Contact: Julia Leveille
Contact: Julia Leveille
Thursday, December 10 | 10am – 5pm
Friday, December 11 | 10am – 5pm
Saturday, December 12 | 10am – 3pm
Sunday, December 13 | 12pm – 4pm
Monday, December 14 | 10am – 5pm
The December 15th Post War and Contemporary Art auction features two stellar examples of Alexander Calder’s table top sculptures spanning the artists career and exemplifying his variety of approach. Toad Stool with Feather, 1948 ($300,000 to 500,000) is a preciously delicate object that exudes a sophisticated whimsy harking back to Calder’s toy making days. Embodying all the majesty of a favorite fairytale, with the wire whisper of a stylized feather and the handsome heft of the mushroom cap the work makes up for what it lacks in scale with adroit form and function . Arguably a personal favorite of the sculptor Toadstool remained in the artist’s own collection until it was acquired by MOMA’s Lending Service shortly before the artist’s passing in 1976. Untitled, 1970 ($200,000 to 400,000) is a late career stabile demonstrating through balance and movement a maker who has mastered his craft. The contrast of deep gloss red and stark matte white along with the static tension of straight and curved lines give the sculpture a unique presence while remaining signature Calder.
Michael Goldberg’s House of Madame Z, 1957 ($150,000 to 250,000), anchors the painting session. This expansive canvas from the artist’s house series, is rich in texture and aggressive handwork, strokes of primary color flash through a predominately gray scale palette, incorporating spatial depth referencing architectural structure to the energy of Golberg’s gestural process. This seminal work from an important crossroads of art history demonstrates through the loose objectness of the implied building, Pop Art’s influence on the painter’s Abstract Expressionist action painting approach. Another high point with Ab Ex association is William Baziotes’ watercolor Mirror Image, 1945 ($10,000 to 15,000) exhibited at MOMA in 1947, this work embraces psychological and allegorical themes rooted in surrealism that move towards mid century New York School Abstraction.
Also of note in this sale, is About Red, 1945 ($15,000 to 25,000), a mixed media mindscape by Chilean painter Roberto Matta, executed while living in the United States this scroll like drawing depicts the inner workings of the human psyche in a world torn apart by the second great war. More noteworthy offering are a pair of drawings from Saul Steinberg, the politically charged social commentary of General A, 1969 ($10,000 to 15,000) and the surreal satire of the New Yorker cartoonesque Monday, 1975 ($10,000 to 15,000) show the artist’s range and subversive wit. Rounding out the highlights are three early remembered landscapes from influential outsider artists Joseph Yoakum, Mt C.S. Valentin in Central So Chile, 1963 ($8,000 to 12,000), Mt La Reu in Laredu Mtn Range near town of Montifacon France, 1965 ($8,000 to 12,000) and Continental Divide near Great Falls Montana, 1966 ($8,000 to 12,000), drawn from the memories of the artist’s circus railroad and ship stowaway travels.
The American and European Art sale on December 14th is led by an early Bernard Buffet work, La Tour Eiffel, 1955 (lot 83, $200-300,000). A strong example of his atmospheric work from the 50s, Buffet depicts in this work one of the most recognizable monuments in the world in his own distinct way. By including La Grand Roue, a Ferris wheel long torn down in 1920, he imbues the painting with a sense of nostalgia and melancholy.
Another leading painting by a French artist is Jean Beraud’s Le Pont de Bercy (lot 52, $200-300,000). Beraud, known for his talent of depicting everyday scene from Parisian life in the 19th century, chooses here to show Bercy, which was until recently a separate commune from Paris. In this painting, one can see the influence of both his fellow Impressionist artists and the Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock tradition, especially in the empty space and strong diagonal lines.
Three exceptional ink and wash works by Thomas Hart Benton lead the American session. Two, Movie Set and Burning of Chicago, are sketches Benton completed while hired by Life magazine to document the movie business in Hollywood. He would later turn these and other sketches into a major composite oil painting entitled Hollywood, 1937-38 currently in the collection of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO. Read more about the drawings in our LHA blog. Also included in the American session are Joseph Rusling Meeker’s Near Lake Maurepas (lot 96, $20-30,000) and William Lamb Picknell’s Annisquam River (lot 116, $15-25,000).