Tag Archives: Peter Loughrey

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.

RECORD BREAKERS

  • 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

Surprises

  • 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.”

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Peter’s Auction Picks of the Day: October 8th

The Look You Love for Less

Does this double dip recession have you down to your last three Aston Martins?  Has your maid been forced to fire her personal trainer?  Have you been forced to make the embarrassing switch from single-malt to blended?  At tomorrow’s auction the blue chip names are likely to do as well as always but what about the buyers who love the look yet can’t afford a mega-star signature at the bottom of the canvas?  For all those noveau-poor enthusiasts out there, here are a few suggestions for works that can be fetched for a fraction of the big names but still have all the wall power…

Can’t afford $3,000 for an Ellsworth Kelly (Lots 19-22)?  How about Lot 245, James Norman’s Number 7, with all the beautiful colors and bold primary shapes of the Kelly for a sixth of the estimate?  Or Lot 243, John Friel’s gorgeous Untitled 1966 canvas for a cheerful, sharp, and sleek graphic impact?

Have a thing for Roy Lichtenstein’s Shipboard Girl (Lot 223) but find it unwise to sail first class?  How about Lot 226, Blondie by Paul Dillon?  Dillon shares Lichtenstein’s fascination with the power of newsprint comics, their unpretentious pop impact–and both artists subvert the comics’ comforting banality to critique the culture at large.  But with Blondie, Dillon adds the power of Warholian repetition, not only with the comic but with the stern newspaper masthead–then tops it all off with the bold yellow stencil, “Blondie”, which not only personalizes the work but conversely reduces it to a product, a commodity to be crated.  Where Lichtenstein mutates and purifies the dull newsprint hues of his Sunday funnies inspirations into brilliant colors, Dillon embraces the original comic’s muted, faded grandeur.



Got an eye for Op but can’t shop till you drop?  Instead of Lot 170, Bridget Riley’s Untitled (Fragment 7), why not go with Victor Vasarely, an equally strong name.  Check out Vasarely’s Tau-Ceti, Lot 171, which will probably go for less than a quarter of the Riley.  What first appears to be a grid of identical green squares subtly morphs into a series of ever-changing diagonals.  Still too much?  How about Lot 229, KLE I & Untitled, by Kyohei Inukai–three eye grabbing Serigraphs from the height of the era.   Or Charles Hinman’s Untitled & Color Door, Lot 172, two pre-CGI assaults on our expectations for shape and perspective.

Finally, if conceptual, text-based works turn you on but the price of John Baldessari (Lots 160 and 161) turns you off, may I suggest Hot Shot by Ed Ruscha, Lot 167?  Eternally clever, Ruscha offsets the word “hot” twice for graphic impact against a background of what looks like stylized television static–the garish title phrase spoofing both its self and the medium.

Or Lot 162 by Alexis Smith, which was Peter’s pick of the day on October 4th.  What self-respecting Angelino wouldn’t want a local gal’s visual tribute to LA’s greatest poet of crime, Raymond Chandler?  And if this is too rich for your blood try Wall Batterton’s Toy Dispenser, Lot 168–playful, witty, impishly burdening a 2-D stamp with the curse of gravity.  And one of the favorites for many of those who have visited our showroom this preview is the equally witty, “Do Not Touch Work of Art”, Lot 169 by Gifford Myers.  Myers captures the coldness and distance–the opposite of playfulness and freedom–that sadly can be the gallery and museum experience.  And what if you’re not only counting your pennies but are afraid of being called a slave to brand names?  What could be less ostentatious than a work by Anonymous, Lot 5 entitled !&!&!& I & Yield–a series of five smart and colorful calligraphic blasts.

Whatever you passion, whatever your budget, these items show that Richard Dorso’s collection has something you can acquire and will treasure.


