MONROVIA, Calif. – John Moran’s Winter Modern and Contemporary Sale on Feb. 23 consisted of 66 lots that were a carefully curated selection of prints, paintings and sculptures from a variety of artists including household names such as Warhol, Lichtenstein, Rauschenberg and Picasso. A Madoura Pottery vase by Picasso led the way, selling for a record $100,000. Absentee and Internet live bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.
The sale began with TR I (below), an eye-catching color lithograph by German-born American artist Anni Albers. For over 40 years Anni created striking woven works of art, and her contributions are accredited with closing the gap between craft and fine art. It was not until Albers was in her 60s that she moved away from the physical demands of the loom and began producing works on paper made through various printmaking processes. TR I was made through an involved printing process in with each color required a separate stone. Estimated at $3,000-$5,000, this two-dimensional piece harkening back to Albers’ rich textile background sold for $6,250.
California artist Charles Arnoldi made quite the impression on Tuesday with an untitled, oil and acrylic on rag paper (below). Two seemingly distinct abstract depictions rest comfortably side by side in Arnoldi’s signature use of bold color and geometric shapes. The painting’s layered texture and composition provided a strong tie to Arnoldi’s sculptural works that frequently involve tree branches. This piece soared past its $2,000-$4,000 estimate and sold for $7,500.
Lampe Femme, a ceramic vase by Pablo Picasso, originated from the collection of the artists’ second wife and longtime muse, Jacqueline Picasso. She sold the vase to Hammer Galleries in New York, where it was purchased by the parents of the present owner, who inherited it by descent. Picasso met Jacqueline at Madoura Pottery, the ceramic workshop where many of his works were produced. Attracted by the versatility of clay, Picasso not only mastered traditional ceramic forms but invented new ones. Lampe Femme is a technical achievement of firing in which Picasso overlays the face of a woman onto a unique shaped vessel. This innovative vase with a valuation of $15,000-$20,000 was well-fought and sold at an unparalleled $100,000.
Another highlight was the inclusion of eight prints by Los Angeles-based pop artist Ed Ruscha. His work often incorporates cheeky text and glorifies seemingly banal imagery, coupled with a playful perspective inspired by advertising. In his print Music, Ruscha flexes his clever sense of humor through the juxtaposition of a regular ledger line and a distorted one below, implying cacophonous and dissonant sound. Music was estimated to fetch $3,000-$5,000 but instead sold to the tune of $10,000.
The notion of celebrity and Hollywood plays a reoccurring and conflictual role in Ruscha’s output. In Further Landmark Decay , Ruscha considers the ruin of one of American’s most iconic structures, the Hollywood Sign. The sketchy, abstracted quality underscores the imagined impermanence of this legendary Los Angeles monument. It was estimated at $3,000-$4,000 but sold for $6,250.
Untitled from 1967 was a handsome addition to the sale from Japanese American artist, Tadashi Sato. His career spans the far reaches of the globe, from Honolulu to Manhattan, drawing inspiration from both sources. Sato worked in the orbit of Pollock and the other New York abstract expressionists. At the same time, his painterly forms find influence in his native Hawaii, where the colors and shapes of the ocean become evocative of the islands. Even though it was estimated at $6,000-$8,000, bids surged to a selling price of $18,750.
Vietnamese French artist, Le Pho was a vital part of a small group of painters blending Asian sensibilities with European methods. An excellent example of this delicate hybrid is seen in the serene florals of Bouquet Champêtre. It was estimated in the $10,000-$15,000 range but realized a selling price of $16,250.
The International buzz kept going with the mixed media paintings of Canadian artist, Dominic Besner, Les Betes A Cornes and Petite Quadrille Des Carrousels depict regal figures and horses in a world that feels postapocalyptic. The heavily textured scenes fully embrace the figural and abstract themes that permeate his work. Both paintings exceeded their estimated values of $1,000-$1,500 with Les Betes A Cornes selling for $4,062 and $3,125 for Petite Quadrille Des Carrousels.
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