This Wednesday, Freeman’s will host two auctions; Modern and Contemporary Art and The Stanley Bard Collection | A Life at the Chelsea. Gallery floors one and three are filled with unique, rare works of art. Here is a selection of just four pieces that impressed Modern and Contemporary Department Head, Dunham Townend.
LOT 17 In 1968, art historian Douglas Cooper published “Picasso Theatre", a book celebrating Picasso’s extensive work for the theater and ballet. The artist designed the cover art for the book, and the present drawing is one of several drafts he considered for use on the cover. This drawing is particularly interesting to me in that it crosses multiple creative disciplines. Not only is it a fine example of Picasso’s skill as an artist, but it also touches upon the worlds of publishing and the performing arts and demonstrates his exceptional ability to inspire and be inspired by creativity and artistry of all kinds.
LOT 39 The powerful presence of Lynn Chadwick’s “Maquette Jubillee II” is unmistakable. With dramatic energy, the figures stride purposely forward, their robes fanning out behind them, engaging and activating the space around them. Yet, for all their vitality, there is an underlying quiet elegance to the couple as well. Chadwick was masterful in his ability to capture this duality and – to me – it is what makes this sculpture so truly captivating.
LOT 63 “Face #1” is an impressively sized oil on shaped canvas, executed in 1966, a rich and seminal period of the artist’s career. During this time, Wesselmann, who had long been interested in the female nude as subject, focused his attention even more specifically, moving away from a complete representation of the figure and concentrating on specific, highly sexualized elements of the female form. Wesselmann’s decision to use shaped canvases to portray these forms gave these paintings a sculptural quality, which – in turn – imbued them with a particularly active energy that served to heighten their bold sensuality. “Face #1” is an excellent example of the artist’s work of this period. The woman’s face is only partially shown, the artist choosing to emphasize her mouth, with her bright red lips erotically parted and painted with fetishistic focus against a highly sexualized relief. Not only is this painting an important example by one of the 20th Century’s leading artists, but it also has a direct connection to Stanley Bard, long-term manager of the famous Chelsea Hotel. On the stretcher bar verso there is a dedication that reads “For Stanley with affection – Tom Wesselmann”.
LOT 58 The Chelsea Hotel was an institution defined by the extraordinary lives of the countless legendary residents it housed over its colorful 135-year history. Home to a revolving door of marquee guests, perhaps no one better personified the hotel than Stanley Bard, who served for over half a century as its manager, gatekeeper and maestro. In many ways, he curated his residents and ensured that the hotel was always filled with those whose creative energy would permeate its halls. We are thrilled to offer in this sale a work by a current resident of this famed institution, Phillip Taaffe. “Untitled” is an exciting and energetic example of Taaffe’s work and is an excellent reminder of the Chelsea Hotel’s creative legacy.