away, you had the opportunity to
work directly with artists and witness glassblowers creating artworks in real
time. Tell us more about this experience and how you came to be involved. Any
memorable moments from Pop Art Blowup?
One of the show’s creators saw a tv interview I had
done and contacted me. We met, they pitched the show and a couple of months
later we were filming the episode. The most memorable thing was learning about
glass blowing, the terminology and techniques. It was amazing to be in the
hotshop with these talented artists and watch them create something inspired by
Also, readers should note that
“Blown Away” is still available to watch on Netflix!
Tune in and watch Perry evaluate the talented contestants!
Each year you volunteer your time
as an auctioneer for various charity events across Toronto, including Art with
Heart’s Contemporary Fine Art Auction benefiting Casey House and Snap! A
Contemporary Canadian Photography Auction for the Aids Committee of Toronto.
These are fantastic causes! How long have you been volunteering as an
auctioneer for these charity auctions? When do Art with Heart and Snap! take
place this year? We are excited!
involved with Art with Heart for eighteen years and with Snap! for about
fifteen years. This year is the Twentieth
Anniversary of Snap! and we are excited to host the live broadcast from Cowley Abbot on
March 24th. Art with Heart will be in October this year and we are delighted to host the
previews again at our galleries.
Perry Tung can be reached directly by e-mail at [email protected]
Stay tuned for the next installment of “Introducing the Cowley Abbott Team” in a
Starting an Art Collection & Why You Should Look to Auctions
Collecting art can be fulfilling and add personality to your home. As a thirty-something-year-old art specialist, I have quite a few friends and family members buying their first homes and asking me where they can buy art to put on their walls. For many reasons (admittedly including the fact that I work at an auction house), I recommend online auctions as a way to start and build an art collection. Cowley Abbott’s January online auctions offer great examples of accessible art in a range of styles, subjects, and media. I am happy to share some general art collecting advice and my affordable art picks from the current sale.
It is important to spend time surrounded by art in order to create a context for yourself. Find ways to look at art on a regular basis, through museum and gallery visits, Instagram accounts, the Google Arts & Culture app, and scrolling through online auction listings. Every time you see a work of art, let yourself react to it. Ask, “do I like this? Why or why not?” These experiences will help you develop your personal taste.
Learn (some of) the Lingo
Art comes in many forms and materials, and it is worth learning their differences, for the purposes of both aesthetics and value. The general categories include painting, drawing, prints (of which there are many types – etchings, silkscreens, lithographs, etc), photography, sculpture and mixed media. An oil painting is a one-of-a-kind work of art, but also more expensive due to its rarity. Prints, which are duplicate images from a limited edition, are often more readily available and affordable than original paintings. For example, lot 73 is Northern Legend, a 1967 print by Rita Letendre. The estimate is $300-500, far below the typical prices in the tens of thousands for her oil paintings.
Be Patient and Enjoy the Journey
Please take your time in this process. When someone asks me for advice on how to find a work of art for their home, I often have to tell them that they should not expect to find something in a day or even a week. Don’t just buy something quickly to fill a blank wall. That being said, if a particular work really grabs you for whatever reason, then go for it! It is better to buy something you love even if you have no idea where it will find a place in your home. Art collecting is a lifelong journey that is never complete – it is always evolving and it reflects how your personality and tastes have changed. Looking at every piece in your collection is like an old journal or photo album–every piece you collect along the way will remind you of a particular moment in your life.
Comment commencer une collection d’art & pourquoi vous devriez vous tourner vers les enchères
La collection d’œuvres d’art peut être épanouissante et ajouter de la personnalité à votre maison. En tant que spécialiste de l’art dans la trentaine, j’ai pas mal d’amis et de membres de ma famille qui achètent leur première maison et me demandent où ils peuvent acheter de l’art pour mettre sur leurs murs. Pour de nombreuses raisons (y compris le fait que je travaille dans une maison de vente aux enchères), je recommande les ventes aux enchères en ligne comme moyen de démarrer et de constituer une collection d’art. Les ventes en ligne de Cowley Abbott de janvier offrent d’excellents exemples d’art accessible dans une gamme de styles, de sujets et de médias. Je suis heureuse de partager quelques conseils généraux sur la collection d’art ainsi que mes choix d’art abordables de la présente vente.
