By Carter B. Horsley
This day auction November 10, 2004 at Sotheby's
of Contemporary Art is highlighted by several fine sculptures
by Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988), two superb paintings by Hans Hofmann,
and good works by Adolph Gottlieb, Marisol, Franz Kline, and Wayne
Noguchi, the subject of a retrospective exhibition
at the Whitney Museum of American Art in late 2004 and early 2005,
was America's greatest sculptor of the 20th Century. Lot 283,
"Little Slate," is a small but classic and superb work
by him executed in 1945. It measures only 6 1/4 by 11 1/4 inches
and is numbered 3/8. It has a very modest estimate of $15,000
to $20,000. It sold for $131,200 including the buyer's premium
as do all results mentioned in this article.
Lot 120, "The Knot," shows a different
Noguchi temperament. The Japanese granite sculpture measures 9
by 31 by 7 inches and was exeuted in 1967. A unique work, it has
a modest estimate of $120,000 to $180,000. It sold for $310,400.
Lot 126, "Mortality," displays yet
another aspect of Noguchi's creativity. A bronze sculpture that
measures 74 1/4 by 19 1/2 by 17 1/4 inches, it is numbered 3/6
and was created in 1961. It has an estimate of $250,000 to $$350,000.
It sold for $433,600.
A wonderful companion to Noguchi's "Little
Slate," would be Lot 102, "Mushroom, Triangle, Inverted
Comma," by Alexander Calder (1898-1976), a painted metal
stabile that measures 7 1/2 by 9 by 6 inches. Executed circa 1945,
it has a modest estimate of $60,000 to $80,000. It sold for
The back-cover illustration of this auction's
catalogue is Lot 191, "Brushstroke Head III," a painted
bronze sculpture by Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997). Numbered 3/6,
it measures 29 1/2 by 20 3/8 by 8 inches. It was executed in 1987
and has an estimate of $300,000 to $400,000. It sold for $411,200.
Another fine sculpture is Lot 192, "The
Wedding," a superb oil and pencil on wood with fabric and
collage work by Marisol Escobar (b. 1930). executed in 1962-3,
it measures 110 by 63 1/2 by 40 inches, and has a modest estimate
of $50,000 to $70,000. It sold for $60,000.
Lot 229, "Reticulára Cuadrada (Column-Rectilinear
Square)," is a fine stainless steel wire sculpture by Gego
(Gertrudis Goldschmidt) (1912-1994) that was executed in 1972.
The cover illustration of this auction's catalogue, it measures
90 1/2 by 55 1/2 by 59 inches. It has an estimate of $100,000
to $150,000. It sold $411,200, a world auction record for the
Lot 138, "Petaloid with
Two Circles," is a very nice painted steel sculpture by Adolph
Gottlieb (1903-1974). It measures 26 by 37 by 14 inches and was
executed circa 1968. It has an estimate of $80,000 to $120,000.
It failed to sell.
Lot 139, "Movement East
to West" is an excellent oil on canvas by Gottlieb that measurs
48 by 60 inches and was executed 1952-6. It has an estimate of
$200,000 to $300,000. It failed to sell.
Lot 129 is a classic oil on
canvas by Gottlieb that is entitled "Magnetic." It was
executed in 1958 and measures 90 1/4 by 60 1/4 inches. It has
an estimate of $300,000 to $400,000. It sold for $288,000.
Lot 131 is a very fine ink,
gouache and pencil on paper by Franz Kline (1910-1962). Executed
circa 1953, it measures 10 1/8 by 8 3/8 inches. It has an estimate
of $80,000 to $100,000. It failed to sell.
Lot 151 is an excellent oil
on canvas by Hans Hofmann. Executed in 1962, it measures 25 1/8
by 30 inches. It has a modest estimate of $100,000 to $150,000.
It sold for $114,000.
Another very strong work by Hofmann is Lot
127, "Untitled." Executed in 1944, it is a gouache and
ink on paper that measures 19 1/2 by 24 1/4 inches. It has an
estimate of $25,000 to $35,000. It sold for $45,000.
Lot 194 is a very fine untitled gouache, watercolor,
ink and paper collage on paper byRomare Bearden (1914-1988), the
subject of a major retrospective exhibition in late 2004 to early
2005 at the Whitney Museum of Art. Executed circa 1974, it measures
13 3/4 by 10 1/4 inches. It has a modest estimate of $20,000 to
$30,000. It failed to sell.
Lot 112 is an excellent "box" by
Joseph Cornell (1903-1972). An untitled work, it is a mixed media
collage in original artist's frame that measures 11 3/4 by 8 3/8
inches. Executed circa 1960, it is from the artist's "Penny
Arcade Series" and the catalogue also gives it the title
of "Eden Musee Waxworks Childhood." It has a modest
estimate of $35,000 to $45,000. It sold for $42,000.
The catalogue provides the following commentary:
"Untitled, Penny Arcade Eden Musee Waxworks Childhood, which
refers to a New York City wax museum, is a prime example of Cornell's
later collages. Two cloisonné Chinese imperial court jesters
flanked on one side by a Giant Red Star dominate the bottom half
of the composition. The top half is composed of Cornell's distinctive
orbital linepatterns capped by a sequence of numbers reminiscent
of Jasper Johns. Yet, despite being from the Penny Arcade series,
there are no pennies in this composition. This inexplicable and
unique circumstance adds to the mystery and depth inherent in
the work. Moreover, considering the original Eden Musee Waxwoods
burnt down in 1906 and relocated to Coney Island, Untitled, Penny
Arcade's significance becomes more layered and elusive."
Lot 293 is a fine acrylic and metal on metal
work by Robert Rauschenberg (b. 1925). It measures 112 by 121
by 10 1/2 inches. It has an estimate of $250,000 to $350,000.
It sold for $288,000.
Lot 179 is a fine pastel and graphite on paper
by Wayne Thiebaud (b. 1920). Executed in 1972, it measures 10
1/2 by 14 inches. It has an estimate of $180,000 to $220,000.
It sold for $299,200.
The auction has numerous Photo-realist works
and Lot 262, "Paragon," by Charles Bell (1935-1995),
is certainly the most colorful. An oil on canvas that measures
50 by 96 inches, it was executed in 1988. The catalogue entry
notes that this work is "undoubtedly one of the finest and
most accomplished" of the artist's well-known Pinball series.
It has an estimate of $300,000 to $400,000. It failed to sell.
Lot 401 is a very handsome,
untitled polystyrene insulation construction by Tom Friedman (b.
1965). Created in 2000, this unique work measures 15 1/2 by 16
by 16 inches. It has an estimate of $35,000 to $45,000. It
sold for $42,000. It was consigned from the Collection of
Donna and Howard Stone to benefit the Art Institute of Chicago.
Lot 408 is a fine work by Annette Messager
(b. 1943) that consists of 92 photographs in artist's frames,
tape and twine that measures 120 by 40 inches overall. The work
was created in 1989 and was also consigned from the Collection
of Donna and Howard Stone to benefit the Art Institute of Chicago.
It has an estimate of $50,000 to $70,000. It sold for $142,400.
Another nice sculpture is Lot 507, "Bird
Chain," by Kiki Smith (b. 1954). The white and colored bronze
and glass sculpture is unique and measures 36 1.2 feet. It has
an estimate of $50,000 to $70,000. It sold for $125,600.
Lot 578, "Untitled (Painting in a Snow
Storm)," is a good oil painting on velvet and carpet batting
by Julian Schnabel (b. 1951). It measures 96 by 132 inches and
was created in 1982. It has an estimate of $60,000 to $80,000.
It sold for $108,000.