MONROVIA, Calif. – On September 14, John Moran Auctioneers had its third offering of Modern and Contemporary works this year most of which hailed from The Blake Byrne Collection. The late television executive producer was a formidable collector who called both Paris and Los Angeles home and his impeccable taste for contemporary cutting-edge works traveled with him. The sale was composed of several internationally known artists including Jim Shaw, Rita McBride, Takashi Murakami, Joshua Nathanson, Neil Farber, Susanna Coffey, Serban Savu, and Paul P.
While many pieces sold within estimate, several works that went well-above their estimate. The first example of which was the 2010 acrylic painting Cat by Hideaki Kawashima. The Japanese artist is known for his steadfast portrayal of females with soul-piercing eyes. Cat had an estimate of $4,000-$6,000 but sold for $21,250, making it the top lot of the entire sale.
Not far behind the number one slot was painter Tom LaDuke, whose six-foot-plus painting Surrender sold well beyond its $5,000-$7,000 estimate for $17,500. LaDuke’s paintings are both figuratively and literally layered, exploring various surface mediums and traversing concepts of nature, memory, and science fiction.
Bidders eagerly embraced Kara Walker’s Freedom: A Fable when it came to the block. The world-renowned artist and California native constructs candid and often unsettling black silhouette cut-out installations on white gallery walls. Walker’s beautifully executed black figures repeat themes of race, sexuality, and violence. Freedom: A Fable is inspired by novels such as Uncle Tom’s Cabin as well as memoirs of former slaves, depicting a brutal American history. The limited-edition Pop-up book was estimated at $2,500-$3,500 and sold for $4,375.
The sale featured several works on paper including a piece by one of the most respected minimalists, Ellsworth Kelly. In addition to his reputation as the forerunner of hard-edge painting, Kelly was also prolific in printmaking and sculpture. His 1970 lithograph Black White Black was printed on Special Arjomari paper under Plexiglass. The print was Edition 34/75 and sold above its estimate for $8,750.
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