Published: May 24, 2022
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy Shapiro Auctions
MAMARONECK, N.Y. — Shapiro Auctions’ semiannual Important Fine Art Auction took place on May 14 and featured 408 works from the United States, Europe, Latin America and Asia. Trending with bidders and largely meeting or exceeding expectations were Twentieth Century pieces, including one of the top lots in the sale. “Bridge at More-sur-Loing” by Francis Picabia (French, 1879-1953) sold for $91,000, bridging its $60/80,000 estimate.
“It was great because it came from the great-grandson of the original owner,” Gene Shapiro said. He noted that the original owner had saved a letter from Picabia, which accompanied the painting as well. The bridge was a subject Picabia — and many other artists of the time — liked to paint, and it received multiple bidders from Europe, including the buyer who was bidding online.
Two colorful floral still life paintings by Vietnamese-French painter Le Pho (1907-2001) were offered consecutively; “Bouquets de Printemps” crossed the block first and made $50,000, while “Les Lys et les Chrysanthèmes,” which was offered next and had provenance to Wally Findlay Galleries and will be included in the upcoming artist’s catalogue raisonné, did better at $62,500 and sold to a buyer in Asia.
The only work in the sale by Le Pho’s contemporary, Vu Cao Dam (Vietnamese-French, 1908-2000) sold within estimate for $37,500. Painted in 1959 in oil on board, “Maternite” had provenance to the Wally Findlay Galleries, two private collections in Buffalo, N.Y., and a September 2021 sale at Cottone Auctions, where it had hammered at $18,000.
Shapiro pointed to the results for Oleg Tselkov (Russian, 1934-2021) as an example of a non-conformist artist and émigré who left Russia for Paris in 1977 after his works were considered ideologically unacceptable to the Russian authorities. His “Collection,” a vivid red composition depicting three masks nailed to a wall with a dragonfly was purchased by a buyer in the United States of Russian heritage, for $37,500.
Another work that sold to a buyer in the United States who shared the regional heritage of the artist was “Women Rolling Dough” by Minas Avetisian (Armenian, 1928-1975), which rose to $28,125, nearly twice its high estimate. Done in 1972 in oil on canvas, the 32-by-35½-inch painting related to other works by the artist, including one illustrated in Shahen Khachaturian’s Minas Avetisian and one at the Museum of Modern Art in Yerevan, Armenia.
Bidders lit up Claude Venard’s “The Green Lamp,” which came from a Westchester County, N.Y., estate that had been exhibited in 1962 and finished at $20,000; Shapiro noted it struck a chord with buyers of French modernism, a genre he said he has been selling a lot of.
Attracting global interest from the Middle East and South America as well as the United States was “Chardons” by Bibi Zogbe (Lebanese-Argentinian, 1890-1975), whose works Shapiro said they have “been doing very well with.” Estimated at $5/7,000, it topped all expectations and finished at $8,125.
Modestly priced works by blue chip artists continues to find favor with bidders around the world. Five rare Picasso Madoura Plein Feu white unglazed earthenware face plates, all from limited edition runs of 100. The pieces, which were offered consecutively, realized prices from $5,000 to $5,313.
A few days before Shapiro’s auction, Andy Warhol’s “Shot Sage Blue Marilyn” sold at Christie’s for $195 million and set not only a record for the artist but also a record for a Twentieth Century work. When Shapiro offered Warhol’s 1985 lithograph “Absolut Vodka,” it topped off at $18,750, more than six times its high estimate. “It’s a natural assumption that the market will get hotter as prices go higher, particularly prints, which are more affordable,” Shapiro said. “Warhol is a blue chip name and very desirable.”
Shapiro will offer works on paper, autographs and ephemera in a summer sale, with another Fine Art sale in the fall; dates for both to be announced.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house. For information, www.shapiroauctions.com or 212-717-7500.
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