, "Trois Figurettes," by
Jean Dubuffet, epoxy polyurethane in three parts, the largest 9 3/4
inches high, 1972
Dubuffet sculpture group from the Peis is Lot 662, "Trois
Figurettes." The largest if 9 3/4 inches high and the group
was created in 1972. The lot has an estimate of $100,000 to
$150,000. It sold for $699,000.
Lot 659, "Le signe du doigt," by Jean
Dubuffet, oil on canvas, 39 1/2 by 31 3/4 inches, 1954
659 is another work by Dubuffet, an oil on canvas entitled "Le Signe du
doigt." It measures 39 1/2 by 31 3/4 inches and was painted in
1954. It has an estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,000,000. It sold for $1,395,000.
Lot 604, "Pac," by Sam Gilliam, acrylic on
canvas, 106 by 132 by 2 1/2 inches, 1970
Lot 604 is a large abstract acrylic on
canvas by Sam Gilliam (b. 1933) entitled "Pac." Iemeasures 106 by
132 by 2 /12 inches and was painted in 1970.
The catalogue provides the following
"Recognized as a revolutionary figure of
Twentieth Century Post-War art, Sam Gilliam has helped define the
radical and influential Washington Color School movement. Pac, painted in 1970,
serves as an exquisite example of how he pushed the very genre of Color
Field painting to an unbridled extreme. Created at the turn of the
decade, two years before Gilliam would become the first American artist
to represent the United States at the Venice Biennale, Pac is a spectacular example
of Gilliam’s signature ‘beveled-edge’ paintings. These revolutionary
works, which the artist began making in 1967, were composed by pouring
and splashing acrylic paint and pigment directly onto unprimed canvas,
which was then folded and crumpled before being stretched over a
distinctive chamfered frame. Spanning almost nine feet wide, and
marbled with a glorious array of greens, blues, purples, pinks and
reds, Pac exemplifies
the exuberant color and monumental scale of the works Gilliam created
between 1967 and 1973, widely considered the greatest years of his
practice. The ‘beveled-edge’ paintings are closely related to the
series of ‘drape paintings’ Gilliam created in the same period, which
released the canvas from the stretcher frame entirely to interact with
their spatial context in radical new ways. Pushing the canvas out from
the wall into assertive, three-dimensional presence, the ‘beveled-edge’
works similarly emphasize their own objecthood. Gilliam blurred the
lines between painting and sculpture even as his Minimalist
contemporaries such as Donald Judd were seeking to reinforce that same
boundary. Moving beyond the ideas of the Washington Color School – a
movement with which artists such as Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland
were also associated – he reconceived painting as a performative,
theatrical act, and took his medium into thrilling new territory.
"The expansive composition is
comprised of vertical bands, each with varying concentrations of
pigment, which result in a rich display of overlapping translucent
chroma. The ‘all-over’ chromatics of Pac seem to echo the
bravura brushwork of Willem de Kooning, as well as the staining
technique of Helen Frankenthaler. The almost neon force of Gilliam’s
hues, and the resplendent variety of their form, texture and depth –
‘the more far out the better’, as Gilliam has stated – gives his work a
unique energy, evoking what he calls ‘the drama of music and the drama
of colors coming together’ (T. Loos, ‘At 84, Sam Gilliam Fires Up His
Competitive Spirit’, The New
York Times, June 12 2018). There is a dialogue between control
and chaos in his pouring and folding technique that lends the work an
expressive vigor unmatched by even the ‘drips’ of Jackson Pollock. This
rich and variegated surface is the result of the artist repeatedly
folding the canvas while the paint is still wet, allowing the colors
and geometries to dissolve into each other. Gilliam would begin the
process by soaking the lightest colors of the composition, like the
tans and pinks in the present work, into the raw, unprimed canvas
before applying the darker greens, reds and blues. He would then fold
the canvas repeatedly back and forth on itself before leaving it to dry
overnight. As they were unfolded, the evocative abstract forms were
revealed for the first time, appearing like mysterious Rorschach-like
forms embedded directly into the canvas.
