On Friday, January 22, 2016, 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 works of art ranging from Old Master prints through Modern and Contemporary offerings.
In conjunction with the live auctions, Skinner is holding a Fine Art online auction. Bidding will be open from January 19 through January 25; all of these works will be available for in-person inspection during the regular preview hours cited below.
Prints and Multiples
An encyclopedic group of Andy Warhol works from different collections leads the prints and photographs session. This includes 25 Cats Name[d] Sam and One Blue Pussy (Lot 68A, estimated between $60,000 and $80,000) and In the Bottom of my Garden (Lot 69, $12,000-18,000). These two Warhol books date from the 1950s, when Warhol was supporting himself through commercial work. They employ the blotted ink line technique that he developed while at the Carnegie Institute of Technology - the same one he used for his advertising work. While the style is not that of his Pop art, the issues raised by the books are the nature of originals and reproduction and the rise of commercialism and mass-production in fine art.
Chicken n Dumplings from Campbells Soup II, 1969 (Lot 69A, $10,000-$15,000) and the Flowers suite of 10 screenprints from 1970 (Lot 70, $400,000-$600,000) are seminal works from the height of Warhols Pop period. Few Warhol images are more recognizable and iconic than his Soup Cans. They are the embodiment of the crass commercialism of the post-World War II American consumer culture. If the subject of the Flowers suite is less bluntly commercial, the prints still raise issues of originality vs. mass-production in our culture and our art. The ten works show precisely the same subject but are printed in different color configurations, and their square compositions allow them to be hung in whatever orientation one chooses. Last but not least, Mick Jagger (Lot 71, $40,000-$60,000) from 1975 is indicative of Warhols obsession with the cult of celebrity. The work is signed by both the artist who by the 1970s has become a Pop icon himself and Jagger. The inclusion of the Jagger signature is a nod to collecting rock-and-roll memorabilia.
In conjunction with these Warhol works, Trevor Fairbrother will be presenting his lecture Andy Warhol = Nobodys Fool, on January 21 in Skinners Boston Gallery. In 1987, shortly before Warhols death, Arts Magazine published Fairbrothers recent interview with the artist as they visited a John Singer Sargent retrospective at the Whitney Museum. During his career as a curator, Fairbrother organized exhibitions of Warhols art that benefited from his friendship with the artist. In this lecture, he considers the weird fascination with, and bewildering legacy of, this great pop artist nearly thirty years after Warhols death.
The selection of fine photographs featured in this sale ranges from a 19th century salt print of a river bank in Algeria and an iconic image by Edward Sheriff Curtis to work by 20th century masters, including Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Harry Callahan, Arthur Rothstein, and others.
Outstanding lots include John Beasley Greenes 1855-56 albumenized salt print of a river bank in Algeria in which he exploits the sunlight to create subtle gradations of tone and to accentuate the textures of the rocks and foliage (Lot 76, $3,000-$5,000). Another important work is a rare double border gelatin silver print of Canyon de Chelly (Lot 79, $3,000-$5,000) by Edward Sheriff Curtis, who recorded the vanishing cultures of the United States Native American population in the early 20th century. Additional noteworthy lots include Bill Brandts Maid at Window, Mayfair (Lot 86, $4,000-$6,000) from his 1930s portrait of London life which revealed incisive social contrasts, and an image of a 1944 maquette prepared by Man Ray for an unpublished book that he called Objects of My Affection (Lot 89, $1,000-$2,000)
Also on offer is a group of works by Dorothea Lange that have descended through the artists family, including a Farm Security Administration-era image of a sharecroppers daughter planting sweet potatoes (Lot 88, $2,000-$3,000) and, in the Fine Art Online sale, prints from her travels to Ireland and Korea in the 1950s (Lot 1057, $800-1,200; Lot 1058, $1,000-1,500).
Rounding out the offerings are an interesting group of World War II press prints by W. Eugene Smith, Robert Capa, and others; an unusual view of street graffiti depicting two figures in chalk by Helen Levitt (Lot 87, $2,500-$3,500); a Robert Frank portrait taken in Peru in 1947 (Lot 93, $3,500-$5,500); two Ansel Adams images from New Mexico - North House, Taos Mountain (Lot 82, $1,500-$2,500) and St. Francis Church, Ranchos de Taos (Lot 97, $2,000-$3,000); two estate prints by Leonard Freed from his work in Harlem (Lots 102 and 103, $1,200-$1,800 each); and a Fresson print, Bega in Still Life with Peppers, 1984, by Sheila Metzner (Lot 109, $1,000-$1,500).
Florine Stettheimers joyful fauvism heads the paintings session with her Floral Still Life (Lot 355, $75,000-$100,000).Stettheimer is not a household name, but she should be. She was an influential Modernist, and showed at Knoedler & Co. and the Whitney Museum of American Art. She was powerful enough to turn down Alfred Stieglitzs request to show her works, and the salons she held in her New York apartment were regularly attended by the art worlds elites, including Georgia OKeeffe, Marcel Duchamp, and Francis Picabia.
American 19th century landscape painting is also well represented. Two works by Alfred Thompson Bricher exhibit the breadth of his stylistic range. Hudson River at West Point of 1867 (Lot 250, $15,000-$25,000), with its mix of tranquility and majestic panorama, is indicative of his connection to the Hudson River School painters. Ocean Cliffs, Sunlight (Lot 245, $22,000-$28,000) shows the style typical of his glistening seas with dramatic crashing waves, tempered by cloud-filled skies. Meanwhile, Alfred Bierstadt's 1878 Lighthouse, Newport, Rhode Island (Lot 251, $40,000-$60,000) typifies American Luminism. Although he is most often associated with views of the American West, Bierstadts roots are found in New England. He was raised in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and began building his reputation painting the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
The thread of Modernism picks up again with two John Marin coastal watercolors of Maine (Lots 362 and 363, $10,000-$15,000 each), also new to the market from a private collection. Of special interest in the paintings section are four previously unknown works by Alexander Calder acquired through the collection of Jane di Tomassi, who was a friend of the artist. The group includes a 1946 ink drawing (Lot 383, $25,000-$35,000), two colorful gouaches from the early 1940s (Lots 384 and 385, $35,000-$55,000 each), and a significant early self-portrait in oil c. 1924 (Lot 350 $60,000-$80,000).