NEW YORK – Swann Galleries’ first sale of Modern & Postwar Art on Dec 3 proved to be a major success with a sale total of $739,155 (over $200,000 above the sales high estimate), selling 69 of the 75 lots on offer, and delivering five new auction records. The auction saw fierce competitive bidding across all online platforms and on the phones. Absentee and Internet live bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.
“Of the five world records set, all are by midcentury modern American artists. Three of the five are women who, for too long, have been overshadowed by their male contemporaries. A reckoning is well afoot in establishing equity in the art market, as can be seen at Swann as well as in gallery exhibitions, and reassessments of the hanging of museum collections. Hopefully, this is the beginning of a new normal, and not just a trend,” said Harold Porcher, Swann’s modern & postwar director, who organized the sale.
Hedda Sterne led the auction with a record-setting $100,000 for a moody 1962 oil-on-canvas abstraction (above). Sterne moved to New York in 1941 where she would further establish herself as an artist. She would go on to be a member of the New York School and most notably would be the only female artist pictured in the now iconic image of the group dubbed the Irascibles after they gained recognition for their protest of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1950.
Further records included David Hare, with a 1955 steel sculpture Figure in the Windows, at $93,750; Mary Abbott’s yellow abstraction in oil-and-pencil on paper, which saw $30,000; Stanley Bate’s oil-on-canvas Zuen, brought $13,750; and John Opper’s 1971 acrylic-on-canvas Pale Yellow Field, reached $11,875.
Irene Rice Pereira’s untitled oil and mixed media collage on board nearly doubled its high estimate, selling for $28,600.
Additional works of note included Hughie Lee-Smith’s Pumping Station, oil on canvas, 1960 ($45,000); Horace Clifford Westermann’s Untitled (Alternate Catalog Cover), ink and watercolor, 1977 ($42,500); Irene Rice Pereira’s 1938 oil and mixed-media collage ($28,600); and Helen Lundeberg’s Planet, oil on canvas, 1965 ($17,500).
View top auction results on LiveAuctioneers here: https://www.liveauctioneers.com/pages/recent-auction-sales/