December 7, 2003
The December 7, 2003 Modern Art & Design Auction featured works from James Prestini’s personal collection, which included a selection of his turned wood bowls and hand objects; sculptures in steel, wood and marble; original artwork from László Maholy-Nagy, Charles Eames, Herbert Bayer, Margaret De Patta, and new Bauhaus artists; correspondence from many of the 20th Century’s most recognized architects and designers (Mies van der Rohe, Charles Eames, Joseph Albers, Alvar Aalto); a selection of important graphic design; and of course a selection of rare and out of print books.
Mr. Prestini was an innovator of design, a sculptor, craftsman, professor, and literary collector from his association with the new Bauhaus in Chicago in the early 1930s to his final years while teaching at Berkeley, California in the 1980s. This expansive career of over 50 years dedicated to 20th Century Modern design is evident from the exquisite wooden bowls that made him internationally famous in the 1930s, to the mirror-surfaced stainless steel sculpture of his later years thru the 1980s. His art was distinguished by purity of form, high craft, masterly use of machine technology, and idealistic social commitment. In addition, as a well-respected teacher at Berkeley, he amassed a world-famous research library dedicated to art, architecture, and design. His personal archives were peppered with many gifts, correspondence, and hand-crafted cards from friends such as Charles & Ray Eames, Mies van der Rohe, László Maholy-Nagy, Alexander Calder, and many more.
In addition to the Prestini collection, LAMA offered over 200 items from the Mid-Century Modern movement, including furniture designs by Frank Gehry, Gio Ponti, Charles & Ray Eames, George Nelson, and George Nakashima, as well as artworks by Andy Warhol, Miro, Herbert Bayer, John McLaughlin and others.
In addition to impressive prices for the Prestini lots, there were many noteworthy pieces sold during this auction. Highlights included a pair of rare bookends by Russell Wright (Lot 97 est. $20,000 – 25,000, realized $18,000), the Andy Warhol silkscreen Mao Tse Tsung (Lot 187 est. $7,000 – 9,000, realized $14,100), and a Ueli Berger “DS-600” sofa (Lot 11 est. $7,000 – 9,000, realized $10,575).