Cache of monumental paintings discovered

On March 3, 2011, Bruce K. died quietly in his sleep on his farm in rural B. County, West Virginia. Bruce was a diesel mechanic for most of his adult life. He is survived by a daughter Julia and son Junior, both of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. K. became somewhat reclusive after his wife, Flora, died in 2005 and he rarely left his farm. When the executors arrived at the farm to inventory the estate, they were surprised to find, in an outbuilding that the family thought was unused, nearly two hundred large oil paintings neatly stacked and covered with painter’s drop cloths. All of these paintings measured 6 ft x 8.5 feet; it is not known if they were intended to be viewed horizontally or vertically as there are no markings, dates, or signatures on any of the canvases or wooden stretchers. It is presumed that these paintings are the work of K. but other than their presence on the farm, there is no way to know for certain. There were no preparatory sketches, no notebooks, nothing to indicate how these paintings came about or what they meant for K. Friends and family state that K. never expressed any interest in art or was ever acquainted with any artists. Randolph R. of R. Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA was enlisted to examine the paintings and speculated that the paintings must have been begun in the mid to late 1950’s due to stylistic similarities to the abstract expressionism of that time period. He was not able to determine anything more about the dates because the paint, canvas and stretcher bars were all in the same condition as if they had been produced simultaneously. R. did state that the materials had all been handled with professional skill. We have selected a representative sample of the paintings to reproduce here, and have adopted the convention of displaying them vertically. The paintings are now housed at S.F. University where they will be further analyzed by the faculty and students in the conservation program.

Click on any image to open the viewer.

 

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