Il est important de passer du temps entouré d’art afin de se créer un contexte.Trouvez des façons de voir de l’art régulièrement, par le biais de visites de musées et de galeries, de comptes Instagram, de l’application Google Arts & Culture et en parcourant les listes d’enchères en ligne. À chaque fois que vous voyez une œuvre d’art, laissez-vous réagir. Demandez, “est-ce que j’aime ça? Pourquoi ou pourquoi pas?” Ces expériences vous aideront à développer votre goût personnel.
Apprenez le jargon
L’art se présente sous de nombreuses formes et matériaux, et il vaut la peine d’apprendre leurs différences, à des fins esthétiques et de valeur. Les catégories générales comprennent la peinture, le dessin, les gravures (dont il existe de nombreux types – eaux-fortes, sérigraphies, lithographies, etc.), la photographie, la sculpture et les techniques mixtes. Une peinture à l’huile est une œuvre d’art unique, mais elle est aussi plus chère en raison de sa rareté. Les tirages, qui sont des images en double d’une édition limitée, sont souvent plus facilement disponibles et abordables que les peintures originales. Par exemple, le lot 73 est Northern Legend, une sérigraphie de 1967 de Rita Letendre. L’estimation est de 300 à 500 $, bien inférieure aux prix typiques de plusieurs dizaines de milliers de ses peintures à l’huile.
Soyez patient et profitez du voyage
Veuillez prendre votre temps dans ce processus. Quand quelqu’un me demande des conseils pour trouver une œuvre d’art pour sa maison, je dois souvent lui dire qu’il ne faut pas s’attendre à trouver quelque chose en un jour ou même une semaine. Ne vous contentez pas d’acheter quelque chose rapidement pour remplir un mur vide. Cela étant dit, si un article en particulier vous attrape vraiment pour une raison quelconque, alors allez-y ! Il est préférable d’acheter quelque chose que vous aimez même si vous ne savez pas où il trouvera sa place dans votre maison. Collectionner des œuvres d’art est un processus qui dure toute la vie et qui n’est jamais complet – il évolue constamment et reflète l’évolution de votre personnalité et vos goûts. Regarder chaque pièce de votre collection est comme un vieux journal ou un album photo – chaque article que vous collectionnez en cours de route vous rappellera un moment particulier de votre vie.
Cowley Abbott bridges the gap
between traditional art auction services and the online fine art
marketplace. Our experienced specialists strive to form relationships with
clients built on professionalism, transparency and trust. We believe that art collecting
should be approachable, educational and rewarding for both new and seasoned
collectors. We invite you to become acquainted with our specialists in our new
blog series and learn more about Cowley Abbott’s prominent place in the
Canadian art industry.
Canadian Art Specialist
Did you know Canadian
Art Specialist, Katlin Rogers is also a qualified personal property appraiser?
Specializing in Historical and Post War Canadian Art, Katlin has been a Member
of the International Society of Appraisers since 2018. Receiving Chapter Impact
Awards from the Canadian Chapter of ISA and practicing hundreds of hours of
appraisal work, Katlin can assist you with your formal appraisal needs!
As a member of
the International Society of Appraisers, Katlin, you are part of a leading professional personal property appraisal
association, which allows you to perform a myriad of fine art appraisals
as a specialist at Cowley Abbott. Can you tell us more about the appraisal
services offered at the firm and your role as an
ISA qualified appraiser?
Many of our clients
have practical issues of insurance and estate concerns when it comes to their art
collection. Receiving top training with the International Society of Appraisers
sharpened my skill set to provide our clients with bespoke appraisal services.
I have been fortunate to be able to work with clients who have built
exceptional collections of blue chip Canadian art, including works
by Jack Bush, Jean McEwen, Jean Paul Riopelle, David Milne, A.Y. Jackson, Maud
Lewis and William Kurelek, among many others. Many of these artworks have not
been traded on the open market and it is a pleasure to be able to handle these collections,
connect with clients and discuss current market conditions.
The Sotheby’s Institute of Art London in the United Kingdom is where you received your Master’s in Art Business. Can you tell us about what your studies were focused on and how that experience informed your decision to work in the auction industry?
