Tag Archives: John Baldessari

Record Breaking Sale – The Collection of Richard Dorso

Yesterday the October 9th auction of The Collection of Richard Dorso had records, bargains, and everything in between.

The sale totaled nearly $1.54 million, more than doubling the pre-sale estimate of $657,000, with 100% of the 417 lots sold.  LAMA set new auction records for De Wain Valentine and Roland Reiss, both of whom are currently featured in Pacific Standard Time exhibitions.  And since this was a no reserve auction, smart buyers went home happy with treasures from every price category.   Works with attractive estimates sold particularly well, encouraging buyers to join the bidding.

The top lot of the sale was the iconic John Baldessari 8th and D, National City, estimated at $80,000 – 120,000. After furious bidding it climbed to a staggering $293,750.  

But that is not all. Other works that far exceeded pre-auction estimates were the John Baldessari Sleep While You Grow Rich, which was estimated at $80,000 – 120,000, and realized $187,500; also Richard Tuttle’s Untitled from Letters (the Twenty-Six Series) estimated at $15,000 – 20,000, realized $59,375. In addition, two Bob Thompson paintings, were the sleeper hits of the show–each estimated at $4,000 – 6,000, together totaled $75,000.


  • De Wain Valentine Circle (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 (est. $4,000 – 6,000) set a new auction record for the artist, bringing $15,000


  • The Kees van Dongen Le Coquelicot, estimated at $600 – 900 sold for a whopping $13,750
  • The Adolf Gottlieb Hieroglyph, from a very small edition of 15, estimated at $600 – 900, brought $9,375
  • Jon Friel Untitled pop-art gem estimated at $500 – 700, achieved  $4,687.50
  • Gifford Myer’s text-based conceptual piece Do Not Touch Works of Art estimated at $500 – 700, fetched $4,687.50

Fresh, original works with strong provenance and low estimates brought a global audience, resulting in record-breaking attendance in the room, on the phones and on the Internet.  Buyers were drawn to this collection, even in this economy, proving freshness leads to desirability.

 Peter Loughrey, Director:

“The records set by the Dorso Collection show us the beauty of how auctions work today. Small companies now have the ability to reach top collectors in many specialty fields. This proves you don’t have to sell Modern Art in New York to obtain the top price.”

John Baldessari, Top Pacific Standard Time Artist

Jori Finkel of the Los Angeles Times wrote a recent article outlining the top 20 artists that will be featured the most in Pacific Standard Time exhibitions.

Top of the list: John Baldessari

(whose work will be shown in 11 Pacific Standard Time exhibitions)

LAMA is offering two John Baldessari phototext paintings for sale in the October 9, 2011 Auction of The Collection of Richard Dorso.  Unlike at the museums, you can actually take one of these home. 


Lot 160
John Baldessari
8th and D, National City
Photographic emulsion and acrylic on canvas
Retains Molly Barnes Gallery label verso
14” x 14”
Provenance: Molly Barnes Gallery, Los Angeles
Literature: Forthcoming catalogue raisonne, #1968.5
John Baldessari: National City, Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, 1996, pg. 105.
Exhibited: “John Baldessari: Pure Beauty”, Molly Barnes Gallery, Los Angeles, October 6 – 28, 1968
Estimate: $80,000-120,000


Lot 161
John Baldessari
Sleep While You Grow Rich
Ink on canvas
Signed and dated “Baldessari 67” recto; Molly Barnes Gallery label verso
12” x 12”
Provenance: Molly Barnes Gallery, Los Angeles
Literature: Forthcoming catalogue raisonne, #1967.5
Exhibited: “John Baldessari: Pure Beauty”, Molly Barnes Gallery, Los Angeles, October 6 – 28, 1968
Estimate: $80,000-120,000

In 1959 John Baldessari emerged from his post-graduate studies at the Otis Art Institute and Chouinard Institute a painter, though he was supremely frustrated and discouraged by his experiences in Los Angeles. While there, he lacked gallery space, was confused about what kind of artist he wanted to become, and he felt himself fading into irrelevance. He decided it was time to return to his hometown. Baldessari’s homecoming to National City, a working-class suburb between San Diego and the Mexican border, would be considered a poor decision by most. At the time, the town was known for little more than its “Mile of Cars”, a stretch of highway crowded with new and used car lots. He made his living teaching public school art courses, and with the help of his father, a real estate agent, he found a tiny studio space at the rear of a Laundromat. After searching for inspiration to paint, he abstained from traditional landscapes and overwrought contemporary variations in favor of photographs that document his hometown. He initially used his photos as “a sort of note-taking” and soon concluded, “‘Why do I have to translate this into a painting? What’s wrong with a photograph?’”

