BOSTON, MA – April 29, 2016 – On Friday, May 13 Skinner, Inc. will host an exceptional two-part auction, kicking off at 12PM with Fine Prints & Photographs and continuing at 4PM with Fine Paintings & Sculpture. The auctions showcase a strong selection of paintings, sculpture, prints, photographs, and works on paper ranging from Old Master prints through Modern and Contemporary offerings.
In conjunction with these live sales, Skinner is holding its Fine Art online auction. Bidding will be open from May 9 through May 16; all of the works will be available for in-person inspection during the preview hours cited below.
Prints and Multiples
A fine selection of lithographs produced by the Associated American Artists (AAA) will be featured in the sale. From 1934 to1945, the AAA brought affordable fine art to the American public through the production of limited edition prints, sold for as little as five dollars, available by subscription, and distributed through the mail. The works often reflected on social issues of the time, which was dominated by the Great Depression. Approximately 600 different prints (mainly etchings and lithographs) were produced in editions ranging from 125 to 250 impressions.
Noteworthy among the AAA lithographs is Grant Wood’s Sultry Night, 1937-8 (Lot 41, estimated between $7,000 and $9,000). The edition was planned to be 260, but the United States Post Office objected to the potentially lascivious nature of the image, and banned shipping of the prints, so only about 100 were produced. Additional lithographs by Wood on offer include December Afternoon, 1941 (Lot 42, $1,800-$2,200) and Family Doctor, 1941 (Lot 43, $1,500-$2,000). The latter is based on Wood’s drawing of the hands of Dr. Andrew William Bennett of Iowa City. Ironically, this print was completed just before Wood was admitted to the hospital on November 24, 1941; he died of pancreatic cancer on February 12, 1942, at the age of 51. Thomas Hart Benton’s I Got a Girl on Sourwood Mountain, 1938 (Lot 24, $1,200-$1,800), and John McCrady’s Steamboat ‘Round the Bend, 1944 (Lot 35, $800-$1,200), are also among the AAA offerings.
The May sale will also showcase a superb group of modern and contemporary prints, including Oiseau de passage, 1961, a color aquatint by Georges Braque (Lot 50, $3,000-$5,000) and Salvador Dalí’s lithograph Drawers of Memory, 1965 (Lot 57, $4,000-$6,000). Our cover lot is Robert Motherwell’s lithograph Lament for Lorca, 1982 (Lot 79, $8,000-$12,000). The title refers to the fall of the Spanish Republic and the beginning of the Spanish Civil War—a subject to which Motherwell returned several times; in 1936, at the outbreak of the war, poet and playwright Federico García Lorca was assassinated by a group of fascists.
Trunk, from the series Seven Characters, 1982, by Robert Rauschenberg is an unusual mixed media work with cast paper, fabric collage, mirror, and embroidered hanging medallion (Lot 83, $5,000-$7,000). Rauschenberg conceived of this series as a collaborative project with China and its artists at a time when China was far from open to Westerners. While he came to the country with a plethora of materials to employ in the project, he found inspiration in the elements he discovered there, including the famous “1,000 year paper” or Xuan paper; calligraphic symbols; silk wedding bed clothes; Chinese propaganda posters; and seals. The result was a group of seventy unique compositions, each with variations in the poster elements, the silk medallions, and the ribbons. By removing these elements from their original contexts through cutting and reassembly, Rauschenberg created new relationships and contexts.
Additional contemporary offerings include Roy Lichtenstein’s Reflections on Brushstrokes, a color lithograph with screenprint, woodcut, embossing, and collage on paper from the series Reflections, 1990 (Lot 70, $20,000-$40,000), and The Souls II, 2010, a vibrant foil block print in Turquoise, Raven Black, and Cool Gold by British artist Damien Hirst (Lot 65, $3,000-$5,000).
The selection of fine photographs in the May auction features works by 20th century masters, including Ansel Adams, Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Walker Evans, Wright Morris, Gordon Parks, and others.
Among the highlights is a photogravure of New York’s iconic Flatiron Building by Alfred Stieglitz (Lot 91, $2,000-$3,000). As a founding member of The Photo-Secession and publisher of Camera Work, Stieglitz was a major force in the promotion and elevation of photography as a fine art in America at the turn of the 20th century. This view demonstrates the Pictorialist aesthetic—painterly, soft-focus images with subtle tonal variation and unusual compositions—that Stieglitz first championed. At the same time, Stieglitz’s embrace of a more modernist depiction of contemporary life is reflected in the architectural form of the new building.
Also of interest are two Abrams Original Edition prints from the 1970s: Arnold Newman’s 1948 portrait of Andrew Wyeth in his studio in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania (Lot 101, $1,000-$1,500) and Gordon Parks’ depiction of an unemployed domestic worker in Paris from 1950 (Lot 102, $1,000-$1,500). In 1972 the publisher Harry N. Abrams announced a program offering limited edition black-and-white prints by ten eminent photographers. Each photograph (in editions of 99) was made from the original negative by the artist, assisted by a master printer from a custom lab. The photographers, representing a range of practices from photojournalism to creative photography, included Arnold Newman and Gordon Parks, as well as Wynn Bullock, Ernst Haas, Philippe Halsman, Marc Riboud, and Aaron Siskind, among others. It was the hope of the project’s founder and director Peter Pollack that Abrams Original Editions would be as successful as limited editions of fine etchings and lithographs, providing income to the artists while promoting photography as a good investment.
