Mel Bochner, Julian Schnabel & More Contemporary Masters

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Our Contemporary Art Online sale offers a range of exciting works by leaders of contemporary art — from an iconic language-based conceptual work by Mel Bochner to an evocative expressionistic work by Julian Schnabel. Among the many highlights are the whimsical painting King Kong Dog, by George Rodrigue, which is based on Cajun myth, along with a paint-and-canvas collage by Conrad Marca-Relli that is nearly Cubist in approach. Click ahead to discover more.

Mel Bochner, Julian Schnabel & More Contemporary Masters

  • Alfonso Ossorio, Turn for the Better, circa 1950. Estimate $25,000–35,000.
    Philippine-born Alfonso Ossorio emerged as a prominent figure among a group of artists working in New York including Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning and Barnett Newman. Ossorio fused elements of Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism and Art Brut with an array of materials and techniques. Ossorio’s studio and home in East Hampton, New York became a central hub for the art scene and provided the artist access to an immense range of natural materials from seashells to deer antlers, found objects that would become the foundation of his iconic assemblages referred to as congregations.

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  • Alex Katz, Untitled (March), circa 1964. Estimate $18,000–25,000.
    Alex Katz developed his highly stylized aesthetic in the 1950s in reaction to Abstract Expressionism, his approach founded on his own resolution between formalism and representation. The apparent minimalist and flat nature in Katz’s brightly colored figurative and landscape paintings belies his deft application of paint and the subtleties in tonal variation. Katz takes cues from everyday visual culture, borrowing similar source material to the Pop artists of his generation – and some have even argued prior to them – yet working independently.

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  • Conrad Marca-Relli, The Struggle, 1955. Estimate $50,000–70,000.
    In the early 1950s, Marca-Relli abandoned his de Chirico-influenced cityscapes for his signature paint-and-canvas collages. These works rank amongst the finest achievements of the New York School Abstract Expressionists, and are evenly filled with incident, but with individual forms rigorously subordinate to the composition of the whole. Unlike some of his peers in the New York school, Marca-Relli’s mode of painting and collage was not necessarily expressive. His surfaces are built by fragment and increment in such a manner that it is easy to compare Marca-Relli’s palate of brown and pepper-grey to that of Cubism.

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  • Al Hansen, Untitled, circa 1967. Estimate $4,000–6,000.
    Al Hansen was an early member of the Fluxus Art Group and a pioneer in the fields of performance art and “Happenings.” His body of work includes numerous collages predicated on Venus of Willendorf, as in the present work. He sought to draw a connection between those first primal art instincts and his own body of work.

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  • Julian Schnabel, Receivership (from "Ornamental Despair"), 1980. Estimate $50,000– 70,000.
    Julian Schnabel truly broke into the art scene in the early 1980s with his “plate paintings” – large-scale paintings created on broken ceramic plates. This work is of that period, and was painted in the same year as his inclusion in the Venice Biennale with Anselm Kiefer and George Baselitz. Indeed, Receivership From Ornamental Despair calls to mind the works of Schnabel’s German Neo-Expressionist peers Anselm Kiefer, Georg Baselitz and Albert Oehlen. Here, Schnabel offers a hybrid of figuration and abstraction, line and form.

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  • George Rodrigue, King Kong Dog, 1995. Estimate $50,000–70,000.
    George Rodrigue began his career by painting Lousiana landscapes, followed soon after by outdoor family gatherings and his renditions of southwest Louisiana 19th-century and early 20th-century genre scenes. However, it was his Blue Dog paintings, which Rodrigue painted from the mid-1990s onward, which would catapult the artist to worldwide recognition. This series was based on a Cajun legend called loup-garou, of which the present work is a prime early example. Rodrigue’s fame has steadily increased since his death in 2013.

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  • Mel Bochner, Irascible, 2007. Estimate $40,000–60,000.
    Mel Bochner is a conceptual artist best known for his works incorporating language. Irascible, like all of his text-based works, takes its name from the first word in the series. The following words or phrases are all synonyms, some immediately recognizable while others more colloquial. In these works, Bochner explores the intersection of linguistic and visual representation, with the individualized color scheme of each word within the series serving to further this investigation.

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  • Andy Warhol, You’re In, 1966. Estimate $40,000–60,000.
    Obsessed with celebrity, consumer culture, and mechanical (re)production, Pop artist Andy Warhol created some of the most iconic images of the 20th century. His best known works include his silkscreen paintings Campbell’s Soup Cans, Marilyn Diptych, Mao, Double Elvis, and Green Coca-Cola Bottles. The present work is reminiscent of a Duchampian readymade, albeit with Warhol flair. Here, he spray-paints twenty-four Coca-Cola bottles – both the color silver and the consumer good itself instantly recognizable.

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  • Victor Vasarely, E-G-1-2, 1967. Estimate $40,000–60,000.
    Victor Vasarely is widely regarded as a forefather of the Op art movement. Indeed, Vaserely is quoted as stating: “I have faith in the advent of a polychrome and multidimensional language technological art that will radiate as the first purely visual language void of any anecdotic or literary references." He painted EG-1-2 two years after his inclusion in the Museum of Modern Art, New York exhibition The Responsive Eye.

