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Published: 10 April 2018

Modern & Contemporary Art Auction Highlights

On Tuesday, May 8, Freeman’s will host its spring Modern & Contemporary Art auction. The sale includes a thoughtfully curated selection of 114 lots, representing a range of media and movements. It also features some of the most recognizable and sought after names in the field including Emil Nolde, Zao Wou-Ki, Andy Warhol, Alex Katz and Harry Bertoia.

A group of Pablo Picasso ceramics introduce the sale, as well as a rare linocut by the artist, entitled “Portrait de Jacqueline au Chapeau de Paille” (Tête de Femme), (Lot 15, estimate $50,000-80,000). This colorful print features Picasso’s second wife Jacqueline, the muse and prime inspiration for his prolific output in his later years. Captivated by her large almond-shaped eyes, classical profile and long elegant neck, Picasso created more works of art based on Jacqueline than any of his other lovers. She was his principal subject during the last two decades of his life, a period that has since been referred to as ‘L’Epoque Jacqueline.’

The marquee lot of the sale is an oil on three joined canvases by Chinese-French artist Zao Wou-Ki, “15.04.80 – Triptych” (Lot 44, estimate $600,000-800,000). A small-scale work painted in the delicate colors of spring, the piece bears a dedication to the original, and only owners to date, Ambassador Arthur Hartman & Mrs. Donna Hartman. The couple lived in Paris from 1977-1981 during Mr. Hartman’s appointment as Ambassador to France under President Carter. The present work, executed in 1980, dates from this period when the artist and the Hartmans navigated the same Parisian cultural circles and knew one another well. 

The painting is a reflection of the artist’s mature period in which he melded his early artistic training in Chinese calligraphy with western abstraction, rendering canvases that oscillate between abstraction and tangibility, and at once suggests crashing waves, misty landscape forms and cosmic forces made visible. The painting traveled to Hong Kong for Art Basel at the end of March of this year.

A color screenprint by Andy Warhol “The Star,” (Lot 58, estimate $40,000-60,000) depicts the actress Greta Garbo as the Mata Hari. The boldly colored work comes from the artist’s “Myths” series, a portfolio of ten screenprints executed in 1981, featuring characters from 1950s television shows or old Hollywood movies. The auction also includes “San Francisco Silverspot” from the “Endangered Species” series and a brightly hand-colored offset lithograph from the “À la Recherche du Shoe Perdu” suite.

From the collection of Jeffrey M. Kaplan are almost three-dozen works by esteemed British photographers, including Cecil Beaton, Sir Anthony Snowdon, Terence Donovan and Terry O’Neill (Lots 83-114). Mostly portraits, the subjects of the photographs range from a young Paul McCartney, playing the piano at Ringo Starr’s wedding; iconic actresses Audrey Hepburn, Marlene Deitrich, Marilyn Monroe, and Brigitte Bardot; and a young Queen Elizabeth II at the age of 16.

The photographers featured in this collection had a strong connection to the British monarchy: Cecil Beaton often photographed the Royal Family, Patrick Lichfield was an official photographer at the royal wedding between The Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer, and Sir Anthony Snowdon was formerly Anthony Armstrong-Jones, before his marriage to Princess Margaret, younger sister to Queen Elizabeth II. The April 2017 single-owner sale of the Collection of Jeffrey M. Kaplan was held in two sessions, and sold 99 percent by dollar and 96 percent by lot, totaling over $1.2 million in sales.

Other notable works include “Summer Gone,” an acrylic on canvas work by Canadian Abstract artist Jack Bush (Lot 37, estimate $50,000-80,000), dated August 1976, just a few months before the artist’s death the following January. “Waldspaziergang (A Walk In The Woods)” by Polish artist Maria-Mela Muter (Lot 9, estimate $30,000-50,000) was executed circa 1920 in Paris, where the artist spent much of her life. 

Two watercolors by German artist Emil Nolde will also be offered: “Bowl of Flowers with Fuchsia” (Lot 25, estimate $50,000-80,000), and “Fisherman on a Lake” (Lot 26, estimate $40,000-60,000) both come from a private collection in Massachusetts. These two exceptional works are representative of the artist’s fascination with the natural world, as well as his mastery of the medium.

 An iconic copper and bronze sculpture by Harry Bertoia, Untitled (Double Bush) (Lot 33, estimate $20,000-30,000) is offered on behalf of a private Philadelphia collection. Though he was born in Italy, and later became a student at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, Bertoia is considered by Pennsylvanians to be a native-son. Beginning in the 1950s, Bertoia established his studio in Bally Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. He continued to live and work here until his death in 1978.

A public exhibition will precede the sale, both to be held at Freeman’s Philadelphia headquarters at 1808 Chestnut Street.

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