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Bill Radawec

Gray’s presents estate of Cleveland artist Bill Radawec Sept. 28

William Radawec (1952-2011), ‘Out of the Blue, the Turn Around' series. Gray’s Auctioneers image
William Radawec (1952-2011), a work from ‘Out of the Blue, the Turn Around’ series, acrylic on board. Gray’s Auctioneers image


CLEVELAND – Gray’s has been selected to represent the estate of Bill Radawec (1952–2011), a nationally renowned Cleveland artist, curator and collector. The auction on Sept. 28 consists of Radawec’s own work, works of art collected through his relationships with other artists together with artwork from other notable collectors.

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Up for auction are many of the works exhibited at Shaheen Modern and Contemporary’s “Bill Radawec Retrospective” exhibit in November 2011.

“The show was a fitting introduction, and tribute, to an artist known for having an odd, quirky and eccentric sensibility, liberally spiced with a well-developed sense of whimsy,” wrote Steven Litt in the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper on Nov. 20, 2011.

The works reveal the quality, dedication and passion of Radawec’s artistic journey. His Out of the Blue series are paintings of jet contrails against the bright blue of the Sept. 11, 2001 sky. These were inspired by the arcs of jetliners changing course after the terrorists hijacked them. Some of the artworks are autobiographical like his Crack-up Series (mixed media on paper), which recreates the cracks Radawec found in his apartment after the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Other series include A Study, Diorama, a series of HO scale environments in which the viewer happens upon a diminutive, often humorous narrative, and his Color Chip’ series, geometric paintings inspired by the colors and names of the commercial paint industry.

Radawec “was a conceptual artist, motivated more by ideas than by a drive to fashion imposing objects. His work pulls you in close and asks you to attend to fine details, like a comedian with a flat affect who tells short, droll stories with enigmatic punch lines.’ (Steven Litt, Plain Dealer, Nov. 20, 2011). Radawec was also a curator, gallery owner and a prodigious collector of his contemporaries’ work. Many of these conceptual pieces are included in this auction including lot 54, Karen Kilimnik’s eerily timeless installation Bang You’re Dead, Gun with Flag and Streamers from 1991. This lot also includes two handwritten letters to Radawec from the reclusive artist. Lot 94 is Jenny Holzer (b. 1951) Inflammatory Essays. Radawec also included photography, and Lot 73 is Kathé in Berlin, a black and white photograph on Kodak paper by Nan Goldin (b. 1953). Lot 71 is Laurie Simmons (b. 1949), ironic Cibachrome print on Kodak paper Tourism: Bikini Atol 1984.

Together with many artworks from the Radawec collection Gray’s September auction includes artworks from several modern masters. The auction opens with six striking works by William Sommer (1867-1949), five of which were included in his memorial exhibit, including lot 5, Ornamatique, a pastoral watercolor against an industrial backdrop, and lot 6, Portrait of Tess, a singularly poignant portrait of the child he painted throughout her childhood.


William Sommer (1867-1949), ‘Portrait of Tess.’ Gray’s Auctioneers image
William Sommer (1867-1949), ‘Portrait of Tess.’ Gray’s Auctioneers image


Lot 28 is Ellsworth Kelly’s (b.1923) Orange with Blue silkscreen from 1964/5 (below). Lot 9 is Pablo Picasso’s (1881–1973) etching Peintre et Modele qui se Cache le Visage on BFK Rives paper from Sept. 19, 1968. Lot 143 is Sam Gilliam’s (b.1933) Flowers #2, from the Tulip series, 1989 – a dynamic collage with woodblock printing, painting, encaustic on handmade paper and marble construction in wood frames.


Ellsworth Kelly (b. 1923), ‘Orange with Blue,’ silkscreen, 1964/5. Gray’s Auctioneers image
Ellsworth Kelly (b. 1923), ‘Orange with Blue,’ silkscreen, 1964/5. Gray’s Auctioneers image


The auction, as curated by auctioneer Deba Jean Gray, is a who’s who in American Modern Art. This auction cements Radawec’s place in the pantheon of America’s 20th century artists.

The auction will take place on Sept. 28 at 11 a.m. Eastern.

For more information and images contact Serena Harragin at Gray’s at 216-226-3300.


Click here to view the fully illustrated catalog for this sale, complete with prices realized.