Published: March 27, 2007
For the past 19 years promoter Sanford Smith and his cadre of “paper art” dealers have watched Works On Paper evolve from a show that raised but a few eyebrows during its infancy, to a major event within the international art community. It is a highly anticipated annual event that curators and collectors from across the country make it a point to attend, and they do so enthusiastically, with eyes wide open, in search of stellar works that literally span the centuries.
Works on Paper encompasses the entire gamut, Old Masters to Contemporary, yet all the while it remains true to its name; everything is executed on paper of one form or another. For many years canvas has been a mainstream medium in the art world; however, it is frowned upon at this event. In its place is a huge variety of stellar art on pulp, both printed and original, that spans the market from A to Z, or, from Old Masters such as Jost Amman to Abstract Modernists like William and Marguerite Zorach.
Stunning art works appear in a variety of forms, including watercolors by Georgia O’Keeffe and Jamie Wyeth; composition paper sculptures by Elie Nadelman; Sixteenth Century prints of Mercury and Psyche; pencil drawings and linoleum cut prints by Pablo Picasso, studies by Hopper, and fascinating silhouettes by William Hunt Diederich.
The show was attended by a large and lively crowd during a preview on opening night, Thursday, March 1, a benefit for the Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York. The lead sponsor for the event was Lehman Brothers. While the crowd was certainly in attendance to support the charity, there was serious buying taking place all around the floor as curators from major private institutions and serious collectors were out in force.
A large crowd was also waiting patiently for the show to open to the public on March 2, and the gate remained healthy straight through until the Monday evening closing.
Hirschl & Adler Fine Art greeted patrons with its centralized booth that faced the entrance to the show. Gallery specialist Joseph Goddu was quick to point out a selection of Josef Albers linoleum cut prints that were featured on one of the star-studded walls that made up the booth. Childe Hassam’s pastel “The Drive near Paris,” $345,000, was attractively placed, as was his watercolor “The Maidstone Club, Easthampton, 1933,” $140,000. Perhaps in anticipation of the New-York Historical Society’s exhibition “Audubon’s Aviary: Natural Selection,” the gallery offered a superb hand colored aquatint etching and engraving after Audubon by Robert Havell, Jr, of an Iceland falcon, $175,000.
On the front wall of Hirschl & Adler’s booth was “License,” a 41¼-by-29½-inch color lithograph executed in 1962 by Robert Rauschenberg. Number four from an edition of 16, it was signed and numbered, “price upon request.”
Typical of her classic work, Georgia O’Keeffe’s watercolor “No. 36 Special (Nicotine Flower)” was a highlight of the stand occupied by New York City’s Gerald Peters Gallery. The 15½-by-11¼-inch work was sharply executed in purple and brown hues, and it hung nearby a colorful Jane Peterson gouache of “Gloucester Harbor,” priced at $375,000 and $95,000, respectively. Also offered was “Mexican Scene,” a watercolor, gouache and pencil on paper by Milton Avery that was offered at $175,000, and a Max Weber gouache on paper titled “Three Male Figures,” $45,000.
Getting ready to celebrate its 150th year in business this summer, James Graham Gallery, New York City, put forth a colorful and lively stand with a selection of New York scenes by Miklos Suba featured. Recently the subject of a popular exhibition at the Madison Avenue Gallery, Suba’s works prominently occupied the front wall of the booth. A Hungarian artist who settled in Brooklyn in 1924, Suba was termed a “Precisionist” painter who found beauty among the often stark industrial buildings in the Brooklyn neighborhoods that surrounded him. “Brooklyn Bridge Machine Shop” and “Court Street, Brooklyn” were but two of more than 20 examples of Suba’s watercolors that were attracting attention.
Will Barnet is one of the artists that is deeply appreciated by the Works On Paper crowd and he was represented not only in numerous booths throughout the show, but was also there in person. A regular attendee at the show, Barnet, was seen enjoying himself amid the stands at the fair, and also enjoying the attention that he was attracting from fans seeking to have their Barnet catalogs inscribed.
His works proved popular in the booth of Babcock Galleries, where several pieces sold as the show opened for preview. “Study for Gramercy Park” was marked with a red dot within minutes of the show opening, as was “Study for Midnight.” One of the few pieces left for the Friday morning crowd to inspect was “Study for Maine,” $36,000. Barnet is the subject of an informative and comprehensive catalog that was published in conjunction with a gallery exhibition at Babcock’s Fifth Avenue Gallery through April 27.
Other items displayed by Babcock included a two works by Marsden Hartley with “Compote, Fruit and Vase,” circa 1927, priced at $115,000, and an ink on paper titled “Dogtown,” 1934, marked $35,000. Two large watercolor and graphite works by Don Nice, including “Western Series Beercan (Budweiser),” 1970, $15,000, and “Carven A,” 1973, $20,000, were also shown.
Farmington, Maine, dealer Tom Veilleux offered a pleasing watercolor by Jamie Wyeth that was titled “Cushing Saw,” circa 1961. Other standouts from the booth included a small Max Weber gouache titled “Three Women,” a Frank Benson watercolor from 1926 titled “By The Water’s Edge,” a Marguerite Zorach linoleum print titled “New England Family” and a Carl Sprinchorn gouache titled “Four Lumberjacks.”
Attracting quite a bit of attention from the “mod” crowd was Andy Warhol’s “The Souper Dress” priced at $23,000 in the booth of William Weston Gallery, London. The paper dress, printed in bright red and gold on a white ground, featured the Campbell Soup logo, seal and the word “soup” splashed across the white label. Other stellar works from the display included the classic “Nadia au Regard Attentif” by Henri Matisse, that was priced at $60,000 and had a sold red dot attached to the label during preview, and Pablo Picasso’s linocut “Portrait de Jacqueline Accoude, Au Collar. Femme au Collier” that was marked $140,000.
New York City dealer Bernard Goldberg Fine Art maintains a regular spot up near the front of the show and the dealers always present a good assortment of unusual art. Black paper silhouettes by William Hunt Diederich that were capturing a great deal of attention from the crowds included “Ice Skaters” and “Fighting Goats.” Both of the visually appealing pieces had hold tags placed on them within minutes of opening.
Also attracting attention were two Oscar Bluemner watercolors, including “Washington Heights” circa 1913, a colorful depiction of hilltop urban homes, and an abstract colored pencil on paper titled “Willet Street,” circa 1917.
Next door in the booth of Valerie Carberry Gallery, New York City, an interesting mix of art was offered ranging from a 1930 Laszlo Moholy-Nagy watercolor, pen and ink on card titled “Composition” to a 1970 ink, graphite and gouache on tracing paper by Alice Neal titled “Study for a Portrait of Andy Warhol.” Another striking work from the booth was a tempera and ink with collage on paper by Seymour Fogel that was titled “Rehabilitation †Sketch for Mural, World’s Fair, New York, 1939.”
Jerald Melberg Gallery, Charlotte, N.C., offered a diverse selection, yet it was the unique Robert Motherwell lithograph, screen print and linoleum print that seemed to be attracting the most interest from viewers. “It is unique,” stated a gallery representative, “It is a 13-color print and because of Motherwell’s death, it was never editioned.” The rare screen print was signed by Motherwell and ironically inscribed, “OK to print.”
“Dempsey and Firpo,” the classic 1924 lithograph by George Bellows, signed by both the artist and his printer, Bolton Brown, was offered from the stand of Thomas French Fine Art, Fairlawn, Ohio. Priced at $40,000, it was one of two boxing scenes offered by the dealer with “Preliminaries to The Big Bout,” $35,000, a 1919 lithograph from an edition of 67 and signed “JBB” by the artist’s daughter Jean Bellows Booth. Also offered was a Charles Burchfield watercolor “Gray Sky,” circa 1920, that was priced at $45,000, and a Edward Hopper conte crayon on paper, “Nude Study,” circa 1924, $40,000.
