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Making Impressions: Modern and Contemporary Works on Paper

Works on paper in Capsule's upcoming Postwar and Contemporary Art sale innovate on centuries-old mediums.

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November 14, 2022
Lot 84 Helen Frankenthaler, I Need Yellow
Lot 84 | Helen Frankenthaler, I Need Yellow

Helen Frankenthaler's I Need Yellow is nothing if not eye-catching: in accordance with the spirit of her oeuvre, color is the true subject of this impressive lithograph. According to the poet Tony Towle, whose time at Universal Limited Art Editions overlapped with Frankenthaler's, the title of the work originates from a spontaneous epiphany: ".... Helen and I were sitting around the table after signing the woodcut [East and Beyond], and I said to Helen that she had a special gift for using the color yellow. Helen said yes, I guess I need yellow," he recalled. Other impressions of the sunny print are held in the collections of both the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. 

Lot 51 Abraham Walkowitz, Untitled (Portrait)
Lot 51 | Abraham Walkowitz, Untitled (Portrait)

Russian-American artist Abraham Walkowitz is perhaps best known for his works depicting famed dancer Isadora Duncan. In this untitled portrait, he engages deeply with modernism in a manner similar to that with which he approached the illustrious series. This pastel on paper work is unwilling to play coy-- staring directly ahead with a somber expression, its subject is forthright with her individuality. 

Lot 87 Joan Miró, Miró Lithographe II - Plate VI
Lot 87 | Joan Miró, Miró Lithographe II - Plate VI

In bold blue, green, red, yellow, and black, Spanish artist Joan Miró renders the biomorphic abstractions he became so well known for. His ability to blend geometric and organic shapes as well as painterly hand coloring with flat lithography is remarkable. As does much of his work, this print evokes child-like aesthetics in an attempt to engage with the subconscious. 

Lot 2 Larry Rivers, 2 Works on Paper
Lot 2| Larry Rivers, 2 Works on Paper

The work of Larry Rivers defies categorization. Andy Warhol once said “Larry’s painting style was unique – it wasn’t Abstract Expressionism and it wasn’t Pop, it fell into the period in between. But his personality was very Pop.” This pair of drawings, depicting dynamic yet incredibly simple human forms, reduces Rivers' style to its essential nature.

Lot 79 Paul Cadmus, Jon (NM235)
Lot 79| Paul Cadmus, Jon (NM235)

Apart from his egg tempera paintings, it is single male nude drawings like these that earned Paul Cadmus a reputation as one of the modern greats. Stylized and highly finished, Jon reads as a fresh take on a classic subject.

Lot 12 Gandy Brodie, Demolition Scene
Lot 12| Gandy Brodie, Demolition Scene

When speaking of Gandy Brodie's work, the term "second-generation" Abstract Expressionist is often used. The gouache and pastel on paper work included in Capsule's Postwar and Contemporary sale, Demolition Scene, is a beautiful example of why this characterization is so appropriate. Though the composition contains the dynamism and painterly quality that underpins the Abstract Expressionist aesthetic, the work on paper's layered quality, rife with rigid and geometric elements, feels like an advance on the movement rather than a part of it.

Lot 88 Tom Wesselmann, Monica Sitting with Mondrian (1989)
Lot 88| Tom Wesselmann, Monica Sitting with Mondrian (1989)

Tom Wesselmann’s limited edition print, Monica Sitting with Mondrain (1989), is a fabulous example of the blue-chip artist's bold Pop art inspired style. The work certainly fits within (and makes a direct comment on) what Wesselmann has called "the prime mission of [his] art": "to make figurative art as exciting as abstract art." 

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