Just In: Rare, Early Works from De Wain Valentine

October 21, 2014

Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA)

Blue Slab (1970), De Wain Valentine, Modern Art & Design Auction, March 1, 2015

Los Angeles Modern Auctions is excited to announce the inclusion of two rare and early cast resin sculptures from De Wain Valentine, a founding member of the California Light and Space movement, in its March 1, 2015 Modern Art & Design Auction. Blue Slab (1970) and Top (1969) were both acquired directly from the artist and come from the original owner. They are prime examples of the possibilities of Valentine’s novel experiments in cast plastic, as he created sculptures that were playful, meditative, and technologically challenging. Top is comprised of polished, smooth curves. The slender points of the top are almost translucent, refracting and reflecting light, while the body approaches opacity and seems to absorb light. Blue Slab demonstrates the influence of the California landscape and coastline upon Valentine’s work. The deep blue coloration of the plastic is reminiscent of sea and sky. With its sleek, elongated wedge form, the work is an important precursor to Valentine’s 1975 sculpture, Gray Column (1975-76), which was shown at the Getty Museum as part of Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980 in 2011-12.

Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA)

Top (1969), De Wain Valentine, Modern Art & Design Auction, March 1, 2015

Born, raised, and educated in Colorado, Valentine grew up with an appreciation for materials and industrial processes. He spent time with his uncles scavenging for copper and iron ore, and worked in a boat shop, where he first cultivated an interest in plastics. Lured by the fledgling but burgeoning 1960s Los Angeles art scene, Valentine moved to the city in 1965. He quickly established his presence—he procured a studio next to Larry Bell in Venice, and secured a teaching position at UCLA in plastics technology. His first solo show in Los Angeles was with Ace Gallery in 1968.

Valentine’s work in plastics led to the 1960s and 70s California Light and Space movement, along with other pioneering luminaries such as John McCracken, Helen Pashgian, Robert Irwin, and James Turrell. Speaking of his motivations and inspiration, Valentine said: “In Colorado, I had a love affair with the sky and the clouds and the mountains. You didn’t see the air in Colorado. It was just crystal. When I moved to California, the smog became a substance. The quality of the light had a body to it that was just thrilling.”

“De Wain Valentine.” Pacific Standard Time. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2010-11. Web. 20 Oct 2014.
Kennedy, Randy. “Reputation and Monolith, Both Stand Tall.” The New York Times, 15 Sept. 2011. Web. 20 Oct 2014.

Lot Information:

De Wain Valentine
Blue Slab
72.5” x 23.5” x 6.5”
Provenance: Private Collection, Los Angeles (acquired directly from the artist)
Estimate: $30,000 – 50,000

De Wain Valentine
16” x 16” diameter
Provenance: Private Collection, Los Angeles (acquired directly from the artist)
Estimate: $10,000 – 15,000

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