Published: October 17, 2000
Second Sale a Success for Richard Wright
Twentieth Century Art and Design Fetches over $500,000
CHICAGO, ILL. – Richard Wright and his staff conducted a successful Twentieth Century Art and Design sale on Sunday, October 1 – the second in its history. The new auction house, in business since April, reported an overwhelming response to its inaugural sale and was able to gather consignments from all over Europe and the United States for this latest event.
Nearly 400 lots crossed the auction block, led by auctioneer John Tamblyn. There was a large crowd in the salesroom, as well as active phone bidding from the bank of telephones, which resulted in more than $500,000 worth of Twentieth Century objects sold. With prices realized ranging from $60 to a high of $28,000, there were many opportunities for both good buys as well as some record prices. Owner Richard Wright was very pleased with the results.
Warren McArthur’s “Tete-a-Tete,” designed in 1932, is one of the finest examples of the machine-age aesthetic in American furniture design. A definite highlight of the auction, this anodized aluminum piece fetched $28,000.
There were numerous lots designed by Jacques Adnet, who worked with Hermes in the 1950s. A steel, glass and leather mirror was actively bid between the floor and the phones and finally sold for $4,750 after a pre-auction estimate of $½,000. His leather and steel pair of armchairs designed for the luxury liner SS France sold for $8,000.
Also exceeding its estimate was his leather and steel floor lamp by Hermes that reached $2,600. Active bidding resulted in Adnet’s leather, steel and glen plaid fabric armchair reaching $3,250 after an estimate of $1/1,500. It took a high bid of $6,500 to secure his leather, steel, and oak bookcase, which was estimated at $2/3,000.
A definite auction highlight was Charles and Ray Eames LCW birch plywood and slunk skin chair made by Herman Miller, which crossed the block for $13,000. Another Eames example, an LCW aniline dyed black and natural ash plywood chair from 1948, complete with the Evans/Herman Miller label, sold for $2,300. Dating circa 1950 was an Eames FSW-6 birch plywood and canvas-folding screen, which was made by Herman Miller and reached $3,750.
Many fine George Nakashima examples were included in this auction. A Widdicomb desk and chair from 1948 in walnut, brass, and silk from the Origins collection well exceeded its estimate and reached $4,750. Also by Widdicomb was a Nakashima daybed from the same collection that sold for $4,000, and lounge chairs which reached $2,100 for the pair in their original Boris Knoll fabric. A walnut cabinet dating circa 1967 crossed over for $5,500 to a happy floor bidder.
Isamu Noguchi’s designs are among the finest examples of American postwar furniture. Selling for $18,000 was his paddle fin table #IN-20 in birch and metal made by Herman Miller in 1949. There was active bidding for Noguchi’s dining table by Knoll dating 1955 in laminated plywood, chromed wire, and enameled steel that sold for $4,500 after an estimate of $2/3,000. Noguchi’s “Neo-Lithic” from 1983 is done in galvanized steel and could be displayed either indoors or outdoors after it sold for $16,000.
George Nelson pieces included the “Thin Edge” bed by Herman Miller from 1956 in birch, metal and cane which is full sized and is the ultimate modern platform bed design. It reached $7,000. Far exceeding its estimate was Nelson’s walnut and steel bookcase from 1962, which sold for $4,700.
His rare Masonite, wood, and wire clock by Herman Miller was hammered down for $4,250, and his tall case clock in walnut, brass, silverplate and velvet by Herman Miller, dated 1958, reached $2,750. Nelson’s swag leg desk in walnut, laminate, and chromed steel by Herman Miller from 1956 far exceeded its $3,5/4,500 estimate and crossed over for $7,000 to a phone bidder. Another important Nelson design is his jewelry cabinet in teak, rosewood, laminate, and brass by Herman Miller from 1955, which found a new home for $8,000.
Roy Lichtenstein’s folded hat – a hand-folded and silk-screened hat printed in red, yellow, blue, and white – sold for $2,600. Andy Warhol’s “Old Fashioned Vegetable from Campbell’s Soup II,” dated 1969, epitomized the Pop Art movement and reached $3,750 from a floor bidder.
A lounge chair by Luther Conover, dated circa 1948 from Oakland, Calif., exceeded its estimate and was hammered down for $4,750. Reg Butler’s “Study for Girl with Vest” from 1954 in bronze sold for $6,000 to a phone bidder. Butler is one of Britain’s most famous Twentieth Century sculptors.
Cees Braakman’s FBo3 lounge chairs from the Netherlands, 1954, included the original plaid fabric and sold for $2,400. A pair of Mies Van Der Rohe Tuggenhat chairs dating circa 1965 in stainless steel and leather from Knoll went to a floor bidder for $2,600.
From the Pop Art movement was Joe Tilson’s “Geometry Puzzle I,” dating 1967 that is acrylic and wood and reached $3,250 to a phone bidder. Henry Glass’s children’s bookcase by Swingline Furniture Company in painted Masonite and birch went well over its estimate and was hammered down for $3,750 after an estimate of $½,000.
Gerrit Reitveld’s “Zig-Zag” chair in oak and brass from Holland sold for $3,750. Dating circa 1949 from the Interlocking Furniture Company was an ebonized plywood table made in six interlocking parts – held together without screws – which went to a new home for $2,000.
Husband and wife ceramists Gertrud and Otto Natzler were represented by a circa 1958 large folded form bowl which sold for $3,750. Studio B.B.P.R. desk and return, 1963, in lacquer metal, laminated plywood, and plastic, from Italy, exceeded its estimate and crossed the block for $5,000.
Hans Wegner’s ox chair and ottoman from Denmark, 1960, in recently reupholstered black leather, sold for $4,750. Selling far above its estimate was a chair in birch by Max Bill, dated 1949, which sold for $5,500 (est $1,2/1,500). Also reaching above its estimate was Max Bill’s set of four birch plywood chairs, 1950, which sold for $4,750.
Contemporary art offerings had a special emphasis on the sculpture of Harry Bertoia. Perhaps the only disappointment was that the cover lot, “Model for Lambert-St. Louis Airport Screen” – a work not previously offered at auction – failed to find a buyer. This 1955 sculpture screen was estimated at $35/45,000. Dating circa 1965 was Bertoia’s “Untitled (Willow),” in welded stainless steel wire, which crossed the block for $12,000.
Bertoia’s circa 1960 Untitled welded copper sculpture sold for $3,250, and his 1959 “Untitled (Three-Pointed Cloud Base),” in brass coated steel (est $6/8,000), reached $14,000. Another Bertoia circa 1950s welded copper piece, untitled, sold for $4,250.
Prices quoted do not include the 15 percent buyer’s premium.
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