Meg and I are of course never competitive with each other, except maybe in the healthiest way, such as, “Oh I thought of the same thing!” or “I was going to suggest that too.” So it’s no surprise that when one of us returned from a trip to France, elated and excited to have discovered the most fabulous new artist, the other one casually countered, “Oh I know her!” (and admitted sheepishly that she is fabulous – and darn, why didn’t I mention her first?).
The artist we were talking about was the now well-known and highly coveted Andree Thobaty, whom we have been representing happily for about five years.
It’s always such a pleasure to visit Andree in her little studio in France. First off, she is just the loveliest person imaginable, in her sweet, polite and enthusiastic way. Secondly, her studio is marvelously well organized, so it’s easy to sift through and make our pickings. And third, we just love the fact that this elegant, well-dressed person “of a certain age” as they put in France, is actually a terror with paint : the looser, the more abstract the better! If she could throw it on the canvas, she would.
Andree has spent years perfecting her work by reducing the brush strokes to a bare minimum and applying the paint in blocky layers that translate to perfectly balanced abstract renditions of her subject matter. She reminds me of those most fearsome tennis players: the senior ladies who. with just the slightest controlled movement, can place the ball exactly where they want it — and always out of reach from their huffing and puffing opponent.
Andree’s painting technique has been admired by so many of our clients and fellow artists that is was only natural, on our last visit to France with Nancy Franke’s lovely group of artists, that one of their top to-do’s was to paint with or at least meet the legendary Andree Thobaty.
I called Andree a few days before arriving and asked if she could meet up with us to paint with our group of American artists. She apologized profusely, but because of a knee injury, she was indisposed to paint in plein air. Then I suggested that maybe I could swing by her studio and pick up some paintings because I was pretty sure that among this group of artists there would be several buyers, or at least admirers of her work. She apologized again and said that her gallery in France had sold out of her work completely over the summer, and that she had nothing left to show me. Then I just begged her to meet Nancy Franke and the artists for the afternoon, to which she responded with a resounding, “Oui bien sur!”
I had to leave the scene that day, but according to all present, Andree’s encounter with our little group of American artists was probably one of the most moving and enthusiastic bi-cultural love fests to occur on French soil — since the liberation of France in 1945! Although few words were exchanged (since there was a significant language barrier), through gestures and smiles and paint brushes and palette knives, communication flowed seamlessly. The artists came back energized and excited to have met the iconic Andree. And Andree said it was one of the happiest moments of her life. Truly.
I begged Andree to paint more for our gallery and sure enough, when I headed back to France a few weeks ago, I bought pretty much all of her new work – even the wet pieces!
So our coffers are now filled with wonderful new work from Andree, which we are debuting this week at the gallery (and have just added to our website here). We’re pretty sure it will sell fast – her talent and price point are an unbeatable combination – and then Meg and I will politely fight over who gets to visit Andree the next time. I can guarantee that whoever wins the draw will hear from Andree, over and over, how much it meant to her to meet Nancy Franke and her group of artists last September.
This is why we do what we do – and love every minute of it.
PS: We are having a one-day sale for Friends and Family at the gallery on Saturday, December 8th, and will feature all of Andree’s new work. If you are planning on giving the gift of art this season, what a fantastic opportunity to buy a highly coveted and popular artist at a very advantageous price! We’re excited to show off her new work.