Rodrigue’s ‘Blue Dog’ best in show at Heritage Auctions

Rodrigue’s ‘Blue Dog’

George Rodrigue (1944-2013), ‘Blue Dog,’ 1996, oil on canvas. Sold for $112,500. Heritage Auctions image

DALLAS – A Blue Dog, an Orange Drink, a Leprechaun and a Yoke-Winged Man helped push Heritage Auctions’ Modern & Contemporary Art event past the $2.6 million mark Thursday. Almost 680 bidders worldwide participated in the sale. Absentee and Internet live bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.

“So many styles and mediums invited so many national and international bidders,” Heritage Auctions Vice President of Modern & Contemporary Art Frank Hettig said, “and that led to what we saw today: great results.”

One of the sale’s biggest surprises occurred early on, when it came time for George Rodrigue’s beloved dog, Tiffany, to go hunting for a new owner. After a vigorous round of bidding, involving clients both online and on the phone, Rodrigue’s 14-by-11-inch Blue Dog (above), painted in 1996, sold for $112,500 – more than nine times its estimate and a world record for a Blue Dog of that size. It was also the highest price Heritage has ever realized for a work by the late Louisiana artist featuring his blue spaniel/terrier with the white muzzle and yellow eyes.

Helen Frankenthaler’s Leprechaun (below), an acrylic on canvas from 1991, also sold for well above estimate at $362,500 – a number befitting her prominence as one of modern American art’s most influential figures. This soak-stained abstract painting was among the event’s most celebrated and coveted pieces, and produced the second-highest price ever paid for a Frankenthaler post-1990.

Rodrigue’s ‘Blue Dog’

Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011), ‘Leprechaun,’ 1991, acrylic on canvas. Sold for $362,500. Heritage Auctions image

It was bested Thursday only by Wayne Thiebaud’s 1961 oil Orange Drink, among the Sacramento-based artist’s works that make fine art of food, as evidenced by the $750,000 sale price. This work – featuring a diner’s lunch order of hamburger and fries guarded by bottles of ketchup and mustard and, of course, the titular orange soda – was among the pieces included in 1962’s exhibition “New Paintings of Common Objects” at the Pasadena Art Museum in California.

Rodrigue’s ‘Blue Dog’

Wayne Thiebaud (b. 1920), ‘Orange Drink,’ 1961, oil on canvas. Sold for $750,000. Heritage Auctions image

Another big hit at Thursday’s sale was Friedel Dzubas’s 1983 acrylic Above-Below, an extraordinary piece of work meant to be displayed either horizontally or vertically. Its new owner will get to make that call: The painting sold for $112,500, almost three times its estimate.

Rodrigue’s ‘Blue Dog’

Friedel Dzubas (1915-1994), ‘Above-Below,’ 1983, acrylic on canvas. Sold for $112,500. Heritage Auctions image

There were far more than just paintings in this sale: Pichet Trois Taureaux Graves, a 1953 ceramic by Pablo Picasso that once belonged to his wife Jacqueline, sold for $81,250. Stephen DeStaebler’s 1994 sculpture Yoke-Winged Man found a new home at $56,250 – far higher than its $40,000 estimate.

Rodrigue’s ‘Blue Dog’

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), ‘Pichet Trois Taureaux Graves,’ 1953, unique ceramic, hand decorated white terra-cotta. Sold for $81,250. Heritage Auctions image

And Katharina Fritsch’s painted-plaster Pudel (Poodle) sold for $40,000, almost three times more than its estimate.

Rodrigue’s ‘Blue Dog’

Katharina Fritsch (b. 1952) Pudel (Poodle), 1995, painted plaster. Sold for $40,000. Heritage Auctions image

Clearly, every dog had its day.

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