Wild Things

Wild Things

Dahlov Ipcar
Luando Morning, 1994, oil on linen, 30″ x 48″

The art world is seeing renewed interest in iconic Maine painter Dahlov Ipcar, whose work hits a range of price points, appraiser John Bottero says.

Photographs by Erin Little

I used to be furious when I had to drive to Maine with a car full of cats and dogs and mice and guinea pigs and birds,” Dahlov Ipcar’s father, artist William Zorach, wrote in his autobiography, noting that Ipcar “loved all animals and knew them in all their ways and movements.” New York–based William and his artist wife, Marguerite, began summering in Maine when Ipcar was two. Later, they purchased a farm in Georgetown, where Ipcar eventually settled with her husband, Adolph, and raised two sons. Her early exposure to New York’s museums and zoos and Maine farm life fueled a decades-long fascination with wild and domestic animals, who are sometimes intermixed on her canvases.

Dahlov Ipcar Maine
Equine Pinwheel, 2012, oil on linen, 30″ x 30″

Dahlov Ipcar Maine
Madagascar Tree, 2012, oil on linen, 36″ x 18″

Influenced by Cubist painters like Pablo Picasso, Ipcar layered her creatures over geometric backgrounds, producing complex, kaleidoscopic oil and watercolor paintings that were unprecedented in the American art world. She also illustrated more than 30 children’s books and created fiber works and murals, drawing on her imagination, as opposed to photographs or models, for her animal scenes. “Where the stripes go” was important, she wrote, but she wielded artistic license liberally.

Since Ipcar’s passing in 2017, collectors have been in pursuit of her works, pushing prices into the $20,000 range. Limited-edition prints are available, for $750 to $1,575, on rachelwallsfineart.com. And anyone can collect her books, including 1975’s Bug City, which was reissued with new illustrations earlier this year.

Visit Rachel Walls Fine Art in Cape Elizabeth to see these and dozens of other works by Dahlov Ipcar. 1000 Shore Rd., Bldg. 326. 207-266-5411.

John Bottero is the vice president of Thomaston Place Auction Galleries. Constantly in pursuit of incredible finds, he sees dozens of people each week on Thomaston’s Free Appraisal Day and travels the state helping Mainers bring their collections and valuable heirlooms to market.