NEW YORK – On Thursday, November 17, Capsule Auctions will present Postwar and Contemporary Art, an offering of works by sought-after modern and contemporary artists. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
Among the variety of blue-chip works included in Capsule’s November 17, one inevitably stands out. The medium may be a humble tarp, but the work is a piece of contemporary art history, a relic from Jean-Michel Basquiat’s early days as a graffiti artist. Because the artist’s graffiti works were inherently ephemeral, the tarp’s appearance on the market is an astonishing rarity.
The tarp originates from the estate of Vincent Strautmanis, son of first-wave SoHo artist Edvins Strautmanis. In 1979, the younger Strautmanis struck up a friendship with an 18-year-old Jean-Michel Basquiat, who, at the time, was selling postcards to get by. When he wasn’t sleeping in Tompkins Square Park, Basquiat could often be found crashing at friends’ apartments, one of which was the Strautmanis loft on Greene Street.
On one of the days the artist spent at his friend’s SoHo dwelling, he took an interest in a plastic tarp separating Edvins’ studio from the living room. Much to the elder Strautmanis’ dismay, he dipped a nearby paintbrush into a vat of taxi-colored pigment and tagged the stretch of material with the legend SAMO©.
Because the tag is so fraught with the jazz-like spontaneity that defines the artist’s oeuvre, it is no surprise that Maryellen Strautmanis, widow of Vincent and frequent visitor of the Greene Street loft, called the tarp “distinctly him.” The brushstrokes are frantic, their improvisational character in unmistakable accord with the mood of Basquiat’s larger body of work.
Even in an art world that seems to be saturated with discussion of Basquiat, the SAMO© tarp that appears in the November 17 auction is breathtakingly unusual. It carries an estimate of $30,000-$50,000. Click to view extensive additional information and documentation about the SAMO© tarp.
The Basquiat is one among many treasures in the upcoming sale. Claude Venard’s post-Cubist tour de force, Sirenes et Showboat, appears with an estimate of $15,000-$25,000. Blending geometric flatness with dimensional impasto, the French artist’s approach to painting is wholly unique. With his signature angularity, he reimagines the classical reclining nude in this oil on canvas.
Two figurative works by darling of the New York postwar art scene Pat Passlof are coming up for auction: Horses in the Woods and Untitled (Figures with Equestrian), both figurative paintings, showcase the abstract expressionist’s impressive range. These equine works from the later portion of her career are prime examples of her haunting gestural style.
Other highlights include abstractions from the estate of Michael Loew, famed expressionist and member of the experimental Spiral Group. The brushstrokes that make up his 1961 oil on canvas Blue Form #2 are reminiscent of action painting — assertive, bold and spontaneous, they make for one of the artist’s more tempestuous compositions. Blue Form #2 is on offer with an estimate of $10,000-$15,000. Another Loew featured in the sale, Othello, from 1960, is a beguiling black and gray abstraction. Both are fine examples of the artist’s gestural style.
Perle Fine’s Elusive Moments is a paradigm of her ability to render fluid motion. While the ribbons of curved line work tow the eye along the canvas, the subtle grid structure offers the composition a sense of stability.
Stanley Boxer’s Murmuring Rip of Bled Appeal, a mesmerizing oil on linen created in 1985, is another standout. The interest in process art that influenced his mature work shines through in the thickly laid paint, which creates rich texture. Its estimate is $6,000-$8,000.
Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers. For questions about any artwork in the auction, call Capsule 212-353-2277 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
View top auction results on LiveAuctioneers here: https://www.liveauctioneers.com/pages/recent-auction-sales/