Specialist Selects: Precious Metals

October 15, 2020
Larry Bell | DCF #40 (Double Curve Fade) | 1978 | Est. $20,000-30,000

In the hands of certain artists, the possibilities of metal expand far beyond the familiar forms of traditional sculpture and artisanry. Several works in the October 18, 2020 Modern Art & Design Auction showcase innovative ways of connecting with shape, surface, and light through creative metallurgy — like modern-day alchemists, these artists transform basic elements into potent works of art.

Larry Bell (b.1939) is perhaps best known for his Vapor Drawings, of which DCF #40 (Double Curve Fade) is a prime example. Combining art and chemistry, Bell discovered that by applying vaporized metal to paper, he could create a striking plane for absorbing and reflecting light. Here, in Lot 132, Bell employed aluminum and silicon monoxide to produce a visceral sensation of not only moving through light and dark, but the hard evidence of a chemical process at a moment in time.

Eric Orr | Untitled | 1983 | $6,000-$8,000

A key figure in the Light and Space movement, Eric Orr (1939-1998) also used gradient light and elemental materials to foster a perceptual experience in viewers. As Robert Berman Gallery asserts, Orr’s work “is based on a religio-philosophical conceptualization of space icons found in ancient religions and cultures…In his installations, [he] worked with the elemental qualities of natural materials—stone, metal, water, and fire.” In keeping with these concerns, the 1983 Untitled frames a sky and water-like expanse within a frame of gold leaf (and blood!) on a lead wall relief, presenting an airy monochromatic picture plane like a portal into another world.

Jacob Kassay | Untitled | 2009 | Est. $40,000-60,000

Jacob Kassay (b. 1984) similarly uses metals to further rigorous conceptual experimentation. The artist’s reflective silver monochromes result from a unique process he developed to cover the surface of canvas with metal, referencing both traditional painting and photography. The 2009 work Untitled hints at Kassay’s burgeoning architectural sensibilities with a subdued structure of three electroplated canvases whose evocative silver surfaces change with the light.  

Lot Information:

Lot 132
Larry Bell
DCF #40 (Double Curve Fade)
Aluminum and silicon monoxide on Arches paper
Signed and dated lower edge of sheet near center; titled sheet verso; retains Janus Gallery label frame verso
Composition/sheet: 59.5″ x 41.75″; Frame: 60.5″ x 42.5″ (Composition/sheet: 151 x 106 cm)

Provenance:  Janus Gallery, Venice, California; Beverly Morsey, Los Angeles, California (acquired directly from the above, c. 1980); Thence by descent

Estimate: $20,000–30,000
October 18, 2020 Modern Art & Design Auction

Lot 127
Eric Orr
Acrylic on board with gold leaf and blood on lead wall relief
35.5” x 57.5″ (90 x 146 cm)

Provenance:  Neil G. Ovsey Gallery, Los Angeles, California; Private Collection, Beverly Hills, California (commissioned from the above, 1982)

Estimate: $6,000–8,000
October 18, 2020 Modern Art & Design Auction

Lot 157
Jacob Kassay
Acrylic and silver deposit on three canvases, rock, and wood base
One canvas signed and dated verso; each canvas retains Eleven Rivington label canvas verso
13″ x 50″ x 38″ (33 x 127 x 97 cm)

Provenance:   Eleven Rivington, New York, New York; Private Collection, Florida (acquired directly from the above, 2009); Private Collection, Los Angeles, California

Exhibited:  “Jacob Kassay,” Eleven Rivington, New York, February 13-March 29, 2009

Estimate: $40,000–60,000
October 18, 2020 Modern Art & Design Auction

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