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  • Richard Hambleton, Orchard St., 1999. Estimate $30,000–50,000.
    Hambleton entered the New York City art scene in the 1980s alongside other street and graffiti artists such as Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Orchard St. belongs to his “Shadowman” paintings, which he began in the early 1980s. True to their name, these works represent a silhouetted image of some mysterious figure. Hambleton would also splash and brush with black paint his “shadow figures” on hundreds of buildings across New York City, eventually expanding the scope of his project to cities including Paris, London, and Rome. This work takes its title from a stop sign on which he painted in the Lower East Side, where the artist lived and worked.

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  • Richard Hambleton, Untitled, 2002–06. Estimate $40,000­–60,000.
    In his “Beautiful Paintings” series, Richard Hambleton often incorporated found materials into his work, as is the case here with a discarded shelf, on which he rendered a ghoulish river scene. According to Hambleton, “The Beautiful Paintings are not seascapes, rainscapes, or landscapes – they are escapes.”

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  • Al Held, Nectarius II, 1987. Estimate $40,000–60,000.
    Al Held was an Abstract Expressionist painter best known for his large-scale Hard-edge paintings, with the present work being an example from this series. The ‘Hard-edge’ paintings are marked by abrupt transitions between color areas, with each area typically a single, unvarying color. This school of painting bears relation to Op Art, Color Field painting and Geometric abstraction. While it is this body of work for which Al Held is most recognized, he nonetheless underwent numerous stylistic changes throughout his career. All the while, he remained independent from the crosscurrents of artistic movement at these respective stages.

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  • Franz Kline, Untitled, 1957. Estimate $40,000–60,000.
    Before Abstract Expressionism’s influence was fortified, Franz Kline was a master draughtsman of lively port scenes and moody interiors. It is speculated that the angular geometries of chair frames and the steel trusses of bridges in his native Pennsylvania the originary sources of the artist’s iconic black and white paintings. In his black and white paintings, Kline establishes his vocabulary, sometimes organic, fluid, and even lyrical, while other times more geometric and architectonic. Kline’s paintings are some of the most important in the American postwar oeuvre: they capture the momentum and aspirations of an industrial society pulled by the opposing forces of unrivaled mobility and unprecedented destruction.

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  • Alexander Calder, Wood Worm, 1966. Estimate $25,000–35,000.
    Calder is best known for his innovative sculptures, known as mobiles, in which he introduced a fourth dimension – time. Indeed, Calder is regarded as one of the preeminent sculptors of the twentieth century. Throughout his career, the artist was also a prodigious producer of works on paper, such as the present work. Wood Worm’s color palette relates to his sculpture practice, in that he often used the primary colors in addition to black. Calder’s gouaches also call to mind those of Miró. Indeed, the two artists were close, both in friendship and in practice.

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  • Nicholas Krushenick, Orange Block Co., 1972. Estimate $30,000–50,000.
    Nicholas Krushenick first developed his signature “pop abstract” style in the early 1960s, which was a synthesis of Op Art, Pop Art, Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism and Color Field. The high-keyed color, formal rigor and graphic intensity of his paintings set Krushenick apart from his contemporaries. His work was exhibited in solo exhibitions at the blue-chip galleries of the 1960s and 1970s, including Galerie Sonnabend, Galerie Beyeler and Pace, and he was the subject of a mid-career retrospective at the Walker Art Center in 1968.

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  • William Kentridge, 4 Films, 1993. Estimate $10,000–15,000.
    William Kentridge is a multidisciplinary artist whose practice spans drawing, prints, animated film and even intricate theatrical performances. His films, of which the present work is an early example, involve highly detailed stop-motion. Typically, and is the case here, a single drawing is repeatedly altered by hand, lending a sense of movement and plotline distinct to Kentridge’s oeuvre. Kentridge was raised by two prominent civil rights lawyers who became famous for their defense of victims of apartheid. As such, and in addition as an ethnically Jewish white man in South Africa, he comes from a distinctly unique position to observe the past and present sociopolitical anxieties that permeate his home country.

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  • John Wesley, Brown Woman in Half Slip, 1995. Estimate $30,000–50,000.
    John Wesley is recognized for his large-format depictions of bodies and cartoon characters, rendered with a signature flatness and limited color range. His work does not define easy categorization: while containing many of the emblems of Pop art, his style is akin to Minimalism. Indeed, his closest personal associations were with artists such as Dan Flavin and Donald Judd. Judd would later pen a laudatory essay on Wesley’s work and set aside a space for him at his complex in Marfa, Texas. Wesley himself considers his work to be aligned with Surrealism.

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  • Sam Francis, Untitled, 1979. Estimate $30,000–40,000.
    Sam Francis was associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement. However, unlike many American painters of the time he had direct and prolonged exposure to French painting and to Japanese art which had an individual impact on his work. Here, a sense of order can be discerned amidst the seeming haphazard splashing of color.

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  • Sam Gilliam, Wander, 1995. Estimate $25,000–35,000.
    Sam Gilliam is an innovative colorist who, by cutting and rearranging geometric shapes from thickly painted canvases, expanded his experiments in color and improvisation. Gilliam’s solo exhibition last year at the Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland is an indication of the recent surge in appreciation of the artist’s oeuvre.

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  • Ugo Rondinone, Seven Small Mountains, 2016. Estimate $20,000–30,000.
    Rondinone’s practice spans a variety of media, but he is best known for his land-art-inspired sculptures, such as the present work. These fluorescently-painted rocks range from tabletop size to his Seven Magic Mountains, car-sized stones stacked 32 feet high.

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