Studying in a global
art center was certainly an important experience. The Sotheby’s program in
London was open to a global view, however, I tailored my studies towards the
Canadian marketplace, taking a deep dive into the public and private sectors of
our regional art market. For my Master’s Thesis, I took a very focused look on
how the world perceives regional markets and examined the Canadian art market
from qualitative and quantitative perspectives. Researching the auction market
between 1967- 2015 provided invaluable insight into previous and current trends
in the market and auction business strategies. This research allowed me to hit
the ground running when I returned to Canada and began working in the auction
industry. Ever since it has been a pleasure linking undergraduate art history
and theory studies, and post-grad art business studies, with real world
experience handling incredible artworks.
Katlin Rogers can be reached
directly by e-mail at [email protected].
Stay tuned for the next installment of “Introducing the Cowley Abbott Team” in
Cowley Abbott is pleased to welcome Peter Ohler to the firm. Peter acts as Cowley Abbott’s Western Canada Representative, pursuing artwork for inclusion in the company’s live and online auctions while also providing superior service to collectors related to private sales.
The Cowley Abbott team is excited to work
with Peter, who has forty years of experience in the Canadian art industry. Peter’s
career as an art dealer began in 1980 at Masters Gallery in Calgary. Founded in
1976 by Peter’s father, he later became a partner in the gallery in 1995, and
established Masters Gallery Vancouver, which he ran from 2011-2017. In 2018,
Peter established Ohler’s Fine Art, further establishing his reputation for
adhering to the highest ethical standards within the Canadian art community.
Peter is recognized for his expertise in
dealing with high-value artwork of historical significance and will continue to
advise clients who wish to buy or sell art, providing expert evaluation and
advisory services through this new venture with Cowley Abbott. We asked Peter a
few questions about his vast experience and had the opportunity to learn a bit
more about his experience in the Canadian art world.
We are so pleased to welcome you to Cowley Abbott, Peter. What are you most looking forward to about your new role?
Meeting new clients and collectors. In my
experience the auction buyer and seller aren’t necessarily the same person who
deals with a retail gallery or private dealer. Of course there is some
crossover but I think I will get to know a great group of new people now that I
am with CA. Of course, I am also looking forward to working with the Cowley
Abbott team. They have a great reputation, so I’ll have to be on my best
behavior to fit in.
Drawing upon your vast experience in the Canadian art market, what would you say has drawn you towards the auction industry and is there a facet of the auction house world that you are eager to learn more about?
Cowley Abbott deals with such a wide variety
of art. It will be interesting to have hands-on experience with so many
different things that I wouldn’t typically deal with.
Have you noticed any fundamental or striking changes in the Canadian art industry and the art collecting practices of collectors since you became an art dealer in 1980?
1980? That’s a long time ago. I started in the business when I was 5 so I’m really not that old. In “the old days” it was mostly the dealers who bought at auction and took things back to their galleries to resell to their clientele. The dealers were tastemakers and educators. Identifying, for their clients, what they should consider and collect. Over time buyers began acting on their own behalf and buying directly from the auctions. So much more information is available now to buyers it seems that collectors feel confident in making their own decisions regarding the art they buy without the input of the dealer.
Throughout your career in the art world, what have been some memorable or “standout” artworks that you have handled?
I’m probably supposed to talk about an expensive Emily Carr or Riopelle, there have been a lot of those. Honestly though I spent many years dealing with contemporary art and artists in the retail world before becoming a private dealer. It was very rewarding working with the living artists and helping them gain the exposure and notoriety they deserved.
The thrill of the hunt must be a phrase you have thought of often throughout your career of discovering gems for collectors to consider acquiring. Were you always interested in seeking out rare artworks of quality and discovering the stories behind them? Was there a particular artwork with an interesting provenance or historic story that you can share?
My Dad and I used to walk a golf course in
Calgary that was near his house. We would go in the early evening on a Sunday
after the course was closed to look for lost golf balls. Walking through the
long grass and the woods around the course you would step on them as you walked
along. It was always a small thrill to pick one up and see what you had
found. Finding great historical art is like looking for golf balls. It
happens if you know where to look but the conversations, shared experiences and
relationships you build with clients along the way is what really makes it
meaningful. In my experience it is the clients that are the gems.
Lastly, what drew you to the art industry initially? What are your earliest memories of the art world?
Nepotism. Masters Gallery was my dad’s shop
and he let me work there while I was in highschool. Pete Sr. never liked
seeing me sitting around so I always tried to look busy so he wouldn’t find
some terrible job for me to do like cleaning the baseboards.
