On The Block: Great Stuff At LAMA’s September Modern Sale


We’ve been looking forward to this all summer– Los Angeles Modern Auctions September 30 sale of Modern Art and Design. With a range of great stuff for every taste level and bank account, we’ve chosen a few items that can transform a room, either with scale or subtlety.

Lot 136 (at top) is Hans Wegner’s c.1950 Flag Halyard chair, conceived on a beach vacation and made of rope stretched taut on a steel frame, a metaphor for summer and sailboats.With an estimate of $10,000-$15,000, it’s more a sculpture than a chair and probably best left to serious collectors.

Although Wegner is undergoing a huge revival these days, there’s been little commentary about how surrealist and biomorphic his works can be. Lot 137 (below, left) his classic valet chair with sexy shoulders and a violin-like back is expected to bring $6,000-$9.000. Designed in 1953, even from his perch in Denmark Wegner knew about the art of his time. Meanwhile, Danish designer Fritz Henningsen’s animated, high-backed armchair historically appeared in ladylike pastels, but re-upholstered in black leather, this 1945 work takes on a menacing, totemic aspect. It’s a masterwork of the chairmaker’s art, and we love it, but it’s also a lesson in how important fabric choices can be. Lot 139 is expected to sell for a whopping $20,000-$30,000.

Above, Lot 5 is a lovely, evocative lithograph by David Hockney, the great British artist whose work is so informed by his decades of living in Los Angeles. Expected to realize $8.000-$12,000. If you love LA and love Hockney, this is the one.

Architectural History:
Lot 64 is a presentation drawing for the Richard Neutra’s McSorley House, built in Thousand Oaks in 1960. It never hurts to have some some Neutra hanging around; his impact on Los Angeles’ built environment is incaluable. Estimated to sell for $5,000 t0 $7,000 plus there are several other drawings for this house directly acquired from the McSorley’s heirs in the sale.

Classic Modernism: It’s big (approximately 39 x 25 inches) and so inch for inch, this classic 1948 poster by Henri Matisse is a huge bargain. One of a group of posters commissioned by the city of Nice to revitalize tourism after WWII, it conjures up a typical post-lunch Provencal afternoon. Lot 114 expected to bring only $800-$1,200. Picasso and Chagall also did posters for this series, and they’re worth seeking out.

Heirloom Quality: Cedric Hartman is something of a cult figure among designers. Trained as an architect, he’s best know for his immaculately crafted lighting fixtures, made to order in his native Omaha, Nebraska by a team of devoted craftsmen. There was no quick-ship program, and Hartman was so obsessed by quality that the screws and switches for his lighting fixtures were cast and finished in-house. Back in the day, Hartman’s clients the were internationally renowned decorators of the ‘70s (like the legendary Billy Baldwin) and his products have held their value forty years later. Lot 229 is a superb pair of patinated bronze side tables with granite tops, estimated to fetch $4.000-$6.000.

Not Wallflowers:
Perhaps the most recent work in the sale, Lot 327 Donald Sultan’s enormous screenprint “Blues and Blacks, May 1, 2008” has the power to dominate any room at 52 x 72 inches. It’s estimated to sell for $3,000-$5,000.

More: Go to LAMA for a look at the entire catalogue. Previews begin at the gallery on September 17.


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