Skinner’s January Fine Art Auctions total over $2.8 million, with Modern and Contemporary works leading the way

Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976) Untitled (Standing Mobile, c. 1965) (Sold for $471,000)

Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976) Untitled (Standing Mobile, c. 1965) (Sold for $471,000)

Outstanding auctions on January 27 offered 475 lots that included a wide choice of pre-20th-century material as well as a notable quantity of Modern and Contemporary artwork in all categories: paintings, sculpture, prints and photographs. Today’s collectors, notes Robin S. R. Starr, Director of American & European Works of Art, are especially eager for 20th and 21st-century material; call it the millennial effect.

The star of the very successful auctions was Alexander Calder’s Untitled (Standing Mobile), Lot 440. It brought $471,000, almost double the pre-auction estimate.

Another Calder work, a circus-themed gouache titled Profils, Lot 439, similarly exceeded the estimate, selling for $147,000.

The reasons for these prices? Calder’s iconic status as a pioneer who essentially invented the mobile sculpture form; his unmistakable aesthetic; and his joyful, whimsical, utterly original spirit in every medium he attempted.

Robert Rauschenberg (American, 1925-2008) Signs, 1970 (Lot 110, Estimate: $10,000-15,000)

Robert Rauschenberg (American, 1925-2008) Signs, 1970 (Sold for $23,370)

Two other sculptures, both fresh-to-market, did extremely well: Auguste Rodin’s Juggler, an 11 ½” bronze that brought $73,800 (estimate $25,00-35,000) and Lydia Benglis’ Pi. This multi-media construction brought $67,650 on an estimate of $15,000-20,000.

Other top lots were three oil landscapes:

Ivan Aivazovsky, Along the Coast of Capri, sold for $123,000 A luminous work by this leading figure of Russian Romanticism especially admired for his seascapes and coastal scenes.

Guy Carleton Wiggins, Mid-town, 5th Avenue, Winter sold well over estimate at $104,550. Like many other lots in this auction, this depiction of a busy urban street muffled in snow had the added appeal of being fresh-to-market.

Henri Martin, La tour de Collioure, sold for $375,000. Large, light-filled, colorful, a splendid example of post-Impressionist pointillism.

Clear proof of the brisk market for 20th-century art was the price achieved by Lot 421, Abstraction, by the Canadian painter Lawren Stewart Harris, selling for $79,950. Harris was a member of the Transcendental Paint Group, a New Mexico-based movement which promoted abstract and non-objective art in the late 1930s and 40s.

The portion of the auction devoted to prints and photographs shared the same emphasis on what Robin Starr calls “the truly impeccable; the iconic.”

Irving Penn (American, 1917-2009) Marcel Duchamp, New York, 1960, Printed 1979 (Lot 181, Estimate: $15,000-25,000)

Irving Penn (American, 1917-2009) Marcel Duchamp, New York, 1960, Printed 1979 (Sold for $22,140)

Highlights among prints:

♦ Two Roy Lichtensteins from late in his career. Portrait, 1989, achieved $22,140; and The Art Critic, 1996, brought $27,060. Both combining pop art and parody, employing his ubiquitous Ben-Day dots and bright comic-book like colors.

Robert Rauschenberg, Signs, sold for $23,370. The “signs” include signature images of America’s tumultuous 1960s: the Kennedy brothers, Martin Luther King, Janis Joplin, and astronauts, among others.

Frank Stella’s Hark, an imposing (over 72 x 52”) color lithograph brought $11,685.

20th century works also lead the Photographs section. The standout was Irving Penn’s palladium print of Marcel Duchamp selling at $22,140. It is part of Penn’s “Corner” series begun in 1948: iconic photographer, iconic subject.

Other top photographs include:

Edward Weston’s Dunes, Oceano, gelatin silver print realized $3,398.

Ernst Haas, Lights of New York City, brought $3,444. A chromogenic print from a pioneer of color photography.

Next American & European Works of Art Auction: May 19, 2017

Consignments are currently being accepted for Skinner’s May 2017 American & European Works of Art auction. Skinner specialists are always available to discuss the sale of a single item or an entire collection. For information contact the American & European Works of Art Department at 508-970-3206 or email

About Skinner

Skinner auctions draw international interest from buyers and consignors alike, with material regularly achieving record prices. The company’s auction and appraisal services focus on fine art, jewelry, furniture, and decorative arts from around the globe, as well as wine, fine musical instruments, rare books, Asian art, clocks, Judaica, and more. Monthly Skinner Discovery auctions feature a breadth of estate material.  Widely regarded as one of the most trusted names in the business, Skinner appraisers have appeared on PBS-TV’s  Antiques Roadshow since the show’s inception.  Skinner has galleries in Boston and Marlborough, Massachusetts, as well as in New York City and Miami, Florida, with bidders participating in person, by phone, and online. Join auctions live with SkinnerLive! and Bidsquare. For more information and to read our blog, visit the website at, find us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *