Monrovia, CA – There was plenty of excitement at John Moran Auctioneers in the days leading up to two of our most successful sales of the year, Postwar & Contemporary Art + Design and Prints & Multiples. Not one, but two auction world records were set at the sale and the first belonged to the Hans Jørgensen Wagner AT-33 Sewing Table circa 1960. The teak oak table that boasted drop-leaf sides and a pull-out inset basket was estimated at $1,000-1,500 but sold for $3,125 (includes buyer’s premium). The second world record was set with the citrus orange Made In California screenprint by revered Los Angeles artist, Edward Ruscha. The well-known print with an edition of only 100 incited fierce bidding from online auction goers, as well as from nearly every phone available. Estimated at $50,000-70,000, the stunning 1971 piece sold for $100,000 (includes buyer’s premium).
An offset lithograph by Pablo Picasso sold at four times its high estimate and eleven of the twelve original prints from the 1970s Flight Series outpaced their estimates. The first of the two-part sales that took place on Wednesday, June 9th, 2021, featured 200 plus lots from two separate private collections: The Collection of the Dharam Damama’s, an internationally acclaimed dealer/collector duo and The Blake Byrne Collection. The selection proved to be exactly what buyers were looking for with high sell-through rates, competitive bidding, and auction records broken.
There was a strong start to the modern and contemporary sale and the first three highlights all involved men in hats! Lot 4 featured a unique watercolor by German born artist George Grosz (1893-1959). Grosz’ move from Berlin to New York in 1932 was a timely transition since he was not happy with current German politics and did not hesitate to voice his disdain. When the opportunity arose to teach in New York City, Grosz happily accepted. New York, Downtown Manhattan captures the movement and color of the Big Apple, as well as the bustling street sounds generated in the mind. The urban scene on paper was estimated at $18,000-25,000 but sold for $31,250 (includes buyer’s premium).
Despite his melancholy expression, the next gentlemen in a hat painted by artist Duilio (Dubè) Barnabé (1914-1961) was thrilled to be featured. Man Seated with Pipe is in a deep teal suit that perfectly complements the copper tones in the background. Barnabé was an Italian/French artist who was greatly influenced by Picasso, as evident in the geometric inspired shapes that complete the subject’s physique. Many of the figures painted by Barnabé are void of facial features, making the subject’s countenance even more impactful. The painting was diligently pursued and sold at five times its $6,000 estimate for $31,250 (includes buyer’s premium).
“The second world record was set with the citrus orange Made In California screenprint by revered Los Angeles artist, Edward Ruscha.”
Ces Messieurs by French artist Jacques Vaché (1895-1919) also did well on the block. The drawing made with both colored pencil and ink featured five men, four of which are wearing hats associated with their professions or activities. Vaché was an important influence for André Breton, considered the father of Surrealism. The drawing originated from André Breton’s personal collection and more than doubled its estimate when it sold for $46,875 (includes buyer’s premium).
There were plenty of stand-out paintings and sculptures with bold saturated colors to be found in the sale, but a couple of black and white drawings also arrested the attention of buyers. Spatial Displacement, Series (A) by British artist William Scott depicted three imperfect squares, each appearing as characters in an abstracted geometric narrative. Another graphically striking image was Black Lemon by American artist Donald Sultan (b. 1951). A lemon floated towards the top of the 50 inches drawing but was solidly weighted in the blackest tone that can be produced with charcoal. Both drawings did exceptional, as the William Scott estimated at $2,000-4,000 sold for $12,500 (includes buyer’s premium), and the Donald Sultan estimated at $6,000-8,000 sold for $15,000 (includes buyer’s premium).
Sculptor Joseph Havel (b. 1954) chooses to employ everyday domestic objects as his subject-matter. Clothing, sheets, and books are cast in bronze and resin and literally put on a pedestal. The result is an elevation of the mundane and an open-ended investigation of materiality that has been previously (and cleverly) referred to as visual poetry. Havel’s 1999 bronze sculpture Table Cloth stood tall at 6.5 feet and exceeded its $7,000-9,000 estimate when it sold for $17,500 (includes buyer’s premium). Another great example of material use in the sale was a pair of Carbon Steel “Rocker” Chairs by artist Rico Eastman (1952-2012). Primarily known for his massive public art sculptures, Eastman managed to transfer his signature curved geometric aesthetic into furniture that is equally elegant. The “Rocker” chairs sold for $4,225 (includes buyer’s premium) despite the $1,000-1,500 estimate.
Summer is in full swing at John Moran Auctioneers and the heat will continue well into the Fall with multiple sales that identify with every collector! ReDesigned will return with plenty of goodies to refresh and elevate your work or office space and August will kick off with the fan-favorite, Made in Mexico.Then, we’ll head back to the west towards the end of the month for this year’s second installment of Art of the American West.
ReDesigned: Tuesday, July 13th | 12:00 pm PST
Made in Mexico: Tuesday, August 3rd | 12:00 pm PST
Art of the American West: Tuesday, August 31st | 12:00 pm PST
Contemporary: Tuesday, September 14th | 12:00 pm PST
Fine Jewelry & Timepieces: Tuesday, September 21st | 12:00 pm PST
The Traditional Collector: Tuesday, September 28th | 12:00 pm PST
California & American Fine Art: Tuesday, November 16th | 12:00 pm PST
John Moran’s takes the health and safety of our staff and customers seriously; as such, sales will continue to be held online and without a live audience. However, each item is available for public preview. Moran’s auction showroom is over 10,000 square feet and allows clients to preview objects within established social distancing guidelines so that buyers can feel confident when making an appointment to preview the property. For upcoming highlights, online catalogues, and more information on these sales, visit Moran’s website: www.johnmoran.com. Bidding is now available online via Moran’s new mobile app, Moran Mobile, available on both iOS and Android operating systems. Live bidding on a desktop is available through our website; bidding is also supported by telephone or absentee.
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