Peter’s Picks: LA Connections

Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA)
Feb 25, 2015 12:00AM

LAMA is excited to be the first commercial auction house to partner with Artsy. For the March 1, 2015 Modern Art & Design Auction, LAMA and Artsy together present 24 lots, biddable on Artsy. Below, Peter Loughrey, founder and director of LAMA, picks eight key lots that demonstrate the importance of Los Angeles’s art scene, with so many significant artworks having been created in, around, about, or for the California city.

L.A. has a rich history as a center of art. Ferus Gallery (1957–1966) was a magnet for the coolest east and west coast artists. (Famously, Ferus was the first commercial gallery to show Andy Warhol and his Campbell’s Soup Cans on the left side of the U.S.) The west coast fosters a liberating and pioneering approach to experimentation in art. Artists here were inspired by the physical, social, and technical environment—resulting in movements like Light and Space. World-class museums such as the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) and Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) call L.A. home, as does Hollywood and its celebrity culture. Attendance keeps rising and buzz continues to surround all of L.A.’s art fairs, which include Paris Photo Los Angeles, Printed Matter’s L.A. Art Book Fair, Art Los Angeles Contemporary, L.A. Art Show, and Paramount Ranch. Young artists continue to migrate to L.A. for its stellar fine art institutions and programs—and for its affordable light and space, a welcome setting in which to make art. LAMA’s March 1st auction will showcase L.A.’s history of attracting great art and design, with key lots by Frank Stella, Alexander Calder, Charles and Ray Eames, Lucian Freud, Ed Ruscha, Andy Warhol, Peter Alexander, and Jeff Koons—all artists with ties to the City of Angels.

Lot 99 – Frank StellaPurple Series, 1972

This full suite of lithographs by blue-chip artist Frank Stella was produced at L.A. printing powerhouse Gemini G.E.L. It’s being deaccessioned from LACMA’s collection—comes with a fantastic provenance!

Lot 201 – Alexander CalderUntitled (LACMA Poster), 1965

Alexander Calder created this lithograph and used its image to design the poster for LACMA’s opening in 1965. The well-known New York artist was thrilled to contribute to the birth of the L.A. art institution. This lithograph is in exceptional condition and retains the artist’s signature in graphite.

Lot 32 – Charles and Ray EamesLounge chair & ottoman (2), Designed 1956; this example executed before 1995

Charles and Ray Eames chose to set up shop in L.A. in the 1940s. The designers produced mid-century modern furniture icons like this lounge chair and ottoman duo. The classic design seamlessly works in all modern homes, oozing a Southern California vibe. 

Lot 87 – Lucian FreudAfter Chardin (Small Plate), 2000

One of the foremost figurative contemporary artists, Lucian Freud, best known as a painter, revisited etching as a favored medium in the early 1980s. This etching was produced by LACMA and comes from MOCA’s collection—a piece with museum-to-museum history! This is a collector’s no-brainer.

Lot 11 – Ed RuschaPearl Dust Combination (from Insects Portfolio), 1972

L.A.–based artist and icon Ed Ruscha defies categorization with his diverse output of photographic books and tongue-in-cheek photo-collages, paintings, and drawings. His Insects Portfolio reflects the physical condition, or infestation, rather, of his studio. Don’t worry—no actual pests were used. The layer of pearl dust adds an unexpectedly luxurious sheen. Having been in a flat file since new, this screenprint is in pristine condition and ready for framing.

Lot 205 – Andy WarholSidewalk, 1983; published 1984

Andy Warhol is of course known for his fascination with celebrity. Produced from a photograph taken by Warhol, this screenprint shows the footprints, handprints, and autographs of movie stars on Hollywood Boulevard by what was once Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (now Mann’s Chinese Theatre). This print is from the Eight by Eight to Celebrate the Temporary Contemporary Portfolio, published as a fundraiser for the new MOCA building (now called the Geffen Contemporary). It is in outstanding condition and has never been mounted or framed, so the colors are as bright as the day it was made.

Lot 221 – Jeff KoonsBalloon Dog (Red), 1995

Blue-chip artist Jeff Koons turns banal objects into high art icons. His monumental Balloon Dogs are in museum collections worldwide. But you can get your own Koons sculpture at desktop size! This lot was published by MOCA Editions, and comes with its original box and plate stand. L.A.’s allure attracted art star Koons out west, allowing Angelenos to take a piece of him. 

Lot 13 – Peter AlexanderWedge with Puff, 1968

Peter Alexander is one of the pioneering California Light and Space artists of the 1960s. This is an exciting find—the beautiful, luminescent Wedge with Puff is among his earliest cast polyester resin pieces (rare, because he later revisited cast resin in urethane, since it was less toxic for him to use). This lot is on the market for the first time, having originally been acquired from the artist directly!

Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA)