Decorative Arts at Bonhams & Butterfields

LOS ANGELES, CA -Works from California Studio Legends Otto Heino and Sam Maloof on the auction Block at Bonhams & Butterfields’ fall 2008 auction of 20th Century Decorative Arts, to be held in Los Angeles on Monday, September 22, 2008, features a diverse group of master works spanning a century of design. Strong examples of Studio Works of Art, Arts & Crafts, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Mid-Century Modern and Contemporary works come to auction.

Acknowledged as one of the finest woodworkers of our time, Sam Maloof has designed and produced furniture infused with profound artistic vision for more than half a century. As one of the forerunners of California modern arts movement, his furnishings are described as handcrafted, honest, pleasing to the touch and ergonomically friendly. The self-taught craftsman has produced some of the most exquisite pieces of furniture created in the last quarter century.

“Bonhams & Butterfields continues to support passion for hand crafted studio works of art. We are pleased to offer works by Sam Maloof in the Los Angeles venue where the world auction record was set for his work, in March 2006,” said Frank Maraschiello, Director of 20th Century Decorative Arts Department.

Maloof’s sculptured cradles, chests, bureaus and settees grace the permanent collections of many of the world’s major museums, including: the Smithsonian Institution, the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Art Museum, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Featured fall auction highlights by Sam Maloof include a highly sought-after walnut and ebony rocking chair (est. $30/50,000), a dining table ($12/18,000), a side table (est. $8/12,000) and coffee table (est. $12/18,000).

Larry White began his career with a seven-year apprenticeship with Sam Maloof. After 23-years in his own Santa Cruz, CA studio, and being noted as furniture artist in his own right, he rejoined the Maloof workshop in 1992 as a master craftsman. A Larry White mahogany hanging display cabinet, circa 1972 (est. $10/15,000), will also be offered in the Studio Craft section of the sale.

California master potter Otto Heino is known for his natural, physical throwing style and his eye for harmonious form. Both he and his late wife Vivika worked as collaborators for over 40 years helping to bring the California craft movement to the world stage; all the while remaining true to their personal vision. The pair has influenced generations of students who studied under and apprenticed with them at prestigious institutions.

In 1978, Heino submitted a piece to the prestigious Sixth Biennial International de Ceramique at Vallauris, France where Pablo Picasso presented the first-time exhibitor with the “Gold Medal” prize, an upset that introduced him to the international stage. A ‘Bird Head Vase’ with white matte glaze and blue and black decoration, similar to the winning piece from the 1978 competition, will be offered (est. $3/5,000) on September 22nd.

Following Vivika’s death in 1995, Otto went on to re-discover a high fire, lustrous yellow glaze for stoneware, a technique that had been lost to Asia for centuries. This glaze has made Heino one of the most successful craftspeople in the world and, as he would happily tell listeners, ‘one of the richest.’ His work is now in more than 45 museums and institutions worldwide with a list of over 6,000 known private collectors. The selection of Heino pottery to be featured in the fall sale will also include a large lemon charger with black leopard spot decoration featuring his signature ‘high fire, lustrous yellow glaze.’ This painstaking decoration required more than two hours for the artist to complete. One of the first of its kind to come to public auction featuring the yellow glaze, the magnificent piece is estimated to bring $15,000 – 20,000.
In addition, a selection of works by Otto Heino will be offered to benefit the Vivika and Otto Heino Scholarship Fund for the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen. Property will include three works in the artist’s signature glaze, for which he is best known.

A Collection of Warren MacKenzie pottery will also highlight the September 22nd auction. Known as a studio potter, he studied with Bernard Leach in England from 1949-1952. His work is also heavily influenced by Shoji Hamada and Kanjiro Kawai. MacKenzie is credited with bringing the Japanese Mingei style of pottery to Minnesota where he lives and works. Highly sought after by collectors, his simple yet elegant works, dubbed “everyday pots” by the artist, can be found in private collections and major institutions around the globe. Bonhams & Butterfields will offer a collection of nine works during the fall sale.

