Published: April 5, 2022
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy Clars Auction Gallery
OAKLAND, CALIF. – On Friday, March 25, Clars Auction Gallery set a new record for Loie Hollowell (American, b 1983), when “Point of Entry (Blood-Orange Moon Over Orange Sac),” a mixed media work measuring 48 by 36 inches achieved $1,050,000 from a buyer in the United States who was a new client for Clars. The price was not only the artist’s highest price realized in a sale in the United States (the current overall record for Hollowell stands at $2,126,095 for “Linked Lingams [yellow, green, blue, purple, pink],” set in June 2021 in Hong Kong) but it was the first lot in Clars’ 50-year history that a lot has surpassed the million dollar mark. It was far and away the top lot of 1,579 lots of modern and contemporary art, design, furniture, decorative and fine art, Asian art and jewelry offered March 25-27; the tally for the three days of sales was about $3 million, a total that ranks in the top three in the firms’ history and the highest sale since the company changed ownership in 2019.
Rick Unruh, chief executive officer and director of fine art at Clars, said, “Clars showed the global art world that when one has an exceptional, contemporary piece, such as our Loie Hollowell, they (the bidders) will come – and they did. We went all out with marketing, we even marketed it in Asian newspapers to get to the Hong Kong market. We had clients from all over the world interested. Many of the bidders on it were new to Clars.”
The second highest price of the sale at $150,000 was a rare drawing by Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) titled, “Etudes VII (d’apres Manet)” from 1961. Well-documented in the artist’s catalogue raisonné, the lot had multiple international bidders but in the end sold to a buyer in San Francisco. Rounding out the top three at $106,250 was the double-sided oil on canvas work titled “Fishing Town with Women on Beach/Seascape with Trees” by Maria-Mela Muter (Polish French, 1876-1967). It received serious international attention, including from Poland and Israel and sold to a buyer in Poland.
Works by such iconic artists as Roy Lichtenstein, David Hockney, Wayne Thiebaud, Salvador Dali, Sol Lewitt and Richard Diebenkorn peppered the sale and brought strong results too. Particularly noteworthy was Roy Lichtenstein’s “Shipboard Girl” offset lithograph from 1965, which made $53,125, a price that is an improvement over the $20,000 hammer price the Napa Valley, Calif., seller paid for it when they acquired it from Clars in 2013. The seller of the Litchtenstein also sold a portfolio of 39 prints – etchings, aquatints, drypoints and soft ground etchings – by British artist David Hockney (b 1937), which nearly doubled its low estimate to finish at $34,925. “Six Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm” had been acquired at Sotheby’s New York in 2011 for $8,125.
Cristina Campion, Clars’ associate director of Twentieth Century design was thrilled with the international response to works by American master woodworkers, like George Nakashima and Vladimir Kagan. A 1971 wall hanging cabinet by Nakashima that retained its original work card from the George Nakashima Studio topped off at $62,500, more than twice its high estimate and sold to an international buyer bidding on the phone. A contour rocking armchair from the Vladimir Kagan collection, circa 1999, had provenance to Dennis Miller Associates of New York City and found a new home with an online bidder for $16,900, more than three times its high estimate.
Another favorite among bidders was Danish designer Hans Wegner, who was represented in the sale with six lots. Leading the group at $17,500 was a valet chair, followed by a Papa Bear lounge chair that realized $13,700.
Clars Auction Gallery will sell Asian art, jewelry, furniture, decorative and fine art on April 24, and jewelry and timepieces on May 5.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house. For information, www.clars.com or 510-422-0940.
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