day auction of Contemporary Art at Sotheby's November 13, 2003
is highlighted by two strong works by Lee Krassner.
Lot 174, "The City," is a superb, 48-by-36-inch oil
and paper collage on masonite that is very strong and was included
in the restrospective exhibition on Krassner that was shown at
the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Des Moines Art Center,
the Akron Art Museum and the Brooklyn Museum between October 1999
and January 2001. It had an estimate of $120,000 to $180,000 and
sold for $579,200. The catalogue notes that Krasner would tear
up works with which she was dissatisfied during the period in
which this lot was created but noticed that when she made a heap
on the floor "something exciting was happening." Indeed,
Krasner's work tends to be much more structured than that of Jackson
Pollock, her husband.
is Lot 189, "Majuscule," a 69-by-82 1/8-inch oil on
canvas that Krasner painted in 1971. The catalogue notes that
the title refers to the first and large letters in old manuscripts
and indicated the artist's new direction: "Majuscule
shows that she now favored a lyrical, classically balanced composition,
rather than a loose, more expressionistic and painterly rendering."
With its simple palette of a few blues and greens, white and red,
this work does not have the textural complexity of her earlier
work, but it is marvelously dynamic in its swoop composition.
It has an estimate of only $80,000 to $120,000 and it sold for
A fine companion
for Krasner's Lot 174 is Lot 177, "X-L-31-62," a strong
collage by Conrad Marca Relli (b. 1913). The 60-inch square work
had an estimate of $25,000 to $35,000 and sold for $84,000.
"Color Volume III," a bright and vigorous, 30-by-24-inch
oil on canvas by Hans Hofmann (1880-1966) had a pre-sale estimate
of $60,000 to $80,000 and sold for $114,000. It is dated 1950.
Lot 183, "Red and Green," is a dark but classic composition
by Adolph Gottlieb. An oil on linen, it measures 90 by 73 inches
and is dated 1966. It sold for $444,800, just below its pre-sale
(b. 1907) is the highly imaginative stainless steel mobile sculptor
best known for his gently swinging outdoor works. Lot 105, "Persephone
Variation Three," is more of an indoors piece and is much
more intricate than his larger works. The 18-by-30-by-12 ½-inch
stainless steel sculpture was created in 1968. It had a high estimate
of $25,000 and sold for $187,200.
Lot 145, "Horse in the Metropolis," by Sandra Chia,
oil, pastel, charcoal, gouache and pencil on paper in artist's
frame," 60 5/8 by 50 ¾ inches, 1982
A large and good oil, pastel, charcoal, gouache and pencil on
paper in artist's frame is Lot 145, "Horse in the Metropolis"
by Sandro Chia (b. 1946). The work is dated 1982 and had a high
estimate of only $25,000. It sold for $42,000.
Several Minimalist works from the collection of Vera G. List fared
Lot 115, "String Bean," is easily the most amusing work
in the auction. This 178-inch long suede, vinyl, wood, steel and
cast epoxy with 14 beans is one of the more serene works by Claes
Oldenburg (b. 1929). It sold within its estimate for $84,000 and
was one of numerous works consigned to the auction by the estate
of Vera G. List, the New York philanthropist.
Lot 122, "Untitled (JS 354)," is a pleasant cast bronze
by Joel Shapiro (b. 1941), an artist whose unattractive figural
sculptures were exhibited on the sculptural roof garden of the
Metropolitan Museum of Art in the summer of 2002. This work has
three little "houses" on a big block of bronze and it
looks inviting to liliputian Giacometti stick figures. It had
a high estimate of $80,000 and sold for $176,000.
Carl André (b. 1935) is noted for his floorscapes and Lot
123, "Field," is one of the better ones. It consists
of 630 ceramic magnets and is half an inch high and 42 by 43 1/8
inches. Executed in 1966, it had a high estimate of $80,0000 and
sold for $254,400!
very elegant, Sol Lewitt is best known for his white rectilinear
sculptures that invoke architecture. Lot 124, "A (6),"
is a fine example. An 81-inch-cube of baked enamel on aluminum,
it was created in 1967. It had a high estimate of $160,000 and
sold for $243,200, demonstrating once again the power of a famous
another work from the List estate, is "Untitled (Drawing),"
by Christopher Wilmarth (1943-1987). A glass, etched glass and
steel white work that is 17 inches square and one-inch deep, it
was executed in 1971. It had a high estimate of $18,000 and it
sold for $96,000.
various owner properties, Lot 195, "Café Rose,"
is a very handsome, small still life by Wayne Thiebaud (b. 1920).
The 12-by-8-inch oil on canvas was painted in 1962 and sold within
its estimates for $265,500.
amusing sculpture by Jim Dine (b. 1935), entitled "The Fan
(Second Version)," Lot 254, failed to sell. It had an estimate
of $50,000 to $70,000. The enamel, oil and epoxy on bronze with
steel and wood was executed in 1991 and is a charming farmer's
work bench replete with one of Dine's large hearts and a cut open
It is interesting
that some of the painting stars of the 1960s have developed interesting
sculptors. Frank Stella (b. 1936) is one of the few artists successful
as a painter and as a sculptor. One of his less discombobulated
sculptures is Lot 256, "The Quadrant," a mixed media
work on cast aluminum that measures 100 ¼ by 83 ½
by 45 ½ inches. Despite its title, the work is very lithe
and sinuous. It sold for $153,600, just above its pre-sale low
(b. 1925) has long worked in and with a variety of media. Lot
264 is one of his mirrored aluminum sculptures. Entitled "Braggard
(Shiner)," it sports a metal shopping cart dangling from
its top and the acrylic, metal and rubber work measures 95 ¼
by 93 ¼ by 18 ½ inches. Created in 1988, it sold
for $265,500, well above its $150,000 pre-sale estimate.
(b. 1937) is popular for his monumental word paintings but some
of his wordless works are not bad at all, indeed, many are much
more haunting than his occasional blatant proclamations. Lot 283,
"Pole," for example, is a blurry painting of a telegraph
pole, a classic American icon. An acrylic on paper, it measures
60 1/8 by 40 ¼ inches and was created in 1986. It sold
for $114,000, well above its $70,000 pre-sale high estimate.