Lot 245 James Norman  Number 7    1963  Acrylic on canvas   Signed, titled and dated on stretcher; Westerly Gallery New York label verso on stretcher  Canvas: 36″ x 36″; Frame 37″ x 37″     Provenance: Westerly Gallery, New York  Estimate $500 – 700

Lot 243 John Friel  Untitled    1966  Acrylic on canvas   Signed and dated verso  33.75″ x 32.25″   Estimate $500 – 700

Lot 226 Paul Dillon  Blondie    1978  Stencil on laminated newsprint   Signed, dated, titled verso  Sheet: 20″ x 24″; Frame: 20.5″ x 24.5″  Estimate $500 – 700

Lot 167 Ed Ruscha  Hot Shot   Published by Bernard Jacobson, Ltd., London  1973  Lithograph on white wove paper  edition of 100   5.875″ x 8.25″; Frame: 10.5″ x 13″  Estimate $4,000 – 6,000

Lot 169 Gifford Myers  DO NOT TOUCH WORKS OF ART    1979  Unglazed ceramic relief on plaque   Signed and dated lower left on verso, “4” lower right verso  10.375″ x 14.375″  “Do not touch works of art”, gallery postcard for Gifford Myers exhibition attached to back   Estimate $500 – 700

Peter’s Auction Pick of the Day: October 4th



ALEXIS SMITH

Today’s pick is the Alexis Smith Chandlerisms #7 (Lot 162). It’s text and collage and also kind of appropriation art. She is appropriating a phrase from a Chandler novel, illustrating an isolated phrase. There is a whole wall full of them at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, approximately the same size and similar in composition – a small object collaged onto a board with a phrase or groups of phrases. The difference between the ones at MOCA and ours is that ours can be hanging on your wall by Monday morning.

Los Angeles collage artist Alexis Smith (born 1949) interprets the American social and cultural landscape through an integration of found objects and literary references. After graduating from the University of California, Irvine in the early 1970s, she moved to Venice, a burgeoning artist’s community. She worked for Frank Gehry, and in her free time she steadily gathered a collection of fragments for her collages from motels, garbage bins, and thrift stores. As a passionate reader, Smith would sift through volumes of Walt Whitman poetry, Jorge Luis Borges short stories, and Raymond Chandler detective novels for literary snippets she could animate with her mounting stockpile of popular culture detritus. Raymond Chandler’s tales of murder in Los Angeles were particularly appealing to Smith, “I really got into his use of metaphor. He made these memorable comparisons to things. I thought, ‘I can do something with those. I can do the visual equivalent.’” For Chandlerisms #7 (1978), Smith extracted a quick, witty string of Chandler’s text and placed it below a pair of miniature cocktail glasses, which serve as a graphic focal point for the film noire dialogue. Smith explained that a unique frame was chosen for each of the Chandlerisms based on the content of the piece. Organized by the Whitney Museum of Art, a retrospective of her work at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1992 showcased many of her Chandlerisms.

Conversation between Peter Loughrey (PL), Richard Dorso (RD), and Bianca Dorso (BD). 

PL: What inspired you to buy the Alexis Smith?

RD: Which one is the Alexis Smith?

BD: The two martini glasses.

RD: Oh, I had forgotten about that. I loved it. I was quirky in what I liked. For instance, I liked Bruce Houston, and I think there are four Bruce Houstons (in the collection). I liked the Alexis Smith for the same reason. I went from paintings to assemblages and there are about close to 10 of them I think between Alexis Smith, Bruce Houston, Hannah Stills and Roland Reiss.

PL: The more I look at your collection the more that I noticed there are so many distinct areas. For example there are a lot of the early classic modern works by the School of Paris artists like Braque and Zao Wou-Ki. I imagine that you collected those works in the 50s and there are a lot of conceptual works from the 60s like text-based works such as Baldessari’s paintings and Alexis Smith’s text based piece, and other works with text on them. And then there are these Pop and Op and graphic works like Robert Indiana and Lichtenstein and the Warhol shopping bag and I wondered did you move on, or did you continually buy things that you were interested in?

RD: I am thinking. I just bought what I liked and there was no plan. I would see something, like the Alexis Smith, which I had forgotten about, and I loved it and bought it.

