A standing-room-only presentation of The Belo Collection of Texas Art, representing six decades of Texas' best contemporary art, exceeded $620,960 and set numerous artist auction records Oct. 18 at Heritage Auctions
in Dallas. The collection followed Heritage's biannual Texas Art Signature Auction, both of which totaled a combined $1.185 million.
The 300-lot collection of paintings, sculpture and photography was assembled over 40 years by the Belo company, the oldest continually operating business in Texas. All proceeds will be donated to The Belo Foundation, which supports college-level journalism education and the development of urban parks in Dallas.
The collection was 98 percent sold by value, a testament to the strong market for Texas art, said Brian Roughton, Managing Director of Fine Arts at Heritage. "These extraordinary results surpassed our high estimates and are solid proof the appreciation of Texas' modern and contemporary artists is thriving," Roughton said. "All lovers of Texas art found something to enjoy in this auction."
The Blue Heron, 1985, by Dallas artist David Bates took top lot honors early in the auction when it crossed the block for $106,250, a new record for the artist. Bates studied at Southern Methodist University in the 1970s and is now considered Dallas' finest contemporary artist, with work is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
A selection of works by the self-taught Dennis Blagg, one of the state's most successful contemporary artists, attracted multiple bidders and setting records for the artist. Pecos River sold for $40,625 and Mythic Texas, Late Drive, 1997, a breathtaking Big Bend landscape, ended at $37,500 following interest by 19 bidders.
Two paintings by abstract artist Billy Hassell also saw interest by multiple bidders as Divination, 1991, sold for $21,250 and Egypt on the Brazos, 1985, sold for $20,000, both fresh records for the artist. Harlequin, 1985, a geometric abstract work by artist Dan Rizzie, ended at $32,500, also a record for the artist.
Texas' self-taught artists were in demand as Morning Route, 1985, by Lee N. Smith, III sold for $13,750 a record for the artist and New Girl in Town, 1962, by Velox Benjamin Ward's, a talented painter who worked primarily from memory, sold for $9,375, a record for the artist.
The collection also held works by internationally recognized artists. Roy Lichtenstein's I Love Liberty, 1982, sold for $27,500.
"The successful auction was a result of a great collaboration of efforts by Heritage's specialists Atlee Phillips (Texas Art), Mr. Roughton (American Art), and Brandon Kennedy (Modern & Contemporary Art)," said Ed Beardsley, Vice President Heritage Auctions, "all of whom were highly sensitive to the challenges of offering many pieces by artists who have rarely sold at auction. They made great efforts to reach out to collectors of art at all levels."
The A. H. Belo Corporation began in the newspaper publishing business in 1842 and is the oldest continually operating business in Texas. As the publisher of The Dallas Morning News, the corporation became a company consisting of printing and publishing enterprises, broadcasting stations and an online publishing company. Belo has been a strong patron of the arts, particularly works by women and minority artists.
Under the stewardship of Judith Segura starting in 1986, the Belo Collection became the perfect platform to support local artists and galleries engaged in the thriving Texas contemporary art scene. The earliest works in the collection include regional artists active in the 1940s and expanded into household names like Robert Rauschenberg, DeForrest Hale Judd and Lichtenstein.
Additional highlights include, but are not limited by:
Yucca, 1963, by DeForrest Hale Judd: Realized: $10,000, a record for the artist.
Crows and Watermelon, 1987, by Otis Dozier realized: $7,500.
Texas Spring, 1996, by Nancy Rebal: Realized: $6,093.
Election Day at Balmorhea, 1938, by Gerald Williamson "Jerry" Bywaters: Realized: $5,937.
Lush Gardens, 1997, by Bob "Daddy-O" Wade sold for $4,062