Chuck Close mural a big find at Sanford & Son May 3 design auction
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Artist and filmmaker Jack Gunter recalled the occasion. “A woman walked into my gallery in Stanwood and asked me if I knew who Chuck Close was.” he said. “I told her, of course. That I’d had a conversation with him in the 1970s, when I was a New England painter in egg tempera and he was already a NYC superstar.”
The woman told Gunter that her family had purchased the home designed by NW architect Robert Riechert years ago – complete with a kitchen painted by Chuck Close when he was at the University of Washington.
“He painted everything, she told me,” Gunter recalls. “Including the appliances and the cabinets, in particular some huge cabinet doors.” The family had kept all the doors – four thick panels with white knobs.
Acting on an inspired whim, Gunter asked the family to place the painted doors together on the floor – like puzzle pieces – and wallah! They fit together perfectly in an abstract design, like Close had made an 88-inch-high by 60-inch-wide painting and cut the finished work into sections to decorate the doors like a book-matched 19th century veneered cabinet face.
“None of us expected the four door faces would form a complete image,” Gunter said. “This is when I realized that we were looking at a complete painting, not a fanciful painting exercise on a kitchen wall.”
“The assembled work reminds me of the color-field paintings of the artist Morris Lewis in the ’50s.” Gunter said. “I know that Chuck Close was enamored by the Seattle artist Alden Mason in his early works, but I have no clue to what really inspired this design.”
Five years ago, when the Antiques Roadshow came to Seattle, a Chuck Close abstract painting, traded to an Everett, Wash., man for $8, was appraised at from $100,000 to $150,000.
Is this cabinet door assemblage a painting or a kitchen wall decoration?
“That’s not for me to make that determination,” Gunter says. “I have done some research and I know that Close and the architect Robert Riechert collaborated on the design and construction of a home that was part of an exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. They built it together. The published real estate listing that the family responded to stated that the house was designed by Robert Riechert with murals by Chuck Close. That sounds to me that Chuck Close took the cabinet doors seriously as a work of art.”
The assembled Chuck Close work, 88 inches by 60 inches, complete with original white painted knobs is featured in the May 3 auction, in which Gunter is selling off his collection of 20th century objects. Included will be original furniture from a Frank Lloyd Wright residence; a rare never before seen Tiffany lamp from Paris; Gustav Stickley furniture; artworks by Andrew Wyeth and Roy Lichtenstein; rare, early, hot-sculptured figures from glass artist William Morris; and a dream list of 20th century design innovators.
Proceeds from the sale will help fund a feature-length film titled The Search for the Lost Paintings of Siberia, a documentary based on a 2013 excursion into the Russian Federation in an attempt to locate and bring back 17 Jack Gunter original paintings – trapped near the Mongolian border after a 1990 Russian museum tour by a bureaucracy fractured by the collapse of the Soviet Union. Crowd-funding page: http://www.gofundme.com/6zuyho
Twentieth century designers and artists offered in the sale include Charles Rennie MacIntosh, Gilbert Rohde, Tiffany & Co., Louis Comfort Tiffany, Stow & Davis, Elton Bennett, Jasper Johns, Cy Twombly, Kenneth Noland, Albert Stickley, L. & J.G. Stickley, Elbert Hubbard and the Roycrofters, J. Michelle Franc, Warren MacArthur, Walter Dorwin Teague, Charles Limbert, Faries Lamp Co., OC White Co., William Morris (19th century designer), William Morris (29th century glass artist), Joseph Hoffmann, Le Corbusier, Marcel Breuer, Paul Frankl, Mies Van der Rohe, Florence Knoll, Bauhaus Design, Jack Gunter, Frank Lloyd Wright, Memphis Design, I.P. Frink and Proctor Silex.
Also selling will be works by Native American artists, African artists, and Timor Island and Marquesas Island artists.
View the fully illustrated catalog and register to bid absentee or live via the Internet as the sale is taking place by logging on to www.LiveAuctioneers.com.
ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE