Published: May 18, 2021
Review by Greg Smith, Photos Courtesy Hudson Valley Auctioneers
BEACON, N.Y. – Fine artist Louise Abrams (American, b 1941) began studying in the early 1960s at the Art Students League in New York City. She continued her studies at the nearby New School and then abroad in Mexico at the Instituto Allende. In the mid-1970s, the artist’s style favored the abstract, with alien-like figures and dot patterns reminiscent of aboriginal works. She exhibited at the Cloud Gallery and had her first New York solo exhibition at Soho’s Pleiades Gallery in 1975, where she showed small sculptures in wood, soapstone and alabaster as well as ink drawings.
Thereafter, the biographical record on Abrams, who is still alive, seems to trail off. What is known is that she suffered from a mental disorder and was institutionalized. Some refer to Abrams as a visionary artist, others an outsider, though she was quite clearly trained and the drive for her creations is not known – whether it be visions of extraterrestrials or abstract forms – the evidence does not exist for classification purposes.
What is left behind, and what Hudson Valley Auctioneers has been selling since November, 2020, is presumably her entire body of work that came from a storage unit, consigned from the artist’s family. The firm has moved over 500 works from the artist over the past six months and will offer another group of 200 lots, probably their last offering, in the firm’s fall sale.
Said auctioneer Theo de Haas, “The only listings on the artist have come from our sales. I’m sure soon they’ll pop up on AskArt and on the secondary market. There have been a number of professionals involved in purchasing them, including buyers in Washington, California and Santa Fe. Then there are the people who buy only one or two lots and get ten paintings.”
The auctioneer said he was able to split her work up into three distinct phases: the earliest featuring figures with alien-like features, the middle period with organic abstract figures of trees and flora, and a third, later period that transitions into abstract fields with vivid colors.
The firm offered 197 lots in its May 3 sale, led by a singular oil on canvas board, 20 by 24 inches, in a vivid aborigine style that sold for $500. It was works in this style that seemed to do best, selling anywhere from $250 to $406.
A painted wood figure in various colors, 22 inches high, would take $344. A lot of two abstract carved stone sculptures sold for $225.
Selling for $200 was a lot of two notebooks filled with ink and pencil drawings.
De Haas said when they started, the group lots of paintings, sometimes six in a lot, sold anywhere from $80 to $100. Now they are getting $140 to $150 on average.
When asked what attracts bidders to Abrams’ style, de Haas said, “It’s a little bit of everything, they like the look of it. They’re intrigued with how this woman thinks.”
Hudson Valley Auctioneers will offer the last batch of forgotten works from this newly rediscovered artist in its fall sale. For information, www.hudsonvalleyauctioneers.com or 845-831-6800.
January 24, 2023
January 24, 2023
January 24, 2023
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm