The preview is on at Los Angeles Modern Auctions! I’ve chosen to showcase a few of my favorite abstract pieces from their online catalogue, but there’s so much more to see.
Imagine an Isamu Noguchi Chess Table with an estimate of $100,000 – $150,000, or a Charles & Ray Eames Shell Armchair with an estimate of $600 – $900. There’s also several pieces of furniture by Frank Lloyd Wright ranging from $6,00 – $20,000, and Post Modern furniture by Ettore Sottsass and Robert Venturi ($4,000 – $6,000 and $3,000 – $5,000 respectively). Photographs by Julius Shulman, pottery, patio furniture, woven wool tapestries… you name it, there’s a little something for everyone at a wide range of price points. It feels like an episode of Ab Fab with Patsy and Edina screaming names, names, names sweetie darling. It’s a veritable who’s who of 20th century modernism. With nearly 25 years in the business, LAMA is the premier auction house on the West Coast to buy and sell Modern Art and Design.
One of my favorite auctions of the year is coming up at LAMA (Los Angeles Modern Auctions). The Modern Art & Design auction will be happening this Sunday, October 11, 2015, at 12 pm.
I would give nothing more than to preview this auction and see these gorgeous works in person, however, I’ll be in New York for the weekend, celebrating my sisters 50th birthday. We have tickets to see Wicked as well as reservations at The Boathouse on Central Park. I know I’m jumping ahead of myself here, but I’m hoping to have lots of great things to share on future Design Diary entries.
Back to feeling Blue. It’s always been one of my favorite colors, and apparently I’m not the only one. It also appears to be the worlds most popular color, from denim jeans to corporate logos. Dark blue signifies trust, dignity, intelligence and authority. Bright blue indicates cleanliness, strength, dependability and coolness. Light blue suggests peace, serenity and infinity. Did you know that 53 percent of the flags in the world contain blue? And aristocracy is blue-blooded in all European languages. It seems that blue is sharply refracted by the eyes, causing the lens to flatten and push the blue image back, therefore, we perceive that blue areas are receding and smaller.
If I could have any of the works above, I would choose Roy Lichtenstein’s Modern Head. The contrasting shades of blue, separated by solid black lines and black dots, are striking and strong. I’d love to see it hanging in a room with a black chair by Viennese secessionist Joseph Hoffman. They’re certainly from different era’s, but unexpected pairings make for great interior design.
I hope everyone has an amazing week, and I’ll look forward to sharing whatever crosses my path in Manhattan very soon.
Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA) is one of my favorite auction houses here in Los Angeles. Their upcoming auction on Sunday May 17th, 2015, is going to be a spectacular event. It includes everything from mid-century furniture, to sculpture, to painting. The gorgeous Alexander Calder Mobile shown above is listed for $500,000 – 700,000… wouldn’t you just love to be a fly on the wall and watch the heated bidding for this item! I was fortunate enough to be in the room once when a Frank Lloyd Wright chair was being auctioned off, and watched the bidding go to over $90,000. That was nearly 15 years ago before much of the bidding was done online. You were either in the room, or on the phone for privacy sake. It was beyond exhilarating and you could cut the tension in the room with a knife. With buyers premiums and taxes that $90,000 chair would have totaled up to at least $108,000 or more… for a chair! Would you let your guests sit on that chair when they come to your home, or would you put it on a pedestal and rope it off like a museum? I will admit that I have a fancy auction house chair that I won’t let anyone sit on at my house, but it’s not worth anything close to that. I have a few friends who can’t understand why I’d spend that much on a chair that no one can sit on… because it’s ART!
If you’re a collector ‘wanna be’ and don’t have the money for these kinds of purchases, I’d at least recommend going to one of the previews at LAMA and seeing their items in person. It doesn’t cost a thing to look, and the same goes for sitting in the room while the auction happens. If nothing else, it might be a very enlightening experience and you might also make a few really cool friends…. friends who might invite you over to sit on their fancy auction house chair once they’ve won that sought after lot.
Here’s a few of my favorite images from the upcoming Los Angeles Modern Art & Design Auction. The images that I’ve chosen to feature here on my Design Diary are primarily prints, however, this isn’t the full breadth of the upcoming auction.
