Notified by a contractor, Jared Whipple, a mechanic from Waterbury, retrieved the dirt-covered pieces from a dumpster which contained materials from a barn in Watertown.
Whipple later found out the works were by Francis Hines, an abstract expressionist who died in 2016 at 96 and had stored his work in the barn, Hearst Connecticut Media Group reported.
Hines was renowned for his “wrapping” pieces, in which fabric is wrapped around an object. His art has been compared to that of Christo and Jeanne-Claude, who became famous for wrapping installations around Europe, including the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
Hines wrapped more than 10 buildings in New York including the Washington Square Arch, JFK airport and the Port Authority Bus Terminal, art curator and historian Peter Hastings Falk said.
The hundreds of pieces retrieved by Whipple included paintings, sculptures and small drawings. Hastings Falk estimated the “wrapped” paintings could be sold at around $22,000 apiece and Hines’ drawings at around $4,500.
Whipple showed some of the pieces at a gallery in Waterbury last year and recently decided to sell some of the art. He is collaborating with Hollis Taggart, a New York City gallery, on exhibits in New York and Connecticut, beginning next month.
Whipple researched Hines’s work and contacted the artist’s family, who, he said, allowed him to keep and sell the art.
“I pulled it out of this dumpster and I fell in love with it,“ Whipple said. “I made a connection with it. My purpose is to get Hines into the history books.”