Peter is located in Calgary and is looking forward to connecting further with collectors, art lovers and the Canadian art community. Peter Ohler can be reached directly at 587-317-6564 or by e-mail at [email protected].
Peter Ohler will act as the firm’s Western Canada Representative, providing expert evaluation and advisory services for auction and private sale purposes.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Toronto, ON (January 10, 2022) Cowley Abbott is proud to announce that Peter Ohler has joined the firm. Peter will act as Cowley Abbott’s Western Canada Representative, pursuing artwork for inclusion in the company’s live and online auctions while also providing superior service to collectors related to private sales.
Ohler’s Fine Art has been acquired by Cowley Abbott and this new collaboration continues the firm’s growth, furthering our expertise and industry-leading service to collectors across Canada and internationally.
Peter’s career as an art dealer began in 1980 at Masters Gallery in Calgary. Founded in 1976 by Peter’s father, he later became a partner in the gallery in 1995, and established Masters Gallery Vancouver, which he ran from 2011-2017. In 2018, Peter established Ohler’s Fine Art, cementing his 40 years of experience in the Canadian historical art market to provide top-level service to clients across Canada. Peter has a reputation within the dealer and collector community for adhering to the highest ethical standards and his expertise in dealing with high-value artwork of historical significance has established him as a nationally recognized dealer. Peter will continue to advise clients who wish to buy or sell art, providing expert evaluation and advisory services through this new venture with Cowley Abbott.
Regarding his new role, Peter Ohler remarked, “Combining my experience and knowledge gained in the retail and private art dealing business with the highly successful team at Cowley Abbott will allow us to offer the widest range of services available in Canada. I am thrilled to begin this exciting new chapter with the team.”
“Having had the pleasure to work with Peter over many years in the Canadian art industry, our collaborations have always been professional, constructive and enjoyable, with a shared focus to best serve our clients”, said Rob Cowley, with Lydia Abbott adding, “We could not be more excited and privileged to have Peter join Cowley Abbott; his experience, knowledge and ethical business acumen is a perfect fit for our firm, which only add value to our growing company.”
Established in 2013, Cowley Abbott (originally Consignor Canadian Fine Art) was formed in response to the changing Canadian art market and art collecting practices of clients. The company has rapidly grown to become a leader in the sale of fine Canadian & international art, providing a wealth of services for today’s collector.
Peter Ohler can be reached directly at 587-317-6564 or by e-mail at [email protected].
The final auctions of 2021 have come to a close. Cowley Abbott rounded out a successful year with three concurrent Online Auctions: Coast to Coast, Holiday Charm and Works on Paper, Books & Tapestries. Each of these auctions featured an impressive array of genres, styles and mediums of artwork, from across Canada and beyond.
Celebrated Canadian artists Doris McCarthy, Alan Collier, John Little, Maud Lewis and many, many more were included in our most recent Online Auctions. Works of art ranging from historical to modern to contemporary were presented for discerning collectors and spontaneous buyers alike.
Among the notable works on paper were a set of lithographs by contemporary Inuk artist Shuvinai Ashoona. Teeming with colour, detail and imaginative forms, the dazzling lithographs sold above their estimate for $5,040.
Camp, a 2006 canvas by Kim Dorland also generated excitement among visitors. Rendered in fluorescent paints, a tent glows dramatically in the dark night. The detritus of wild times is strewn about in the foreground. Both quiet and exuberant, the distinctive painting sold well over the estimate for $26,400.
One of the stand-out results of the December auctions was Evening, Algonquin by Frederick Nicholas Loveroff. Reminiscent of the Algonquin Park sketches of the iconic Tom Thomson, the small oil sketch captures a dramatic sunset with confident brushwork and glowing colours. The appealing landscape caught the eye of a number of collectors and bids poured in for the painting. Evening, Algonquin soared to a price realized of $38,520.
Covered Bridge in Winterby beloved Canadian artist Maud Lewis was a wonderfully apt addition to Cowley Abbott’s “Holiday Charm” auction. Featuring snowy pines, horse-drawn sleighs and colourful east coast buildings, the painting exudes heart-warming appeal. The wintry scene demonstrated Maud Lewis’ enduring popularity with a strong result of $43,200.
The team at Cowley Abbott extend our gratitude to all the collectors, bidders and buyers who ensured 2021 was a year of growth and success. We very much look forward to the many new opportunities and experiences to come in the year ahead.
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