Lot Information

Lot 162 
Alexis Smith
Chandlerisms #7 
c. 1978 
Collage in Plexiglas frame 
Quote from Trouble is My Business, “Sweet, isn’t he?” she said. “I’d like eight of him for my cocktail set.” 
Frame: 9.5” x 12.25” 
Estimate $1,500-2,000 

Literature: Smith, Alexis. Telephone interview. 28 Aug. 2011.

Watters, Sam. “Alexis Smith, collage artist uprooted.” Latimes.com. Los Angeles Times, 16 May 2009. Web. 28 Aug. 2011.

Peter’s Auction Picks, Monday October 3rd: Ellsworth Kelly

Today is the first day of Peter’s Auction picks for The Collection of Richard Dorso. For the rest of the week Peter Loughrey, Director of LAMA, will be giving his insight on select lots from the collection of over 400 works of art.  This sale is particularly special because Peter had a chance to speak with Richard Dorso about some of the pieces before he passed away this April at the age of 101.

Today my pick is the group of four Ellsworth Kelly lithographs. I like them because they use simple, primary colors combined with simple shapes. Whether the shapes are free form as in Green (Lot 21) or whether he uses more geometrical shapes like  Orange and Blue over Yellow (Lot 19), the composition is bold and carefully arranged.  Camellia II  (Lot 22), which at first glance appears radically different for Kelly, is from a series of flowers that while compositionally do not relate to any of the other works, are to me just as bold and graphic.

In the series of conversations that I had with Mr. Dorso, he told me the following story about an Ellsworth Kelly that he sold to filmmaker Billy Wilder:

Peter Loughrey (PL), Richard Dorso (RD), and Bianca Dorso (BD):

PL: I wanted to ask you about the people you inspired. I know that you went around with Billy Wilder and with Norman Lear, but I’d love to know particular stories or works that maybe you introduced them to, especially Billy Wilder, who most of my clients know.

RD: Well, Billy was a big collector before I met him. He lived in Europe and it was right before the Invasion and he was a picture actor and director and he says he also was a dancer for hire. I don’t know how much romance is in that. The rest is nonsense. He was one of the funniest men in the world. I sold him an Ellsworth Kelly. He’d never seen an Ellsworth Kelly before.

PL: Do you remember what year that was?

RD: About 1960. And he bought anything that he liked. And he had a wonderful collection, which sold at the auction company.

PL: Christie’s.

BD: Or Sotheby’s?

RD: Whichever it was. It sold for around $35 million. So it was considerable—he didn’t have big paintings but he had a big Balthus and he had Renoirs and he had a wonderful eye. And when he lived in Paris, he spent every quarter he had on art. So anyways, he took this amorphous looking Kelly and it was sitting in his office and somebody came in who didn’t know anything about art and said, ‘What’s that?’ and Billy said, ‘It’s an Ellsworth Kelly. I just bought it.’ And the man said, ‘What does it mean?’

PL, BD and RD laugh, especially RD.

RD: And Billy said, ‘It’s the War of 1812.’ And then the man looked at him and said, ‘I can see what you mean.’

All laugh again.

Reg Butler Maquette for The Unknown Political Prisoner

The original maquette of The Unknown Political Prisoner (1952-53) by Reg Butler will be offered for sale in the LAMA March 6, 2011 Modern Art & Design Auction.

Here is a special preview of Peter Loughrey’s essay, which accompanies this lot in the March 6th auction catalogue:

Late last year I went to a house in the hills above Malibu to look at furniture to possibly include in this auction.  As the front door opened, I was exposed to a dramatic view of the Malibu coastline framed in floor-to-ceiling glass walls.  It was the sort of architectural moment that real estate agents like to call “explosive”.  However, I could hardly notice the view because of a small wire sculpture on a pedestal in the foreground.

Many years ago, I was assigned a paper to write on the subject of propaganda in modern art. I chose this very sculpture to illustrate a point that in the middle part of the 20th century, artists were using abstraction counter-intuitively to humanize their subjects.

