Thursday, September 8, 2011

California Modernist Painter - Ed Reep

Ed Reep "Black Rose" (circa 1950-60)
This month's ART FIND submission is an exceptional painting by California artist Edward Reep. As an art appraiser, I have a particular interest in California Modernist artists. There was a school of artists working in Los Angeles during the mid-century who were made up of an innovative group of painters, printmakers, and sculptors.

Ed Reep, along with artists like Bentley Schaad, Henry Lee McFee, Edgar Ewing, Richard Haines, Francis De Erdely, was experimenting with line, color, and form to develop a unique modernist aesthetic. Unlike many artists on the East Coast who had fully abandon representational painting, the West Coast modernists were utilizing elements of cubism and abstraction to depict modern still-lifes, landscapes, and figures. This painting entitled "Black Rose" by Ed Reep is a signature example of mid-century modernism by a Southern California artist.

Edward Arnold Reep (1918 - ) was born in Brooklyn, NY. As a young boy, his family moved to Huntington Beach, California where Reep gained his arts training at the Art Center School in Los Angeles. As a pupil of California watercolorist Barse Miller, Reep began painting in a regionalist style favored during the period. Reep also studied with California artists like Stanley Reckless, Willard Nash, and Emil Bistram.

During the onset of WWII, Reep enlisted as an artist-correspondent in Africa and Italy. Honing his skills as an artist Reep, was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship after the War was over. He soon began teaching at a number of southern California schools such as the Art Center School of Los Angeles, Bistram School of Art, and Chouinard Art School. After moving to Greenville, NC to teach at East Carolina University, Reep returned to Bakersfield, CA.

Ed Reep is best known for his modernist aesthetic utilitizing elements of abstraction, and cubism. Reep was interested exploring color and form but as a means of representational painting -- before he began only painting abstract works.

The collector who submitted this artwork to The Art Appraiser, acquired it through an auction. In doing my appraisal research, I found that after purchasing the painting, the collector was contacted by the auction house through which he bought the painting. They said Ed Reep himself had contacted them in order to get in touch with the person who had bought his painting.

Reep, now age 94, said he had some memory of it and thought he painted it in the 1950s-1960s. The fact that it was framed and labeled by Reep indicates that he considered it a worthy work at the time (Reep noted he would not have framed had he not considered it worthy). Reep remembered painting a number of "experimental paintings" like this and thought a black rose would be something interesting to paint.

That painting may have some restoration done to it-- which would slightly decrease value. According to my appraisal research, there is a growing market for works by California artists like Reep. Galleries and auction houses sell his work, which indicates a demand. While it is a strong painting, Reep's noteriety as an artist remains limited to a small collector base.

As in every art appraisal, art appraisers base value of the painting is based on age, condition, rarity, artistic merit, technical workmanship, current trends and availability. A painting of this quality, subject, size, and provenance would be on the high end of Reep's market.

The highest price paid at auction for the artist's work was $2,600. Gallery pricing is higher. If Ed Reep's "Black Rose" were to be listed for sale in a gallery, it would likely be priced between $4,000-$5,000.

Please submit your painting, drawing, or sculpture for next month’s Art Find. Email Us a photo and brief description.

Alissa Anderson Campbell is an art appraiser for Anderson Shea Art Appraisals. She specializes in appraising American art and European art for insurance, resale value, estate, tax, and charitable donation. Campbell is a member of the Appraisers Association of America (USPAP-compliant). Ph. 805.616.2781/


  1. I just wanted to let you know that Edward Reep passed away on February 28, 2013.

  2. Ed Reep taught an art scholarship class I attended in summer of 1967 at (then) Northridge University. He was a great teacher and a lot of fun. I learned a lot in the class and am still painting in watercolor today. I was sad to hear of his passing.

  3. I have a 1954 water color Painting by Ed Reep.
    It looks like a building in the oil fields of Huntington Beach where I grew up.

  4. After moving to Greenville, NC to teach at East Carolina University, Reep returned to Bakersfield, CA.

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