Published: December 15, 2020
NEW YORK CITY – Phillips’ design auction on December 9 totaled $5.1 million and was led by Peter Voulkos’ monumental “Black Bulerias,” which achieved $1,264,200, an auction record for the artist. Property from a private Midwestern collection, “Black Bulerias” is a 1958 piece of stoneware constructed from paddled, wheel-thrown and slab elements, brushed slip, clear glaze and epoxy. The 63-by-44-by-41-inch work had provenance to a couple of California private collections until it was acquired by the consignor through art dealer Wanda Hansen in 1982. Its exhibition history included “Ceramics, Sculpture and Paintings by Peter H. Voulkos” at the Pasadena Art Museum in 1958-59; “Peter Voulkos: Sculpture, Painting, Ceramics,” Felix Landau Gallery, Los Angeles, in May 1959; “Première Biennale de Paris,” Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris, in October 1959; and “Sculpture and Painting by Peter Voulkos,” the Museum of Modern Art, New York City, in February/March 1960.
In a catalog essay titled “Rhythm King,” playing on the sculpture’s fast-dance inspiration, Glenn Adamson wrote, “All of Voulkos’ ambitions are present in this powerful work: geological force, medium-specific innovation, monumentality, sculptural intelligence and structural complexity.
Its importance derives partly from the circumstances of its making. In 1958, the artist was just arriving at the summit of his career – a short period that lasted only for another two years, when he was obliged to leave Los Angeles behind to teach in Berkeley.”
The sale also set a new auction record for Vladimir Kagan whose rare “Contour” rocking chair, with embroidery by Erica Wilson, exceeded its estimate tenfold and brought $132,300.
A full review of the sale will follow.
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