HERITAGE’S NEWEST AUCTION SERIES OFFERS WELL-PRICED GEMS BY ARTISTS BOTH SEASONED AND OBSCURE
By Aviva Lehmann
At Heritage Auctions, we are fully committed to promoting and elevating American Art on a global scale. We have the most dynamic and fastest-growing American Art department in the industry, and we boast a magnitude of records – close to 140, in fact – which is a direct result of our passion, dedication and focus on the category. As the only major auctioneer to hold dedicated auctions exclusive to the American Art category, we understand the importance of offering quality material to our collectors in every genre of the field, at every price point, year-round. Accordingly, we are thrilled to launch our inaugural American Art Within Reach Showcase Auction on June 16.
Now open for bidding, our newly minted online celebration of American Art comprises works covering more than 100 years of history in varying media, including paintings, works on paper and sculpture in a rather affordable $2,000-$20,0000 estimate range. Whether you gravitate toward the more traditional 19th-century Hudson River Landscape, a classic early American portrait, Regionalism from the heartland, gritty New York Realism or experimental Modernism, you will find it in our lineup.
Here are just a few of my favorites from our maiden American Art Within Reach sale:
Thomas Sully, Young Soldier, 1863
Widely considered America’s leading portrait painter of the mid-19th century, Thomas Sully painted more than 2,000 paintings during a 70-year career. Amongst his patrons were the most notable figures of the era, including Presidents Andrew Jackson and Thomas Jefferson, as well as English nobility such as Lord Byron and even the young Queen Victoria. While Sully’s prices can climb into the seven-figure range, gorgeous works like Young Soldier pack a lot of punch but with a modest price tag.
Martin Lewis, Spring Night, Greenwich Village, 1930
Aside from Edward Hopper, very few artists of the 20th century explore the moodiness and distinctiveness of New York City in a brilliant graphic style quite like Martin Lewis. One of our country’s most important printmakers, Lewis garners a cult following for his magnificent etchings, as well as his original works on paper and oil paintings. Spring Night, Greenwich Village – a spectacular drypoint and etching that portrays the rigor of life in downtown New York after dark – is a stunning example of Lewis’ genius in transforming an everyday scene into something magical through his graphic lens and attention to light and shadow.
Georgia O’Keeffe, Some Memories of Drawings, complete portfolio, 1974
Auction houses and galleries can barely keep up with the demand for Georgia O’Keeffe these days. With oil paintings regularly soaring into the eight-figure range, many collectors are priced out of her market. However, O’Keeffe was also a magnificent printmaker, and this gorgeous portfolio can bring the artist’s inimitable spirit and talents into your home at a far more achievable price point.
Eve (Van Ek) Drewelowe, Aquitania Smokestacks, circa 1935
I am a sucker for any gorgeous painting by a woman artist, but this lot blows my mind. Aquitania Smokestacks exemplifies an important dimension of our American Art Within Reach series: We offer not only magnificent examples of American Art by seasoned artists with an abundance of auction offerings, but also masterful examples of American Art by the unsung heroes of the category. A native of Iowa, Eve Drewelowe was a prodigious artist, and during her long life she experimented with various styles – Impressionism, Social Realism and even Abstract Expressionism. She traveled extensively with her husband throughout the world, taking inspiration from the places she visited and producing a small body of work depicting colorful and fantastic landscapes and urbanscapes pulsating with energy and untouched by humans. The wide-open spaces she saw made her feel like a modern-day pioneer. In discussing her work, she once said, “What really motivated me in my youth, in my growth, in maturity was my desire to captivate everything. I put on canvas an eagerness to possess the wonder of nature and beauty of color and line – to encompass everything, not to let anything escape.” I can see Aquitania Smokestacks hanging on a wall and holding its own alongside works by Charles Sheeler, George Ault and Ralston Crawford.
Max Kalish, Ironworker
We offer a number of stunning sculptures by notables such as Elie Nadelman and Harriet Frishmuth in our upcoming auction, but I have a soft spot for Max Kalish, a Jewish immigrant from Poland who captures the mannerisms and movement of the American laborer like no other artist. Kalish bronzes like Ironworker complement Ashcan paintings and works on paper exquisitely.
Werner Drewes, Untitled Abstract, 1951
The son of a Lutheran minister who was interested in archaeology and the natural sciences, Werner Drewes believed that art provided an avenue to understanding the mysteries of life. Fascinated with line and color, the artist moved easily between pure abstraction and expressionistic figuration, using highly energized abstract forms to express powerful emotions. Highly intellectual and often associated with the Bauhaus movement, Drewes is having a moment, in large part due to a spectacular grouping of works offered at Heritage, including this untitled abstract from 1951. We are nearing the end of the offerings, so bid now before the moment is gone.
AVIVA LEHMANN is Senior Vice President of American Art at Heritage Auctions.