Art/Auctions logo

Post-War

(Day Sale)

Christie's


Thursday, 10AM, May 17, 2001


Sale 7646

"Joltin' Joe Takes A Swing" by Red Grooms

Lot 182, "Joltin' Joe Takes a Swing," by Red Grooms, acrylic on wood sculpture, 61 inches high, 1985-8

By Carter B. Horsley

Of all the 20th Century artists who have worked in New York, perhaps no one better captures the energy and chaos, empathy and pathos, humor, high spirits and hell of the city than Red Grooms (b. 1937).

Lot 182, "Joltin' Joe Takes a Swing," is a good example of Grooms's wacky/delirious visions, an acrylic on wood sculpture that is 61 inches high. Executed in 1985-1988, that has a conservative estimate of $70,000 to $90,000. Grooms's figures are not anatomically correct, nor politically correct. They are, however, attitudinally correct. The umpire here is fearsome and decisive. The catcher is full of concentration behind his mask and big glove. Joltin' Joe looks not at all like Joe Dimaggio with his steroid biceps and enormous shoulders, but his visage is rather beatific, which is in keeping with the worship of Yankee fans and the begrudging respect of his opposition. Grooms has caught the moment even if the ball is not yet in the catcher's glove and the umpire has raised his hand and voice Striiiike! Many of Groom's urban reconstructions are huge with crowded subways, stuffed cabs and raucous traffic, a phantasmogoria of riotous cacophony. Here, he has monumentally paid respect to a famous, mythic New York figure and brings us to the edge of our seats to await the next pitch.

"Untitled (Ahab)" by Lee Krassner

Lot 118, "Untitled (Ahab)," by Lee Krassner, gouache and acrylic on paper mounted on board, 22 5/8 by 31 inches, 1965

To see the non-existent crowds in the stands perhaps one should look at Lot 118, "Untitled (Ahab)" by Lee Krassner (1912-1984). Unlike her husband's often sprawling unfocused "drip" paintings, Krassner's work always seem to have more structure the fans may be wild but they are standing or sitting at their organized seats/perches in the stadium. Ahab and Dimaggio are probably kindred spirits of a sort. The one obsessed with revenge at any costs and the other with seeking personal peace. Krassner's oeuvre has been overshadowed by her husband's notoriety, but her talents clearly were a very good, perhaps very influential, match for his work. This is a very strong work. Painted in 1965, it is a 22 5/8-by-31-inch gouache and acrylic on paper mounted on board and has a conservative estimate of $20,000 to $30,000. It has been widely exhibited at such venues as the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice.

A good penant for the Krassner is Lot 126, "Bouteille, assiete, cafetière et tasse," by Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985), which despite its title could well be a bunch of Yankee-pinstrip-clad fans jubilantly celebrating a homer by Joltin' Joe. The 23 ½-by-28 ¾-inch acrylic on canvas was also painted in 1965 and has an estimate of $120,000 to $150,000.

Lot 134, "Shards III (1X-b)," is a riotous wall relief by Frank Stella (b. 1936) of acrylic and oilstick on aluminum that carries forward the rickety convulsions of the worlds of Red Grooms, Krassner and Dubuffet. Executed in 1983, the 34 ½-by-40-by-9-inch relief is raucous and has an estimate of $60,000 to $80,000. Stella has several other works in the auction including Lot 201, "Playskool Bobbin," a 35 ¾-by-47-by-33 ¼-inch wall relief of acrylic on cast bronze, wood, etched honeycomb aluminum, fiberglass, balsa wood laminate, plastic and masking tape. Obviously someone else was using the kitchen sink, but not matter, this is a nice and relatively small Stella relief and has a modest estimate of $30,000 to $40,000. For those who like larger Stellas, Lot 189 is a 109 ½-by-110 ¾-by-23-inch wall relief that is colorful and organic and was executed in 1982 and has an estimate of $180,000 to $220,000 and Lot 180, "Vemish," is a 71 5/8-by-120 1/8-inch acrylic, paper collage, plaster and color pencils on canvas that was executed by Stella in1985 and has an estimate of $150,000 to $200,000 and may tempt some viewers to don sunglasses and/or helmets. In the later part of his career, Stella's visions are explosive and kaleidoscopic in dramatic comparison with his early miminalism.

Another artist who switched his styles late in his career was Philip Guston and Lot 156, "Roma," is an excellent oil on paper laid down on panel that measures 19 ¾ by 27 ¾ inches. Executed in 1971, this lot is used as the catalogue's endpapers and has a conservative estimate of $50,000 to $70,000. Guston's late work is simple, but intense and almost child-like and this is a fine work.

Lot 169, "Two Seated Figures I" by Lynn Chadwick (b. 1914) is a fine abstract bronze sculpture that is 70 ½ inches high. Executed in 1973, it is number four of an edition of six and has an estimate of $150,000 to $200,000. "Chadwick," the catalogue notes, often classified as a follower of Henry Moore, trained as an architect and "was among the group of British artists who made a triumphant appearance at the Venice Biennale of 1952. Chadwick's `watchers' and predatory figures typify the imagery of British sculpture in the 1950s, where the fears and hopes of Post-War society were incorporated into the cultural atmosphere of the time. Indeed, Two Seated Figures I has a commanding presence; the scale is at once architecturally monumental and personally accessible. The closeness of the figures, nestled but not touching, invites the viewer into an intimate space which belies the grandeur of their size."

 

See The City Review article on Post War Art evening auction at Christie's, Nov. 15, 2000

See The City Review article on the Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's, Nov. 14, 2000

See The City Review article on the Contemporary Art evening auction at Phillips, Nov. 13, 2000

See The City Review article on Contemporary Art Part II auction at Phillips, Nov. 14, 2000

See The City Review Article on the May 18-9 Contemporary Art auctions at Phillips

See The City Review article on the May 16, 2000 evening auction of Contemporary Art at Christie's

See The City Review article on the May 17, 2000 Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall, 1999 auction of Contemporary Art at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Sotheby's Nov. 17, 1999 auction of Contemporary Art

See The City Review article on the auctions of Contemporary Art from a European Private Collection and Contemporary Art, Part 2, at Sotheby's Nov. 18, 1999

See The City Review article on the May 18, 1999 Contemporary Art Auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on Contemporary Art Part 2 auction at Sotheby's May 19, 1999

See The City Review article on the Christie's, May 19, 1999 Contemporary Art auction

See The City Review article on the Christie's, May 20, 1999 Contemporary Art Part 2 auction

Use the Search Box below to quickly look up articles at this site on specific artists, architects, authors, buildings and other subjects


Home Page of The City Review