Tag Archives: Richard Dorso

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.”

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

LAST DAY to see Mr. Dorso’s Collection in One Room

Photography by Grant Mudford

Today is the LAST DAY to preview the entire Collection of Richard Dorso, and the LAST DAY to see David John’s installation!

Come to the LAMA Showroom to see 418 lots of paintings, prints, sculpture, lighting, and furniture from Mr. Dorso’s collection.  Today is the last day to see all these pieces in one room – it really is a sight to see!

The auction is TOMORROW, Sunday, October 9, 2011.
The sale starts at 12pm Noon.

All telephone and absentee bids are due by 5:00pm TODAY. 

Click here for a bid form. 

LAMA Showroom: 16145 Hart St. Van Nuys, CA 91406

For the full online catalogue click here. 

Peter’s Auction Picks of the Day: October 7th

Five by Tancredi

European or Abstract, Expressionism was all the rage in the 1950s when Mr. Dorso bought these outstanding examples of the form by Tancredi Parmeggiani (Lots 33-37).  Only a few true believers might have predicted this genre would endure to become perhaps the most iconic style of the atomic age.

Peter loves Tancredi’s art because, like Pollock, it is uncompromisingly pure, raw expression.  His works neither represent nor evoke nor symbolize a setting sun, a sad grandma, or a rainy day—nor it does it represent a sad grandma in a rainstorm against a setting sun.  In these examples Tancredi manifests his emotions only through gesture, color, shape, and the physical properties of the paint itself.

Being pattern-seeking creatures, who can blame us for occasionally “seeing” recognizable forms in Tancredi’s work?  For example, Lot 33 may stir within the mind’s eye impressions of the atom—or a supernova—or the Milky Way.  This is Tancredi’s unique fantasia on Pollock’s famous drip technique.  The warm and ominous “rainbow” background makes it Tancredi’s own.

Likewise, Lot 34 tempts us to imagine some large object hovering above an enormous mesa, even casting a shadow.

And Lots 35, 36, and 37 inevitably call to mind the cross-section of a cell—or the planet earth… or fertilized egg.  As with formal meditation, the more one clears the mind, the more one leaves room for other thoughts to flood into the void.  This is both the pleasure and the danger of surrendering to art that transcends symbols, transcends “meaning”.

Lot 33 Tancredi Parmeggiani (called Tancredi)  Untitled    c. 1955  Mixed media on board    Board: 13.75″ x 19.75″; Frame 24″ x 29.75″  Estimate $8,000 – 12,000

Lot 34 Tancredi Parmeggiani (called Tancredi)  Untitled    c. 1955  Mixed media on paper   Signed lower right  Sheet 14″ x 19.5″; Frame 19.75″ x 25″  Estimate $8,000 – 12,000

Lot 35  Tancredi Parmeggiani (called Tancredi)  Untitled    c. 1955  Mixed media on paper   Signed lower right  Sheet: 13″ x 17.5″; Frame 14″ x 18.5″  Estimate $4,000 – 6,000

Lot 36 Tancredi Parmeggiani (called Tancredi)  Untitled    c. 1955  Mixed media on paper   Signed lower right  Sheet: 13″ x 17.5″; Frame 14″ x 18.5″   Estimate $4,000 – 6,000

Lot 37 Tancredi Parmeggiani (called Tancredi)  Untitled    c. 1955  Mixed media on paper   Signed lower right  Sheet: 13″ x 17.5″; Frame 14″ x 18.5″  Estimate $4,000 – 6,000

Peter’s Auction Picks of the Day: October 6th

Turn on, Tune in

Today we have a little fun with art you can plug-in, whether it lights up, does a little dance, or something in between.

With the flip of a switch, the stained glass window of Lot 80, Bruce Houston’s Untitled (Diorama of Worshippers) lights up from within.  The cheap, prefab school boys stand reverently but not before some ancient sacred relic.  No, their reverence is for a much newer holy fetish: a stained glass replica of a Mondrian painting.  They worship at the church of the new.  And the headless black dress model whom the boys surround?   Well, we might guess that’s the closest these feckless lads will be getting to a lady for a long, long time.

Lot 219, Julio Le Parc’s Forme en Contorsion sur Trames Rouges, already looks like it’s moving before you plug it in.  But when the aluminum ribbon starts to move, causing the background stripes to undulate and fold into themselves in its metal reflection, that’s when this already vibrant work goes into pop bliss overdrive.

Chuck Prentiss’ classic Kinetic Box, Lot 234, takes a handful of Christmas-style bulbs, and with only smoke and mirrors (okay, no smoke–just rather smokey mirrors) turns them into a hazy infinity of colorful light.

Finally, Lot 235, Reflection II by L. Dworkin, with its twin arcs of wires, fuses, and metal bars, has an industrial-age soaring quality, like wings of a future long past.  Tiny industrial lights, despite the 1973 pre-computer technology, are programmed to flash progressively from bottom to top and back again for your own personal light show.