Coming of age during the social and
political instability of the 1960s, Gilliam was interested in
disrupting the traditional distinctions between art, architecture and
sculpture, in addition to investigating the properties of physically
combining his chosen medium and support. After time in the army, years
of teaching, and meeting the Washington, D.C. Color Field artists,
Gilliam realized that while his training was essential, it was not
entirely representative of his lived experience. 'Ideas I was dealing
with were mostly someone else’s. …What was most personal to me were the
things I saw in my own environment—such as clotheslines filled with
clothes with so much weight that they had to be propped up…' (Sam
Gilliam quoted in D. Miller, 'Hanging Loose: An Interview with Sam
Gilliam,' January 1973). Thus, he began to work with different types of
non-traditional canvas, such as the beveled example of the present
work, or his draped canvas—unstretched, unsupported works folding in on
themselves after being saturated in luminous hues and hung from gallery
walls. Such a convention drove the liberating ideas of Color Field to
their natural, if unseen, conclusion: if the image could be
obliterated, so too could its structure.
"Together with his Abstract
Expressionist counterparts, Gilliam’s innovations with paint
application and his radical transformation of the canvas support
continuously expanded the possibilities for the future of abstract
painting. Gilliam expanded and elaborated upon existing Color Field
processes and aesthetics while turning on its heading the Greenbergian
notions of the 'integrity of the picture plane,' in addition to
disrupting the boundaries between the visual world of painting and the
tangible world outside it. Particularly during an era when African
American artists were expected by many to create figurative work
explicitly addressing racial subject matter, Gilliam insisted on
pursuing the development of a new formal language that celebrated the
cultivation and expression of the individual voice and the power of
nonobjective art to transcend cultural and political boundaries."
The lot has an estimate of $1,200,000 to
$1,800,000. It sold for
Lot 603, "(Bach's) Sacred Theater," by
Helen Frankenthalter, acrylic on canvas, 120 by 94 inches, 1973
603 is a large acrylic on canvas by Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011)
entitled "(Bach's) Sacred Theater." It measures 120 by 94 inches
and was painted in 1973.
The catalogue provides the following commentary:
"A canvas of
impressive scale and distinction, Helen Frankenthaler’s (Bach’s)
Sacred Theater displays the luminous color, lyricism, beauty and
elegance that are the signature qualities of this important proponent
of abstraction. Expansive fields of paint occupy the entire pictorial
space, their liquid edges flowing across and through each other
creating porous boundaries of intermingled pink, light green and orange
cloud-shaped bursts. Thinly applied washes of acrylic paint flow across
the support surface, the color fields exhibiting rough edges and
irregular shapes defined by the liquid flow of Frankenthaler’s paint.
"An ode to Mark Rothko’s
early Multiforms paintings, which bear witness to the steady
germination of Rothko’s mature Abstract Expressionist style, here,
Frankenthaler’s colors abandon their attachment to the natural world in
favor of soaked layers of pure and vivid color. The contours of the
color fields define the painting’s composition; form is constructed by
color rather than by the act of drawing. The pigments both overlap and
align along their boundary lines, without hard edges and precise
margins. “The feeling-tone her paintings have projected has been the
serene and beautiful, achieved by the insightful control over the
elements of form: floating areas of color; occasional fountains,
spurts, jets of color thrown against bare canvas; hard-edge panels or
curtains of bright flat non-naturalistic color” (E. Munro, Originals: American Women Artists,
New York, 2000, p. 208).
shades-within-shades, myriad lighter and darker pinks, jades and
orange-yellow within each color category. Planes of color build the
architecture of work, the pigment applied with varying degrees of
density, from light washes, and even the occasional splash of pigment,
to deeper, more heavily built up areas. Frankenthaler’s paint technique
produced waves of color, her paint not resting on top of the canvas but
rather soaking into the very weave of the material, mingling with and
becoming part of it.
"Although painted in acrylic, (Bach’s) Sacred Theater expresses
the aqueous quality so characteristic of the watercolor medium, an
effect Frankenthaler deliberately sought. 'She gained what
watercolorists had always had—freedom to make her gesture live on the
canvas with stunning directness' (E. Munro, Originals: American
Women Artists, New York, 2000, p. 218). Translucence, luminosity and
opacity are qualities typically associated with watercolor, but are all
on brilliant display here. Setting these off, several harder-edged
lines—perhaps applied with a brush rather than poured or washed across
the surface—create eye-popping fissures that provide a counterpoint to
the otherwise soft, and fluid contours of the color planes.