Reg Butler’s “Maquette for the Unknown Political Prisoner” was chosen as the grand-prize winning entrant in a competition of the same name in 1952 that included entries from 3,500 artists.  Other notable entrants were Calder, Hepworth, Chadwick, and Roszak, to name just a few of the internationally known sculptors.  The artists were asked to “pay tribute to those individuals who, in many countries and in diverse political situations, had dared to offer their liberty and their lives for the cause of human freedom.”

Butler’s earlier studies for this work show a somewhat more obvious message of pain and struggle by impaling a human figure on the main vertical spire.  But it was his final maquette, which captured the essence of the message through abstraction that impressed judges Roland Penrose, Alfred H. Barr, and Sir Herbert Read.

The work resembles a large radar tower and at over 300 feet high, it would certainly have cut an imposing outline on the border of West and East Berlin, its desired location for construction.  The figures below the structures (known as “watchers”) were to have been created much larger than life-size and captured not only the message of humanity looking out for examples of human rights violations, but also, with their heads looking upward, subconsciously reinforced growing fears and concerns surrounding the “red scare” and even UFO’s.

This little maquette received extraordinary attention at the time, even appearing in Life magazine.  Unfortunately the symbolism and implied scale were ignored by many art critics of the day; some of who felt the works on exhibit were “too abstract (and therefore ‘inhuman’)”.  When the exhibition of the winning entries were exhibited at the Tate Collection in London, a Hungarian refugee, echoing some of these opinions in the press, smashed the maquette in protest declaring the reduction of human suffering to “scrap metal” was “an absolute lack of humanism”.

Butler quickly built a replica (now in the permanent collection at MoMA) to be on view until the end of the exhibition and carefully restored the original, which was eventually presented to the competition’s organizing director Anthony Kloman.

A full-scale model was never realized, but a larger replica was created a few years later and was subsequently acquired along with studies and drawings by the Tate Gallery in London.  Kloman sold the original maquette at Sotheby’s London salesroom in 1963, where it was acquired by an American private collector.  It has been enjoying an “explosive” view of the Malibu coastline ever since.

Lot Information

Lot 92
Reg Butler
The Unknown Political Prisoner maquette
1952-53
Wire and metal on a cast plaster base
Studio
17.5”h x 6.75” x 7.5”

Exhibited:
“International Sculpture Competition: The Unknown Political Prisoner”, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, March 14-15, 1953, held at the Tate Gallery.

Provenance:
Reg Butler;
Joint property of the ICA, London and Academy of Fine Art, Berlin;
Anthony Kloman, Newport, Rhode Island;
Private Collection, Malibu, California (purchased at Sotheby’s London, December 1963 from the A J T Kloman private collection)

Illustrated:
Art Aujourd’hui, No 5, July 1953, pg 6-11;
Masters of Modern Art, Alfred H Barr Jr, New York, 1954, pg 159
New Images of Man, Peter Selz, New York, 1959, pg 42
Motif 6, Spring 1961, pg 31
Sotheby & Co (Catalogue of Modern Drawings Paintings and Sculpture), December 4, 1963, pg 46
Ivory Hammer 2: The Year at Sotheby’s, Davis, et al, 1964, pg 77

Estimate $20,000-30,000

Peter Loughrey discusses the Max Palevsky Interior

Check out this podcast on Antique Auction Forum that captures an interview with Peter Loughrey on his knowledge and thoughts of the Ettore Sottsass designs from the Max Palevsky Malibu Estate.

We are very excited to be offering 100 lots of material from the Estate of Max Palevsky, all to be sold with no reserve!

Peter Loughrey in the YHBHS Card Catalog

You Have Been Here Sometime (YHBHS) is doing something a little bit different this month… The YHBHS Card Catalog features Writers, Artists, Interior and Furniture Designers, Bloggers, Gallery and Store Owner/Directors, and various design enthusiasts a very important question:

WHAT BOOK(s) HAS INSPIRED YOU THE MOST? (& will inspire us!)

Peter Loughrey was recently featured and commented on the book he is most looking forward to adding to his collection. To see what Peter picked and what other design enthusiasts are reading please go to You Have Been Here Sometime.