Lot 80 Bruce Houston  Untitled (Diorama)    c. 1980-95  Mixed media   Signed bottom  11.675″ x 11.375″ x 5″   Estimate $500 – 700

Lot 219 Julio Le Parc  Forme en Contorsion sur Trames Rouges   Editions Denise Rene, Paris  1968  Boxed kinetic multiple with motorized aluminum motif  # 57 of 250  Editions Denise Rene label verso  39.5″ x 12″ x 6″  Estimate $4,000 – 6,000

Lot 234 Chuck Prentiss  Kinetic Box    circa 1969  Stainless steel with lights  Estimate $500 – 700

Lot 235 L Dworkin  Reflection II    1973  Metal with bulbs  AP  Signed, titled and dated verso; Note on verso “Repair parts and instructions inside”  Box 16″ x 16″ x 9.5″  Estimate $500 – 700

Peter’s Auction Picks of the Day: October 5th


Today’s pick is the Richard Tuttle Untitled from Letters (Lot 218). This work is from the artist’s landmark series of alphabet letters. Each of the letters in the series was abstracted and many of the forms did not resemble actual letters, but this one appears to resemble a “b”. Richard didn’t know what letter it resembled, he just thought it looked like a heart, which is why he bought it. The lot comes with a postcard invitation addressed to Richard Dorso to view the show at the Betty Parsons Gallery. The piece has a reasonable estimate, there is no reserve, it is in excellent condition, it has complete provenance, and this is the first time it has been on the market since new – what more could you want?

The following is a conversation between Peter Loughrey (PL), Richard Dorso (RD), and Bianca Dorso (BD), which took place earlier this year at Mr. Dorso’s apartment:

PL: Can you tell me where the Richard Tuttle came from?

RD: The Parsons Gallery. In New York.

BD: Betty Parsons.

PL: Betty Parsons. And was that the show with all of the different letters?

RD: All of them.

PL: So, you could just pick one or you could buy all of them?

RD: I don’t think anyone would buy all of them. But you could, if you wanted to. But most of us were buying individual pieces.

PL: What attracted you to this one?

RD: It was a heart. And I liked hearts.

PL: I really like the case that it’s in. And the light on top.

RD: I did that.

PL: I think it shows it off really beautifully.

RD: Yeah. What do you think that’s worth today?

PL: I’d put an estimate of 15,000 to 20,000. But I think it would go for more.

BD: Wow.

RD: I love the piece.

PL: It’s pretty great. I think it could be one of the top ten pieces (in the sale) and I’d like to do research and write a special entry for that piece, so it’s nice to know that you bought it from that gallery show.

RD: Oh yes. Betty Parsons was one of the hot dealers in New York with new people and she was very enthusiastic.

PL: Can you recall the show itself, like anything about the show opening or who you went with?

RD: What I used to do was duck out at noon and run through the gallery. And I got to the Parsons Gallery and I had never seen that kind of work before so it stopped me cold, so I immediately bought the heart. I thought of buying a second one because whenever I liked anything, I always bought a second picture. But for some reason, I was running out of time so I bought that.

PL: Do you remember how much it was at the time?

RD: You sure you want to hear?

PL: I’d love to know.

RD: 50 dollars.

PL: Wow, that’s great. Do you remember anyone else who bought them at the time? Did you have friends who also bought them?

RD: No.

PL: Because that show was a very popular show. All those pieces sold out and they show up occasionally on the marketplace. It’s kind of a legendary show for him.

RD: Oh really?

PL: Oh yeah.

RD: Well, it was a spectacular show because it was a pretty good size gallery, I think it was on 57th, and he had pieces—just packed on the wall.

PL: How was this piece hung? Was it hung on the wall or was it on—

RD: On the wall.

PL: On the wall. And did they just have it resting on pins?

RD: Yeah.

PL: I like it better in a box.

RD: Yeah, so do I. Makes it more important.

Lot Information

Lot 218
Richard Tuttle
Untitled from Letters (The Twenty-Six Series)
Soldered metal
Sold with postcard from Betty Parsons Gallery
Object: 8.25” x 10.5” x 0.5” Plexibox: 9.5” x 12.75” x 5.25”
Estimate $15,000-20,000

Bob Thompson: Symbolic Expressions

Two paintings from 1964 by Bob Thompson are going up on the auction block on October 9, 2011 as part of The Collection of Richard Dorso.

During his brief yet prolific career, Bob Thompson (1937-1966) became one of the first African-American painters to be embraced by the art market. The sudden death of Thompson in 1966 introduced a void in the critical appreciation of African-American artists that didn’t end until the emergence of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Thompson was a devoted student of the classical masters and sought to reinvigorate their themes for a contemporary audience through his use of bold colors and narrative warmth. In 1959, after completing his studies in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, Thompson moved to New York’s Lower East Side where he immersed himself in the burgeoning jazz and arts scene. His work gained immediate attention at the Delancey Street Museum and two years later he was granted a Whitney Foundation fellowship to paint in London and Paris where he was finally able to study the old masters firsthand. After traveling and living with his wife in Ibiza, Spain, Thompson returned to New York City to exhibit his work at a number of galleries and museums, including the Paula Cooper Gallery, the Martha Johnson Gallery, the Whitney Museum, and the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1966, eager to continue his lifelong study of the mythological themes that illuminate his paintings, Thompson and his wife traveled to Rome where his continued drug use during his recovery from gall bladder surgery resulted in his death.

– Paul Des Marais, Contributing Writer

Lot Information

Lot 49
Bob (Robert Louis) Thompson  
Venus & Adonis  
Oil on canvas  
Signed “BThompson”, dated, titled verso
Canvas: 10″ x 8″; Frame: 11″ x 9″  
Estimate $4,000 – 6,000

Lot 50
Bob (Robert Louis) Thompson  
Mythological scene    
Acrylic on paper  
Signed and dated lower left  
Image: 10.75″ x 10.125″; Frame: 16.5″ x 15.5″  
Estimate $4,000 – 6,000

“Bob Thompson (1937-1966).” Hollistaggert.com. Hollis Taggert Galleries, 2011. Web. 3 Oct. 2011.

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


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.

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. Forumgallery.com, 2011. Web. 20 Aug. 2011.