"Emerging out of Abstract
Expressionism, Frankenthaler became one of the most significant
painters of the second half of the 20th century, defining a new style
characterized by a de-emphasis on brushstroke and gesture in favor of
areas of unbroken surface made up of large flat areas of solid color.
She opened up new possibilities for abstract painting, while using her
unique style to also make reference to figuration and landscape. A
restless experimenter and innovator, '…[over] more than half a century,
Frankenthaler remained a fearless explorer in the studio, investigating
a remarkable range of media. She adopted acrylic paint, on canvas and
paper, early on, reveling in its intensity even when thinned' (K.
Wilkin, "Helen Frankenthaler
(1928–2011),” American Art, Vol. 26, No. 3, 2012, p.
103). Her work stands as an essential bridge between Abstract
Expressionism and Minimalism, offering both a new way to define and use
color and new forms of nonrepresentational expression.
Frankenthaler’s work asks the viewer
to focus their attention towards the very nature of paint on canvas.
The surface of the canvas – and play of colors across it – are
Frankenthaler’s true subject. 'The feeling-tone her paintings have
projected has been the serene and beautiful achieved by the insightful
control over the elements of form: floating areas of color; occasional
fondatins, spurts, jets of color thrown against bare canvas; hard
edged-panels or curtains of bright flat non-naturalistic color' (E.
Munro, Originals: American Women Artists, New York, 2000, p.
The lot has an estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,000,000. It sold for $2.535,000.
Lot 697, "Chair with a Mind of its Own,"
by David Hockney, oil on cnnvas, 24 inches square, 1988
697 is a good oil on canvas by David Hockney (b. 1937) that is entitled
"Chair with a Mind of its Own." It measures 24 inches square and
was painted in 1988.
The catalogue provides the following commentary:
"Throughout his extraordinary career,
David Hockney has demonstrated a deep admiration for aesthetic
traditions of the past, while simultaneously pushing the boundaries of
modern art through his own unique and creative vision. Painted in 1988,
the same year as the artist’s first, critically acclaimed U.S.
retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Chair with a Mind of Its Own is
the perfect union between the artist’s continuous homage to the past
and his uncanny eye towards space and perspective. Simultaneously
embracing tradition and continuously innovating, Hockney remains
celebrated for imbuing his works with his unique use of color, space
athlete portraits by Andy Warhol from the collection of Richard Weisman
in lobby in Christie's
with a Mind of Its Own wonderfully demonstrates Hockney’s
admiration for the masters of the art historical canon, ranging from
Piero della Francesca to Vincent van Gogh, whilst retaining his own
direct sensibility for form, color and space for which he is acclaimed.
The importance of referring to art history, and Hockney’s deep
knowledge of the necessity of looking back, in order to have the
ability to move forward and innovate, is clarified by his constant
referral to the Old Masters, in both subject matter, and their approach
to depicting space. Hockney stated, 'What I wanted to do, what I was
struggling to do, was to make a very clear space, a space you felt
clear in. That is what deeply attracts me to Piero, why he interests me
much more than Caravaggio: this clarity in space that seems so real'
(D. Hockney, quoted in exhibition catalogue, David Hockney. A
Retrospective, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1988, p. 83)."
The lot has an estimate of $600,000
to $800,000. It sold for
Lot 648, "Chris Evert," by
Andy Warhol, acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas in 16 parts, each 10
inches square, 1977
Lot 648 is a group
of 16 acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas by Andy Warhol
(1928-1987). Each is 10 inches square and they were painted in
The catalogue provides the following
a 1977 diary entry, Andy Warhol recalled a studio visit by Richard
Weisman: 'He was in a nervous mood, and when he saw that I was doing a
new style of painting, he got upset, he didn't like that I did the Chrissie Evert in lots of little
pictures instead of big ones' (A. Warhol quoted in N. Printz and S.
King-Nero, eds., The Andy Warhol
Catalogue Raisonne: Paintings 1976-1978, vol. 5A, New York,
2018, p. 405). But when Weisman saw a group of the 10-inch paintings,
assembled in a sixteen-part grid that collectively measured 40 by 40
inches, his concerns dissipated. The effect of the repetition,
presented in Warhol’s standard portrait size, captured the essence of
the seriality of Pop Art.
