DALLAS – Rare is the contemporary art movement that evolves and innovates as nimbly as studio glass. Given the medium’s roots in historic Venetian practices, today’s glass artists in America and beyond continue to forge breathtaking new methods and aesthetics in this dynamic material. In its Thursday, September 29 Design Signature® Auction, Heritage Auctions offers a rich collection of contemporary studio glass works by more than 140 artists. These are emergent superstars and the industry’s most celebrated artists who mentored them. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
Other high points of this auction are contemporary ceramics by distinguished artists from America, Europe and Japan. Here, too, are select works of American streamline modernism from the estate of James “Jamie” Rafftesaeth, which focuses on pieces made by the prominent designers of the interwar period, often referred to as the Machine Age.
The contemporary studio glass in this auction comes from an important private collection and spans artists from North America, Europe and Asia. The figurative and non-figurative glass includes works by such luminaries as Dale Chihuly, Stephen Rolfe Powell, Laura Donefer, Dan Dailey, Richard Royal, Martin Blank, Harvey Littleton and Petr Hora.
One highlight of the private collection is a vase by Italian artist Lucio Bubacco, created at an in-person demonstration for collectors at Wheaton Arts Workshop in Millville, New Jersey in 2017. It’s accompanied by a presentation drawing of the vase’s design. Another is an especially lively recent work by Canadian artist Laura Donefer titled Amulet Basket; the blown and flameworked form explodes with color.
Heritage’s Director of Design Brent Lewis said of the auction’s studio glass, “This collection was acquired over several decades from the artists directly, either from their galleries or via commission. These are the foremost artists of our time, and this auction presents a fantastic snapshot of what’s been happening in glass over the last several decades.”
A glass highlight of this auction from another consigner is a mosaic panel from 1958 by Jerry and Evelyn Ackerman, the renowned designers best known for their woven, carved and mosaic works. Interest in their pieces has surged of late, and Heritage recently set a world auction record for a similar mosaic panel.
Headlining the ceramics selection is a stunning 1974 work by Austrian artist Lucie Rie, who settled in England in the 1930s and is regarded as one of the last century’s most important and influential ceramic artists. The sizeable conical bowl is stoneware with pitted pure white glaze and comes from an important Japanese collection.
Alongside it are works by the acclaimed British potter Jennifer Lee, including a vase first presented at one of Lee’s lesser American exhibitions, held at the Frank Lloyd Gallery, Los Angeles. It comes to auction for the first time.
Said Lewis of the auction’s ceramics: “The modern movement is well-represented in works by influential American artists Otto and Gertrude Natzler and in works by Beatrice Wood. Traditional and progressive Japanese ceramics are brought to us by artists Kazuo Yagi, Fukami Suehara, Morino Taimei and Wada Morihiro.”
The September Design auction includes Machine Age objects from the estate of James Rafftesaeth, who operated under the business name “Machine Icon.” Rafftesaeth conducted original research, identifying objects by scouring period documentation and publications.
A magnificent example from his estate is an art-case grand piano by the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company, in lacquered wood and Lucite, designed by William Zaiser and introduced at the 1940 Chicago Music Trade show. It’s one of the few produced of this model, and its ultra-clean lines and surprising materials evoke the innovation and glamour of the age.
“One of the few remaining galleries focused on American Art Deco, Machine Icon spent decades as a major proponent of preserving and collecting the luxury and industrial design produced in the United States during the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s,” said Lewis. “During his career, Rafftesaeth placed objects in important private and public collections, including institutions such as the Dallas Museum of Art, the Milwaukee Art Museum, Tulsa’s Philbrook Museum of Art and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.”
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