Peter’s Picks of the Day: December 7th

Provenance

Provenance is one of those great subjects in the art and antique world that will always mysteriously add value to objects and works of art. Provenance can add value because it belonged to a celebrity, like Liz Taylor’s jewelry, which will forever be known as belonging to her. Those examples will always be more sought after than other similar examples that belonged to someone less famous.

Many times provenance is important simply because you have the complete lineage of the history of ownership of an object. In many cases, this is very important when you are talking about objects that may possibly be a fake or a forgery. Provenance becomes very important in proving that this actually has existed all through its life, which is the root of the word ‘provenance’. This auction features two pieces with exceptionally rare and special provenance. How often do you see works in 20th century design where listed on the provenance is the actual designer who designed the piece himself?

Lot 217 is a Philip Johnson floor lamp that was designed by the architect for his famous glass house in New Canaan, Connecticut who famously found that there was poor lighting design for a house that didn’t have any exterior walls, so he created with Kelly this unique standing lamp with a raised column that would produce a very bright beam of light that was reflected back down to the floor and would spread out to light the entire room. Lot 217 is the actual lamp that Philip Johnson designed and created for his house. In his letter he explains that this is the example from his house.

Lot 233 is a 1963 Studebaker Avanti R2, the most powerful production car of its day happens to be the only other fiberglass bodied production car besides the Corvette to be made in America. The car was famously designed by Raymond Loewy over a 2 week span in Palm Springs in the early 1960’s and the example we have in the auction was ordered from the factory and delivered to Raymond himself. Original documentation was found with Raymond Loewy’s name on it. There are also photographs of him standing next to the car with unique items delivered on this example that were delivered to no other versions of this model. In addition, there are small plaques he made for the side of the car and the dashboard which explains that this car was specially delivered to him in California in 1962.

Both the Philip Johnson floor lamp and Raymond Loewy’s Avanti are exceptionally rare examples of provenance where the actual designer is the first owner of the work. They will forever be seen as the most desirable example of the form in the future and as such becomes an important opportunity to acquire these works which may never be duplicated.

Lot Information:

Lot 217
Philip Johnson
Floor lamp
Edison Price, Inc.
designed 1953
Bronze, painted steel, and aluminum with original power transformer of bakelite and steel.
and Richard Kelly
40″ x 25″ diameter with shade
Accompanied by copy of a letter of provenance from Philip Johnson
Literature: Design 1935-1965: What Modern Was, Martin Eidelberg, Abrams, 1991, pg 204
Provenance: Philip Johnson, New York; Private Collection, California
Estimate $25,000 – 35,000

Lot 233
Raymond Loewy
Avanti
Studebaker
1963
Model 63R2 (Super Charged)
Provenance:
Raymond Loewy, Palm Springs (c. 1962 – ?);
John Myer, Venice, California ( ? – 1986);
Joe Molina, San Fernando, California (1986 – 1987);
McCormick’s Exotic Car Auction, Palm Springs (1987);
Dennis Boses, Los Angeles (1987 – 1989);
Gene Watson, Washington D.C. (1989- 1998);
Private Collection, Los Angeles (1998 – present).
Estimate $60,000 – 80,000 

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