George Nakashima, Frank Lloyd Wright, Franz West and more headline Heritage Auctions' January design event
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George Nakashima, Frank Lloyd Wright, Franz West and more headline Heritage Auctions' January design event
Frank Lloyd Wright (American, 1867-1959), Table from Price Tower, Bartlesville Oklahoma, 1956. Copper, wood, 28-1/2 x 39-1/4 x 26-1/2 inches. Estimate: $12,000 - $18,000.

DALLAS, TX.- For its first Design event of the year, Heritage Auctions is offering a first-rate selection of pieces by an international cast of design superstars.

The star-studded lineup for the Design Signature® Auction on Jan. 27 includes celebrated American architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Frank Gehry, Bruce Goff and William Wesley Peters, whose featured offerings include rare furniture from some of their most important projects.

There are also works by renowned furniture designers, including custom commissions by America’s George Nakashima and iconic designs by Austria’s Franz West, as well as incredible ceramics by a host of American, British and Japanese artists such as Betty Woodman, Jennifer Lee, Toshiko Takaezu, Richard DeVore, Lucie Rie and many others.

“We are beyond thrilled to kick off 2022 with so many remarkable pieces by such a diverse and talented group of artists and designers,” says Brent Lewis, Heritage Auctions Design Director. “The names featured in this event are some of the most celebrated and revered in the design world, so to be able to bring them together in one auction is nothing short of exciting.”

Frank Lloyd Wright

During a career that spanned seven decades, American architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed some of the country’s most innovative spaces, including Oklahoma’s Price Tower, regarded as Wright’s only realized skyscraper. The tall, slender building provided Wright the opportunity to design an incredible group of custom furniture pieces for the tower’s residences and offices, several of which are available in this auction.

Being sold to benefit the Price Tower Arts Center, the pieces include a copper table (estimate: $12,000-$18,000) and copper stool (estimate: $8,000-$12,000), plus two special aluminum wastepaper baskets (estimate: $1,200-$1,800 each) – all featuring sleek, angular forms in the same spirit of the building itself. There’s also a copper relief panel (estimate: $5,000-$7,000) from the 1956 building molded with Wright's chosen decorative pattern, which is repeated throughout the structure.

“This furniture is among the most sought after of Wright's furniture designs,” Lewis says, “and is an opportunity to acquire a work of domestic scale by America's most important architect.”

Among the other Wright offerings is a salvaged textile block from the architect’s iconic Ennis house in Los Angeles (estimate: $4,000-$6,000). The 1924 residence is one of Wright’s most significant West Coast achievements and the largest example of his textile block buildings.

George Nakashima

Though most of his pieces are one of a kind, all of George Nakashima’s furniture designs have something in common: a never-wavering reverence for the wood used to create them. Several significant works by the acclaimed American furniture maker will be offered in this sale, including a rare Kornblut cabinet from one of Nakashima’s most important commissions. Completed in 1980 for International Paper’s New York headquarters and carrying an estimate of $40,000-$60,000, the cabinet, a unique version of an iconic Nakashima design, has been off the market for more than 15 years.

“George Nakashima’s International Paper commission represented one of his most ambitious groups of works,” Lewis says. “It allowed him to experiment with new and adapted forms, creating an extraordinary set of furnishings of unrivaled quality, including this special cabinet.”

Other Nakashima pieces in the sale include a rare Greenrock console table from 1977 (estimate: $50,000-$70,000), a special-order cabinet from 1962 (estimate: $30,000-$50,000), a rare free-edge wall shelf from 1976 (estimate: $10,000-$15,000) and a pair of chairs from 1956 (estimate: $4,000-$6,000), among other rare finds.

Bruce Goff

An acolyte of Frank Lloyd Wright, Bruce Goff was a renowned architect in his own right, and this auction features pieces from two of his most important buildings: Shin'en Kan in Bartlesville, Okla., and the Bavinger House in Norman, Okla. Both houses were destroyed, which means this sale offers a rare opportunity to acquire an element of modern architectural history.

Highlights from Shin'en Kan, which means “The House of the Far Away Heart,” include two sets of glass cullets (estimate: $800-$1,200). Considered Goff’s masterpiece, the whimsical structure featured walls made of lumps of coal, with these brilliant aquamarine glass cullets interspersed throughout. When Shin'en Kan burned down in 1996, little remained but the glass shards.

The sale also includes a metal suspension lamp, circa 1955, from the Bavinger residence, which was awarded the American Institute of Architects’ “Twenty-five Year Award” in 1987. Purportedly made by local artist Charles Williams, a frequent visitor to the house, the light has an estimate of $6,000-$9,000.

Franz West

Two “Uncle Chairs” by Franz West, winner of the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 2011 Venice Biennale, are also featured in this sale. Composed of a steel frame dressed in colorful straps of woven textiles, the chairs blur the lines between art and furniture and have been hailed as some of the Austrian artist’s most important works. Seldom appearing at auction, the chairs carry an estimate of $10,000-$15,000 each.

Betty Woodman

The January auction also features several important works by Betty Woodman, one of the leading ceramicists of the 20th century. Leading the pack is a trio of vessels known as Three Sisters (estimate: $40,000-$60,000). Like the other Woodman pieces in the sale – including bowls, trays and more – the vessels are awash in the artist’s signature bright colors and exhibit her unique ability to present conceptual works in ceramic form. “Seldom do we see such a representative group of works by the celebrated artist together in one sale,” Lewis notes.

Other highlights in the auction include but are not limited to:

• A Rare Arm Chair (estimate: $7,000-$9,000), circa 1949, by Lloyd Wright. Made for Wright's home and studio in Los Angeles, the rare redwood chair has never before appeared on the market.

• Mobile No. 18, 2005 (estimate: $4,000-$6,000) by Darío Pérez-Flores. Perez-Flores was one of several significant Latin American artists who established studios in Paris, creating works that would be known as the Optical and Kinetic art movements. His sculptures, such as this rare kinetic wall panel, are composed of vertically aligned elements that move, creating an optical effect as the space of light, depth and colors changes during viewing.

• Ellipses Mosaic (estimate: $4,000-$6,000), circa 1958, ERA Industries by Evelyn Ackerman and Jerome Ackerman. Found at a garage sale, this rare mosaic panel by the celebrated American design duo is one of the Ackermans’ most rigorous pattern mosaics and is an outstanding example of their work. Similar panels have recently brought more than $10,000 at auction.

• A Rare Seven-Piece Drink Set (estimate: $3,000-$5,000), circa 1960, by artist Octavio Medellín. Medellín was a prominent fixture in Dallas for several decades as a teacher and founder of the Creative Arts Center.

• Rare furniture from Focus House at Taliesin Gates. Described as a “crowning design” for Taliesin Architects, the Focus House in Phoenix, designed by Taliesin Fellow William Wesley Peters, was the culmination of study and work within the Frank Lloyd Wright studio. This sale includes a trio of hassocks (estimate: $1,000-$1,500), a pair of side tables (estimate: $800-$1,200), a dining table (estimate: $800-$1,200) and a round side table (estimate: $700-$900) – all by Peters – plus a pair of table lamps executed for Focus House from a design by Wright.

• A group of important modern and contemporary ceramics. Featuring outstanding examples of American, British and Japanese ceramics, the January Design sale includes rare works by the best in the field, including Lucie Rie, Hans Coper, Peter Voulkos, Toshiko Takaezu, Richard DeVore, Robert Turner, Jennifer Lee, Ewen Henderson and Elizabeth Fritsch, among others. The works offered come from various collections and are excellent examples of the various artists’ approach to their unique practices.

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