Contemporary Art Top Lots

Top Lots: Bigger, Brighter

Check out the top lots in this Spring's biggest, brightest sale.

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Published on
May 16, 2023

Capsule's marquee event of the season, Bigger, Brighter: Modern, Postwar, and Contemporary offers beautiful examples of hallmark modern and contemporary movements such as Abstract Expressionism, Color Field, Pop Art, and Cubism. Highlights from the sale include paintings by Morris Graves, Augustin Fernandez, Milton Resnick and Paul Staiger as well as photography by Annie Leibowitz. See a selection of the top lots below. 

Lot 32, Michael Loew, Red and Green Staccato (1977)

Lot 32 | Michael Loew, Red and Green Staccato (1977)


This late 1970's work by Michael Loew is being offered for the first time at auction. Works by Loew can be found in museum collections such as the University of California, Berkeley where he taught in the '60s, the Whitney Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Guggenheim, and many others.

Lot 24, Morris Graves, Spiked Chalice, 1942

Lot 24 | Morris Graves, Spiked Chalice (1942)


Spiked Chalice by American painter Morris Graves boasts a compelling exhibition history, having made rounds with West Coast museums such as the Legion of Honor and San Francisco Museum of Art (now known as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art). The chalice was a recurring motif for Graves, who was known for his muted, mystical style.

Lot 20, Agustin Fernandez, Satan and Eve, 1980

Lot 20 | Agustín Fernández, Satan and Eve (1980)


Satan and Eve by Agustín Fernández is a viscerally captivating work and is expected to be one of the top lots of the sale. The Cuban-born artist exhibited extensively and his work resides in numerous collections including the Museum of Modern Art.

Lot 18, Jan and Joel Martel, Locomotive, c. 1931

Lot 18 | Jan and Jöel Martel, Locomotive (c.1981)


French sculptors Jan and Jöel Martel were twin brothers born in 1896 and were among the founding members of Union des Artistes Modernes. Sharing the same workshop, their jointly created works were co-signed simply Martel or J.J. Martel. At the request of the French national railways system, brothers Jan and Jöel Martel were commissioned to create a series of modernist aluminum locomotive sculptures for the Colonial Exhibition, 1931. Among them was this one, acquired by Geoffrey Beene in 1982. Proceeds from this very special item are to benefit the Geoffrey Beene Cancer Research Center at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

Lot 19, Richard Hunt, Winged Hybrid, 1973

Lot 19 | Richard Hunt, Winged Hybrid (1973)


Richard Hunt, the first African American sculptor to have had a retrospective at the MoMA and recipient of numerous accolades, is described by some as one of the most important sculptors in American history. The sale is privileged to include Winged Hybrid, a dynamic welded steel work by Hunt.

Lot 35, Marisol, Untitled

Lot 35 | Marisol Escobar, Untitled


From the Graciela Kartofel collection, the sale includes a captivating drawing by the famous Venezuelan-American artist Marisol Escobar. Known as Marisol, her works are included in several important museum collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Lot 34, Manuel Hernandez Mompo, Gallo, 1959

Lot 34 | Manuel Hernández Mompó, Gallo (1959)


Already garnering attention, Manuel Hernández Mompó's rooster figure Gallo is a lively addition to the sale.

Lot 31, Lucas Samaras, Feet, 1961

Lot 31 | Lucas Samaras, Feet (1961)


Before delving into his diverse multimedia and photography explorations, Greek-American artist Lucas Samaras demonstrated a strong inclination towards pastels, making this 1961 example a notable item in the sale

Lot 33, Paul Staiger, The Home of Jose Ferrer, 1019 Roxbury Drive (1970)

Lot 33 | Paul Staiger, The Home of José Ferrer, 1019 Roxbury Drive (1970)


1019 Roxbury Drive was the home of legendary actress and singer Rosemary Clooney, who lived there with her actor and director husband José Ferrer. Located in Beverly Hills, Roxbury Drive is one of the more iconic "celebrity streets", having housed stars such as Lucille Ball, Jimmy Stewart, and George Gershwin, who lived in 1019 before Clooney and Ferrer. 1019 N. Roxbury Drive was demolished and rebuilt after Clooney's death, making this work by Paul Staiger all the more unqiue.

Lot 37, Hiro Yamagata, Untitled (Village Carnival) (1974)

Lot 37 | Hiro Yamagata, Untitled (Village Carnival) (1974)


Before his immersion into light installation art, Hiro Yamagata's earlier work like this oil on canvas still showcased his use of vivid color.

Lot 28, Sokichi Suga, No.14

Lot 28 | Sokichi Suga, No. 14


Celebrated Japanese artist Sokichi Suga has several fresh-to-market works included in the sale. 

Lot 27, Richard Diebenkorn, Woman Seated in Armchair (1965)

Lot 27 | Richard Diebenkorn, Woman Seated in Armchair (1965)


A distinctive lithograph, edition 42 out of 100 from 1965 by Richard Diebenkorn depicts a woman elegantly seated in an armchair. An important part of the Bay Area Figurative movement, Diebenkorn's works can be found in museum collections such as the de Young Museum, San Francisco, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, and the Whitney Museum of Art, New York.

Lot 23, Jennifer Bartlett, In the Garden #65 (c. 1980)

Lot 23 | Jennifer Bartlett, In the Garden #65 (c. 1980)


Jennifer Bartlett, Mills College alumna and student of Josef Albers, favored this motif of an old swimming pool for her series, "In the Garden". Focused on one garden of a villa in Nice, France, Bartlett created over 200 drawings for the series which spanned multiple years and mediums. 

Lot 22, Milton Resnick, Untitled, 1983

Lot 22 | Milton Resnick, Untitled (1983)


Milton Resnick's Untitled showcases a dense tonality and texture characteristic of the artist's style. A popular lot in the sale, Resnick's works are highly sought-after. 

Lot 17, Tom Corbin, Untitled (Female Nude), 1955

Lot 17 | Tom Corbin, Untitled (Female Nude) (1955)


Sculptor Tom Corbin has reached much success with entering the collections of numerous museums as well as several celebrity art collections such as those owned by Alec Baldwin, Tom Hanks, Nicole Kidman, and many more. His artistic style notably features the figure as a foundational element, seen here in this 1955 bronze.

Lot 76, Annie Leibovitz, White Oak Dance Project (1990)

Lot 76 | Annie Leibovitz, White Oak Dance Project (1990)


The White Oak Dance Project was founded in by Mikhail Baryshnikov and choreographer Mark Morris in 1990. This lot by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz is a prominent feature of the sale. Invited by Baryshnikov, Leibovitz explored themes of movement, documentary, and physical form. 

Exhibition hours: May 22-24 | 11:00am - 3:00pm and by appointment  

Pre-bidding for Bigger, Brighter: Modern, Postwar, Contemporary is available now. Live bidding begins May 25 at 11:00 AM EST.

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