In Pictures: See Long-Lost Paintings by Francis Hines, Who Wrapped Art and Buildings in Fabric, Discovered in a Dumpster by a Car Mechanic

May 4, 2022

In a surprising instance of accidental discovery, a car mechanic found several hundred works by the artist Francis Hines in a dumpster outside the late artist’s studio in 2017. Tomorrow, 30 of the paintings and one sculpture are going on show in “Unwrapping the Mystery of New York’s Wrapper” at Hollis Taggart’s Southport gallery in Connecticut. A smaller presentation will also be exhibited in Manhattan.

The works in question were being cleared from the studio barn in Watertown, Connecticut following Hines’s death in 2016, aged 96. The artist was well known in the 1970s and 80s for wrapping both his artworks and major city structures in strips of synthetic fabric. The most famous example was the Washington Square Arch, which Hines wrapped in 8,000 yards of white polyester in 1980, as part of an effort by New York University to raise funds for its restoration. But by the end of his career, Hines had fallen into near obscurity, and his works were left abandoned in the old barn.

Taggart says the new show “captures Hines as an artist ahead of his time, as we have seen the ongoing dissolution of boundaries between artforms and dynamic combinations of materials.” 

The trove’s discoverer, Jared Whipple, who is selling the works, first heard about them from a friend contracted to clear out the studio. At the time, he thought they might work well as a Halloween-themed “haunted art gallery”, until he spotted a signature on the back of one of the canvases. 

Whipple began tracking down the artist’s family and colleagues in order to further research Hines’s life. Additional archival material related to Hines’s work, including photographs, video footage and drawings, has since come to light, some of which will be included in the exhibition. It has been curated by Hollis Taggart’s director Paul Efstathiou and the art historian Peter Hastings Falk, who helped Whipple with his research and put him in contact with the gallery. 

Whipple soon realized the collection might be worth several hundreds of thousands of dollars. Twenty-three of the paintings in the show, which are priced at $35,000, have already been snapped up by keen collectors. Whipple plans to use the profits from these sales to renovate his Connecticut warehouse, where he will display other works by Hines.

“The significance of the discovery has been the four-and-a-half-year journey that I’ve been on,” Whipple said. “It has opened up friendships, avenues and a world which I never thought I’d be a part of, or have such a deep appreciation for.” 

See the works that will be included in the show below.

Francis Hines, Legacy (1988). All images courtesy of Hollis Taggart.

Francis Hines, Untitled (1983).

Francis Hines, Untitled (1983).

Francis Hines, Untitled (1983).

Francis Hines, Untitled (1983).

Francis Hines, Icon, NY (1987).

Francis Hines, Untitled (1983)

Francis Hines, Untitled (1983)

Francis Hines, Untitled (1983).

Francis Hines, Untitled (1983).

Francis Hines, Untitled (1983).

Francis Hines, Untitled (1983).

Francis Hines, Untitled (1983).

Francis Hines, Untitled (1983).

Francis Hines, Untitled (1983).

Francis Hines, Untitled (1983).

Francis Hines, Untitled (circa 1984).

Francis Hines, Untitled (1987).

Francis Hines, Untitled (1987).

Francis Hines, Untitled (1983).

Francis Hines, Untitled (1986).

Francis Hines, Untitled (1985)

Francis Hines, Untitled (1984).

Francis Hines, Untitled (1984).

Francis Hines, Untitled (1984).

Francis Hines, Untitled (1984)

Francis Hines, Untitled (1983).

Francis Hines, Untitled (1984).