John Nieto painting tops Moran’s Art of American West sale

John Nieto (1936-2018, New Mexico) ‘Cosmic Aspirations,’ 1993, acrylic on canvas, price realized: $28,750, a new auction record. Moran’s image

MONROVIA, Calif. – Moran’s Art of the American West auction closed out the summer with over 350 lots of fine art, objets d’art and jewelry from the leading artists and craftsman of the American West. With a few new auction records, some sleeper hits and strong prices realized, this sale brought keen interest in key categories. Absentee and Internet live bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.

Works by Modernist artists achieved some of the strongest prices of the day. Morgana Blackwelder, Moran’s fine art director noted, “buyers are competing for works that have a mix of historical context and modern flare.” John Nieto’s Cosmic Aspirations (above) set a new auction record for the artist. Two phone bidders battled it out until one finally took the beautifully composed and vividly painted work for $28,750 (all prices realized include Moran’s 25 percent buyer’s premium).

An abstract American Indian figure from Otellie Loloma (1922-1993, Sipaulovi Village, Ariz.), whose husband was famed jeweler Charles Loloma and a gifted artist in her own right, soared past its $1,000-$2,000 estimate to bring $5,200, a record for the artist.

Otellie Loloma, abstract oil on canvas, price realized: $5,200. Moran’s image

American Portrait #20 from Fritz Scholder features a figure in movement against a color blocked background and brought $15,000.

An array of exquisite Navajo weavings and Southwestern basketry brought out the collectors. A Navajo Classic women’s half dress, woven circa 1860 of fine indigo blue, raveled lac and cochineal-dyed red yarns, and natural brown wool brought $6,875 at the auction. A large Navajo Germantown weaving dating from the turn of the last century woven from colorful yarns in an all-over stepped diamond pattern created a bidding war between two floor bidders when it hit the block, finally selling at double the low estimate for $12,500 (PHOTO 3).

A large Navajo Germantown weaving, price realized: $12,500. Moran’s image

A beautifully woven Apache pictorial basket tray sold for $3,750.

An Apache pictorial basketry tray, price realized: $3,750. Moran’s image

Classic prints and bronzes from leading Western artists achieved sturdy prices at the block. A gorgeous Karl Bodmer hand-colored aquatint of Periska-Ruhpa—Moennitarri Warrior in the Costume of the Dog Danse, from 1841 brought $25,000.

Karl Bodmer (1809-1893 Swiss/French) ‘Periska-Ruhpa—Moennitarri Warrior in the Costume of the Dog Danse,’ 1841, hand-colored aquatint engraving on paper under glass, price realized: $25,000. Moran’s image

Canyon of the Old Ones from Oreland Joe Sr. is a beautifully sculpted bronze and was one of the most popular lots on view before the auction, bringing $3,437.

Oreland Joe Sr. (b. 1958, New Mexico), ‘Canyon of the Old Ones,’ 1996, patinated bronze, price realized: $3,437. Moran’s image

A coveted orotone of one of the most iconic photographs by Edward Curtis, The Vanishing Race, brought $7,500.