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American paintings, scarce contemporary works bring high prices at Swann Galleries' auction
One of two oil studies on board by Josef Albers, used by the artist as packing materials. The pair sold for $40,800 (including buyer's premium).

NEW YORK, NY.- American Art made a strong showing at Swann Galleries’ November 15 auction of American Art & Contemporary Art, as did scarce examples by contemporary artists. Two lots sold for $60,000* apiece, making them the highest priced items in the auction: Andrew Wyeth’s The Mill House at Ivy Mills, Pennsylvania, watercolor, circa 1962, which had been a wedding gift to the consigner, and depicts the newlywed couple’s first residence; and Guy Wiggins’s The Avenue, oil on canvas, 1934, a lovely view of New York City in the snow. Another snowy city view by Wiggins was Winter on the Avenue at 42nd Street, oil on canvas, which brought $50,400.

Interest in artwork by philosopher poet Kahlil Gibran remains high. On the heels of last spring’s record-setting prices for his watercolors, this sale saw a new record for his work, with Portrait of a Woman, watercolor and pencil, 1916, selling for artist high $38,400.

Also among the American highlights were Charles E. Burchfield’s Hot Morning, watercolor, gouache and pencil, 1915, $50,400; Reginald Marsh’s Girl on the Waterfront, brush and ink, watercolor and pencil, circa 1945, $26,400; Henry Varnum Poor’s Landscape with a Man on Horseback, oil on canvas, circa 1938, $10,200; and Paul Cadmus’s Seated Nude, Reading, crayon drawing, circa 1961, also $10,200.

The Contemporary Art portion of the sale featured a truly unusual example of Josef Albers’s work, two oil studies on board for his celebrated Homage to the Square, circa 1969, which Albers used as shipping material to sandwich another smaller painting he sent to a collection that was considering acquiring it. They are accompanied by contemporaneous documents related to the acquisition. They sold for $40,800.

Contemporary print highlights included Vija Celmins, Untitled Portfolio, complete set of four color lithographs, 1975, $45,600; Adolph Gottlieb’s Omen, etching and aquatint, 1944-45, which brought a record $28,800; Francis Bacon’s Man at a Washbasin, color etching and aquatint, 1977, $27,600; Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Rome Pays Off, color screenprint, 2004, $24,000; and Edward Ruscha’s Made in California, color screenprint, 1971, $20,400.

Among several fine prints by Roy Lichtenstein were the monumental Imperfect, color woodcut and screenprint measuring more than 58 by 81 inches, 1988, $28,800; Moonscape, color screenprint, 1965, $19,200; and Inaugural Print, color screenprint, 1977, $15,600.

For complete auction results, an illustrated catalogue, with prices realized on request, can be purchased for $35 from Swann Auction Galleries, 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or viewed online at

*All prices include buyer’s premium.

Swann Galleries | American Art & Contemporary Art | New York |

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