Summer Modern + Contemporary Post Sale Highlights

  • Modern + Contemporary
  • Stories & News

Clars’ Summer Modern + Contemporary Art + Design Auction brought in active bidders from across the globe vying for artwork from world famous artists and design from master woodworkers.

The sale began with modern and contemporary art. A featured highlight was Wayne Thiebaud’s (American, 1920–2011) Portrait of Jean Lee Porter, 1951/52, whose provenance was strong and led to a hammer of $31,500. The subject, Jean Lee Porter, was a big band singer in San Francisco and her own notoriety certainly contributed to the interest in the piece.

Wayne Thiebaud, Portrait of Jean Lee Porter.
Wayne Thiebaud (American, 1920–2021), Portrait of Jean Lee Porter, 1951/52, oil on canvas/board, 16″ x 12″.
Sold: $31,500

Another featured highlight was March Avery’s (American, b. 1932), Resting Nude, 1989, oil on canvas. Her stark style of painting, with bold colors and simple linework, appeals to the 21st century minimalist aesthetic. This particular work depicts a female nude — a subject that is highly sought after — and sold for $28,980.

March Avery, Resting Nude.
March Avery (American, b. 1932), Resting Nude, 1989, oil on canvas, 18.25″ x 42.25″.
Sold: $28,980

This sale also included a fine example of Alecos Fassianos’ (Greek, 1935–2022) work, Figure in Blue, 1963, oil on canvas, which sold for $20,160. The piece features a quite graphic and color-saturated palette. Several phone bidders fed the competitive bidding.

Alecos Fassianos, Figure in Blue.
Alecos Fassianos (Greek, 1935–2022), Figure in Blue, 1963, oil on canvas, 39″ x 51.75″.
Sold: $20,160

Squeak Carnwath’s (American, b. 1947), Not Fact, 1996, oil and alkyd on canvas, sold for $18,900 — achieving the 4th highest record price for the artist. Squeak Carnwath, like Thiebaud, is another Bay Area figure. She lives in Oakland and taught art at both UC Davis and UC Berkeley, so her name is notable in Northern California. Her paintings are playful and youthful, appealing to the younger audience buying contemporary art.

Squeak Carnwath, Not Fact.
Squeak Carnwath (American, b. 1947), Not Fact, 1996, oil and alkyd on canvas, 55″ x 55″.
Estimate: $5,000–$7,000

Jasper Johns’ (American, b. 1930), Flag (Moratorium), 1969, offset lithograph in colors, edition 97/300, sold for $17,640. This piece was made as a political and anti-war expression, and in the highly politicized climate we live in now, powerful imagery and strong statements feel pertinent and valuable to collectors.

Jasper Johns, Flag (Moratorium).
Jasper Johns (American, b. 1930), Flag (Moratorium), 1969, offset lithograph in colors, edition 97/300, 17″ x 26″.
Sold: $17,640

The Design department had strong prices realized across various categories in the Summer Modern + Contemporary Art + Design Auction. Leading the show was an Arthur Espenet Carpenter dining suite, consisting of eight Wishbone dining chairs and a dining table. The chairs and table realized a combined $40,950, with numerous bidders vying for the lots. Also, a Philip and Kelvin LaVerne ‘Marriage Whirl’ table realized $12,600.

Arthur Espenet Carpenter, Wishbone Chairs, eight, and Dining Table.
Arthur Espenet Carpenter, Wishbone Chairs, eight, and Dining Table.
Sold: $40,950

Cristina Campion, Associate Director of 20th Century Design, noted, “we’re certainly seeing strong results for American master woodworkers, including Espenet — as well as other American icons like the design duo, Philip and Kelvin LaVerne.”

Philip and Kelvin Laverne, “Marriage Whirl” Table.
Philip and Kelvin LaVerne, “Marriage Whirl” Table.
Sold: $12,600

The sale included master craftsmanship from across genres and cultures. A highlight was a Tony Hunt totem pole dating to 1990, measuring at a mighty 8′11″. There were several telephone bidders on the totem pole that brought the final sale price to $20,160.

Tony Hunt Monumental Totem Pole.
Tony Hunt Monumental Totem Pole.
Sold: $20,160
Finn Juhl NV-45 chair.
Finn Juhl NV-45 chair.
Sold: $16,380

Danish Modern furniture preformed quite well, with a pair of Finn Juhl NV-45 lounge chairs selling for $25,200, and a single Finn Juhl NV-45 lounge chair realizing $16,380. “There’s always a market for noteworthy and iconic Danish Design at auction,” commented Ms. Campion.

Finn Juhl NV-45 chairs.
Finn Juhl NV-45 chairs.
Sold: $25,200

Clars’ next auctions will be held on July 14th & 15th. Consignments are always invited. Schedule a private or virtual valuation appointment by emailing [email protected].

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