NEW YORK, NY.- Swann Galleries’ June 9 auction of American Art & Contemporary Art offers outstanding works by important artists. A circa 1943 painted metal stabile by Alexander Calder, which comes with copies of the artist’s handwritten letter to his Parisian art dealer and illustrated instructions for assembling the piece, is the first sculpture by Calder to be offered at Swann. Designed to be displayed on a table, the Untitled kinetic sculpture sits on a newly-crafted metal base that replicates Calder’s design. The stabile is estimated at $300,000 to $500,000.
Also among the stellar unique works in the sale is Siren, circa 1945, an important egg tempera painting by the magic realist American painter Jared French. In this enigmatic picture, a nude young man lies suspended above a body of water at the edge of a dock. He gazes down at a mermaid with her hands clasped in supplication as she looks raptly up at him. In the lower right, another nude male, possibly a self-portrait of the artist, floats in the water. The net is grasped by two young men clad in bathing trunks, while a group of clothed men and women, including a soldier, observe from the dock. The central figure among them, a businessman in a double-breasted suit, appears jubilant.
“While the exact meaning of the richly symbolic image is unclear, it is classic Jared French,” said Todd Weyman, Director of Prints & Drawings at Swann. “It must have also been a favorite of French’s—he kept the painting in his personal collection until his death. As a result, it is unlikely that it was ever published or exhibited.” The painting has an estimate of $70,000 to $100,000.
Other notable paintings in the American Art section of the sale include Long Island Landscape, an 1880 oil on panel by Mary Nimmo Moran, wife of Hudson River School artist Thomas Moran, which is, to our knowledge, the first significant oil by this important 19th-century female artist ever to come to auction ($10,000 to $15,000); Thomas Hart Benton’s Landscape, Martha’s Vineyard, oil on paper, circa 1922-24 ($30,000 to $50,000); and Balcomb Greene’s The Sea of Nevada, oil on canvas, 1961 ($7,000 to $10,000). A selection of works by David Burliuk includes Peasants on a Road, oil on artist board, 1947 ($10,000 to $15,000).
Featured watercolors are Reginald Marsh’s Manhattan Skyline with Brooklyn Bridge, 1929 ($8,000 to $12,000); two Milton Avery gouaches on black paper, Sun Worshiper, circa 1932, and Seated Man, ex-collection the artist’s estate ($30,000 to $50,000 each); Charles Burchfield’s Fallen Tree, watercolor, crayon, pen and ink, and pencil on paper, 1944-45 ($15,000 to $20,000); and Ogden M. Pleissner’s Rail Shooting on the Connecticut River, circa 1950s ($20,000 to $30,000).
Rounding out the American Art highlights are a collection of 25 circa 1920-25 costume studies, advertising and New Yorker cover designs, in watercolor and ink, by Max Rée ($15,000 to $20,000); Leonard Baskin’s bronze sculpture of a Seated Man, circa 1950-60 ($8,000 to $12,000); a mural study in black crayon by John Biggers for The Contribution of Negro Women to American Life and Education mural in Houston ($6,000 to $9,000); and pencil drawings by Arshile Gorky.
Significant unique works in the afternoon session of Contemporary Art include Calder’s gouache, Loops on Gray and Red, 1968 ($30,000 to $50,000); Fernando Botero’s Figure in Profile with a Yellow Hat, oil on canvas, circa 1960-70 ($40,000 to $60,000); Sam Francis’s From Tokyo #3, acrylic on paper, 1970 ($30,000 to $50,000); an Untitled acrylic on paper by Helen Frankenthaler, 1978 ($60,000 to $90,000); Jennifer Bartlett’s Pisces Dark Star, installation with two oils on canvas and 10 metal plates with baked enamel, 1979, once in the collection of the Smith College Museum ($25,000 to $35,000); and Damien Hirst’s Syringe Painting, oil on canvas with collage of butterflies, syringe and pills, 2007 ($20,000 to $30,000).
Among contemporary print highlights are the Josef Albers portfolio Homage to the Square, Soft Edge – Hard Edge, with 10 screeprints, 1965 ($10,000 to $15,000); Cy Twombly’s Roman Notes III, offset color lithograph, 1970 ($20,000 to $30,000); Richard Hamilton’s I’m Dreaming of a Black Christmas, color screenprint, collotype and collage, 1971 ($25,000 to $35,000); Andy Warhol’s Flowers, color screenprint, 1972, which comes with the original 1972 receipt from Castelli Graphics ($25,000 to $35,000); several screenprints by Keith Haring including Art Attack on AIDS, black-and-white proof impression of this poignant work, 1988 ($5,000 to $8,000); Jasper Johns’s No, color lithograph, embossing and collage, 1968-69 ($12,000 to $18,000) and Untitled I (Hatching), color etching and aquatint, 1976 ($10,000 to $15,000); and Wayne Thiebaud’s Country City, color etching and aquatint, 1988 ($7,000 to $10,000).
Notable three-dimensional works include a painted steel and wire Stabile by Margery Kahn, an artist greatly influenced by the work of Calder, circa 1950s ($2,000 to $3,000); Claes Oldernburg’s Knäckebröd, cast iron multiple, 1966 ($2,500 to $3,500); Roy Lichtenstein’s Modern Sculpture with Apertures, color screenprinted enamel on Plexiglas, 1967 ($6,000 to $9,000); and Louise Nevelson’s Sculpture for the American Book Award, wood multiple painted in black, 1980 ($3,000 to $5,000).
The morning session of the auction, American Art, will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, June 9. The afternoon session of Contemporary Art follows at 1:30 p.m.
The works will be on public exhibition Saturday, June 4, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Monday, June 6 through Wednesday, June 8, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Live online bidding is also available via www.Artfact.com