LAMA BLOG

Lot 167, Oskar Fischinger, Wave Five (1948)

A pioneer of modernism in Los Angeles, Oskar Fischinger (1900–1967) is celebrated for his transcendent and metaphysical oil paintings, as well as for his groundbreaking work in abstract film animation. Working as an animator for, by turns, Paramount, MGM, and Disney, Fischinger turned to painting as a creative outlet—one he pursued with vigor for the rest of his life. These paintings uniquely embody a sense of cinematic movement with forms that resonate and pulse, move in waves, swell, and burst. For Fischinger, these abstractions were means to transcendent ends. He sought, through painting, to escape the earthly, and to hint at the eternal.

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Lot 275, Emerson Woelffer, Cook and Fish (1943)

A self-described “abstract surrealist,” the painter, collagist, and teacher Emerson Woelffer was in many ways the very ideal of a postwar American artist. His distinctive style of Abstract Expressionism was inflected by his many and varied interests and experiences. Certainly one of Woelffer’s most enduring legacies is the inspiration he gave his students. When Woelffer came to Los Angeles in the 1960s he became a mentor to an impressive roster of devoted students at the Chouinard Institute that included Larry Bell, Ed Ruscha, Joe Goode, and Charles Arnoldi. His work was shaped, too, by his move to Southern California, which prompted a discernable shift to bolder, brighter colors in his paintings.

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Lot 154, Gordon Onslow Ford, In Vironment (2002)

Though best known as the last and youngest member of the Surrealist group that convened in Paris in the 1930s, Gordon Onslow Ford was no stranger to the Bay Area vanguard, either. Between 1947 and 1959, Onslow Ford made his studio aboard the S.S. Vallejo, a decommissioned ferry docked in Sausalito, which he shared with the Greek collagist and poet Jean Varda. Together the two made the vessel a salon of sorts—a floating clubhouse for an astonishingly diverse group of artists and writers, from Beat poets to members of the Bay Area Figurative movement.

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Sheila Hicks, Untitled (1975) May 22, 2016

The art of Sheila Hicks defies simple categorization. Hicks began making monumental wall hangings for installation in public spaces in the 1960s. They have been commissioned for buildings by such architectural giants of the past fifty years as Eero Saarinen, Ricardo Legorreta, and Kevin Roche. Rarely do they become available to the private collector. LAMA’s May 22, 2016 Modern Art & Design Auction will feature a 1975 architectural commission composed of cotton and applied wrapped cordage: a stunning example of Hicks’s genius.

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Lot 112 Vladimir Kagan Contour lounge Chair

We at Los Angeles Modern Auctions were saddened to hear of the passing of one of the greats of modern design: Vladimir Kagan, who died late last week at age 88. The German-born son of a cabinet maker whose family immigrated to New York in 1938, Kagan entered the world of mid-century furniture design like a fresh breeze. His sofas and chairs—with their sinuous curves, outthrust legs and sculptural presence—had a never-before-seen verve and vivacity, earning him a clientele that would include Marilyn Monroe and Andy Warhol. Vladimir Kagan taught Americans that modernist design could be sexy.

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Isamu Noguchi Chess Table

LAMA’s May 22, 2016 auction of Modern Art & Design will feature an Isamu Noguchi Chess Table, one of the acclaimed sculptor’s finest pieces as a designer and a seminal work in the development of organic modernism. Among aficionados and collectors, the Noguchi Chess Table is among the most admired and coveted objects in the field of mid-twentieth century American design. The biomorphic elements that compose it—the curvilinear top, legs, and tray—are just as striking and surprising now as when they were created. The Chess Table was, perhaps, Noguchi’s most elegant demonstration of his belief that everyday design objects should enrich our lives as much as art.

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Ken Price L.A. Riot 1994

Ken Price is acclaimed as a groundbreaking master of ceramic sculptures, but from the beginning, drawing was central to his artistic practice. “Drawing,” Price once said, “is a way of seeing what you’re thinking about.” L.A. Riot, a 1994 drawing in ink and acrylic on paper, is an exploration of dimensionality. The drawing investigates scale, mediating between a scene of violence and destruction on a television screen and the reality of events visible through a living room window. LAMA will proudly feature this extraordinary work in its May 22, 2016 Modern Art & Design Auction.

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Raymond Pettibon, The Smell of Burning Rubber... (1989) May 22, 2016 Modern Art & Design Auction


Los Angeles Modern Auctions’ May 22, 2016 Modern Art & Design Auction will feature The Smell of Burning Rubber…, a 1989 ink on paper composition by Raymond Pettibon. A classic Pettibon marriage of image and text, it is a superb example of his work: fiery yet philosophical; deeply personal and yet iconographic. With a new major exhibition of works by Pettibon currently open at the Deichtorhallen Hamburg, the “bits and pieces” of American culture that Pettibon is known to incorporate into his art are shown to have a far-reaching and indelible impact on culture worldwide.

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