10 Specialist Picks by Harrison Tenzer

Launch Slideshow

I’m excited to share some of the works in the Contemporary Art Online sale that I believe have exceptional value. When I think of what a work of value means to me, I don’t necessarily think about price tags, but about art historical significance, rarity to the market and how a piece illustrates the conceptual and aesthetic goals of the artist. The Contemporary Art Online sale includes both emerging and financially undervalued artists that gained institutional notoriety in the Post-War era. With estimates ranging from $800 to $50,000, this sale is an excellent platform for new and established collectors alike to acquire works of value at accessible prices. –Harrison Tenzer, Head of Contemporary Art Online.

Contemporary Art Online
Bidding Open Through 3 March


10 Specialist Picks by Harrison Tenzer

  • Richard Prince, Untitled, 1987.
    Prince began his career by appropriating images from advertisements, liberating pictures from their textual context. With the Joke series , which the artist began in 1987 when this photograph was created, the artist deployed a related strategy, re-contextualizing jokes from American comedians that were popular in the 1950s and 60s. In the past two years a number of monochromatic joke canvases of the same scale as this photograph have sold for over $200,000. While unique canvases are of course more highly valued than photographs, this gives an indication of the importance of the artist’s Joke series. An edition of only two and with no directly comparable photographs of Jokes to come to auction, this work is a rarity.

  • Chryssa, Untitled (Red), circa 1985.
    Chryssa began incorporating neon into her work in the early 1960s at the same time that Dan Flavin and Bruce Nauman, who are both seen as the figureheads of neon art. The market and recent institutional attention that the male artists have experienced far outpaces that which Chryssa has enjoyed, indicating to me that her work is undervalued.  During her lifetime, she had solo exhibitions at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Her work is in the collections of Museum of Modern Art, New York;  Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Center, Washington D.C. and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. With only 30 neon works by the artist to have come to auction since 2010, a large portion of which were small-scale editioned works, this is an excellent opportunity to acquire a vibrant work by an artist who I believe will continue to accrue value. Furthermore, one of the only works of comparable scale and date to come to auction sold for $185,000 in 2014, setting the record for the artist. You can read more about the concepts behind this specific work here .

  • Vincent Fecteau, Untitled, 1999.
    Inspired by architectural models and renderings, Fecteau began creating sculptures out of paper and other quotidian materials in the 1990s. The artist was just named a MacArthur fellow in September 2016, confirming the conceptual and aesthetic rigor of his practice. Aside from this great honor, Fecteau has had solo exhibitions at Secession , Vienna and Kunsthalle Basel in the past two years. Only five of the artist’s works have come to auction, the most recent selling for $50,000 in 2015. Given the recent institutional attention Fecteau has enjoyed as well as the rarity of his works to the secondary market, I’m very excited to have this work in my sale. 

  • Franz Kline, Study for Shenandoah Wall, 1960.
    I love works that give you a window into how an artist thinks about their practice. This study for a much larger painting is an excellent example of such a piece. Though associated with the immediate and spontaneous action painting of artists like Jackson Pollack, Kline created many studies for his paintings to ensure that he arrived at the right composition. There have been many studies to come to auction, including one that sold at Sotheby’s in November for $588,500, the second highest price at auction for a work on paper by the artist. While there have been many works on paper to sell at auction, they are all quite unique and shed light on the different facets of the artist’s philosophy on painting. I particularly like the horizontal orientation of this work, which is less common, and the fact that it was created shortly before the artist passed away. You can read more about this work here .

  • Sam Gilliam, E, 1995.
    83 year old Sam Gilliam is an African-American artist, who until very recently has been overlooked by the market. Associated with the Washington Color School , Gilliam gained notoriety for draping his painted canvases from the ceiling as opposed to stretching them, blending the line between sculpture and painting. Over the decades, Gilliam’s style evolved as he turned to collaging and quilting canvas and paper. This current lot is an excellent example of his constant desire to conflate the traditionally 2-D discipline of painting with sculpture. Gilliam is still active and will be showing work in this year’s Venice Biennale . With the majority of the artist’s top auction records set since 2015, Gilliam’s market is on the rise. 

