Rago Arts and Auction Center’s Fine Art auctions on May 14 brought in a rousing $1.56 million, with spiriting bidding for top lots (reflects buyer’s premium of 24%).
“If the top lots tell any story, it’s that Rago’s sells a wide variety of art and sells it all well,” said Meredith Hilferty, who directs Rago’s Fine Art department, “I’ve been swamped with calls from happy consignors and prospective consignors and hope to hear from many more over the next few months. The market is stronger for post-war and contemporary work than earlier art; it is itching for what’s fresh and rare, as always; and it is over the Pennsylvanian Impressionists for the most part, at least for now.”
Lot 49, Fairfield Porter, August Wildflowers, 1965; Oil on Masonite, Presale estimate: $10,000-15,000. Sold for $58,900
August Wildflowers was acquired from Porter’s gallery early in his career by the consignor’s mother when Porter’s work was still affordable to her. She paid for it by setting aside a small amount of the family’s weekly grocery allowance. It hung in her home until her death, giving her great joy and a bit of pride in her own acumen. It sold to a private collector.
Lot 644, Raymond Pettibon, Untitled (The way to explain him is to follow, for a while, in his own wake.) Presale estimate: $3,000-5,000. Sold for $42,160 (The combined selling price for the Pettibon lots in the sale [642-649] is $236,220.)
The consignor, who discovered these works at an estate sale, knew Pettibon as the brother of the lead singer in Black Flag and the illustrator of a number of punk album covers. These works generated the single highest number of requests for phone lines in Rago’s history. Rago had to turn away callers after 21 lines were reserved.
Lot 1 Kenneth Miller Adams, Taos, NM, 1924: Presale estimate: $4,000-6,000. Sold for $93,000
Brought to Rago’s by a local woman who had purchased it, along with a few other things, at a recent yard sale. It opened the sale with a bang to clamoring dealers and collectors, most from New Mexico, where it sold.
Lot 571, Leonora Carrington, Oleo Sobre Tela, 1953, oil on canvas. Presale estimate: $15,000-20,000. Sold for $117,800
This painting came from the Terry Dintenfass Gallery in the mid-60s. The consignor could not believe the increase in significance or value of works by this artist. Fifteen phone bidders from four countries competed for this lot with absentee, phone and in-room bidders before it sold on the phone.
Lot 577, Theodoros Stamos, King on the Mountain or The Emperor Sees the Mountain. Estimated at $10,000-15,000. Sold for $68,200
From the Tallarek/Weile Collection of work by artist and gallerist Betty Parsons and artists who were her friends and colleagues, including
Stamos, Richard Pousette-Dart and Ossorio. The collector, Ingeborg Tallarek, was a gifted photographic journalist. She acquired either directly from the artists or through the Betty Parsons Gallery.
TOP TEN HIGHLIGHTS/STATS
Session One: 19th/20th C. American and European Art
• Hammer: $294,400
• Hammer + 24% bp = $365,056
• % lots sold: 78%
1. 1, Kenneth Miller Adams, Taos, NM, 1924: $93,000
2. 49, Fairfield Porter, August Wildflowers: $58,900
3. 67, Joan Miro, La Canatrice Chauve (The Bald Soprano): $29,760
4. 10, John Frederick Peto, Untitled: $17,360
5. 7, Winslow Homer, Signal Corps near Yorktown: $16,120
6. 28, Kenneth R. Nunamaker, Tony’s Place (The Johnson Farm, Federal Twist Road): $13,640
7. 56, Hughie Lee-Smith, Untitled (Couple Playing with Balloons): $13,640
8. 5, Alice Barber Stephens, A Doll’s Picnic: $9,300
9. 16, Grace Helen Talbot, Untitled: $8,060
10. 29, Henry Bayley Snell, Untitled: $5,580
11. 45, Joseph Barrett, Canal House: $5,580
Session Two: Post-War and Contemporary Art
• Hammer: $963,700
• Hammer + 24% bp = $1,194,988
• Low Estimate: $632,700
• High Estimate: $908,200
• % lots sold: 82%
1. 571, Leonora Carrington, Oleo Sobre Tela, 1953: $117,800
2. 577, Theodoros Stamos, King on the Mountain or The Emperor Sees the Mountain: $68,200
3. 565, Alexander Calder, The Trio: $46,500
4. 644, Raymond Pettibon, Untitled (The way to explain him is to follow, for a while, in his own wake.): $42,160
5. 647, Raymond Pettibon, Untitled (Finally we brought in a Queen.): $40,920
6. 581, Richard Pousette-Dart, Untitled: $40,300
7. 646, Raymond Pettibon, Untitled (On the Lord’s Day.): $38,440
8. 564, Alexander Calder, Untitled, 1941: $37,200
9. 649, Raymond Pettibon, Untitled (Vavoom): $35,960
10. 526, Louise Nevelson, Untitled, Gold and painted wood necklace: $33,480
Consignments are now being accepted for Rago’s November Fine Art auctions and all of Rago’s Fall 2011 auctions: 609.397.9374 or [email protected]