NEW YORK and LITCHFIELD, Conn. – 2023 began with a bang at Capsule Auctions and Litchfield Auctions. During the last two months, the two houses have collectively presented six auctions, all of which drew enthusiastic bidding. Some of the most exciting bids of the year so far were placed in the categories of Italian design, woodcuts and Haitian sculpture.
Mid-Century Italian Furniture
The New York Times recently dubbed the seating designed by Italian icons Afra and Tobia Scarpa, Mario Bellini, and Gaetano Pesce “unceasingly popular.” As the publication points out, vintage editions of these relaxed and often rotund couches and chairs rarely come up for auction, making Capsule’s recent offerings particularly exciting.
At the time of their initial release in the 1960s and 70s, these items seemed aesthetically radical. Today, despite the countless designs they have inspired and the buzz they consistently generate online, they manage to feel just as new and unique as they did more than 50 years ago.
Offered in Capsule’s February 28 sale, woodcuts by Chen Ting-Shih brought considerable international interest. Spirited phone and internet bidding led to final prices that more than tripled their estimates of $2,000-$4,000 each. These works exemplify the artist’s unique interpretation of abstract expressionism: serene yet dynamic, and finding inspiration in natural wonders.
Pieces by Haitian artists Jasmin Joseph and Georges Liautaud proved to be highlights in Litchfield’s February 28 Winter Design sale. The primary focus of his early career, Joseph’s sculptural work seeks to deliver moral messages through animal forms in the manner of Haitian folklore. Art historian Gerard Alexis once said, “while art should no doubt not be moralizing, an exception should be made for the lessons given by Jasmin Joseph.” The stunning works included in the late February sale managed to bring more than 10 times their estimates; his circa-1960 Hyenas, which was offered with a second figural terra cotta by an unknown artist, achieved $40,300.
Liautaud’s pieces also surpassed expectations, each selling for nearly eight times their estimates. The self-taught sculptor’s metal forms, often made from found materials such as empty oil drums, are in the permanent collections of prominent institutions around the world, such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
The Seymour Stein Collection
2022 saw marked interest for objects of all kinds from the collection of music executive Seymour Stein, and if Litchfield’s recent single-owner sale, The Collection of Seymour Stein, is any indication, 2023 will follow suit. Highlights from the January auction included a remarkable bronze Tiffany lamp, model airplanes and groups of vintage advertisements.
The Graciela Kartofel Collection
Works from the collection of art historian Graciela Kartofel made for some of the most exciting bids of Capsule’s February 28 more, more, more! sale. Mathias Goeritz’s Los Amantes del Alma took the top lot slot, realizing $18,125. Benjamin Dominguez’s Untitled (Four Figures) as well as collages and sculptural pieces by Rodolfo Morales also brought considerable interest. Additional artworks from Dr. Kartofel’s vast collection will continue to sell at Capsule during the course of the year.
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