Freeman's May 1 auction of Modern & Contemporary Art offers a selection of quality examples of works by some of the world's most influential artists. Department members Anne Henry, Dunham Townend and Shannon Jeffers share their favorite works in this upcoming sale. Exhibition for this sale will open to the public on Wednesday, April 27. We invite you to join us on Chestnut Street to view these and other works being offered.
This sale includes several pieces by self-taught artists who worked outside the traditional confines of the art-historical mainstream. Thornton Dial, who passed away this year at the age of 87, is a celebrated member of this group of so-called “outsider artists.” Having grown up in poverty in the rural south, Dial used found objects and scavenged materials to create multi-media assemblages that reflected his unique experience and vision. The present example features a tiger, which is a frequent and important theme in Dial’s work and is often discussed as a symbol of fortitude in the face of the particular struggles and triumphs of the African-American experience. The poignant title of the present work allows us to consider strength in the face of life’s ups and downs at the same time as we enjoy the work’s bright and joyfully painted formal qualities.
"A Little Jungle Picture (The Baby Tiger Didn't Know About the World But He's Going to Find Out)"
To me, everything about this print embodies quintessential 1960’s Pop art in New York: primary colors, great graphic detail, and Lichtenstein’s wry humor (the life-buoy in the background as the visual stand-in for a ‘real life boy’). This work is so sought-after now that many unauthorized reproductions have come onto the market in recent years. When I saw this work hanging in a Philadelphia artist’s home last year, however, I knew it was the real thing. The fading towards the top is typical as inks on these offset prints are extremely sensitive to light. In this instance, this small condition issue is actually one indication of its authenticity. The signature is sharp and fresh, and the image one of Lichtenstein’s most iconic of that era. ‘Shipboard Girl’ was purchased by our client along with ‘Sunrise’ for a scant $15 when she pitched her own paintings to Castelli’s gallery manager in the mid-1960’s. She laughs when she recounts the story saying that for many years afterwards he tried to buy back what they both jokingly referred to as ‘the best gift ever.’
As a former student of the Barnes, University of Pennsylvania and PAFA, and long-term professor at the University of the Arts, Edna Andrade holds a special place in the hearts of Philadelphians- the staff of Freeman’s included. We’ve been pleased to offer Andrade’s work many times in the past, but are particularly excited about this piece, as it marks an important transitional moment in the artist’s career as she began to shift from surrealist landscapes to explorations in optical effects. “Cross” was completed in 1963 and she returned to the motif frequently in the coming years, as it allowed her to experiment with a variety of color combinations and illusionistic techniques. Besides being critical to Andrade’s artistic development, “Cross” is a favorite here because of the beauty and elegance of its clean geometric format and harmonious color palette.