It was in 1966 that Baldessari created a new form that emerged from what art critic and historian Jan Avgikos calls “a void characterized by cultural isolation, boredom, and estrangement.” From 1966 to 1970, Baldessari created phototext paintings that blur the distinction between painting and photography, the result of his existence in National City sequestered from any major art scene. Although his images are more snapshots with distracting obstructions and newspaper-style graininess, they depict with stark realism an understanding of National City as it really is. For his phototexts, including 8th and D, National City (1966-68), Baldessari “hired a commercial sign painter who was instructed to use as straightforward a lettering style as possible.”

At the Molly Barnes Gallery on La Cienega in 1968, Baldessari, with assistance from artist David Antin, somehow convinced Barnes to host a one-week show between two already scheduled artists. She agreed, but Baldessari had to pay the cost of the U-Haul truck to carry his works from National City. Instead of cash, he gave Barnes A Painting That Is Its Own Documentation (1968). This show was his first in Los Angeles, the city he fled a decade earlier in response to dissatisfaction with his own incessant figure drawings and abstract expressionist recreations. Paintings from the show, including Wrong (1967), now housed in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, reveal an artist leading with a singular vision of art and nothing to lose. Sleep While You Grow Rich (1966-67) was also exhibited, which Richard Dorso bought on a quiet October afternoon.

– Paul DesMarais, Contributing Writer

Avgikos, Jan. “Stating the Obvious.” John Baldessari: National City. Ed. Hugh M. Davies and Andrea Hales. San Diego: Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, 1996. 18-21. Print.
Hales, Andrea. “National City Revisited.” John Baldessari: National City. Ed. Hugh M. Davies and Andrea Hales. San Diego: Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, 1996. 10-13. Print.
Plagens, Peter. “First Break: Peter Plagens on John Baldessari.” ArtForum Feb. 2002. Print.



I Like Happy Art

Save the date for the upcoming October 9, 2011
one-owner auction of The Collection of Richard Dorso. 

Photography © Grant Mudford.

Born in San Francisco in 1909, Richard Dorso bought his first piece of art when he was 21 years old.  A participant and witness of the explosion of the post World War II Los Angeles art scene, Dorso spent a lifetime collecting art, a relentless passion he pursued till his passing this April at the age of 101.  The Collection of Richard Dorso features over 400 works of art spanning the 20th century, highlights include works by John Baldessari, Robert Cottingham, Richard Tuttle, Paul Wonner, John McCracken, and Gustav Klimt.

Before his passing, Peter got a chance to speak with Richard Dorso about his love for art and his collection. When asked a question about why he bought a particular piece, Dorso answered:

“Well, I’ll confess something. I like happy art. And you’ll notice most of the art is happy.”


Auction: October 9, 2011; 12pm Noon (PST)
Pacific Standard Time Exhibition and Preview: September 19 – October 8, 2011; open daily 10am – 6pm
Auction, Exhibit, and Preview Location:
16145 Hart St. Van Nuys, CA 91406

Peter’s Auction Picks of the Day: May 21st

As our interest in Fine Art broadens, it is necessary for us to include a wider variety of images.  In our previous auctions I have included brightly colored mostly abstract or geometric works.  But there is a dark brooding side to modernism that deals with conflict or impending conflict.  Also, modern and contemporary artists have a long history of addressing the age old subject of eroticism.

The most obvious images in this auction that deal with impending death or doom are the Richard Bosman falling Mountaineer (Lot 276), Anna Katherine Skeele War Dance (Lot 298), and Larry Clark’s haunting images from his Tulsa series (Lots 146 and 147).

Lot 276 Richard Bosman, Mountaineer, 1986, Oil on canvas, Estimate $5,000 - 7,000

Lot 298 Anna Katherine Skeele, War Dance, circa 1945, Oil on canvas with artist's frame, Estimate $3,000 - 5,000

Lot 146 Larry Clark, Untitled (From Tulsa), 1971, Estimate $2,000 - 3,000

Lot 147 Larry Clark, Untitled (From Tulsa), 1971, Estimate $2,000 - 3,000

However, Warhol’s Electric Chairs series (Lot 360) and Richard Avedon’s image of Warhol’s scars from his gun-shot wounds (Lot 144) are equally suggestive of the certainty of death.  It is ironic that Warhol is able to make an image of the electric chair beautiful and bright, almost inviting.

Lot 360 Andy Warhol, Electric Chairs (suite of 10), 1971, Screenprints in colors, Estimate $150,000 - 200,000

Lot 144 Richard Avedon, Warhol, 1971, Estimate $3,000 - 5,000

One of my personal favorite pieces in this auction is John Baldessari’s “Jacob’s Ladder: Love (Yellow, Red Blue, and Black and White); War (Orange, Violet, Green and Black and White)”, Lot 143, with the front and the back images revealing the opposing human emotions of anger and affection.

Lot 143 John Baldessari, Jacob's Ladder, 2004, Estimate $6,000 - 7,000