MONROVIA, Calif. – John Moran Auctioneers is excited to announce the Postwar & Contemporary Art + Design sale taking place on June 9, beginning at 10 am Pacific time. We are thrilled to offer property from two private notable collections in this 227-lot sale: the collection of the Dharam Damama’s, an internationally acclaimed dealer/collector duo, and the Blake Byrne collection. Both are sure to thrill modern and contemporary art lovers alike. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
A leading collector for more than 30 years, Blake Byrne, the late television executive, acquired diverse and spirited works of art through infallible instinct. His star-studded collection includes works from Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Robert Mapplethorpe, Ai Weiwei, Niki de Saint Phalle, Tim Hawkinson, Marlene Dumas, Tony Smith, and Milton Avery. Byrne was resident in both Los Angeles and Paris, inspiring him to acquire artwork on both sides of the Atlantic.
Byrne prided himself on purchasing art that moved him emotionally and addressed universal themes such as identity, sexuality, memory, and culture. Byrne believed himself to be a steward of these remarkable, sometimes even confrontational objects, seeing his role as encouraging conversation across mediums, eras, and genres. New owners will have the opportunity to create a fresh dialogue with 80 works from this unrivaled contemporary art collection.
Few pieces compliment contemporary art better than modern furniture, and a free-form natural wood and iron cocktail table, sliced directly from nature is worth the attention. Three joined hairpin iron legs form the base of this modern table creating a pleasant industrial contrast to the warm tones throughout the wood. The table is estimated at $800-$1,200.
On the more delicate side are a pair of lavender Italian Murano glass table lamps estimated at $1,800-$2,200. Their dramatically scaled ribbed bulbous bodies balance perfectly on silvered wood pedestal bases. Equipped with original shades and boasting an unusual lavender color, this handsome pair will sit beautifully atop any table–except the Steven Spiro cocktail table, which is a work of art all on its own.
The Spiro table is both wild and refined, with various woods in free-form shapes that seem to have originated from a Surrealist painting. Mother-of-pearl inlay is incorporated along with nautilus shell, which dwell harmoniously with the moon phase and compass motif marquetry. This beauty is also fitted with two small drawers and surmounted by a conformingly shaped glass top. Additional carved wooden accessories add a fun interactive element to an already energetic piece. The Spiro table carries an estimate of $2,000-$3,000.
High design appears yet again in the John Dickinson galvanized Drape side table. Dickinson was the leading San Francisco decorator in the 1960s and 70s, and his keen sense of aesthetics lives on in his playful furniture. He designed tabletops that replaced traditional furniture legs with sculpted animal legs, and he created tables where metal takes on the fluidity of linens. Estimated at $10,000-$12,000, this excellent example of one his iconic works is sure to draw a crowd.
Transitioning from the Bay to LA, next on offer is a seminal print by one of the city’s most celebrated pop artists, Ed Ruscha (b. 1937-). Made in California is among the artist’s most revered and recognizable word paintings, made in 1971 and limited to an edition of 100. Bright and shiny, this screenprint embodies the sleek imagery associated with Hollywood and Los Angeles. Ruscha’s work often incorporates cheeky words and phrases in a playful manner that is inspired by his advertising background. He is known for using experimental materials like chocolate, blood, or coffee to create text. Another element of play is added as viewers try to determine if unconventional materials were used to create the luscious letters in this example. Made in California is estimated at $50,000-$70,000.
Contemporary artist and activist Ai Weiwei (b. 1957-) has been referred to as China’s most dangerous man because of his openly controversial opinions of the Chinese government and his advocacy for human rights. Weiwei is the son of the famous Chinese poet Ai Qing, and he learned first-hand from his father the power of art and how it can influence new ways of thinking. Ai Weiwei’s work falls into the category of Excessivism, a relatively new art movement that refers to works made with a deep consideration of every facet of life, often focused on a person’s desire for more than what is necessary. It is also represented in the excessive use of resources in an embellished way as seen in the 14K gold fly Swatter heading to the auction block with an estimate of $12,000-$18,000.
German-born artist George Grosz (1893-1959) would also be considered an activist by today’s standards due to his politically charged satirical cartoons that were critical of the Weimar German government and its aristocratic society. In 1924 and 1928 he was prosecuted by the authorities for making work that was deemed pornographic and blasphemous. His outspokenness made life difficult for Grosz in his native country. Eventually, he began to receive threats from his own studio assistants. Grosz’ figurative style of elevated caricature is what he is most known for, even though he had exceptional drawing skills that may have helped land him a teaching job at Art Students League in New York. In 1932, and without hesitation, he accepted the position and relocation in order to protect his family. Subsequently he ended his public criticism of society and politics. Although a quote made later in life suggests that he had not entirely given up on his strong political opinions:
“My motto was now to give offence to none and be pleasing to all… Anyone who plans to
get ahead and make money would do well to have no character at all. The second rule for
fitting in is to think everything beautiful! Everything, that is to say, including things that are
not beautiful in reality.”
Bustling New York City Street Scene is an excellent example of the artist at work in the city. and is estimated at $18,000-$25,000.
Artist Marlene Dumas (b. 1953, South African) makes figurative paintings about the human experience, arousing a range of emotions from eroticism to innocence and everything in between. Her technique is distinctive, combining both realistic and abstract depictions that are often accompanied by collage and ghostly watercolor outlines. Dumas has an uncanny ability to represent heavy subject matters with an overall tenderness. Pampers Baby was made in 1989, the same year that the artist became a mother. It is estimated at $7,000-$9,000.
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