Lot 614, "Terrine Vague," by Joan
Mitchell, oil on canvas, 45 1/2 by 34 3/4 inches, 1965
"Warhol ultimately produced two of these sets of sixteen paintings, one
of which includes the present lot. Each set was initially assembled
into a complete work—photographs from Warhol’s studio feature Evert, as
well as Michael and Barbara Heizer, posing in front of one of these
sets as illustrative proof—and while both sets were later disassembled,
'they can be reconstructed as Warhol originally assembled them' (Ibid,
p. 405). The present lot, presented as the complete set as Warhol
originally intended it to be, is a rare and desirable opportunity."
It has an estimate of $300,000 to $500,000. It sold for $423,000.
Lot 614 is a strong oil on canvas b Joan
Mitchell (1925-1992). Entitled "Terrain Vague," it measures 45 by
34 3/4 inches and was painted in 1965.
It is the catalogue's cover
"Residing in the same private collection
for the last 50 years, Joan Mitchell’s Terrain Vague is a
jewel-like painting that shows the extraordinary skill and virtuosity
of one the most influential figures of Abstract Expressionism. Painted
in 1965 at the height of her artistic powers, Mitchell’s energetic use
of line and color can be seen across the entire surface of this canvas.
Muscular sweeps of her paint-laden brush happily co-exist alongside
delicate, almost calligraphic, trails of pigment, and together with her
inclusion of electric blues and greens along with the subtlest hints of
off-white pinks, and purples, the full scale of her chromatic range can
be seen here. Following her darker canvases from earlier in the decade,
Mitchell’s 1965 canvases exploded with chromatic vitality, a quality
that resonated with scholars and critics alike. Writing of this period,
her biographer captured the excitement and fervor of these particular
canvases, '…her paint never stops metamorphosing from landscape to
pigment to landscape again,' she explains. 'Large yet less athletic,
less expansive, than what came before, the work at times feels elegiac'
(P. Albers, Joan Mitchell Lady
Painter, New York, 2011, p. 303-304).
"Evoking the landscape of her
beloved France, Terrain Vague captures
the deep emotional connection that Joan Mitchell had with her adopted
home. This affiliation can be seen in the breadth of her painterly
virtuosity; from the delicate washes of atmospheric color that occupy
the outer edges of the canvas, to the highly-concentrated and energetic
brushwork that dominates the active center, the achievement of
Mitchell’s highly skillful brushwork is much in evidence. The artist’s
compositional skill can be seen in her highly successful navigation of
placing delicate trails of paint next to bold swathes of heavily
impastoed pigment, without either getting swamped by its neighbor. Her
highly adept use of color as a compositional force is also highly in
evidence, as atmospheric pools of greens and browns happily coexist
alongside vibrant, almost electric, rivers of blues, pinks and green.
In a lesser artist’s hands, this complex painting style could risk
dissolving into chaos, but in Terrain Vague, Mitchell masterfully
reins in any risk of excess to produce a work of quiet beauty.
"In contrast to her darker hued
canvases of 1964, Terrain Vague employs a variety of lighter
and more variegated pigments and brushwork to open up the surface of
the canvas for a more effervescent display—a quality that would become
characteristic of her paintings from this period. “Joan’s paintings of
the mid-sixties,” writes her biographer Patricia Albers, “oppose
scruffy atmospheric whiteish areas to hovering of thalo greens, dusty
silver greens, cerulean blues, and red violets. Emphatically tactile,
they evoke dusk-strangled terrains where light sensuously clings to a
green, liquifies a blue, untarnishes a silver. The whole weight of some
paintings hangs to one side. Edges are complicated. Here and there
heavy bright whites sidle up to greens or blues as if to infringe upon
them, yet, for once in Joan’s work, the relationship between figure and
ground feels unambivalent” (P. Albers, Joan Mitchell Lady
Painter, New York, 2011, p. 303).
"1965 was a banner year for Mitchell
in that a major exhibition of her most recent paintings was organized
by the Stable Gallery in New York, and to accompany the show, the poet
John Ashbery published a perceptive essay on her work in the April
edition of ArtNews. In it, he discouraged viewers from demanding
'semi-recognizable forms' from her paintings (P. Albers, ibid., p.
