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Old 21st June 2020, 12:47 PM   #1
wardenclyffe
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Who painted this?

OK, I have a different thread going in the science sub-forum about a different painting (http://www.internationalskeptics.com...d.php?t=344132). I think that painting was for a science related publication.

Now, the painting for THIS thread is different. I don't think it's illustration art and it is signed. The signature is clear, but who signed it is NOT clear.

Here's what I've discovered. First, here's the painting in question:
https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item...sgnd-a-giehoff

Who is A. Giehoff? Another auction house which sold some paintings that were signed the same way makes this claim:

"A. Giehoff is a possible ghost artist name of Arthur Greg Hoff. Mr. Hoff may have been an illustrator for Curtis Publishing which produced 'The Saturday Evening Post'. Mr. Hoff lived in Philadelphia and summered in White Mills, PA (Wayne County). These artworks were found at his summer residence years after he no longer lived there."

Source: https://www.proxibid.com/Art-Antique...ation/26695486

Get it? Arthur Greg Hoff/A. G. Hoff/A. Giehoff. Makes complete sense, especially if they were found in his home. What is the problem?

I can find no evidence of any Arthur Greg Hoff who lived in Philadelphia or White Mills or who worked as an artist. There was a Guy Hoff who did many covers for The Saturday Evening Post, but not an Arthur or Greg Hoff.

Meanwhile, actress Judith Malina (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judith_Malina) wrote a memoir in which she mentions her friend, surrealist painter, Adolph Giehoff. She talks about inviting him to an art lecture with her and also about going to see a window display of his paintings at Berdorf Goodman (https://newyorkthegoldenage.tumblr.c...spectacular-we)

She says the paintings at Bergdorf Goodman were "landscapes with unicorns and satyrs."

Here is a landscape signed A. Giehoff that includes unicorns: https://www.proxibid.com/Art-Antique...95487#topoflot
The pictures do not display properly for me, but if I open the thumbnails in a new window, they do work.

Possibly from the Bergdorf Goodman show?

Adolph Giehoff also contributed the 1951 Christmas cover for Pulse magazine which was an internal employee publication for The New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center. He was apparently a patient there at some point.

He also had a painting hanging over the fireplace at the Lombardy Restaurant near Harrisburg, PA, where he had been a waiter.

So that's what I know. Who was A. Giehoff? I'm leaning toward Adolph, but the Arthur Greg Hoff story is so specific that it would have to have been made up out of whole cloth by the auction house that was selling those pieces. That seems odd.

Any ideas?

Thanks,
Ward
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Old 21st June 2020, 02:10 PM   #2
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Is it also possible that both stories are true? Perhaps he went by the A Giehoff name in some circles but Hoff in others, especially if, like a lot of the members of the Living Theater, he was gay at a time when it was dangerous to be out. It would not be the first time ever that an artist went by more than two names, so A.G. Hoff, Guy Hoff, and A. Giehoff could easily be the same person, choosing different names for any of a number of reasons, including personal ones, but also possibly to avoid contract conflicts, or in order to work in different styles without inviting comparison, or to crank out work without the accusation of haste. Numerous authors write under different names so they can work in more than one genre, or so they can publish multiple works at the same time without the appearance of excess.

Giehoff and Guy Hoff could likely be homonyms. It may end up another mystery, but either could be a pseudonym for the other. And of course, although he's said to have summered in White Mills, the fact that you find no record of ownership there might just mean someone else, a partner or a spouse with a different last name, or a generous aunt, owned the property.
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Last edited by bruto; 21st June 2020 at 02:24 PM.
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Old 21st June 2020, 05:30 PM   #3
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I have considered that they are the same person, and that's still a real possibility.

The tale of Arthur Greg Hoff told by the auction house includes info like the paintings being found at his summer home. And yet Arthur Greg Hoff is not the same as Guy Hoff (although they could be the same person). I've found no record of Guy Hoff having an unknown first name beginning with A.

Aside from his friendship with Malina, I cannot find any connection between Adolph Giehoff (which sounds made up to have a certain rhythm and rhyme) and The Living Theater.

