Published: December 21, 2021
Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy Sarasota Estate Auction
SARASOTA, FLA. – Andrew Ford, auctioneer and owner of Sarasota Estate Auction, formatted his December 11-12 sale as two sessions, each with its own personality. Session one on December 11 offered a plethora of Modern and contemporary paintings, prints, sculpture from predominantly Twentieth Century artists and midcentury-style living décor from popular designers. Session Two on December 12 featured more traditional art from recognized artists, jewelry, furnishings and more. Ford said the two days totaled just north of $870,000 with a strong sell-through rate that was probably north of 90 percent. Participation was also strong with thousands of bidders lining up on the online platforms – LiveAuctioneers, Invaluable, Bidsquare and HiBid – along with an at-times standing-room-only crowd in the gallery.
Day one was led by a quartet of screenprints by David Hockney (British, b 1937), all of which doubled their estimates. Bringing $28,980 was “Slow Rise” from “Some More New Prints” (MCA Tokyo 342), a lithograph and screenprint in colors, 1993, on Arches 88 paper, numbered 28/68, pencil signed and dated lower right, 25 by 30½ inches. The starting bid was $4,000 with an estimate of $8/12,000. This piece, along with many of the Modern art pieces that were in this auction, came from an important estate from the Ritz Carlton in Sarasota. One of the most widely acclaimed of all living artists, Hockney’s popularity is based on the enormous, continuing appeal of his pictures and the popular perception of him as a colorful extrovert.
The top selling Hockney was followed by “Ink in the Room,” another lithograph/screenprint that achieved $27,720 against an estimate of $8/12,000 and a starting bid of $4,000.
“Blue Hang Cliff” with the same estimate, was bid to $25,200, and the same price was posted for “Above and Beyond.” Ford said there were three different buyers for the Hockneys, two in England and one in the United States. “We’re seeing a strong demand from the post-Modern collecting world,” he said.
A signed photograph by Ansel Adams (1902-1984) titled “Clearing Winter Storm, Half Dome, Yosemite,” went out at $20,160, leaping the chasm from its $50 starting bid and $100/200 estimate. Dry-mounted, it had an overall size of 18½ by 15 inches. Adams (1902-1984), an American landscape photographer born in San Francisco, was a lifelong lover of nature. He said his life was, “colored and modulated by the great earth gesture” of the Yosemite Sierra. The catalog notes that Adams spent substantial time there every year from 1916 until his death. His technical mastery was the stuff of legend. More than any creative photographer, before or since, he reveled in the theory and practice of the medium, even creating the famous and highly complex “zone system” of controlling and relating exposure and development. Adams’ images became the iconic symbols of wild America. Seen in a more traditional art history context, Adams was the last and defining figure in the romantic tradition of Nineteenth Century American landscape painting and photography.
Ford said he believed the gallery achieved a near record for Julie Mehretu’s (Ethiopian/American, b 1970) aquatint, “Local Calm,” which started at $400 and climbed to $17,640.
On the sale’s second day, an antique Gaungxu Chinese enameled charger made waves by racking up bid after bid from an $800-$1,000 estimate to settle at $22,050, going to a Chinese buyer and registering visible delight from the consignor, who was in the room, according to Ford. The 1875-1908 period piece bore a signature of iron red enamel and had a 17½-inch diameter.
A late addition to the sale was a Maurice Sendak (1928-2012) painting that the artist gave to his friend and caretaker of his estate. The gift was a reward for lifetime service by Sendak to the consignor, who had been the personal gardener for Sendak’s Ridgefield, Conn., property since the 1970s and still works with the foundation.
Sendak was one of the preeminent children’s book authors and illustrators of the Twentieth Century. He studied at Art Students League and firmly established his reputation as a children’s book illustrator with his drawings for Ruth Krauss’s book A Hole Is to Dig (1952). Sendak’s stories are enjoyed in 13 languages, and 3,000 of his drawings are housed in the A.S.W. Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia. In 1988, he became artistic director of the Sundance Children’s Theatre, a newly created branch of Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute.
Sendak has also taught at Yale University and the Parsons School of Design. Sendak created his own version of illustrated wildlife, including chubby, horn-headed, jolly, upright characters. His books, including the popular Where the Wild Things Are, bring strong prices, and recent sales of his work have set new records at more than $200,000 for single paintings. This original gouache, 30½ by 25 inches, and depicting a Northeastern landscape as seen from above, complete with trees, shorelines, house structures, rolling hills and fields, as well as a distinct abstract face within the composition, clocked $22,050, going to a US collector.
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. The firm’s next two-day sale will be conducted the last weekend of February. For information, 941-359-8700 or www.sarasotaestateauction.com.
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