Surreal or magically real? Hindman explores both art genres, Feb. 10

Gertrude Abercrombie, ‘The Mysterious Stranger (Man, House, and Lady),’ estimated at $60,000-$80,000. Image courtesy of Hindman

Gertrude Abercrombie, ‘The Mysterious Stranger (Man, House, and Lady),’ estimated at $60,000-$80,000. Image courtesy of Hindman

CHICAGO – On Friday, February 10, Hindman will explore the stories behind figural surrealism and magical realism from Mexico to the Midwest in its auction titled Figuratively Speaking. Anchoring the 95-lot sale will be 21 avant-garde and surrealist works previously owned by noted artist, collector, critic and educator Florence Arquin, a close friend of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, from the Carol Williams collection. The collection features a number of works that Arquin received as gifts, highlighting the important friendships she built with many revered artists during her time living in Latin America. Examples include works by Wolfgang Paalen, Alice Rahon and Diego Rivera, among others that are from pivotal artistic moments. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.

“Arquin had an extraordinary impact wherever she went, from Chicago to Mexico, and beyond,” said Hindman Vice President & Senior Specialist of Fine Art Joseph Stanfield. “She was both a mentor and a friend, and it’s a privilege to be able to offer a collection that so vividly depicts the connections she made throughout her life.”

Undated gouache on paper by Florence Arquin, estimated at $500-$700. Image courtesy of Hindman

Undated gouache on paper by Florence Arquin, estimated at $500-$700. Image courtesy of Hindman

Arquin spent the majority of her life in Chicago and Mexico, as well as traveling throughout Latin America. She developed a strong community of artistic friends including Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Wolfgang Paalen, Alice Rahon and Carlos Merida. Arquin was both a friend and artistic inspiration for Rivera and Kahlo, which is further emphasized in Kahlo’s record-setting work from this same collection, Diego y yo, 1949. The work includes an inscription to Arquin and her husband Samuel Williams, and first sold at Sotheby’s in 1990, prior to achieving a record $34.9 million in 2021. Arquin’s collection included images such as those of Rivera and Kahlo at home, which are now housed in the Smithsonian Museum’s Archive of American Art and the Frida Kahlo Museum in Mexico. Following Arquin’s death, Samuel married Carol Williams, whose collection will be offered here.

Wolfgang Paalen, ‘Untitled,’ estimated at $40,000-$60,000. Image courtesy of Hindman

Wolfgang Paalen, ‘Untitled,’ estimated at $40,000-$60,000. Image courtesy of Hindman

Highlights reflecting Arquin’s close artistic ties include three untitled works by Wolfgang Paalen from 1943 and 1947 (lots 66, 67 and 68, respectively estimated at $40,000-$60,000, $10,000-$15,000 and $6,000-$8,000). Alice Rahon’s 1946 work Untitled, estimated at $7,000-$9,000, is another notable lot. Five paintings by Arquin herself, a drawing by Diego Rivera and a painting by Carlos Merida round out the highlights, in addition to works by American artists such as Kathleen Blackshear and Ethel Spears.

Alice Rahon, ‘Untitled,’ estimated at $7,000-$9,000. Image courtesy of Hindman

Alice Rahon, ‘Untitled,’ estimated at $7,000-$9,000. Image courtesy of Hindman

Top lots of the sale also include five paintings by Gertrude Abercrombie. Hindman is a leader in the market for the sale of works by the late Chicago-based Surrealist artist, setting the world auction record in December 2022. Among these Abercrombie paintings is The Mysterious Stranger (Man, House, and Lady) from 1953, estimated at $60,000-$80,000. The somber work is quintessentially Abercrombie with a barren landscape and cat and also a bearded man who is likely President Abraham Lincoln, a person with whom she had a strong fascination.

Gertrude Abercrombie, ‘Coffee Mill,’ estimated at $60,000-$80,000. Image courtesy of Hindman

Gertrude Abercrombie, ‘Coffee Mill,’ estimated at $60,000-$80,000. Image courtesy of Hindman

Also on offer is Abercrombie’s 1964 painting Coffee Mill, estimated at $60,000-$80,000, which is the most elaborate example of the works she made depicting this object. As is the case with many Abercrombies, Coffee Mill can almost be seen as a self-portrait, with the coffee mill standing in for the artist in the way that many other motifs in her paintings do.

 

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