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John Havens Thornton, 'Vinnie's Ball #15,' estimated at $300-$500 at Vallot.

Large cache of John Havens Thornton originals come to Vallot June 27

PROVIDENCE, RI — Sixty-seven original abstract works by John Havens Thornton will sell at Vallot Auctioneers on Thursday, June 27 in a single-artist sale. The catalog is now open for review and bidding at LiveAuctioneers.

Thornton (1933-2021) was born in Mexico City but grew up in New Jersey.  He earned a degree in engineering from Princeton in 1955, and married and raised two sets of children, one or more of which are probably the consignors of this large collection of original works. Thornton was something of a renaissance man, caring for his children, restoring his historic home, teaching at the Massachusetts Institute of Art, and kayaking hulls of his own design every chance he got. A friend once remarked, “When does John sleep?”

The works, all estimated at $300-$500, reveal an artist who used abstract designs to convey his personality to his viewer, using bright colors and geometry, repetition, and other classic modern elements. This untitled oil on board from 1967 dates to the same period when Thornton was invited to exhibit at what would eventually become the Whitney Biennial. At that show, Thornton’s Tree painting was featured; this painting is from the same series.

Untitled (Objects) is a Thornton oil on canvas from 1977. The 1988 work Vinnie’s Ball #15 shows the progression of Thornton’s abstract realism as he matured as an artist. In all, the sale provides a unique perspective on this talented painter and a panorama of his artistic evolution.