MODERN ART & DESIGN AUCTION
December 11, 2011
The December 11, 2011 Important Modern Art & Design Auction featured over 500 lots of exceptional material from a prominent West Coast collection and included rare examples of modern art and design by iconic 20th century artists. A 1907 Greene and Greene linen press from the Dr. W. T. Bolton House, an early John Chamberlain mixed media relief sculpture from 1962, a specially commissioned George Nelson"Double Marshmallow" sofa, and Raymond Loewy's personal 1963 Avanti Studebaker were among the top lots of the auction. Total sales realized $2.88 million, a new company sales record, with 74% of the 505 lots sold.
Over 100 lots in the auction came from a prominent West Coast collection, which included museum-quality examples by iconic California artists and designers, such as unique works by Charles Eames, a monumental Otto & Getrud Natzler vase, and a Dan Johnson Gazelle chair and dining table. In conjunction with the Getty's Pacific Standard Time, the exceptional works in this collection exemplify the California way of living and thinking.
The cover lot, one of the most important works to be sold in LAMA's history, is an early John Chamberlain mixed media relief sculpture from 1962. This work comes from the same year Chamberlain had his first solo show at the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York, during a period of growing international acclaim for his contorted car part constructions. Untitled from 1962 is a complex tangle of rusted metal scraps exploding from a support of stapled brown paper, an early example of Chamberlain's iconic car part collages that retains the Leo Castelli Gallery label on the reverse. The work was acquired from the gallery by Betty Asher, and remained in the same private collection in Los Angeles since 1970. Untitled (1962) was estimated at $150,000 - 2000,000, but sold for $275,000.
Institutions were drawn to the museum quality pieces, creating strong competition for stellar examples of art and design. Isamu Noguchi's Chess Table (Lot 280 est. $30,000 - 40,000) soared to a new auction record, realizing $187,500, nearly five times its high estimate. Robert Rauschenberg's Sling Shots Lit #6 (Lot 60 est. $30,000 - 50,000) realized $68,750, the highest price ever achieved for any work in this series by the artist.
Works that achieved strong prices locally included several pieces by Ed Ruscha, John Baldessari, and Julius Shulman, most of which exceeded their pre-sale estimates. Ed Ruscha's Carp with Fly (Lot 164 est. $9,000 - 12,000) realized $15,000, John Baldessari's Stonehenge (Lot 65 est. 6,000 - 8,000) went above estimate bringing $12,500, and Julius Shulman's Case Study House #22 (Lot 133 est. $3,000 - 5,000) saw fierce competition and brought $11,875. Design highlights included a Jean Prouv