ACA Galleries, New York City, offered a selection of Hopper works with a watercolor titled “Day After the Funeral,” 1925 attracting attention from the crowd, as was a charcoal on beige paper study for “Two Comedians.”
Picasso is always a mainstay of the show and this year there was an exceptional pencil drawing offered by London dealer Simon Capstick. “Tete de Femme” dated September 25, 1965, $225,000, listed a provenance of Maurice and Jacqueline Bresnu and Guggenheim Asher Associates, and also an extensive exhibition history including stops in Milan, Seoul and Vienna.
Gracing the cover of the Works On Paper show catalog was Picasso’s “Grande tete de Femme,” a striking linoleum cut print that was featured in the stand of Manhattan dealer Gary Bruder and priced at $140,000. On the more colorful side of the Picasso offerings was “Francois,” a toned lithograph printed in 1946 and from an edition of 50, $120,000.
Other items of note from Bruder’s booth was Roy Lichtenstein’s “Reverie,” $155,000, Andy Warhol’s “John Wayne” screen print, $69,000, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s “Divan Japonais,” $125,000.
“A L’heure de l’observatoire, Les Amoureax †1967” occupied the front wall of Galerie Marion Meyer, Paris. The Parisian dealer termed the colorful work to be “Man Ray’s most important lithograph” and stated the price was $85,000.
Classic Old Master prints were displayed by Hill-Stone Gallery, New York City, with a complete set of three engravings by Jan Mueller, Amsterdam 1571‱628, titled “Mercury and Psyche,” after Adrian de Vries, circa 1597, commanding attention. Also offered were Richard Earlom’s mezzotints “A Flower Piece” and “A Fruit Piece,” 1778 and 1781, respectively, after Jan Van Huysum. Earlom’s “printmaking activities constitute a paradigm of English mezzotint engraving of the period” stated the dealer in the description of the works, and “Van Huysum’s still life painting constituted the last great examples of this genre in Dutch painting.”
A series of charcoal on paper drawings executed by Egbert Cadmus, father of Paul Cadmus, depicting nude males and females were featured in the booth of The Cooley Gallery, Old Lyme, Conn. The drawings were exceptionally well done with gallery representative Joseph Newman concurring that the “apple did not far fall from the tree” in regard to his son’s later works. Other offerings from the gallery included a William Trost Richards watercolor titled “Haying Time” that was signed and dated “88,” and also a Henry Farrer watercolor titled “Marshland,” circa 1892.
German Expressionism was once again a popular genre at the fair with Chicago dealers Worthington Gallery offering a good selection of material. The India ink and watercolor drawing “Portrait eines Mannes,” 1918, by Max Pechstein was featured, as was “Bergman (The Miner),” an India Ink and brush from 1924 that was created after artist George Grosz returned from Paris to Berlin. Other artists offered from the display included Paul Klee, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Kathe Kollwitz and Otto Mueller
A rare complete suite of works by Expressionist Egon Schiele, published in 1922, were featured in the booth of Jack Rutberg, Los Angeles. The dealer stated that the offering of Schiele works in the stand represented “virtually the entire major graphic output by Egon Schiele.” The portfolio was being offered intact, as published, and consisted of six original drypoint etchings and two original lithographs, of which only 80 impressions were pulled before the stones were broken.
Offered separately by Rutberg was Schiele’s lithograph “Male Nude (Self Portrait I)”, created in 1912. “There had been relatively little interest in printmaking in Austria compared with the dynamic interest in Germany. Schiele, who until this time was uninterested in doing engravings, was prompted to create this work at the invitation of SEMA, a Munich-based artist association,” related the dealer.
Attracting further interest to Works On Paper was a symposium that hosted three sessions on Saturday afternoon. Presented by New York University, SCPS, topics included “Works On Paper: Coming of Age,” “Institutional and Individual Collecting Strategies” and “Artist’s Intensive: Who’s Changing the Equation.”
The next event for Sanford Smith and Associates will be the New York Antiquarian Book Fair scheduled for April 19′2. For further information, 212-777-5218 or www.sanfordsmith.com .
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