I found his cover for the Pulse newsletter:
https://archive.org/details/pulse151...age/2/mode/2up

Inside it says that he was a patient there for a number of months and returns for periodic treatments. Cancer? Addiction? Who knows? Would this newsletter use a pseudonym for him? Would a restaurant in Pennsylvania where he used to be a waiter?

The Harrisburg Telegraph says in 1947: "The painting above the fireplace was done by Adolph Giehoff, who served as a waiter at the Lombardy for a period so that he could study painting at night."

The Lombardy restaurant is apparently now a Red Lobster.

Guy Hoff would have been in his 60s when he painted the newsletter cover and was hanging out with Malina. Both those things seem like a young man's game.

I'm having fun.

Ward
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Old 21st June 2020, 05:47 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by wardenclyffe View Post
I have considered that they are the same person, and that's still a real possibility.

The tale of Arthur Greg Hoff told by the auction house includes info like the paintings being found at his summer home. And yet Arthur Greg Hoff is not the same as Guy Hoff (although they could be the same person). I've found no record of Guy Hoff having an unknown first name beginning with A.

Aside from his friendship with Malina, I cannot find any connection between Adolph Giehoff (which sounds made up to have a certain rhythm and rhyme) and The Living Theater.

I found his cover for the Pulse newsletter:
https://archive.org/details/pulse151...age/2/mode/2up

Inside it says that he was a patient there for a number of months and returns for periodic treatments. Cancer? Addiction? Who knows? Would this newsletter use a pseudonym for him? Would a restaurant in Pennsylvania where he used to be a waiter?

The Harrisburg Telegraph says in 1947: "The painting above the fireplace was done by Adolph Giehoff, who served as a waiter at the Lombardy for a period so that he could study painting at night."

The Lombardy restaurant is apparently now a Red Lobster.

Guy Hoff would have been in his 60s when he painted the newsletter cover and was hanging out with Malina. Both those things seem like a young man's game.

I'm having fun.

Ward
An interesting mystery. Don't forget that if Guy Hoff is a pseudonym there's not much significance in the lack of a given name with an "A" in it.
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Old 21st June 2020, 05:54 PM   #5
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Guy Hoff was born in 1889 in Rochester, NY, and moved to Buffalo at age 4. He was trained at the Art School of the Albright Gallery in Buffalo. He later moved to New York City where he attended the Art Students League. He lived in New York City where he worked as a freelance artist and became fairly well known for his pastels and oils of figures appearing on magazine covers and other commercial projects. He retired from illustration in 1938. He continued making paintings and pastels, mostly of figures and portraits. It appears he did some landscapes, but in an Impressionist style rather that Surrealism. He later moved in with his daughter in Owings Mills, MD, where he died in 1962.

I can find no evidence that Guy Hoff ever did any surrealistic landscapes or even any surrealism at all, that he lived in Philadelphia or summered in White Mills, or that he ever worked under the names A. Giehoff or Arthur Greg Hoff or any other name. The paintings signed A. Giehoff are not in his style or manner of painting and do not have the technical quality of Guy Hoff.

The connection of A Giehoff to Guy Hoff is so dubious as to be nonexistent. There is nothing but speculation. I would practically guarantee that the painting is not by Guy Hoff.

I have no idea who Arthur Greg Hoff is. I can find no record of such a person, and no matching Arthur Hoff in Philadelphia (although some with a different middle initial). The information is coming from the labels on the back of the paintings on the proxibid sites. I can see the label has that name and something about Philadelphia and possibly White Mills, but I cannot read the rest.

I have no idea where that label came from or how old it is or where the information on the label came from. It could have been put on by proxibid based on their research or guesswork or speculation, or by a previous auction house, or a previous owner, or somebody who bought the painting at a flee market or…who knows? It would be quite a coincidence if paintings by A Giehoff ended up in the hands of an Arthur Greg Hoff, but sometimes those things happen. It may have been based on some genealogical research, or a story some owner said, or maybe even a mishearing of a name, or maybe even just made up. The art (an antiques) world is full of vague and dubious claims connecting obscure artwork and objects to famous people to boost the price.

