Four 20th-Century Giants to Add to Your Collection

From Lichtenstein to Baldessari, unmissable selections from movement-defining artists

Freeman’s October 25 Modern and Contemporary Art auction presents opportunities to collect paintings, prints, and sculpture by artists who shaped and defined their fields. Explore what these artists meant for the development of 20th-century art—and the works for which they became best known.

10/14/2022     News and Film, Modern and Contemporary Art


With a range of works spanning modern and contemporary artistic output—with offerings including seminal photography, important sculpture, and striking paintings and works on paper—Freeman’s October 25 Modern and Contemporary Art auction offers excellent collecting opportunities across categories. For collectors looking to get started or expand their collections within a specific 20th-century movement, Freeman’s specialists weigh in on unmissable highlights from the upcoming sale.


Pop Art: Roy Lichtenstein 

roy lichtenstein

Lot 59 I Roy Lichtenstein, Sweet Dreams Baby! I Estimate: $30,000-50,000


Embodying the parodic and cheekily critical spirit of Pop Art, Roy Lichtenstein became one of the most recognizable figures within the movement in 1960s America. Employing bold, bright colors, thick outlines, and Ben-Day dots to create shading and color gradations, Lichtenstein borrowed images and techniques from advertisements and comic books to create his extraordinarily inventive works. Here, Sweet Dreams Baby! (Lot 59; estimate: $30,000-50,000) exemplifies Lichtenstein’s most celebrated works, with its Ben-Day dots, graphic quality, contrasting colors, and use of bold, comics-inflected text.


Minimalism: Warren Rohrer 

warren rohrer

Lot 49 I Warren Rohrer, Fall I Estimate: $10,000-15,000


With deep roots in Philadelphia, Warren Rohrer grew up in Lancaster County and went on to teach at what is now the University of the Arts for 25 years, becoming an influential Minimalist and abstract painter along the way. Minimalism across mediums took hold in the 1960s and early 1970s, in part as a reaction to the style of Abstract Expressionism that dominated the art world—particularly in New York City—in the two decades prior. While Rohrer found a home within Minimalism, he created not within the center of activity in New York, but out of a converted barn in Christiana, Pennsylvania. His striking paintings—including Untitled 4 (Lot 50; estimate: $15,000-25,000) and Fall (Lot 49; estimate: $10,000-15,000)—are almost landscape-like in their minimalism, with Rohrer’s evocative scratches on the surface hinting at barely-visible layers beneath.


Color Field: Kenneth Noland

kenneth noland

Lot 67 I Kenneth Noland, Silver Affair I Estimate: $80,000-120,000


A towering figure in the development of American Color Field painting, Kenneth Noland was one of the many important figures in 20th-century art to use his veteran’s G.I. Bill to pursue a passion in art. He enrolled in Black Mountain College, where he studied under Josef Albers—a key figure in the development of color theory, and a strong influence to hard-edge abstractionists. Noland was deeply invested not only in color, but shape; his prolific output shows his commitment to the creation of a visual language of chevrons, horizontal bands, and shaped canvases. His Silver Affair (Lot 67; estimate: $80,000-120,000), a dramatic, striking work, exhibits this dual preoccupation, with bands of richly layered purple chevrons contained within a larger field of black acrylic. Executed in 1986, this later work shows Noland’s ongoing commitment to exploration and experimentation within the space of color and shape.


Conceptualism: John Baldessari

john baldessari

 Lot 68 I John Baldessari, Studio I Estimate: $18,000-24,000


Though John Baldessari’s output across many mediums is so wide-ranging as to be difficult to classify, his innovations within photography, painting, sculpture, performance, and film, among others, have led him to be crowned the father of American conceptual art. With a similar quick wit and critical eye as Pop artists like Lichtenstein, Baldessari made critical interventions in the fields of photography and painting well into his 80s. Studio (Lot 68; estimate: $18,000-24,000), a celebrated work (an edition of which is in the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art), typifies Baldessari’s output starting in the 1980s, in which the artist placed brightly colored dots over the faces of subjects in paintings and photographs. In a move Baldessari described as “leveling the playing field,” the application of these dots anonymized his subjects, forcing the viewer to redirect their attention elsewhere—upending what it means to look in the process.



View the rest of our Oct 25 Modern and Contemporary Art auction.



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