To quote Los Angeles Modern Auctions: The March 1, 2015 Modern Art & Design Auction will feature an important and monumental Harry Bertoia sculpture, paintings by School of Paris masters Massimo Campigli and Antoni Clave, sculptures by De Wain Valentine, George Rickey, and Peter Alexander, in addition to works by George Condo, Billy Al Bengston, Roy Lichtenstein, Oskar Fischinger, and Bruce Conner.
I’ve had the pleasure of seeing major exhibitions by nearly all of the artists shown above, which is why I can relate to their work. That’s not to say that just because I’ve seen their works, I automatically love and resonate with everything that artist does. On the contrary. What it does do, is give me perspective on their work and a point of reference. That is why I’m such a huge advocate of seeing as much art as you have available to you, regardless of the venue. Auctions, Museums Shows, Gallery Exhibitions… and even flea markets or thrift stores. An educated eye can find the needle in a hay stack, which is an amazing thrill. Case in point, a decade ago I was driving by a garage sale when something caught my eye. I circled, parked, and found an amazing piece of art for about 20 bucks. I later had it appraised for $1800, and ultimately sold it at auction for a few hundred when I needed a little extra cash.
Karl Benjamin, #44, Oil on Canvas. Estimate $20,000 – $30,000. I first became aware of his work at the Birth of the Cool exhibit in Orange County Museum of Art, 2007. Since then I’ve seen his work for sale at several Southern California venues.
Takashi Murakami,And Then, And Then And Then and Then (4), Offset Color Lithograph on Paper From the edition of 300, Estimate $4,000 – $5,000. The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA Los Angeles had a massive exhibit of Murakami’s works in 2007. I was both spellbound and speechless at the scale and depth of his work. You might say he’s the Japanese equivalent of Jeff Koons, working in multiple mediums, blurring the line between high and low art.
Wayne Thiebaud, Eight Lipsticks, 1 of 7 unnumbered Trial Proofs, Estimate $25,000 – $35,000. The Palm Springs Art Museum had a recent retrospective of his work in 2009, covering 70 years of the artist works. I loved his more recent abstract landscapes, as well as his famous Cake and Dessert still life paintings. At nearly 95 years of age, he’s still making art.
Julian Schnabel, Color Screenprint on Arches paper, #125 of 250, Estimate $1,500 – $2,000. Sadly I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing a major exhibition of his work. If his name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s also an award winning filmmaker. Think Before Night Falls and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
Damien Hirst, Silkscreen with bronze glitter on Somerset Tub-Sized 410-gram paper, #101 of 150. Estimate $6,000 – $8,000. I’ve seen his work at several venues, including the recent Los Angeles Art Fair. If you’ve seen my Butterfly Mural DIY video, I make reference to him and his famous Butterfly piece I Am Become Death, Shatterer of Worlds.
John Baldessari, Photogravure, aquatint, and sanding on torn Rives BFK paper, #3 of 35, Estimate $4,000 – $6,000. In 2010 LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) had a retrospective of his work titled Pure Beauty. I was quite surprised to see his 1977 series Throwing Three Balls in the Air to Get a Straight Line, which reminded me of my own Red Ball oil paintings.
Josef Albers, Encircled, Woodcut on Paper, Estimate $5,000 – $7,000. I love this piece because it’s so not what Albers is famous for. Homage to the Square is a massive series of mid-century works, with yep, you guessed it, variations of squares set into bigger squares and even bigger squares. I recently bought one of these pieces at an Estate Sale, Homage to the Square in Black.
Lari Pittman,Untitled #27, Acrylic on paper, Estimate $5,000 – $7,000. Nearly 20 years ago in 1996 I saw a Survey of Lari Pittman’s work at LACMA. It was so bold and inventive that I never forgot it. The show was referred to as a Defining Moment in his career.
Joan Miro, Untitled, Etching and aquatint on Rives paper, #23 of 50, Estimate $2,000 – $3,000. Miro is a name that’s synonymous with Surrealism, a sandbox for the subconscious mind, a re-creation of the childlike… It makes me think of a re-occuring nightmare I had as a child that featured an inner tube, a needle and thread, and floating sensations. I still have no clue what the dream was really about.
Jun Dobashi,La Priere au Balcon, Oil on canvas laid down on board, Estimate $2,000 – $3,000. I’ve never seen the work of this artist before, but I love the composition of this piece and his use of black. Divided into 4 regions, light on one side, dark on the other, it feels religious, as if someone is in a state of prayer.
