Swann Galleries’ auction of American Art on June 14 saw a total of $1,108,921 against estimates for the sale as a whole of between $1,009,700-$1,541,800 not including the buyer’s premium. Of the 300 lots offered 81% or 239 were sold. Though the prices were in the low five figures that’s evidence of an active market.
Here’s Swann’s take on their sale:
Nearly a fifth of the auction comprised works by the artist collective PaJaMa, consisting of Paul Cadmus, Jared French, Margaret Hoening French and their various partners and friends. Many of these works came from the collection of Jon Anderson and Philis Raskind-Anderson, including Jared French’s graphite Portrait of Paul Cadmus, 1931, and study for Elemental Play, 1946 ($10,625 and $11,250, respectively). The evocative chalk Nude Reclining on Bentwood Chairs with a Dog, circa 1975, by Paul Cadmus, reached $10,000.
All five works in the sale by Pavel Tchelitchew found buyers, with the 1930 pastel Portrait of Robert Cluzan leading the auction at $32,500. Cluzan was a communist police officer who sold Nazi secrets during WWII. Tchelitchew’s ink and wash Interiors (Skull), 1944, a motif for which the artist is well known, reached $11,250.
The increasingly popular section of sketchbooks saw competition for collectors and dealers seeking background information into beloved artists’ processes. Two sketchbooks by Ashcan artist Mahonri Young, grandson of LDS leader Brigham Young, sold after breakneck bidding for $22,500, a record for a work on paper by the artist, who is primarily known as a sculptor. A sketchbook of diners in Washington restaurants by Peggy Bacon nearly doubled its high estimate to sell for $5,750.
All eight works by Fairfield Porter saw strong results, including two sketchbooks featuring primarily urban scenes, which sold together for $6,750. The highlight was Coastal Scene, a charming pastel view of Maine islands that encapsulates the artist’s oeuvre, purchased by a collector for $20,000. The double-sided watercolorRocky Coastal View, also of Maine, reached $13,750.
An auction record was established for Emilio Cruz, an African-American artist of Cuban descent whose work is gaining recognition: the undated oil paintingFloating Figures, a fine example of his expressive blend of figuration and abstraction, reached $17,500.
- 278 Pavel Tchelitchew, Portrait of Robert Cluzan, color pastels, 1930. $32,500 C
- 202 Wolf Kahn, Poisonous Yellow-Green, oil on canvas, 2001. $31,250 C
- 36 William Glackens, Le Royal Conti-Isle Adam, oil on canvas, circa 1926. $27,500 C
- 12 John Singer Sargent, Head of a Young Girl, pencil, circa 1875-78. $25,000 C
- 108 Mahonri Young, two sketchbooks, with approximately 86 drawings, various media. $22,500 D
- 131 John Steuart Curry, Plowing Before a Storm, oil on canvas, circa 1935. $21,250 D
- 87 Rockwell Kent, Reverence, gouache, 1926. $20,800 D
- 95 Guy C. Wiggins, St. Patrick’s, New York, in Winter, oil on board, circa 1940. $20,000 C
- 197 Fairfield Porter, Coastal Scene, color pastels. $20,000 C
- 200* Emilio Cruz, Floating Figures, oil on canvas. $17,500 C