Rago to auction outsider art, curious objects Oct. 20

Morton Bartlett, ‘Daydreaming Girl.’ Estimate: $100,000-$150,000. Rago image

LAMBERTVILLE, N.J. – Rago will present an “Outsider and Fine Art. Curious Objects” auction on Oct. 20, at 11 a.m. Eastern time. Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.

“Outsider and Fine Art. Curious Objects” is Rago’s best sale of outsider art to date, with 207 total lots on offer. The auction features stunning examples by masters in the category from Bartlett to Zinelli, many with provenance directly to the artists and/or celebrated collectors. The auction also features some exceptional works of fine art including paintings, works on paper, and sculpture. As in years past, trade figures, articulated artist mannequins and devotional figures are among the offerings, as is a winning selection of vernacular photography, carnival knockdowns and vaudeville dummies, signage, canes and erotica.

Among the “who’s who” of artists in this sale are Butch Anthony, Morton Bartlett, Hawkins Bolden, Ross Brodar, David Butler, James Castle, William Dawson, Thornton “Buck” Dial, Sam Doyle, Josephus Farmer, Roy Ferdinand, Howard Finster, A.W. Gimbi, Ted Gordon, Samuel Granatt, Alex Grey, Ken Grimes, James Havard, William Hawkins, Katherine Jakobsen, Gustav Klumpp, Malcolm McKesson, Willie Massey, Ed Mumma, Michel Nedjar, Mattie Lou O’Kelley, Philadelphia Wireman, Daniel Rohrig, Antonio Romano, Jack Savitsky, Antoinette Schwob, Lewis Smith, Mary T. Smith, Jimmie Lee Sudduth, Terao Katsuhiro, Edgar Tolson, Mary Francis Whitfield, Clarence and Grace Woolsey, Purvis Young, Malcah Zeldis and four artists from the Center for Creative Works, in addition to the artists featured below.

Outsider Art Highlights
Carlo Zinelli is a canonical Art Brut figure who suffered from schizophrenia exacerbated by his experiences as a soldier during the Spanish Civil War and World War II. He painted for up to eight hours a day, producing nearly 2,000 works of art using gouache. He covered his paper (often both sides) with animals and people in profile and embellished with inscriptions. When the artist Jean Dubuffet, who first championed the work of outsiders as artists and coined the term Art Brut, learned of Zinelli’s work in the 1960s, he added 99 pieces to his Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Carlo Zinelli, untitled double-sided gouache on paper. Estimate: $8,000-$12,000. Rago image

The artist Adolf Wölfli (Swiss, 1864-1930) is considered among the greatest exemplars of Art Brut, designated “le grand Wölfli” by Jean Dubuffet. A diagnosed schizophrenic, in 1908 he started work on an illustrated personal mythology that filled 25,000 pages in 46 books by the time of his death. His composition is wildly inventive and complex, morphing from people to landscapes to animals to letters and numbers to musical notation to text and, always, birds.

Adolf Wölfli, untitled colored pencil and pencil on paper. Estimate: $10,000-$15,000. Rago image

Clementine Hunter (American, 1886–1988), the descendant of slaves, is a self-taught artist and one of the field’s best-known. A plantation worker, she recorded everyday life from memory in a bright palette, disregarding perspective and scale. Hunter did not garner public attention until the 1970s when both the Museum of American Folk Art in New York and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art exhibited her work.

Clementine Hunter, ‘Cane River Baptizing.’ Estimate: $4,000-$6,000. Rago image

Born into poverty, Minnie Evans (American, 1892–1987) became a domestic worker in 1918 at an elegant estate. The beauty she saw inspired her first wax crayon paintings in 1935 (now at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art). By the 1940s she was producing hundreds of works at the gatehouse of the estate and selling them to tourists. Most of Evans’ paintings and drawings are similar, yet no two are identical. They represent a cosmos in which God, man and nature are inextricable.

Minnie Evans, untitled oil crayon on cardboard. Estimate: $6,000-$8,000. Rago image

Daydreaming Girl, circa 1950, is the only figure by Morton Bartlett that is not in an institutional or private collection. She has been shown for the last year at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore as part of the exhibition “Parenthood: An Art without a Manual.” This figure is one among a fantasy family of meticulously sculpted children created by Bartlett, the adopted son of a wealthy Boston family. He dressed the figures in handmade clothes and photographed them in staged scenarios that are at once both quotidian and dramatic. This remarkable body of work became known to the general public only after his death in 1992, when the sculptures and photographs were discovered at a New York antique fair. Since then the works of Morton Bartlett have reached iconic status in both the outsider and contemporary art fields.

For details contact Rago Arts and Auction Center at 609-397-9374 or info@ragoarts.com.