Adam Brandau (1910-1998)
PROPERTY FROM THE MARVILL COLLECTION
Adam Brandau (1910-1998)

Self Portrait, 1939

Details
Adam Brandau (1910-1998)
Self Portrait, 1939
paint on galvanized sheet metal and repurposed metal
71 in. high, 21 in. wide, 14 in. deep
Provenance
Carl Hammer Gallery, Chicago
Hirschl & Adler Folk, New York, 1989
Literature
Archie Green, Tin Men (Champaign, Illinois, 2002), p. 143.

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Lot Essay

Made for the Brandau Tin Shop of Jackson, Ohio, Self Portrait served as a trade sign figure and was displayed in the shop's window. However, the tin man encompasses more than this role, as he exists at the intersection of trade sign, skill showcase and fine art. Formed from salvage material, the figure's various body parts display the finesse with which Brandau could aesthetically blend reused disparate metals. At the same time, the figure's label as a self portrait entwined Brandau's identity with that of his business. Self Portrait's painted surface adds to the artistry of the form: as paint obscures some of the tinwork, the final visual aesthetic seems to take precedence over simply showcasing technical abilities.

Brandau learned his trade from his father, Frank, and joined the Sheet Metal Workers Local 98 in Columbus in early adulthood. In 1939 he opened a tin shop in Jackson, and worked there until retiring in 1972. Brandau made Self Portrait the year his store opened (Tin Men, p. 143). The piece earned local celebrity, even appearing on floats in regional parades.

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