Category Archives: LAMA Exclusive

LAMA’s unique perspective on all things modern in Los Angeles.


The LAMA Blog has moved to

All updates on auctions, stories on select pieces, and the scoop on L.A. art events will continue to be published at


LAMA’s rocks arrived one day earlier than LACMA’s rock.

While theirs only had to travel from Riverside, ours came all the way from France, and still got here a day earlier.  Oh, and ours light up.

To see the LAMA Rocks, come to the preview, which starts on April 25th.

For the past week we have been busy photographing paintings, prints, sculptures, design, lighting, and decorative objects for the upcoming May 6, 2012 Modern Art & Design Auction.

Group of five lighted rocks in the May 6, 2012 Modern Art & Design Auction

Soon we will be working rigorously on the May 6th Auction catalogue. You won’t want to miss this auction. Pre-order your catalogue here.

Panel Discussion

Peter Loughrey of LAMA and Girard O’Brien of Reform will be hosting an artist panel discussion at the Loft at Liz’s this Saturday, March 3rd at 1:30 p.m.

Artists on the panel include:

Jerry Ackerman

Max Finkelstein

Pamela Weir-Quiton

 Max Finkelstein with his sculpture Flight in the LAMA showroom (Oct. 2010)

Event Information:

Saturday, March 3rd

The Loft at Liz’s Antique Hardware
453 S. La Brea
Los Angeles, CA  90036

LAMA Fine Art Storage

Need a safe, reliable place to store your valuables?

Los Angeles Modern Auctions now offers fine art and design storage from a single piece to a personal collection.

To inquire about having your collectibles placed in LAMA’s climate controlled, secure storage facility, please email or call Shannon Loughrey at or 323-904-1950.

LAMA Sales Reach New High in 2011

Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA) reached $8.5 million in sales for 2011, nearly doubling the previous record of $4.5 million set in 2008.  This year LAMA achieved new auction records for works by Reg Butler, Ettore Sottsass, De Wain Valentine, Roland Reiss, Robert Rauschenberg, and Isamu Noguchi, as well as set a new company record for highest price reached at auction. LAMA has increasingly become the preferred auction house on the West Coast for Modern Art and Design.

In 2011 LAMA set new auction records for:

  • Reg Butler’s The Unknown Political Prisoner Maquette (Lot 92 est. $20,000 – 30,000), which soared to realize $125,000, establishing a new auction record for the artist

    • Isamu Noguchi’s Chess Table (Lot 280 est. $30,000 – 40,000), which established a new auction record for this design, realized $187,500, nearly five times its high estimate

  • Robert Rauschenberg’s Sling Shots Lit #6 (Lot 60 est. $30,000 – 50,000) realized $68,750, the highest price ever achieved for any work in this series by the artist 
  • The custom designed Ettore Sottsass Impressive Entry Table from the Estate of Max Palevsky (Lot 55 est. $10,000 – 15,000) set a new auction record for the artist realizing $75,000 
  • De Wain Valentine’s Circle (Lot 220 est. $3,000 – 5,000) set a new auction record for the artist bringing $32,500 
  • Roland Reiss’ The Dancing Lessons: The Reconciliation of Yes and No (Lot 78 est. $4,000 – 6,000) set a new auction record for the artist bringing $15,000 

John Baldessari’s 8th and D, National City, offered in the October 9, 2011 Auction of The Collection of Richard Dorso, set a new company record for highest price reached at a LAMA auction, totaling $293,750.  Attracting top buyers enabled LAMA to reach a new company record, beating the previous record set in 2007 by Judy Chicago’s Carhood, which brought $288,000.

This year LAMA increased its standard two auctions to four due to the abundance of fresh, original material available on the market.  Major estates, including that of computer billionaire Max Palevsky, local TV-producer Richard Dorso, a prominent West Coast collection, and James Byrnes, the first curator of Modern Art at LACMA, anchored the four auctions. The micro-climate LAMA has created – getting both top consignments and top prices – is evidence of a phenomenon that through specialized marketing LAMA has reached a global marketplace.

Peter Loughrey, Director of LAMA:
“Buyers and sellers have been making LAMA a growing success since I founded the company in 1992. As we enter our 20th year, I believe we will continue to prove you don’t have to send your art and design to New York to get the best price.”

Source for auction record data
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LAMA, Los Angeles’ premier Modern Art auction house, is the leading auction house dedicated to selling 20th century Modern Art and Design. Auctions are held at the LAMA showroom: 16145 Hart St. Van Nuys, CA 91406. The upcoming Modern Art & Design auction is scheduled for spring 2012. October 2012 will mark LAMA’s 20th Anniversary.

Robert Cottingham – House with Awnings

American Photorealist painter Robert Cottingham (b. 1935) employs hyper-rich color, a photographic framework, and sharp lines and shadows in his depictions of the urban landscape. He is especially inspired by the details of storefront signage and building facades, and each city in which he has resided has been a catalyst for his distinct close-ups. Although many describe him as an American Pop artist, Cottingham is a self-proclaimed Photorealist who imprints onto the canvas a personal interpretation of his photographs. Currently an internationally recognized master of his genre, he began painting in Los Angeles in 1964 when his employer, the advertising agency Young & Rubicam, transferred him to provide some New York experience to the West Coast offices. Cottingham describes this move as an advantageous change, “I was restless. I had maybe two paintings under my belt, and they were small.”

While working for the agency, he rented a small studio on Olympic Boulevard a few blocks east of Western Avenue that was once a shoe repair shop. The Southern California sunlight drenched Los Angeles’ two-story urban sprawl, an unexplored landscape that was foreign to Cottingham. He recalls, “In New York, the buildings would block my subjects. It was like I was working in a canyon. In L.A., I was always sure the sun would get to my subject matter.” Enthralled with the ubiquity of elaborate advertisements, he took snapshots of Los Angeles’s urban scenes and objects – storefronts, busses, neon signs, and theater marquees – and transformed them into paintings. He was also interested in the residential architecture of Hollywood and surrounding neighborhoods, “These houses were so fascinating. So different from what I knew.” Cottingham had three shows from 1968-70 at the Molly Barnes Gallery where he exhibited his eight Hollywood Stills, including House with Awnings (1968), a Sunset Boulevard home saturated in sunlight in front of a cloudless sky. Robert Cottingham continues to paint and exhibit his work, and in addition to numerous solo and group exhibitions and a retrospective at the Long Beach Museum of Art, his paintings are in the collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of Art, and the Hamburg Museum.

– Paul Des Marais, Contributing Writer

A conversation between Peter Loughrey (PL), Richard Dorso (RD), and Bianca Dorso (BD) regarding the Cottingham.

PL: I guess I’ll ask you about the Cottingham a little bit, too, because I want to write something special in the catalogue about (it), do you have any recollections of why you picked that one.

RD: Well, I’ll confess something. I like happy art – and you’ll notice most of the art is happy.

PL: Right.

RD: And this house is very happy. The Cottingham – there’s an interesting story about the Cottingham. When he had the show, Long Beach or—

BD: It was Long Beach.

RD: The gallery called and asked for my picture, early in putting it together. And I didn’t want to ruin—I just don’t like when they …. So, he called and said, “Would you do it?” and it was two days before the show. So, I finally consented and Bianca called him and said how much she liked the show. She says she thought my picture was the best in the show and he said it may not be the best but it’s the happiest. The other house pictures were threatening. Barbara Feldon – I took her into Molly Barnes and she got one, and it’s much more sinister. All the house pictures were sinister except this one.

PL: They were sinister because the colors were darker?

RD: Dark, yeah. Blacker. More night. Shadows. They were threatening.

PL: Yeah. Well, this one definitely is very bright and optimistic and—

RD: Happy. That’s why I bought it. 

Lot Information

Lot 44
Robert Cottingham
Oil on canvas
Canvas: 59” x 59.5”; Frame: 59.5” x 60”
Literature: Hollywood Stills: House Portraits by Robert Cottingham, Exhibition Catalogue, Long Beach Museum of Art, 1997
Provenance: Molly Barnes Gallery
Estimate $80,000-120,000

Literature: Cottingham, Robert. Telephone interview. 20 Aug. 2011.

“Robert Cottingham.” Forum Gallery., 2011. Web. 20 Aug. 2011.

De Wain Valentine

Two polyester resin works by De Wain Valentine are coming up for auction on the 9th of October, as part of the auction of The Collection of Richard Dorso, one-owner auction with no reserves.


Minimalist artist De Wain Valentine (born 1936) draws inspiration from the Southern California landscape to create translucent glass, acrylic, and polyester resin sculptures. During his childhood in Colorado, Valentine was introduced to various industrial processes including mining, car repair, and fiberglass molding. His fascination with the interplay of color and light progressed under the instruction of Richard Diebenkorn at the University of Colorado. After he completed his studies at the Yale School of Art, Valentine moved to Los Angeles to teach Plastics at UCLA. Beginning in 1965, he achieved considerable success at gallery shows around Los Angeles with his precise forms created using highly toxic industrial materials. In addition to an upcoming show at the Getty Museum, Valentine’s work is displayed at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Whitney Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.