I think is likely that the connection to an Arthur Greg Hoff is based on speculation, misremembering, mishearing, or misunderstanding. Note that they say it is a “possible” ghost name of someone who “may” have been an illustrator. And that the artworks were “found” at his summer residence “years after he no longer lived there”.

I would be quite certain that the painting is by Adolph Giehoff. The name of the signature matches his. He was a surrealist. He was painting at the time these paintings were likely done. He had connections to Pennsylvania. We have descriptions of his paintings that match the paintings we see with his signature. Everything matches.

You can see the Christmas painting he did for The Pulse December 15, 1951, here:

https://archive.org/details/pulse1519newy_12/mode/2up

Unfortunately, there is no signature apparent on that cover to match to the paintings. It is not surrealist, but I would say the technique is comparable to the paintings signed by A. Giehoff.

Frankly, I find it more interesting that the painting was done by Adolph Giehoff. A German man born in 1908 or 1911. In Germany he comes of age during the Golden Twenties, a time of experimental and creative arts. He comes to the United States in 1928. Works his day job waiting tables while studying art in Harrisburg. Returns to Manhattan to try for the big time, but struggles to find any large success. But at least some comments on his work remain. The paintings fall into obscurity for the next 70-80 years. But then they are sold in two separate auctions, one of oils and the other watercolors. There they are exposed to the world by a network of interconnected computers and end up being discussed on a skeptics board. A surrealistic journey indeed!
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Old 21st June 2020, 05:55 PM   #6
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Guy Hoff was a very well-established illustrator/painter who is well documented. He was married, had a daughter (here is his portrait of her: http://www.artnet.com/artists/guy-ho...wm-zV9044fd8w2) who became a model and was voted to have the best body of any model in 1935 (https://www.reddit.com/r/OldSchoolCo...an_society_of/).

I don't think Guy Hoff is much of a mystery, but he could have led a double life.

Ward

P.S. DevilsAdvocate was posting a much more comprehensive message while I was writing this. See above.
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Last edited by wardenclyffe; 21st June 2020 at 06:00 PM. Reason: Added P.S.
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Old 21st June 2020, 06:04 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by wardenclyffe View Post
Aside from his friendship with Malina, I cannot find any connection between Adolph Giehoff (which sounds made up to have a certain rhythm and rhyme) and The Living Theater.
It may sound made up, but his name is on a U.S. immigration card, the 1940 census, and records of his marriage to Catherine or Katherine. As well as the other mentions you have noted. I am quite sure Adolph Giehoff was a real person and not a pseudonym. It is, of course, possible that he at some point used a pseudonym Arthur Greg Hoff. That would not be unlikely considering the rise of a certain other German named Adolph at the time.
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Old 21st June 2020, 06:06 PM   #8
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DevilsAdvocate,

I agree with all of your analyses. I think the Giehoff born in 1907-1911 might be Adolf with an F rather than PH. Could still easily be the same guy. He might have changed the spelling when a different Adolf started making headlines. He died in '83 in the Ozone Park neighborhood of Queens.

Ward

P.S. Again we are posting at the same time and thinking the same way.
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Last edited by wardenclyffe; 21st June 2020 at 06:09 PM. Reason: Added P.S.
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Old 21st June 2020, 06:35 PM   #9
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This might require a separate thread, but auction house attributions are pretty sketchy. It's one thing to say something is in the "style of," but sometimes things just seem to be completely made up. The case of Arthur Greg Hoff above might be a case of this. It might not be the auction house's fault. A piece might arrive with a completely made up background and provenance which they swallow whole, or more likely, can't be bothered to check. Here is another example of a piece for sale right now:

https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item...-landscape-oil

That's a pretty comprehensive biography on the back of the piece for the artist, Casari.

Except it doesn't seem to check out. I can't find an artist named Casari with that biography. I'm not perfect. Maybe I missed it.

