Post-Auction Picks from the October 13, 2013 Auction

October 17, 2013

Today, Peter and Dan combine forces to spotlight several amazing lots from last Sunday’s Modern Art & Design Auction that are still available for purchase — all at amazing prices. The lots we talk about below are just the tip of the iceberg. Please see our complete list of unsold lots.

Dan’s Post-Auction Picks

Lot 541: Florence Knoll, Lounge suite (5) (designed 1958)

Not only does this complete lounge suite represent excellent value for money, it also offers a rare opportunity to acquire a set piece from a modernist 1965 Bel Air mansion at the height of its glory.

Couch from Lounge suite (5) (designed 1958), Florence Knoll

Chairs from Lounge suite (5) (designed 1958), Florence Knoll

The house, designed by a local architect for his family, was furnished between the years of 1965 and 1970 with some of the greatest high-end contemporary furniture of the time, including works by both Florence Knoll and Eero Saarinen. This interior would have conveyed the same message in the late 1960s as it does in 2013, that of the owner’s sophistication and impeccable taste.

Marble table from Lounge suite (5) (designed 1958), Florence Knoll

End table from Lounge suite (5) (designed 1958), Florence Knoll

End table from Lounge suite (5) (designed 1958), Florence Knoll

Lot 138: Warren McArthur, Rare occasional table (designed c. 1929)

Occasionally, examples of Warren McArthur furniture appear on the market; however, we have never seen this particularly intriguing design before.

Warren McArthur, a mechanical engineer by training, was a designer of immense talent. In another era, he would have undoubtedly enjoyed far-reaching commercial success. Unlike designers such as Charles & Ray Eames, George Nelson, and Florence Knoll, who enjoyed the fruits of post war America, McArthur founded his own design business in 1929, the year of the Wall Street crash.

Rare occasional table (designed c. 1929), Warren McArthur

Had the country’s economic woes not thwarted consumer buying power, McArthur’s innovative approach might have achieved the level of popular embrace he so richly deserved, positioning him as one of the greatest figures in the pantheon of American design.

Despite the upheavals of the 1930s, McArthur still attracted major commissions, including the interiors of the Arizona Biltmore Hotel, the Chrysler Corporation headquarters in Michigan, and the Union Pacific Railroad – not to mention the legendary Ambassador Hotel here in Los Angeles. It is likely that this rare table originated from one of the above landmarks.

When trying to take in the overwhelming array of art and objects found at an auction preview, it can be difficult to picture a given work in its original context, which is why one of joys of this profession is to be occasionally fortunate enough to discover these works in their original setting.

Peter’s Post-Auction Picks

Today we examine three fabulous paintings from major artists still available from LAMA at an incredibly diverse price range.

Lot 429: Larry Rivers, Valentine Painting (1959)

Unseen for over fifty years, and considered a missing link between Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art, Larry Rivers’ Valentine Painting (Lot 459) from 1959 is one of the most historically important works ever presented at LAMA. 

Valentine Painting
(1959), Larry Rivers

Valentine emerges from Rivers’ two-year sojourn into Abstract Expressionism. We find an artist beginning to employ symbols, icons, talismans – all the signatures for which he would become famous in the Pop era – but here, thrillingly, we see Rivers’ motifs claw their way from the trappings of the Abstract epoch. Through the vibrant fall colors we witness an act of artistic revolution, captured forever in oil and charcoal. Within the painting, mysterious black lines suggest shapes at once uncanny, yet not quite place-able.

One shape that is not mysterious, at least not on the surface, is the heart. Before Billy Al Bengston gave us flowers, and Andy Warhol gave us soup cans, Rivers gives us his heart. At the dead center of the heart are placed two shockingly plain daubs of spray-can-quality silver paint that somehow flawlessly depict a shimmering bracelet. Is Valentine, an unguarded ode to the artist’s often-complicated love life or is it a subtle critique of a culture that equates pure, unspoiled love with the gift of diamonds? 

Signature on Valentine Painting (1959), Larry Rivers

Like de Kooning, Rivers’ women of the period often proudly and confidently exude a similar off-hand decadence. In Valentine Painting, the subject is Maxine Groffsky, soon-to-be editor of the Paris Review, and who not only controlled the New York literary circle, but also played lover and muse to Rivers. The artist admitted the bracelet was the only thing Groffsky was wearing at the time of the sitting.

Valentine Painting represents a rare opportunity to own such a significant work, which, now that it has finally seen the light of day, is likely to be sought after by any museum attempting a retrospective of Rivers’ work. Valentine is now available for $250,000.

Lot 250: Sam Francis, Untitled (SF78-255) (1978)

Speaking of which, there is now a major show at the Pasadena Museum of California Art featuring Sam Francis works similar to this bold and lovely Untitled (SF78-255) from 1978 (Lot 250). In the 1970s, Francis explored loosely geometric forms and symbols—note the biomorphic newborn pinks emerging beneath the spectral green splatters. This period found the artist experimenting with different processes as well, such as the use of wet rollers on paper, found here. This gorgeous piece is available now for $37,500.

Untitled (SF78-255)
(1978), Sam Francis

Lot 138
Warren McArthur
Rare occasional table
Designed c. 1929
Warren McArthur Corporation Manufacturers
Enameled and brushed aluminum
Retains manufacturer’s label
18.25″ x 13.25″ x 13.25″
Estimate: $3,000 – 5,000

Lot 541
Florence Knoll
Lounge suite (5)
Designed 1958, manufactured 1958-75
Knoll International
Steel, fabric, enameled aluminum, steel, marble
Model nos. 67 (sofa), 65 (chair), 2514MC (end tables), 167MW (oval table)
Comprised of sofa, two chairs, and two end tables. Together with Eero Saarinen oval coffee table
Sofa: 32″ x 85″ x 28″; Each chair: 32″ x 28″ x 28″; Oval table: 15.5″ x 54″ x 36″; End tables: 16.5″ x 30″ x 30″
Literature: Rouland, Steven & Linda. Knoll Furniture 1938-1960. Atglen: Schiffer Publishing Ltd, 2005. pp 94, 95, 123.
Estimate: $12,000 – 15,000

Lot 250
Sam Francis
Untitled (SF78-255)
Acrylic on paper
Signed and dated in pencil “Sam Francis 1978″ verso
Sheet: 29.25″ x 41″; Frame: 38.25″ x 49.5”
Estimate: $30,000 – 50,000

Lot 429
Larry Rivers
Valentine Painting
Oil and charcoal on canvas
Signed and dated “Rivers 59” center right; signed, dated, and inscribed in pencil “Valentine Painting/Rivers ’59” verso
LAMA would like to thank the Larry Rivers Foundation for their assistance in cataloguing this work
Canvas: 52″ x 50″; Frame: 52.75″ x 51″
Provenance: Private Collection, Wyoming (acquired c mid-1960s)
Estimate: $200,000 – 300,000

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