On the Block: The Brilliant Modern Design | Art Auction At Bonhams Los Angeles


In what might be described as an exceptionally stylish flea market, Bonhams, the venerable auction house, is offering a remarkable and eclectic collection of 20th Century decorative arts and objects in Los Angeles this Sunday, October 27. You can view the catalogue online here; everything’s on view at their LA galleries daily. Lots range from pottery to glass, paintings to light fixtures and a collection of items related to Robert Loewy, one of the most important Mid-Century modernist designers. There are works by design luminaries like Gio Ponti Enrico Barovier, Charlotte Perriand, and Han Wegner, making the catalogue itself (online or print) a goldmine for learning about design in the 20th Century. Keeping it local, we chose some of the most compelling (mostly) California-related objects to covet.

Lot 12: This petite (under 8 inches high) but monumentally scaled vase is from the little-known but much-admired Grand Feu Pottery in Redlands, CA dated to 1912-1916. The estimate for this exquisite and museum-worthy object is $1000 to $2000.

Lot 14: Two jardinieres in the form of Medieval column capitals by Ernest Batchelder (1875-1957) arguably the most important Arts+Crafts period ceramicist in the United States. An art teacher and educator by training, Batchelder started by experimenting in his Pasadena backyard with glazed tiles and would go on to create a successful business nationwide, ranging from his iconic tiles to fireplace surrounds to complete interiors. Formerly in the collection of the late Robert Winter (the foremost authority on Batchelder and the Arts+Crafts movement in California) this handsome duo is expected to bring between $2,000 and $3000; we’re loving the peacock motif on the smaller one (above).

Lot 23: A pair of table lamps in wrought iron and sheet mica designed by Frederick L. Roerig (1857-1948) one of Pasadena’s most successful and prolific architects. Roerig created elegantly conservative homes and interiors for the chilled Midwesterners who flocked to Pasadena in the winter. Although his houses skewed more Victorian and Edwardian than Arts+Crafts in style, these lamps show he was not immune to the latest trends. A number of Roerig lamps are in the sale; this particular pair is expected to fetch $4,000 to $6,000.

Lot 65: Not so local, a plate by ceramicist, designer, educator and general polymath Viktor Schreckengost from his iconic and monumental c.1931 Jazz series, inspired by none other than Eleanor Roosevelt. Measuring twelve inches in diameter and expected to sell somewhere in the range of $$1,000 to $2000, this stellar example was actually produced in 2006 by the Viktor Schreckengost Foundation; you couldn’t ask for a better object to represent the eclecticism of American decorative arts in the ‘30s.

Lot 104: For our outlier nostalgia choice (whether or not you remember, or long for, the 1960s and Camelot) we offer this model of President John F. Kennedy’s own Air Force One by the brilliant modernist Raymond Loewy, the French-born American designer who transformed the landscape of industrially produced items. The Bonhams sale has a collection of Loewy-related items (including his briefcase) but this one stands out– the presentation model for JFK and the Joint Chiefs of Staff; the airplane model to end them all is expected to realize somewhere between $15,000 and $20,000.

Lot 140: Acquire some Los Angeles architectural history with this pair of original textile blocks from Frank Lloyd Wright’s unrivaled Ennis House in Los Feliz. Following years of impeccable restoration the house recently sold for $18M, making these cast concrete blocks a bargain at $2,000 to $3000, and deserving of steel armatures to display them like the ancient artifacts they resemble.

Lot 258: Gump’s, the famed department store, is now gone, Since the Gold Rush, this old-school emporium had defined the upper-crust luxury shopping experience in San Francisco whether you sought table linens, silverware, stationery or furniture. It had a very special focus on Chinese and Japanese wares, thanks to Richard Gump’s passion for what was then referred to as “Oriental” and this suite of dining furniture was produced for Gumps in Chicago by luxury furniture maker Johan Tapp, copying the furniture produced in Shanghai in the 1930s and ‘40s, a time when Art Deco design swept that city. Tapp’s superbly crafted furniture is still sought after, but unlike your grandparents, you don’t need to put them all in one room; individually, the pieces look mysteriously retro but remarkably fresh. Estimated at $3,000 to $5,000.

Lot 263: A quick but brilliant sketch by David Hockney of the Beverly Center. Estimated at $10,000 to $15,000 and probably the only rendering you’ll ever encounter of the Beverly Center by a major 20th/21st Century artist. Ever.

Modern Design | Art
Sunday, October 27
Bonhams Los Angeles
7601 West Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles

Images Courtesy of Bonhams

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