NEW YORK — Auctions of Modern & Post-War Art, Fine Photographs, and Contemporary Art at Swann Galleries in late May and early June 2021 brought in a total of $3,985,089 and at least 11 records.
The second iteration of Swann’s newly established dedicated Modern & Post-War Art sales, helmed by Harold Porcher, delivered exceptional results that prove the staying power of the category. “Driving the energy of the sale was the strong interest in Post-War American women artists. Buffie Johnson’s Mist, a 1960 oil, packs a punch for its modest size and set the world auction record at $21,250. Another small work by Elaine de Kooning from her Bacchus Series achieved $57,500. Other notable results realized in this auction went to works by Emily Mason and March Aver,” noted Porcher. The May 20 sale boasted a 92% sell-through rate by lot, earning $688,722 against a $562,300 high estimate. Additional works of note included 7 Maidens, a 1963 Duco-and-oil minimalist work by John Wesley, which led the sale at $93,750. Works by Maurice Sievan, Albert Stadler, James Hilleary, and John Skolle earned records for the artists.
The Fine Photographs sale on May 27 saw two records, and totaled $1,106,930. “We continue to see strength in emerging collecting, with high numbers of new bidders across the spectrum. The sale results reflect strength in Depression-era photography, especially Dorothea Lange, as well as the 20th-century humanist masters. Happily, we also saw real strength in lesser known but important practitioners, such as Hannes Beckmann,” said Swann photographs director, Deborah Rogal, of the sale. An artist record was set for Beckmann with Glasses, a silver print, circa 1935, at $20,000. Beckmann, who is more commonly known as a painter, has recently been drawing interest as a photographer. Roy DeCarava’s Catsup Bottles, Table and Coat, New York, silver print, 1952, printed 1982, earned a record for the image at $42,500. Also of note was Robert Frank leading the sale with Covered Car, Long Beach, California, silver print, 1955–56, printed 1971, at $52,500. House favorite Dorothea Lange delivered strong results across the board with a run of works, in particular Woman of the High Plains, Texas Panhandle, silver print, 1938, printed circa 1960, bringing $45,000.
Of the June 10 Contemporary Art sale, Todd Weyman, director of prints and drawings, noted, “Totaling more than $2 million and coming in squarely within the overall sale estimate, the sale was among the house’s top auctions of Contemporary Art and matched expectations in this booming market. Portraits were in high demand, with new world records set for Andy Warhol’s Mick Jagger, 1975, ($106,250), and Robert Longo’s Rick, 1994, ($45,000).” A high point of the sale was a run of feminist artworks from the collection of Harriet Lyons, a founding editor of Ms. Magazine; Alice Neel’s watercolor and crayon Portrait of Harriet Lyons, 1974, earned $87,500, a record for a drawing by Neel. “We were honored to handle works from the collection of Harriet Lyons in this auction, and beyond her portrait by Alice Neel, which quadrupled its presale estimate, the Lyons collection went to collectors after enthusiastic and tenacious bidding,” said Weyman. Additional records for the sale included Vija Celmins’s Comet, 1992, at $30,000.
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