Pablo Picasso,Femme regardant par la Fenetre, Color linocut print on Arches paper, #43 of 50, Estimate $18,000 – $25,000. Nearly every major museum in the United States has some form of Picasso’s work, so it’s hard not to have seen something from the epic career of one of the most important artists of the 20th Century. I love how the subject of this piece leans forward to open the drape, letting the light into the room. The use of off white is so effective and powerful.
There’s another hot Art Auction coming up at Los Angeles Modern Auctions on October 12, 2014. I’ve been shopping at art auctions for over a decade because they’re an amazing way to add to a collection, plus they’re also a great opportunity to find items that are rarely on the market. Yes, some items are rather pricey, but others can be a relative steal, especially when compared to gallery pricing. An educated eye can easily spot the good stuff, even if it’s not expensive. The more you look at art, the more refined your eye becomes. Line, shape, color, texture, nuances in the thickness of the paint, it all adds up. And if all else fails, then trust your curator. And in this case, your curator would be Peter Loughrey.
Peter Loughrey is the Director of Modern Design & Fine Art at LA Modern Auctions. As a prominent figure in the L A art and design community, he’s been responsible for curating several gallery shows and is a member of the Decorative Arts and Design Council and Contemporary Friends. Therefore, when it comes to Los Angeles Modern Auctions, you can have faith in the quality of their lots. They’re very careful about vetting their pieces… I know because they’ve even refused a few of my own items, items that I thought were worthy. Fortunately they have strict guidelines to protect their collectors. The price point of this upcoming auction ranges from $1,000 – $100,000. I’m sharing a few of my favorite pieces here, simply because they appeal to my eye. I haven’t seen them in person, nor do I have a vested interest in their sale. I hope to attend the preview which runs till October 11, 2014, from 10am – 6pm, at 16145 Hart Street, Van Nuys, Ca. 91406.
Lot 224, Vapor Drawing by Larry Bell, Estimate: $4,000 – $6,000. I love this image because it reminds me of the corrugated metal fence at my home in Palm Springs. I’ve always wanted to do an oil painting to capture the reflective nature of the metal, however, this remarkable image has already done that.
Lot 154, Cat Person #1 by Fritz Scholder, Estimate: $6,000 – $9,000. At first glance this image looks like an abstract, but then the ears come into view. Plus who doesn’t love the sumptuous use of red with the chartreuse green accents.
Lot 258, Phenomena Byron’s Hunch by Paul Jenkins, Estimate: $3,000 – $5,000. Cool amorphous tones in violet and blue, with hints of magenta, a green flame glowing in the center with a contrasting Yellow rising sun. Pure joy.
Lot 407, Untitled by Edmond Kohn, Estimate: $800 – $1200. I just love this little midcentury gem. The line work of the bodies, the muted palette of green and orange tones with hints of salmon and apricot, it practically leaps from the canvas.
Lot 374, Balloon Dog (Blue) by Jeff Koons, Estimate $10,000 – $15,000. #1965 of 2300 MOCA Editions. I simply love any of Koons Cast Porcelain pieces with their lush reflective finishes, and if it comes in blue, even better.
Lot 524, Untitled (Boat) Raimonds Straprans, Estimate: $8,000 – $12,000. I love the use of black in this 1963 beauty, with accents of blue and orange. There’s such a graphic quality to the image that it reminds of Francoise Gilot.
Lot 362, #7 by Karl Benjamin, Estimate: $30,000 – $50,000. I’ve been a fan of Karl Benjamin since I discovered his work at ‘Birth of the Cool’ in Orange County about a decade ago. I’d love nothing more than to add one of his paintings to my collection, but they’re a bit out of my reach.
Lot 377, Platter by Takashi Murakami, Estimate $800 -$1200. Made on the occasion of the artist’s gala opening at MOCA in 2007, which was an amazing show and my first exposure to his work.
Lot 364, #18 by Karl Benjamin, Estimate: $12,000 – $15,000. I love how Benjamin has juxtaposed these bold geometric shapes in bold colors, married together with such a warm gray. I think I see the word LOVE being repeated…
Lot 75, Double Standard by Ed Ruscha, Estimate $50,000 – $70,000. It’s hard to imagine a screen print being valued at this price point, however, this is no ordinary screen print. It’s an 11-color screenprint on paper. I’ll presume that the white is the paper, plus there are 2 shades of blue for the sign. That leaves about 9 shades of orange, brown and black to create the gradation of tone in the sky.