DALLAS – Works by Maurice Sendak, Mark Rothko, Maynard Dixon, Thomas Moran and the self-taught artist Howard Finster all appear in Heritage Auctions‘ much-anticipated American Art Signature® Auction, scheduled for Friday, November 4. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
The artist Mark Rothko is widely known for his Color Field paintings, which in turn are known for their power to inspire spiritual contemplation in their viewers. Many of Rothko’s followers are not familiar with his earlier figurative works, which sprung from the upheaval of World War II and set Rothko’s moral and aesthetic course for the coming decades.
An essential work in Rothko’s evolution as one of America’s foremost Abstract Expressionists is his A Last Supper from 1941, which, in a modern painting vernacular, depicts five men seated at a table. The most prominent artists of the era – especially those of European descent – grappled with the atrocities of the two world wars via radical new forms and languages, and Rothko was no exception. At the time, the still-young Rothko’s paintings reflected his concerns about both the spiritual vacuum faced by humanity and the genocidal atrocities taking place in Europe. He leaned into European Expressionism, Cubism and Surrealism in his effort to communicate something urgent amid turmoil. Rothko’s A Last Supper, estimated at $1.5 million-$2.5 million, anchors the American Art Signature® Auction at Heritage in November.
Rothko is only one of many popular artists in this auction. Prominent categories include the Hudson River School, major illustrators as well as beloved folk artists.
“The diversity and quality of work in this auction is stellar,” said Senior Vice President of American Art at Heritage Aviva Lehmann. “It encompasses works that rarely if ever have been sold, as well as works that best exemplify particular artists’ output.”
An endlessly charming original illustration by Maurice Sendak, created in watercolor and ink as a December cover of a 1976 issue of Rolling Stone, depicts Sendak’s cheerfully game Wild Thing being decorated like a Christmas tree by a couple of human kids and a pup. Sendak’s lifelong obsession with children’s id-based adventures, sibling dynamics and the freedom we discover in unchecked imagination is epitomized in this picture. It is a wonderfully balanced composition that keeps the eye moving. It carries an estimate of $120,000-$180,000.
Two paintings by Thomas Moran represent the Hudson River School: Entrance to the Grand Canal, estimated at $70,000-$100,000, and Venetian Scene, estimated at $60,000-$80,000. Both are from 1906, and both are intimate oil-on-canvas pictures that shimmer with the atmospheric buzz of a quiet morning in the Italian port. One of these is from a larger group of Hudson River School paintings consigned to this auction from the Santander Bank collection.
Maynard Dixon, perhaps the most prominent painter of the West, also has two paintings in this auction: the arid, unspooling landscapes of Utah and California exemplify Dixon’s subtly abstracted update on the way nature can be depicted. Abandoned Ranch, a July 1935 canvas, is estimated at $70,000-$100,000, and Bright Morning, Utah, dating to October 1944, is estimated at $100,000-$150,000.
A compelling addition to this auction is works by the self-taught artist Howard Finster. Chief among them is Youth of Elvis, Elvis Seen in Paradise Garden, a mixed media on panel dated September 15, 1997 and estimated at $4,000-$6,000.
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