  • Silke Otto-Knapp, Rose Bowl, 2004.
    Represented by Gavin Brown’s Enterprise , a gallery renowned for its ability to spot young talent early on, German artist Silke Otto-Knapp currently has an exhibition at Mary Boone Gallery and recently created a monumental work for the Hammer Museum , Los Angeles. One of the most alluring aspects of the artist’s practice is the way she blends abstraction with figuration. In the current lot, the artist creates a vaporous tableau that does not immediately reveal the trees and rolling hills that are the figurative subject of the work. With relatively few works by Otto-Knapp to come to auction, this is an excellent opportunity to acquire a work by an artist who has made great strides in her career this past year.

  • George Segal, Wendy With Chin on Hand, 1982.
    Segal is known for creating many public monuments commemorating important historical events ranging from Gay Liberation to The Great Depression . While the present lot is one of his smaller tabletop pieces, it is closely linked to the artist’s larger monuments. This work comes from the William and Fern Lowenberg Family, one of the families that paid for the creation of Segal’s The Holocaust , a bronze sculpture in Lincoln Park, near San Francisco’s Palace of Legion of Honor that honors the victims of the Holocaust. Mr. Lowenberg became close with the artist during this time and was even asked to model for one of the figures in the memorial. Around this time Mr. Lowenberg purchased the present lot, which is a unique in that the artist hand-painted it – two other examples from this edition have sold and neither have been painted. While the majority of the artist’s works that have sold at auction are either white patinated metal or white plaster there are few hand painted works that come to auction. I think that this is a particularly rare piece given its hand-painting and provenance.

  • Don Eddy, Bumper Section II, 1969.
    Don Eddy is one of the most overlooked Photo Realists. The works of fellow painters Ralph Goings and Richard Estes have sold for over $500,000 at auction, while Eddy’s record is $60,000, meaning there is definitely room for his market to grow. This work is a particularly interesting example of the central idea behind Photo Realism – translating every detail of a photograph on to a canvas with paint. In this lot, the artist paints a reflection of himself taking a picture of the chrome bumper of the car, revealing the initial artistic act of capturing the subject. Furthermore, while very mimetic, the white space around the central image and the distorted reflections of the chrome add an air of abstraction that is rare for works of Photo Realism. I’m happy to have two paintings by the artist as well as an early work by Estes in the sale to shed light on the more abstract aspects of Photo Realism (check out Lots 442 and 443 ).

  • Jonathan Horowitz, Self-portrait in "Mirror #16 (24" diameter)" (Kathryn), 2015.
    Keenly interested in American politics, the artist staged the exhibition Occupy Greenwich at the Brant Foundation Art Study Center during the recent U.S. election to explore political tensions within the nation (for a similar exhibition from 2012, check out Your Land/My Land ). While the current lot is not overtly political, it foregrounds the complexities of what it is to create a self-portrait, and more specifically, what it is to define yourself in today’s world. For more specifics on the work, check out our catalog note here . As an artist employing appropriative techniques to critique our contemporary culture, Horowitz has created a body of work that I believe will come to be illustrative of our time and grow in both art historical and financial value. With only a few works from this series ever to come to auction, all of which sold for $50,000 and above, I think that this work will do well. 

  • Glenn Ligon, Negro Sunshine Study II #44 , 2011.
    Glenn Ligon uses text culled from a variety of sources to draw attention to the ways in which mainstream society attempts to define and control the identity of marginalized people. “Negro sunshine” is a phrase from Three Lives, a 1909 novella by Gertrude Stein about a mixed-raced woman who navigates the racial biases of early twentieth century society.  The artist has used this phrase in paintings, works on paper and as a neon sculpture that was installed in the front of the Whitney Museum of American Art during his 2011 retrospective. Estimated at the same level as other examples from this series to come to auction, this lot is an excellent opportunity to live with an important work by an internationally renowned artist at a very reasonable price. 


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