The Pacific Standard Time exhibition at the J. Paul Getty Museum, From Start to Finish: De Wain Valentine’s Gray Column is NOW OPEN through March 11, 2012.

– Paul Des Marais, Contributing Writer

Lot Information

Lot 220
De Wain Valentine
c. 1970  
Polyester resin    
17.25″ diameter x 1.75″ width
Estimate $3,000 – 5,000
To be offered in the October 9, 2011
Auction of The Collection of Richard Dorso

Lot 221
De Wain Valentine
Irregular Shape    
c. 1970-80  
Polyester resin    
18″ x 14″ x 3.5″  
Estimate $3,000 – 5,000
To be offered in the October 9, 2011
Auction of The Collection of Richard Dorso


Richard Dorso Auction Press Round-Up

Only 9 more days until the auction of the ENTIRE collection of Richard Dorso.

Recently, there have been great articles and posts on The Collection of Richard Dorso and “Permanent Light”, David John’s interpretation of Richard Dorso’s lifelong collection.  Some of these articles have interviews with David John and his inspirations and thoughts on the installation. Definitely worth the read!

In case you missed it, here are the links:

As always, please visit You Have Been Here Sometime (YHBHS) for fascinating articles, photographs, and thoughts on the conversation between art + interiors. 

Photograph courtesy of Bethany Nauert

The House That Sam Built

Stop what you are doing and get thee to The Huntington.

The openings of Pacific Standard Time are now happening fast and furious and you may be trying to decide which events to go see.  “The House That Sam Built”, which opened last night at the Huntington in San Marino, should be at the top of the list.  Exquisitely presented by curator Harold Nelson, the show brings together works by Sam Maloof and many of his contemporary craftspeople and artists.  The title of the show not only proposes that this group of artists created a stand alone structure within the mid-century modern community, but also makes a sly reference to Maloof’s own personal residence where nearly all of these artists’ works found a harmonious setting over the last half century.

For anyone who has even casually paid attention to this period, you will recognize many greatest hits. There is Sam’s iconic rocking chair, of course; ceramics by the Natzlers, Macintosh, and Andreson; paintings by Karl Benjamin, Millard Sheets, and Milford Zornes.  But, even more interesting is the lesser known artists and craftspeople that have been included, which previously have not received the proper attention and here are given a world-class venue to prove themselves. James Strombotne’s “Recognition” from 1958 clearly embodies the best elements of color, form and emotion found in figurative works of this period.  Arthur Ames’ “Origin” from 1970 does for enamel what artists like Craig Kaufman did for plastic.  And John Svenson’s “Sea Sprite” from 1967 is a monumental carving in wood that begs the question, ‘Where can I see other works by this artist?’.

One place to learn more about all the artists in the show is the beautiful catalogue of the exhibition.  Elegantly designed by Ron Shore, this book, titled The House That Sam Built,  is a valuable resource for any mid-century collector. It is loaded with photographs by John Sullivan and has informative essays by Nelson, Jerry Adamson, Jason T. Busch, Jonathan Leo Fairbanks, and Tia Vasiliou.

The exhibition runs through the end of January, but, trust me, don’t wait till later. Go see this show now.

– Peter Loughrey, Director of LAMA

For more information on the exhibit please visit The Huntington’s website. For images of the installation click here.

Modern Pottery for All

Last week saw the passing of Barbara Willis, the influential California modernist potter who created some of the most admired ceramics of the mid-century. A resident of Malibu, she died at the age of 94.

While studying at UCLA in the late 1930s, she honed her command of the crackle-glaze under the direction of potter Laura Andreson. After graduating in 1941, Willis established a tiny studio in the back of her parents’ LA home where she produced pieces glazed in brilliant colors: “intense turquoise, citron/chartreuse, and deep Chinese red, colors that seem to have been made to order for today’s Modernist Revival sensibility.”

Willis made her flower vases and bowls for local florists, usually crackle-glazed at the top with exposed, unfinished clay towards the bottom. As she honed her bright glazes and simple forms, she expanded to a North Hollywood studio with fifteen employees. With the ability to mass-produce her forms using molds, Willis was able to offer attractive and modern pottery to the general public at reasonable prices. She created a variety of forms, including candle holders, cigarette boxes, and other household items, yet she is most famous for her utilitarian and radiant plates and bowls.

Check out the Autry Museum’s California Pottery: From Missions to Modernism webpage for more information.

– Paul Des Marais, Contributing Writer 

“Barbara Willis Pottery.” California Pottery Index, 2011. Web. 13 Sept. 2011.

“Barbara Willis: A Modernist for the Masses.” California Pottery: From Missions to Modernism. Gene Autry Museum of Western Heritage, 2004. Web. 13 Sept. 2011.