Several signed prints by Ansel Adams from the collection of a former Polaroid Corporation employee are sure to attract interest. Particularly appealing is a side view of Pioneer Mill, Cimarron, New Mexico, c. 1961, in which Adams incorporates a wooden archway as a dramatic framing device (Lot 107, $2,000-$3,000). Two additional works are Boat Hull, Gloucester, 1968 (Lot 115, $1,500-$2,500), and an untitled close-up view of seaweed and stones (Lot 108, $1,500-$2,500).
Other noteworthy lots include a haunting 1940 view (printed later) of a Farmhouse in Winter, near Lincoln, Nebraska, by Wright Morris (Lot 99, $1,200-$1,800), who made beautiful and poignant photographs exploring the rural culture of the American countryside in the 1930s and 1940s, and a large print of Paul Caponigro’s Standing White Deer, Ireland, from 1967 (Lot 113, $2,000-$3,000). Rounding out the offerings are a later print of Berenice Abbott’s classic Manhattan Bridge, 1936 (Lot 94, $1,500-$2,500) and a Walker Evans photograph of street graffiti in lower Manhattan from 1963 (Lot 111, $1,500-$2,500).
Paintings & Sculpture
Works by Impressionists and Post-impressionists including Claude Monet, Raoul Dufy, Louis Valtat, Maurice de Vlaminck, and Lyonel Feininger, among others, highlight the paintings section of the auction. Raoul Dufy is represented by two works, an oil titled Régates à Trouville (Lot 379, $120,000-$180,000) and a watercolor, Bowl of Pears with a Shell (Lot 310B, $10,000-$15,000). A colorful profusion of flower blossoms fills the oil composition Fleurs Variées (1904) by Louis Valtat (Lot 327, $50,000-$75,000). A recently rediscovered oil fragment water study by Claude Monet (Lot 326, $60,000-$80,000) will also be offered. Among the works in ink and watercolor are a Village Street by Maurice de Vlaminck (Lot 310A, $15,000-$25,000) and two atmospheric views by Lyonel Feininger (Lots 380 and 381, each $20,000-$40,000). American modern works include Plums and Pears, a cubist-inspired oil still life by Alfred Maurer (Lot 385, $40,000-$60,000); landscapes by John Sloan and Ernest Lawson; and a monumental bronze sculpture of a mother and child by William Zorach, New Horizons (Lot 348, $30,000-$50,000).
Among the 19th century American works in the sale are a majestic oil landscape of a river valley by Edmund Darch Lewis (Lot 255, $20,000-$30,000) and a tranquil Hudson River view by F.A. Silva (Lot 242, $15,000-$20,000), the latter having the unusual provenance of descending through the collection of a cook on the Orient Express. Early 20th century selections include a wonderful group of watercolors by John Whorf, including two Parisian views, and several fine works by A.C. Goodwin, including oils of Mount Vernon Street and T Wharf and a pastel of The Boston Common Frog Pond.
The auction also features a small group of theater related works, including a set design in gouache for Le Coq d’Or by Natalia Goncharova (Lot 317, $25,000-$35,000), costume studies by Pavel Tchelitchew and Léon Bakst, and a curtain design by Eugene Berman. Covering a broad range of styles and regions, the sale also boasts numerous modern and contemporary works by Mordecai Ardon, Vladimir Fedorovich Stozharov, Reuven Rubin, Jamini Roy, Robert Longo, and Edvins Strautmanis.
Fine Art online
In addition to the live auctions on May 13, a selection of over 100 works is available online and may be previewed alongside the live auction pieces at Skinner’s Boston Gallery. A brief sampling of works in the online auction include prints by Frank Benson, James Abbott MacNeil Whistler, Frank Stella, Mark Tobey, and Fernando Zobel, photographs by Brett Weston, James Van Der Zee, and Eliot Porter, and paintings by Lilla Cabot Perry, Mabel Woodward, George Loftus Noyes, Molly Luce, and Sam Barber. Bidding on these items is available online only, from May 9 through May 16.
Previews, Catalogues, and Bidding
Previews for the auctions are free and open to the public. Previews will be held in Boston on Wednesday, May 11 from noon to 5PM; on Thursday, May 12 from noon to 8PM; and on Friday, May 13 from 9AM to 10AM. Illustrated catalogues 2895B (Fine Prints & Photographs) and 2896B (Fine Paintings & Sculpture) are available from the Subscriptions Department at 508-970-3240 or from the Gallery. Prices realized will be available online at www.skinnerinc.com during and after the sales. The Skinner website also enables users to view all lots in the auctions, leave bids, order catalogs, and bid live, in real-time through SkinnerLive!
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 the PBS-TV series, 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 www.skinnerinc.com, find us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.
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