Modern Art Sale Sets Record

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Clars’ Modern Art Sale Sets Loie Hollowell Record. Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Antiques And The Arts Weekly.

Easily surpassing its $400,000–$600,000 estimate was Point of Entry (Blood-Orange Moon Over Orange Sac) by Loie Hollowell (American), a 2017 mixed media work that attracted global attention but sold to a new American client for Clars for $1,050,000. It was the first time one of Hollowell’s works have brought that much money from a sale in the United States and is also the first work sold by the auction house to bring more than $1 million.

OAKLAND, CALIF. – On Friday, March 25, Clars Auction Gallery set a new record for Loie Hollowell (American, b 1983), when Point of Entry (Blood-Orange Moon Over Orange Sac), a mixed media work measuring 48 by 36 inches achieved $1,050,000 from a buyer in the United States who was a new client for Clars. The price was not only the artist’s highest price realized in a sale in the United States (the current overall record for Hollowell stands at $2,126,095 for Linked Lingams [yellow, green, blue, purple, pink], set in June 2021 in Hong Kong) but it was the first time in Clars’ 50-year history that a lot has surpassed the million dollar mark. It was far and away the top lot of 1,579 lots of modern and contemporary art, design, furniture, decorative and fine art, Asian art and jewelry offered March 25–27; the tally for the three days of sales was about $3 million, a total that ranks in the top three in the firms’ history and the highest sale since the company changed ownership in 2019.

Rick Unruh, chief executive officer and director of fine art at Clars, said, “Clars showed the global art world that when one has an exceptional, contemporary piece, such as our Loie Hollowell, they (the bidders) will come – and they did. We went all out with marketing, we even marketed it in Asian newspapers to get to the Hong Kong market. We had clients from all over the world interested. Many of the bidders on it were new to Clars.”

The second highest price of the sale at $150,000 was a rare drawing by Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973) titled, Etudes VII (d’apres Manet) from 1961. Well-documented in the artist’s catalogue raisonné, the lot had multiple international bidders but in the end sold to a buyer in San Francisco. Rounding out the top three at $106,250 was the double-sided oil on canvas work titled Fishing Town with Women on Beach/Seascape with Trees by Maria-Mela Muter (Polish French, 1876–1967). It received serious international attention, including from Poland and Israel and sold to a buyer in Poland.

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), Etudes VII (d'apres Manet), 1961, graphite on les Annonay (watermarked) paper, 17.75" x 23.5". Provenance: Alex Maguy, Paris; Estate of Liselotte Weber (Burlingame, CA). Exhibited: Alex Maguy Galerie de L’Élysée, Hommage à Picasso, November 19–December 25, 1966. Reference: Zervos XX:50.Estimate: $100,000–$150,000.
An international buyer prevailed against other international competition to take Etudes VII (d’apres Manet), a graphite drawing by Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) to $150,000. It had extensive publication and provenance (Estimated: $100,000–$150,000).
Mela Muter (Polish/French, 1876–1967), Fishing Town with Women on Beach/Seascape with Trees (verso), oil on canvas (double-sided), 19.5" x 25.5".Estimate: $50,000–70,000.
“Works by women artists are doing much better,” Rick Unruh said. Fishing Town with Women on Beach/Seascape with Trees, a double-sided oil on canvas work by Maria-Mela Muter realized $106,250 from a buyer in Poland (Estimated: $50,000–$70,000).

Works by such iconic artists as Roy Lichtenstein, David Hockney, Wayne Thiebaud, Salvador Dali, Sol Lewitt and Richard Diebenkorn peppered the sale and brought strong results too. Particularly noteworthy was Roy Lichtenstein’s Shipboard Girl offset lithograph from 1965, which made $53,125, a price that is an improvement over the $20,000 hammer price the Napa Valley, Calif., seller paid for it when they acquired it from Clars in 2013. The seller of the Litchtenstein also sold a portfolio of 39 prints – etchings, aquatints, drypoints and soft ground etchings – by British artist David Hockney (b 1937), which nearly doubled its low estimate to finish at $34,925. Six Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm had been acquired at Sotheby’s New York in 2011 for $8,125.

Roy Lichtenstein (American, 1923–1997), Shipboard Girl, 1965, offset lithograph, 27.25" x 20.25".
The seller of Shipboard Girl by Roy Lichtenstein had acquired it from Clars in 2013 for a hammer price of $20,000. They made a profit as it brought $63,125 ($42,500 hammer price) in this sale (Estimated: $40,000–$60,000).
David Hockney, Six Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm.
The seller of David Hockney’s Six Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm 39-print portfolio from 1970 paid $8,125 for it when they acquired it from Sotheby’s New York in 2011. It more than quadrupled in value, realizing $34,925 at Clars (Estimated: $18,000–$24,000).
M.C. Escher (Dutch, 1898–1972), Castel Mola, 1932, lithograph, 8.75" x 12.25".Estimate: $10,000–15,000.
A Palo Alto, Calif., collector paid $34,925 for Castel Mola, a 1932 lithograph by M.C. Escher (Estimated: $10,000–$15,000).
Robert Longo (American b. 1953), Gretchen, 1984, lithograph, 67.5" x 39". Sold: $59,375
Robert Longo (American b. 1953), Gretchen, 1984, lithograph, 67.5″ x 39″.
Sold: $59,375

Cristina Campion, Clars’ associate director of Twentieth Century design, was thrilled with the international response to works by American master woodworkers, like George Nakashima and Vladimir Kagan. A 1971 wall hanging cabinet by Nakashima that retained its original work card from the George Nakashima Studio topped off at $62,500, more than twice its high estimate and sold to an international buyer bidding on the phone. A contour rocking armchair from the Vladimir Kagan collection, circa 1999, had provenance to Dennis Miller Associates of New York City and found a new home with an online bidder for $16,900, more than three times its high estimate.

Another favorite among bidders was Danish designer Hans Wegner, who was represented in the sale with six lots. Leading the group at $17,500 was a valet chair, followed by a Papa Bear lounge chair that realized $13,700.

George Nakashima, 7′ overhanging walnut wall case, executed in 1971.
International bidders joined the fray for this wall hanging cabinet that was made in 1971 by George Nakashima. It sold to one of them, bidding on the phone, for $62,500 (Estimated: $20,000–$30,000).
Vladimir Kagan Collection, contour rocking chair. Sold: $16,900
“The sinuous lines of that chair are trending in furniture and design,” said Cristina Campion, Clars’ associate director of Twentieth Century design. Online interest in the piece was strong and it sold to an online bidder for $16,900 (Estimated: $3,000–$5,000).
Clars Auction Gallery will sell Asian Art, Jewelry, Furniture, Decorative and Fine Art on April 24, and Jewelry and Timepieces on May 19.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house. For information, or 510-422-0940.

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