Monrovia, CA – On Tuesday, September 14, 2021, John Moran Auctioneers had its third offering of Modern and Contemporary works this year most of which hailed from The Blake Byrne Collection. The late television executive producer was a formidable collector who called both Paris and Los Angeles home and his impeccable taste for contemporary cutting-edge works traveled with him. Moran’s is building on its solid reputation for fine art offerings and delving deeper into the contemporary realm. The sale was composed of several internationally known artists who hold sacred spots in permanent museum collections including Jim Shaw, Rita McBride, Takashi Murakami, Joshua Nathanson, Neil Farber, Susanna Coffey, Serban Savu, and Paul P.

Lot 160: Freedom: A Fable, 1997 Kara Walker $2,500-3,500 Sold $4,375

While many pieces sold within estimate, there were several works that went well-above their estimate. The first example of which was the 2010 acrylic painting Cat by Hideaki Kawashima. The Japanese artist is known for his steadfast portrayal of females with soul-piercing eyes. What may be a little less known is that he was a student of both art and Buddhism. Kawashima spent two years as a Buddhist monk which may be why the subjects in his paintings have such a metaphysical presence. Cat had an estimate of $4,000-6,000 but sold for $21,250 (w/buyer’s premium) making it the top lot of the entire sale.

Not far behind the number one slot was another painter, Tom LaDuke whose six foot plus painting Surrender sold well beyond its $5,000-7,000 estimate for $17,500 (w/buyer’s premium). LaDuke’s paintings are both figuratively and literally layered, exploring various surface mediums and traversing concepts of nature, memory, and science fiction. His style of painting allows viewers to develop their own non-linear story; complete with fully rendered characters in muted colors that coexist with a saturated and sculptural veneer.

“LaDuke’s paintings are both figuratively and literally layered, exploring various surface mediums and traversing concepts of nature, memory, and science fiction.”
Lot 108: Black White Black, 1970 Ellsworth Kelly $5,000-7,000 Sold $8,750

Lot 11: Surrender, 2012 Tom LaDuke $5,000-7,000 Sold $17,500

The narrative theme continued to resonate with buyers when the Pop-up book Freedom: A Fable by Kara Walker came to the block. The world-renowned artist and California native constructs candid and often unsettling black silhouette cut-out installations on white gallery walls. Walker’s beautifully executed black figures repeat themes of race, sexuality, and violence. Freedom: A Fable is inspired by novels like Uncle Tom’s Cabin and memoirs of a former slaves depicting a brutal American history. The limited-edition Pop-up book was estimated at $2,500-3,500 and sold for $4,375 (w/buyer’s premium).

The sale boasted several works on paper including a piece by one of the most respected minimalists, Ellsworth Kelly. In addition to his reputation as the forerunner of hard-edge painting, Kelly was also prolific in printmaking and sculpture. Lithograph Black White Black from 1970 was printed on Special Arjomari paper under Plexiglass. The print was Edition 34/75 and sold above its estimate at $8,750 (w/ buyer’s premium).

Moran’s will continue to forge ahead representing works that modern and contemporary buyers value with Postwar & Contemporary Art + Design, a robust sale slated for November 9th that will involve Joan Miro, Helen Frankenthaler, and an original Apple-1 computer.

Upcoming Auctions

Studio Jewelry: Wednesday, September 22nd | 12:00 pm PST
The Traditional Collector: Tuesday, September 28th | 12:00 pm PST
Postwar & Contemporary Art + Design: Tuesday, November 9th | 12:00 pm PST
California & American Fine Art: Tuesday, November 16th | 2:00 pm PST
California Living: Tuesday, November 16th | 10:00 am PST
Art of the American West: Tuesday, November 30th | 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: 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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