Mod­ernism Mar­vels

Strong prices for mod­ernist works drive Bon­hams’ Amer­i­can art sale to over $2 mil­lion

American Fine Art Magazine - - Auction Report: New York, Ny -

When the tightly cu­rated May 23 sale of Amer­i­can art be­gan at Bon­hams in Newyork City, the strength of the auc­tion was felt im­me­di­ately.the first two lots, by Charles Green Shaw, struck a bid­ding frenzy.the ini­tial paint­ing, ti­tled Un­ti­tled (Ab­stract on White), soared to more than six times its high es­ti­mate of $10,000 to see $68,750.The sec­ond work, Un­ti­tled (Atomic Flight), sparked even more in­ter­est when it sold for $93,750 against a pre­sale es­ti­mate of $15,000 to $25,000. It be­came a new auc­tion record for the artist. “The sale did re­ally well as a whole, es­pe­cially if you look at the num­bers against the pre­sale ex­pec­ta­tions. It ex­ceeded ex­pec­ta­tions, sell-through rates were re­ally strong and there was great bid­ding ac­tiv­ity,” says Jen­nifer Ja­cob­sen, Bon­hams’ di­rec­tor of Amer­i­can art. “it was mostly a mod­ernist sale and that seg­ment did re­ally well, but other cat­e­gories rep­re­sented all saw strength.”

John Marin’s Sea in Red (Ver­sion II) (est. $100/150,000) was the day’s top lot, yield­ing $206,250. The paint­ing was a later work for

the artist and high­lighted his more ma­ture style with thick and thin brush­strokes that evoke move­ment and en­ergy. The sec­ond high­est seller of the day was the cover lot for the sale, Charles Sheeler’s Ar­chi­tec­tural Ca­dences (est. $70/100,000), which achieved $162,500. In dis­cussing the Sheeler, Ja­cob­sen says, “this one in par­tic­u­lar was re­ally a great re­flec­tion of Sheeler’s ma­ture style with the ar­chi­tec­ture and the flat­ten­ing of the spa­ces and his use of over­lap­ping and trans­parency. It was ex­e­cuted in his crisp, pre­cise style for which some col­lec­tors are es­pe­cially keen.” An­other paint­ing by the artist, in a very dif­fer­ent style than the ar­chi­tec­tural work, landed in the top 10. Still Life (est. $60/80,000), de­pict­ing a ewer, fruit and a glass, sold for $71,250. Ja­cob­sen adds that there has been “good in­ter­est on the mar­ket over the past few years” for works by Sheeler. A num­ber of other pieces in the sale came in well above es­ti­mate. A whim­si­cal stage per­former paint­ing by Everett Shinn ti­tled Ec­cen­tric Dancer (est. $40/60,000) more than dou­bled its low es­ti­mate at $87,500.A rare Florida land­scape by Thomas Moran ti­tled Beach Scene at Fort Ge­orge Is­land, Florida achieved $162,500 over a pre­sale es­ti­mate of $25,000 to $35,000. Elie Nadel­man’s bronze Head of a Man in a Top Hat (est. $60/80,000) sold for $137,500.

“I think our num­bers are in­cred­i­bly strong for our mar­ket in re­cent years,” says Ja­cob­sen, adding that the auc­tion also had notable turnout for first-time buy­ers. “Twenty-six per­cent of the sales total was pur­chased by new buy­ers. It’s a great in­di­ca­tor of the en­ergy of the mar­ket.”

Top: John Marin (1870-1953), Sea inRed (Ver­sion II), 1948. Oil on can­vas,22 x 28 in., signed and dated lower right: ‘Marin 48’. Es­ti­mate: $100/150,000 SOLD: $206,250Left: Charles Sheeler (1883-1965), Ar­chi­tec­tural Ca­dences, 1954. Gouache and pen­cil on pa­per laid down on pa­per, 6¼ x 91/8 in. (im­age), 9¾ x 12 in. (sheet), signed dated and in­scribed in lower mar­gin: ‘To Joan + Fred Wight with deep ap­pre­ci­a­tion. Charles Sheeler 1954’. Es­ti­mate: $70/100,000 SOLD: $162,500

Thomas Moran (1837-1926), Beach Scene in Fort Ge­orge Is­land, Florida, ca. 1878. Oil on panel, 9 x 12 in., signed with con­joined ini­tials lower left: ‘Tmoran’. Es­ti­mate: $25/35,000 SOLD: $162,500

Everett Shinn (1876-1953), Ec­cen­tric Dancer, 1930. Pas­tel, char­coal and conté crayon on pa­per­board, 16¼ x 143/8 in., signed and dated lower right: ‘Everett Shinn / 1930’. Es­ti­mate: $40/60,000 SOLD: $87,500

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