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The decade that revolutionized Contemporary Art in focus at Bonhams New York
Mel Ramos, The Trickster, 1962. Oil on canvas 44 x 50 in. Est. US$500,000-700,000. Photo: Courtesy of Bonhams.

NEW YORK, NY.- Bonhams May 14 Contemporary Art auction at the Madison Avenue salesroom will feature 136 works of art including excellent examples of Pop Art and other important movements from the 1960s.

According to Jeremy Goldsmith, Bonhams New York Director of Contemporary Art, “Contemporary art as we understand it now was shaped by the innovations of the 1960s. The exceptional pieces we are offering on May 14 really embody the period’s influence.”

The auction’s cover lot, Mel Ramos’ (b.1935) iconic 1962 super-villain painting The Trickster hails from Pop Art’s most storied era, when Ramos’ commercially focused work was at the forefront of the emerging movement (est. $500,000-700,000). The painting shows the 1960 DC Comics® super-villain the Trickster (arch nemesis of the Flash) gleefully escaping an unknown pursuer, his expertly rendered hands clutching stolen jewelry. The Trickster, which has been privately owned for decades, is particularly interesting when compared with Wayne Thiebaud’s (b.1920) Beach Scene from 1960 (est. $250,000-300,000). Thiebaud was Ramos’ mentor, and both of the paintings on offer show the thick impasto and California-inspired color palettes that would come to define both artists’ works.

Allan D’Arcangelo’s (1930 – 1998) 1967 Landscape from the Sonesta International Hotels Corporation collection captures the graphic quality often associated with Pop Art (est. $40,000-60,000). Landscape, showing a bifurcated yellow and red circle against a black background faintly imprinted with four small trees, recall’s D’Arcangelo’s initial Pop Art pieces from the early 1960s featuring road signs.

Clean lines and a color-based composition are also the focus of Kenneth Noland’s (1924-2010) Pale from 1967 (est. $150,000-200,000). The noted Color Field artist, best known for his striped and shaped “chevron” and “target” paintings, sought new methods to showcase color at its most elemental level. Pale, with its elongated, diamond-shaped canvas and subtle aqua-blue lines, is a quintessential Noland exploration. While the influence of masters like Albers and Modrian are definitely apparent in the Pale, no one was more instrumental to Noland’s thinking than Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011), whom he first met in 1953.

In another serendipitous student-mentor pairing, Bonhams will offer Frankenthaler’s Red Shift on May 14 (est. $200,000-300,000). Like Noland, Frankenthaler believed that color, and its application to the canvas, was the central theme in her work. Red Shift, a late composition from 1990, demonstrates Frankenthaler’s decades of experience with color that crystallized in the early 1960s when she began honing her technique through the use of a radical new medium – acrylic paint.

Color, or lack thereof, is also the focus of Jesús Rafael Soto’s Petit Canada (est. $200,000-300,000). Painted in 1975, Soto’s white canvas is gently punctuated with painted metal elements and nylon strings, imbuing the piece with unexpected dimension. Other Latin American highlights on offer include Sergio Camargo’s Relief 329 (est. $250,000-350,000) and Emiliano di Cavalcanti’s modernist masterpiece Pescadores (est. $300,000-500,000).

Bonhams Contemporary Art auction will take place on May 14 in New York. The auction will preview at Bonhams from May 10-13.

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