Peter’s Auction Pick of the Day: The Nude Form

February 21, 2014

For some artists, it is a mere aesthetic launching pad, for others the very muse and wellspring of their lives’ work: The Nude is art’s ultimate subject. We long to see ourselves unfiltered by mask and costume, in all our shapes and sizes.

Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA)

Seated Female Figure (c. 1933-34), David Park

Between the two David Park lots up for auction this Sunday, we witness the gamut of possible approaches to the nude. In Lot 280, Seated Female Figure (c. 1933-34) we find Park in his early Cubist mode, flowering under the influence of Picasso and Braque. However stretched, curved, and abstracted, the subject retains her essential femininity.

Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA)

Seated Figure in Chair (1960), David Park

By the time he painted Seated Figure in a Chair (Lot 281), executed the year of his death (1960), Park had long carved his own path as a deeply soulful portraitist facing eternity with a thousand yard stare – a kindred spirit to Diebenkorn, though with a more profound human element.

Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA)

Upper Delta (1991), William Theophilus Brown

With Upper Delta (Lot 286) from 1991, William Theophilus Brown uses the nude to navigate his inner landscape. Is it day or night in this painting? The sky is charcoal blue while the figures remain brightly lit. A trio of women, one of them shy and demure, circles a fierce and intent man.

Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA)

Untitled (Study) (1975), John Kacere

After an early interest in Abstract Expressionism, John Kacere’s hyper realistic body of work focused exclusively on one section of the female form, framing each woman in recline from her mid torso to her upper thighs. Sofia Coppola openly copped to Kacere’s work as the inspiration for the identically framed, now classic opening shot of Scarlett Johansson in Lost in Translation.

In 1975’s Untitled (Study) (Lot 167), the artist once again demonstrates his technical command, conjuring intricate lace, luxurious cotton, and supple skin while the slate background carves an arresting, somewhat two-dimensional negative space.

When asked why he would expend so much toil and genius on one quadrant of womanhood, Kacere would always reply, “Why not pay a lot of attention to this area? It’s the source of everything.”

Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA)

Through the Flower 2 (1972), Judy Chicago

Speaking of the source, we end at the beginning, with Judy Chicago’s Through the Flower 2 (Lot 231) from 1972. With a possible nod to Georgia O’Keefe, this pop jewel affords us the ultimate up-close and personal tour. We marvel at the womb from within – the original starting point – as for once in art the vagina is presented not as an escape into the opiate of female mystery but as a gateway to that great big world out there, to life itself.

Lot Information:

Lot 167
John Kacere
Untitled (Study)
Pencil on Strathmore paper
Signed and dated in pencil “Kacere 75 Mar 3″ lower right; retains Manny Silverman Gallery label verso; retains OK Harris Works of Art Gallery label verso; retains Stanley Poler, Inc. label verso; retains Christie’s label verso
Sheet: 21″ x 29″; Frame: 30.5″ x 38.5”

Estimate: $4,000 – $6,000

Lot 231
Judy Chicago
Through the Flower 2
Colored pencil on paper
Signed and dated in pencil “Judy Chicago 1972” lower right beneath image; inscribed “Through the Flower 2″ lower left
Image: 15″ x 15″; Sheet: 22.75″ x 22.75″; Frame: 23.25″ x 23.25”

Provenance: Private Collection, Los Angeles, California (gifted directly by the artist, c. 1975)

Estimate: $2,000 – $3,000

Lot 280
David Park
Seated Female Figure
c. 1933-34
Ink wash on paper
Retains Hackett-Freedman Gallery label verso; retains facsimile of portion of letter from Mark Hoffman of Maxwell Galleries verso
Image/sheet (vis.): 11.325″ x 8.25″; Frame: 19.25″ x 15.75″

Provenance: Hackett Mill Gallery, San Francisco, California; Private Collection, Las Vegas, Nevada (acquired directly from the above, c. 1998)

Estimate: $8,000 – $12,000

Lot 281
David Park
Seated Figure in Chair
Ink wash on paper
Bears the inscription in blue ballpoint pen “208” lower left sheet; retains two Hackett-Freedman Gallery labels verso
Image/sheet (vis.): 16.25″ x 13″; Frame: 29.5″ x 24.75″

Provenance: Hackett Mill Gallery, San Francisco, California; Private Collection, Las Vegas, Nevada (acquired directly from the above, c. 1998)

Exhibited: “David Park: 1911-1960: A Retrospective,” Traveling Exhibition, Newport Harbor Art Museum, Newport Beach, September 16-November 13, 1977; The Oakland Art Museum, Oakland, November 29, 1977-January 15, 1978

Literature: David Park: 1911-1960. Exhibition Catalogue. Newport Beach: Newport Harbor Art Museum, 1977. #147.

Estimate: $12,000 – $15,000

Lot 286
William Theophilus Brown
Upper Delta
Acrylic on canvas
Initialed and dated “T.B. 91″ lower right
Canvas: 36″ x 35.75″; Frame: 37.5″ x 37.5”

Provenance: Charles Campbell Gallery, San Francisco, California; Private Collection, Las Vegas, Nevada (acquired directly from the above, c. 2003)

Illustrated: Arthur, John. Theophilus Brown: Paintings, Collages & Drawings. Chesterfield: Chameleon Books, 2007. p 57.

Estimate: $9,000 – $12,000

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