But, I don't thing the signature even reads "Casari." I think any normal person would read it as "C.L. Asari" or "C. Lasari." The identical signature turns up on this painting in a different style on the same website: https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item...-landscape-oil

It's two different auction houses using the same aggregator. That second piece is supposedly by an Algerian/Israeli artist named Claude Lasari, which is more probable than the biography for the first one.

Ward
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Old 21st June 2020, 06:50 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by wardenclyffe View Post
DevilsAdvocate,

I agree with all of your analyses. I think the Giehoff born in 1907-1911 might be Adolf with an F rather than PH. Could still easily be the same guy. He might have changed the spelling when a different Adolf started making headlines. He died in '83 in the Ozone Park neighborhood of Queens.
I'm not sure about that Adolf. I did find some records where the A. Giehoff I am talking about is listed as "Adolf". His wife appears to be sometimes Catherine and sometime Katherine. Appears her last name may be Traub.

I think you would have to get a subscription to a genealogy site to work everything out.

My grandmother had three different similar versions of her first name. Apparently there is no birth certificate, so there is no single "correct" version. Two spellings of her maiden name. Sometimes is listed with her maiden name as as her first name. And sometimes even listed with the last name of my grandfather's previous wife's previous last name (The previous wife had married a man and took his last name and had children under that name. My grandfather then married her and she took her name but her children kept their previous last name. She died and he then married my grandmother, so I have uncles with a different last name. My grandmother's name sometime became associated with that last name because she was their mother by marriage, even though they had a different last name from her or my grandfather.) So she has something like 5 first names and 4 last names.

These old timey things can be difficult to sort out.
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Old 21st June 2020, 07:11 PM   #11
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Looking further, it certainly looks as if Guy Hoff's style and choice of subjects was far from that of Giehoff's. It would take a pretty big stretch to connect them. Not that it's absolutely impossible, but it certainly doesn't look as if Guy had any urge to dabble in surrealism.

I suppose, thinking about it, that if Giehoff was German, his name would probably have been pronounced "gee" rather than "guy," too, so if there's any hope of a homonym it would be with A.G.Hoff, not Guy.

It's fun to see how a series of coincidences and what-ifs can lead you down a multitude of different paths.
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Old 21st June 2020, 07:31 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by wardenclyffe View Post
This might require a separate thread, but auction house attributions are pretty sketchy.
As a skeptic I am sure you are shocked -- shocked, I say -- to find out that people selling arts and antiques don't always tell the complete truth.

My guess is most of this originates with the sellers. They think they got something...just like everybody on those antiques and pawn shop shows. Top auction houses like Christie's check these things out in order to maintain their reputation as top auction houses. But most auction houses go with whatever the seller says, unless it is really ridiculous.

Speculative associations and wishful thinking and poor research gets passed along. Most things that are not known to be created by or associated with a famous person are not created by or associated with a famous person.
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Old 21st June 2020, 08:42 PM   #13
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I am not shocked to see the boxcars full of fake Miros, Mondrians, Polloks, Magrittes and Dalis that are being sold in auctions. But I am surprised by these incidents like Arthur Greg Hoff and Casari where there seem to be legitimate, interesting stories behind the paintings, but they are being sold attached to completely bogus biographies of people who seem clearly to not exist.

Ward
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Old 27th June 2020, 11:51 AM   #14
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So, the fine folks at the Wayne County Historical Society (which is where White Mills, PA is located) say that they have also found no record of any Arthur Greg Hoff summering there. They DID however find the full article about Adolph Giehoff and the Lombardy. Apparently the painting was not hanging above the fireplace at the Lombardy, but rather at the well-appointed home of one Mary Brandt in Harrisburg. There is no more in the article about him other than what we already know and that Mary Brandt must have been a fan and/or friend. There is an accompanying photo of Mrs. Brandt using her Meissen tea set by the fireplace. A portion of the painting can be seen, but not enough to tell anything at all about it. It's far away, blurry and only a small portion is pictured. If I figure out how to post the pdf here, I will.

Ward
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