“This is the largest collection of pieces by MacKenzie ever to come to auction. We are pleased to offer his works alongside Sam Maloof and Otto Heino,” said Maraschiello. Highlighting the offering is a stoneware pitcher with a double “chop” stamp (est. $2,500/3,500) and two large lidded stoneware vases, each estimated to bring $1,500-1,800 at auction.

Modern works include a set of Frank Lloyd Wright working architectural drawings and blueprints from the Donald and Viola Grover house built in Syracuse, New York circa 1950. Included with this collection is correspondence between the Grovers, Frank Lloyd Wright, and members of his office illustrating the firm’s process – from the first request for a quote, to post-construction queries (est. $10/15,000); a set of six Gio Ponti Leggera side chairs ($2/3,000); a pair of Jacques Adnet metal and leather rocking chairs (est. $8/12,000) and a suite of Herman Miller furnishings (est. $8/12,000) should attract interest.

A nine-foot high Robert Crowder six-panel screen (est. $10/15,000) will be a highlight of the fall sale. California-based artist Robert Crowder lived, traveled and taught English in Japan between 1934 and 1943. He wrote articles for ”Tourist” magazine, composed poetry and studied ”tsuketate” painting. It was these influences that helped Crowder establish his elegant, fluid painting style and develop a unique interpretation of his environment. Upon his return to the United States he continued his artistic work and writings and in the late 1940s founded the design firm of Robert Crowder & Company. After a brief stay in Chicago, Crowder opened a gallery in Los Angeles. He quickly became famous for his screens and fabulous textiles, which as recently as 2005 were ordered for an international redecoration of the Chanel boutiques.

A Richard Neutra camel table (est. $7/10,000) made for the Hafeley-Moore Twin Houses, Long Beach, CA, circa 1953, will also be offered during the fall sale. Designed for use in small spaces, this model is so named because its folding legs resemble the legs of a camel. The adjustable legs enable it to be repositioned, suitable as a dining or coffee table. Property from the Estate of Georges and Carola George, Beverly Hills, will also be featured in the September sale. The interior of the couple’s house was designed by Paul Laszlo and was an ongoing project from the 1960s through the 1990s. Included is a highly sought-after composition and painted wood dining suite (est. $6/9,000) by the designer. Select pieces from the Estate include copies of personal correspondence between Carola and Lazlo, sketches and invoices.

Other highlights are works by Ferdinand Preiss, Le Faguays, Bouraine, Gilbert Rhode, Robsjohn Gibbings, Curtis Jeré, Karl Springer lamps, Tiffany Studios and a nice collection of Gustav Stickley, including a rare and early oak magazine stand, model 514 (est. $3/5,000). Glass highlights include a strong selection of works by Galle, Daum, Lalique, Thomas Webb, Sabino, Fratelli Toso and Steuben. Additional works on offer during the September 22nd auction include: Frank Gehry’s Experimental Edges ‘Bubbles’ chaise lounge (est. $12/18,000); a Paul Evans Cityscape brass patchwork and glass table and six chairs (est. $5/8,000); a painted and cast aluminum coffee table by Donald Drumm (est. $3/5,000); and two works by Paul Tuttle, a ‘Flexible X’ aluminum, stainless steel and wood console table (est. $2/3,000) and a ‘Nonna’ rocker (est. $3/5,000); a ‘Zeta’ lounge chair (est. 800/1,200) and a pair of caned tub chairs (est. $800/1,200) from the Estate of Phyllis B. Plous, former University of Santa Barbara Art Museum curator.

Also included are pieces from Pierre Paulin, Phillip and Kelvin LaVerne, Charles Hollis Jones, Dakota Jackson, Michel Cadestin and Georges Laurent furniture designed for the Centre Georges Pompidou including ‘Beaubourg’ seating furniture.

In conjunction with the 20th Century Decorative Arts auction and preview, Bonhams & Butterfields is pleased to host “Masters and Apprentices in the Studio Craft Movement,” a panel discussion on September 18, 2008. The program will highlight the West Coast studio craft movement and explore the apprenticeship system employed in America, while featuring a rare opportunity to interact with the living legends Otto Heino and Sam Maloof. Gerard O’Brien of Reform Gallery, Los Angeles will moderate the event.

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