Published: July 5, 2017
Review by Greg Smith, Catalog Photos Courtesy Clarke Auction
LARCHMONT, N.Y. – Fine art led the day at Clarke Auction Gallery’s June 18 sale, as a worthy collection of sculptures, paintings and prints from the Nineteenth through the Twenty-First Centuries met at the block with inspired and confident bidding from the market. The sale included a collection of Louis Icart’s works from a Manhattan estate and a collection of fine art from a New York City art dealer that Clarke has been working with for the past few sales.
“Our overall average was up this month and it was one of the best sales we’ve had this year,” said Nelia Moore, auctioneer and fine art specialist at Clarke. “The consistency of the lots was there.”
Busting head first through its $15,000 high estimate was Arturo Di Modica’s “Charging Bull” sculpture from a year 2000 editioned run of ten. While maintaining the same posture and motion of the original, the polished steel work measured 25¼ inches tall and came from the estate of a Manhattan music producer and actor.
Di Modica made headlines in April of this year with his adversarial stance on the permanent placement of “Fearless Girl” facing off against his “Charging Bull” sculpture outside the New York Stock Exchange. While both works were guerilla placed, Di Modica’s sculpture received a permanent home in a different, nearby site following its well-received popularity in 1987. “Fearless Girl” seems to be riding that same train of thought, with immense popularity and support from Manhattanites and the international women’s community at large earning it an extended stay. Di Modica argues that the placement of “Fearless Girl” alters the message of his sculpture. A New York Times article wrote, “[Di Modica’s] lawyers said that ‘Fearless Girl’ had subverted the bull’s meaning, which Di Modica defined as ‘freedom in the world, peace, strength, power and love.'” Because of “Fearless Girl,” [Di Modica’s lawyer] said, “‘Charging Bull’ no longer carries a positive, optimistic message,” adding that Di Modica’s work “has been transformed into a negative force and a threat.”
Nonetheless, “Charging Bull” still flexed its muscles and proved its worth when it sold as the top lot of the sale for $25,000.
Soaring above the $1,500 high estimate was a grouping of three works from cover artist John Falter. Beginning in 1943, Falter produced more than 120 covers for The Saturday Evening Post during his 25-year tenure. The three illustrated works focused on male subjects, featuring men around a desk in the workplace, two men toasting a drink in a study and finally a man getting into his waiting car in front of a city building as his bellman salutes him off. Even with condition issues, the pieces sold at an impressive $21,250.
A Ralph Cahoon painting, complete with its humor and whim, made interest among bidders, as the piece brought $20,000. Measuring 19¼ by 24¼ inches high, the piece depicted the scene of a group of five mermaids finding a sleeping Navy sailor laid up on the beach under a palm tree, his sextant and telescope still in his hand. The mermaids are seen playing in the water with his belongings, while one splashes him and another pulls off his boot.
Of her favorite pieces in the sale, Moore listed this as among them. “It was really great,” said Moore. “His whimsical mermaids are so fun.”
Clarke has held sales since March of this year with fine art consignments from a New York City art dealer’s collection with numerous pieces turning into five-figure results. From that collection came a marble sculpture signed A. Rodin, featuring a sculpted, brawny man with both arms extending over and around his head. The 20½-inch-high sculpture brought nearly a thousand dollars per inch, selling for $20,000. Moore expects to offer works from that collection in every sale for the next six months.
From a Park Avenue, Manhattan estate came a collection of nine works from Louis Icart that included etchings, aquatints and a watercolor. Moore said, “A lot of what the consignor collected was Art Deco and Art Nouveau. She had some exceptionally rare and large Icarts; it was a fantastic grouping.”
At the head of the collection came a lot comprising two color etchings featuring the artist’s signature black shaded backgrounds behind lightly embellished female subjects. “Martini” and “Au bar (Gay Trio)” depicted a single woman in each, both fabulously dressed in an evening gown, sitting at an otherwise empty bar with only the company of two dogs who sit beside her on the stools. The lot brought $8,750. Right behind them at $7,500 was “Mardi Gras,” another etching and aquatint featuring a woman posing atop a carousel horse with bold reds, yellows and blues swirling about her to give a whirling sense of motion to the picture.
Enamel over silver pieces found strong interest from bidders that wanted to take home a smaller sized lot. At the head was an early Twentieth Century Russian enamel over silver-gilt bowl with colorful handles in the form of tropical birds. The piece featured the mark for Kokoshnik and went out the door at $10,000. From the same maker was a small kovsh that had many of the same floral details as the bowl that sold the lot before, bringing $3,125. A ten-piece Tiffany circus set found heated bidding as it brought $10,000, just over the high estimate. The set included two elephants, a tiger on a stand, a seal balancing a ball on its nose, jugglers, acrobats and horse riders.
Waltzing into the sale from one of the public appraisal days was a 14K gold Russian menorah.
“We had people from overseas and dealers from the city that came in to take a look at it,” said Whitney Bria, the jewelry and sterling silver appraiser at Clarke. “I tested each individual piece and it was gold throughout, it was significant.”
The 5¼-inch-high piece sold to an American buyer for $6,000. In the same category was a Megillah from Amsterdam, cataloged as likely from the Nineteenth Century, which brought $2,500.
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium. For more information, www.clarkeny.com or 914-833-8336.
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