Published: December 2, 2003
– Bonhams & Butterfields auctioned Modern, Contemporary and Latin American art on Sunday, November 9, in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
The 138-lot sale saw bidding from across the globe, resulting in more than $900,000 paid.
A large bank of telephone bidders was dialing internationally as bidders crowded both the Los Angeles and San Francisco salesrooms on Sunday. Clients successfully bid from Paris, Berlin, Florence, Madrid, Barcelona, London, Tokyo, Mexico, Jakarta and India, as well as from New York, throughout California, Washington, D.C., New Orleans and Dallas. Specialist-in-charge was Frank Hettig; this was his first sale.
The top selling lot was a gouache on paper signed and dated by Fernand Leger. His “Tete de femme et Fleurs,” 1949, sold above estimate early in the auction, bringing $49,938 ($20/30,000). Three works in varied media by Nathan Oliveira found buyers: “Seated Man on a Branch,” 1959, mixed media on paper, exceeded its estimate to sell for $11,750; an untitled watercolor and ink figural study dated 1960 brought $2,644 and an oil on canvas exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in the mid-1980s sold for $47,000. This last piece, a large format Oliveira work titled “Swiss Site 1,” was signed and dated by the artist in 1979.
A pair of Richard Diebenkorn ink on paper sketches sold, an untitled 1965 work that had been signed and inscribed in 1974 “…for Bebe/ Flora with love, Dick,” sold for $7,638 while his untitled (Seated Woman), 1963, tripled its estimate to sell for $35,250. Salvador Dali’s signed and dated watercolor and ink on paper untitled (Mythology), 1963, brought $29,375 and an oil on board, “Surreal Composition,” 1940, by Mariano Andreu sold for $16,450 ($4/6,000). James (Darrell Northrup) Weeks’s oil on canvas “Two Children with a Ball,” 1963, doubled its estimate to bring $26,438 while a bold and colorful Mattia Moreni oil on canvas “Sterpi,” 1955, sold for $28,200, just above estimate.
A Diego Rivera watercolor and pencil on paper landscape sold within estimate, $6,463, as did a 1964 Francisco Zuñiga watercolor depicting two women, $5,581. “Hombre remando,” circa 1957, a pyroxylin on Masonite by David Alfaro Siqueiros, brought $39,950 while “Tribal Girl in Dress,” 1935, an oil on board by Fernando Armosolo, sold for an above-estimate $8,225.
A pair of Robert Arneson works saw competitive bidding. The California artist passed away just over a decade ago and his 1987 charcoal, acrylic and graphite on paper, “Night Wolf,” depicting a ghostlike wolf atop an overturned car, its headlights shining, sold for $38,188 ($15/20,000). Selling for more than three times its estimate was a painted and glazed ceramic “Mask with Clay Mask,” signed, titled and dated 1975, which sold for $32,313. The Arneson ceramic came to auction from the San Francisco estate of Richard and Genevieve Woods. Also from this estate, and of great interest to bidders, were several stoneware and bronze glazed porcelain footed bowls and vases by Dame Lucie Rie. Highlighting these lots were: “Slender-necked vase with flaring rim” of green, pink and beige stoneware, 11-inches high, impressed with the LR seal on the base, sold above estimate for $15,275, and a nearly ten-inch-diameter white porcelain bowl with bronze glaze and radial graffito “Conical bowl,” circa 1975, which brought $14,100 ($6/8,000).
A bronze nude with brown patina by the Spanish artist Pablo Gargallo, signed and dated 1925, sold for $32,313 while a painted terra-cotta 15-inch high sculpture by the African American artist Sargent Johnson doubled its estimate to bring $30,550. Johnson’s “Mother and Child,” 1947, had been exhibited at SF MoMA as recently as 1998. A buyer paid $35,250 for “Disk with Strings (Moon),” 1969, by Dame Barbara Hepworth, the aluminum disk with strings, numbered 4/9, came to auction from a Bel Air, Calif., private collection.
All prices cited include the buyer’s premium.
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