Los Angeles, CA— February 2023 is filled with many noteworthy days—Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, Ash Wednesday, and Moran’s Art + Design sale! On Tuesday, February 28 at noon PST, the auction house will present modern and contemporary fine art, decorative art, and furniture that collectors will not want to miss. The 300+ lots will include works by Alice Baber, Hans Burkhardt, Roy Lichtenstein, Rosangela Renno, Margaret Keane, Bruno Munari, Alex Weinstein, Wucius Wong, and Pablo Picasso. The variety of furniture is also impressive, featuring designers such as George Nakashima, Philip and Kelvin LaVerne, Frank Gehry, Charles and Ray Eames, Yves Klein, Eero Saarinen, Toyoda Hiroyuki, George Nelson, and Rudolph Schelling Webermann. For decorative pieces, a couple of Venini glass vases are sure to get attention, coming from designers Tina Aufiero and Gio Ponti.
The star of the show in the category of fine art is Alice Baber’s, Axe in the Grove, 1966. Moran’s was fortunate to offer Baber’s The Ghost in the Banyan Tree, 1976, last year in their Summer Modern & Contemporary auction where it achieved a new World Auction Record for the artist. Having an estimate of $3,000-5,000 but bringing in a whopping $187,500 was proof that the market for women artists of the Post-War period is on the incline. This Art + Design sale will feature another example of the abstract expressionist’s use of deep rich hues in semi-transparent ovoids. The 48” H x 64” W painting has an estimate of $50,000-70,000.
Representing abstract expressionism from a male perspective is Wilted Flowers, 1969 by Hans Burkhardt. Burkhardt is known for his meticulously structured and balanced paintings that blur the distinction between abstraction and representation. His experimental investigative approach paralleled, and in many instances anticipated, the development of modern and contemporary art in New York and Europe. Estimated at $10,000-15,000, Wilted Flowers is a strong example of the artist’s process of sketching in pencil, pastels, or ink before building up his heavily layered, fleshy surfaces in oil.
In the prints category, this sale will offer a work by one of the most well-known pop artists, Roy Lichtenstein. During the 1960s, along with Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, and many others, he became a leading figure in the new art movement. Inspired by the comic strip, Lichtenstein produced precise compositions that documented while they parodied, often in a tongue-in-cheek manner. Moran’s will be featuring Haystack #4 from his 1969, “Haystack Series”. This lithograph, with an estimate of $7,000-9,000, is part of what Lichtenstein said was, “not ‘American’ painting but actually industrial painting.”
There will be numerous sculptures in this auction, with the highlight being a work by Bruno Munari. Munari was an Italian artist, designer, and inventor who contributed fundamentals to many fields of visual arts (painting, sculpture, film, industrial design, and graphic design) in modernism, futurism, and concrete art. Environnement, estimated $3,000-5,000, is designed with aluminum, plastic filament, and painted wood kinetic sculpture. Hailing from the private collection of Howard Wise of Howard Wise Gallery (New York, NY), this work is an optimal example of the forward-thinking approach to avant-guard fine art that the Howard Wise Gallery championed.
Along with fine art, this auction will feature some exquisite furniture and decorative art. For those that love the mid-century aesthetic, there will be a 1960s Philip and Kelvin LaVerne Etruscan center table. The father-son team had a studio in New York City, where they created beautiful, functional art pieces using a unique technique that took around six years to perfect. They created furniture in limited editions of twelve, making them highly collectible today. This sale will offer a bronze and pewter circular pedestal table with acid-etched design on top and cut brass accents soldered to the base, estimated $10,000-15,000.
Another coveted mid-century modern furniture designer is George Nakashima. Nakashima was an American woodworker, architect, and furniture maker who was one of the leading innovators of 20th century furniture design and a father of the American craft movement. This sale will present two of his stunning walnut lounge chairs, one having a free-form arm, estimated $4,000-6,000, and one without, estimated $1,500-2,500.
Besides lounge chairs, there will be multiple chair sets, one being by the architect and designer, Frank Gehry. He designed the Hat Trick chairs for Knoll in 1990, inspired by the surprising strength of the apple crates he played on as a child. The ribbon-like designs transcend the conventions of style by exploring, as the great modernists did, the essential challenge of deriving form from function. This 4-piece, bent-laminated maple and upholstered cushion set comes with an estimate of $2,000-4,000.
Within the selection of decorative art are a couple of standout glass vases. One is a “Alboina” glass vase by Tina Aufiero that she designed for Venini in 2004. Aufiero’s work spans across disciplines of art, sculpture, craft, design, and technology. This vase, having a statuesque transparent glass body with suspended flecks of silver leaf surrounded by four rolled transparent tubular glass accent pieces, has an estimate of $1,000-2,000. The other must-see glass vase is also from Venini, designed by Gio Ponti in 2003. Ponti was an Italian architect, industrial designer, furniture designer, artist, teacher, writer, and publisher. His career spanned six decades, but it was from 1946-1950 that he collaborated with the Venini glass factory, designing many objects such as vases, bottles, and chandeliers. Estimated at $800-1,200, the vase features alternating stripes of cobalt blue, emerald green, and transparent Murano glass radiating from a central point on the base.
Also included in the sale are sculptures by Wen-Ying Tsai, Frederick Kiesler, and Ynez Johnson.
—Brenda Smith, John Moran Auctioneers
“Representing abstract expressionism from a male perspective is Wilted Flowers, 1969 by Hans Burkhardt. Burkhardt is known for his meticulously structured and balanced paintings that blur the distinction between abstraction and representation. ”
John Moran Auctioneers will continue their 2023 lineup with the Costume Jewelry & Luxury Accessories- Online auction, Tuesday, February 14th 2023, followed by the Art + Design sale, Tuesday, February 28th. Be sure to mark your calendars for these upcoming auctions so you don’t miss out on the action, and the treasures!
Costume Jewelry & Luxury Accessories- Online: Tues., Feb. 14th | 10:00 am
Art + Design: Tuesday, February 28th | 12:00 pm PST
Art of the American West: Tuesday, March 14th | 12:00 pm PST
Made in Mexico: Wednesday, March 15th | 12:00 pm PST
California Living: Tuesday, March 28th | 12:00 pm PST
Jewelry From The Estate of Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree: Wed., March 29th | 10:00 am PST
For upcoming highlights, online catalogues, and more information on these sales, visit Moran’s website: www.johnmoran.com and follow us on social media: @johnmoranauctioneers. Along with our website, bidding is now available online via Moran’s new mobile app, Moran Mobile, available on both iOS and Android operating systems. You may also choose to bid by phone or absentee.
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