304). Instead, he proffered that they offered 'an unhurried meditation
on bits of landscape and air…' in which memory, 'remains the dominating
force of the painting' (J. Ashbery, “An Expressionist in
Paris,” ARTNews, April 1965, via
[accessed 9/9/2019]. These new paintings proved popular with collectors
and critics alike. At the opening of the Stable Gallery show, landscape
painter John Button was heard to exclaim that he was 'covered with
goose-flesh—so thrilled and moved that I couldn’t participate in the
usual ‘socializing’… those large, scribbled, green-black places are
noble and tragic and cool. When an artist uses color that way… it is
almost too much' (J. Button, quoted by P. Albers, ibid.).
"Although she came from a wealthy
Chicago industrial family, Mitchell gravitated toward the artist’s
lifestyle, forming a quick coterie of friends, writers and artists from
the moment she arrived in New York with her husband, Barney Rosset, at
the end of 1949. She met Willem de Kooning shortly thereafter, having
viewed Attic, 1949 (now
in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art) when it was
exhibited in one of the Whitney’s Annuals. In seeking him out,
Mitchell ended up at Franz Kline’s apartment instead, where she saw
many of his black and white paintings strewn about the floor. She
considered them 'the most beautiful thing' she’s ever seen (J.
Mitchell, quoted in op. cit., p. 146). Her early work
captures some of the raw energy of the action painters, whom she
counted as friends, and who had dominated the American avant-garde. She
had been included in the now-famous Ninth Street Show and could be
found along with Jackson Pollock and others at The Club as well as the
Cedar Tavern. But, by the mid-1950s, she had moved to France where she
joined the circle around Pierre Soulages, Georges Mathieu, and
Jean-Paul Riopelle. Here, while retained the exuberance of her Abstract
Expressionist roots, her paintings began to open up, and—reflecting the
famed light of her new French home—began to express a chromatically
rich new seam of inventiveness.
Vague has been in the same private collection for the past
50 years. It was acquired in 1969 by the businesswomen, collector and
patron of the arts in Southern California, Jacqueline Littlefield.
Originally from San Francisco, Ms. Littlefield developed a reputable as
a formidable entrepreneur as the owner of San Diego’s Spreckels
Theater, the 1912 historic performance space that was once considered
to be the finest theater west of the Mississippi (San Diego Union-Tribune, January
9, 2019). Her father—originally a distribution manager for Hollywood
studios—acquired a lease on the theater in 1931. He made numerous
attempts to buy the building outright, something which he never
completed, yet in 1962 his daughter, achieved what her father could
not. Despite the rapidly changing nature of the entertainment industry,
and attempts by various city fathers to ‘redevelop’ downtown San Diego,
Jacqueline Littlefield rebuffed many offers to buy the building,
insisting it was 'my family’s project, and it’s not for sale.' A former
arts critic of the San Diego Union-Tribune once recalled
that, 'when the downtown establishment was all men, they tried to pat
her on the head and make her go away, and she wouldn’t' (J. Wilkins,
'Jacqueline Littlefield, longtime owner of historic Spreckels Theater,
dies at 96,' San Diego Unioin-Tribune, January 9, 2019, via
www.sandiegouniontribune.com [accessed 9/9/2019]). The theater become
the centerpiece of Littlefield’s artistic patronage, which included
such ventures as the San Diego Theater League, Arts Tix, the San Diego
International Fringe Festival, and Mainly Mozart amongst many others.
Indeed, such was a mark of Jacqueline Littlefield’s generosity, for the
last decade, Terrain Vague had
been on long term loan to the San Diego Museum of Art.
"Now regarded as one of the most
celebrated Abstract Expressionist painters, Joan Mitchell’s Terrain Vague is an exemplary
canvas that embodies the exuberance of the age. Energetic and
expressive brushwork, combined with a rich color palette, results in a
canvas that embodies the essential tenets of the first truly American
art movement. As such, it marks an important juncture in the artist’s
career, marking the moment when she finally emerges from the shadows of
her male counterparts and begins to instill her own, unique form of
artistic expression, and presenting us with a tantalizing glimpse of
the breadth of her range and of what was still to come."
lot has an estimate of $2,800,000 to $3,500,000. It sold for $4,455,000.