Freeman's December 6 auction of Modern & Contemporary Art offers a selection of quality, fresh-to-market works by some of the world's most influential artists. Department head Dunham Townend shares her favorite works in this upcoming sale. Exhibition for this sale is now open to the public, and we invite you to join us on Chestnut Street to view these and other works being offered.
We are delighted to have multiple works by Harry Bertoia in this season’s auction, including examples of the artist’s bush forms, spray sculptures and sonambient pieces. These sonambient, or sounding, sculptures were an enduring and important theme in Bertoia’s work. Comprised of multiple metal rods that – when swayed – collide with one another to emanate ringing tones, the sonambient sculptures “can move in the wind…and can be touched and played like an instrument”, the artist once mused. Indeed, Bertoia would play concerts in his studio and even recorded albums of his sculptural symphonies. These sounding pieces have always captured my imagination, and I am especially drawn to this particular piece. Standing at a height of 84 inches, it is striking in its scale. And, when I’ve been lucky enough to hear it sound, its graceful rods chime and echo with rich, bell-like tones.
In 1904, James Ensor published a portfolio of etchings entitled “The Seven Deadly Sins”, a series of satirical prints based upon the traditional Christian themes of morality. This double-sided drawing depicts the artist’s original pencil studies for the sins of Sloth and Lust portrayed in the print series. When I look at this drawing, I can’t help but imagine the artist at his notebook, contemplating his composition and sketching his ideas onto the page. Intimate and immediate, these studies allow me a glimpse into Ensor’s mind and working method. I’m also interested in the provenance of this work. It comes from the collection of Albert Croquez, who – in addition to being a prominent lawyer, art collector and historian – counted Ensor amongst his closest friends and authored the first monographic publication on the artist’s prints. Knowing that this pieces comes from the collection of someone who passed many days with the artist lends it an additional element of personal resonance for me.
"La Paresse" and "La Luxure" (double sided drawing)
Arnaldo Roche Rabell paints with a vibrant and energetic hand. His surfaces are tactile and heavy with impasto, his colors bold and expressive, and his subjects layered and often enigmatic. Vegetales III is an excellent example of these qualities. The large canvas is covered entirely with lush vegetation radiating outward in all directions. The viewer can’t be certain if he has an aerial view of a forest floor or if he is immersed within the thick branches. Also intriguing are the two eyes peeking through the overlapping leaves at the painting’s center. Rabell often includes spectral figures within his foliage paintings, their bodies and shadows hidden variously. In Vegetales III, this figure is especially well hidden, visible only by its piercing eyes.
Arnaldo Roche Rabell
Reflections on Conversation is from Lichtenstein’s 1990 series Reflections, a series of seven prints in which the main image is partially obscured by reflective streaks that have been printed and collaged onto the paper in order to create the effect of a reflective surface, as if the work is behind glass or a mirror. The man and the woman in this print are engaged in a conversation, but we are not privy to the tone of their exchange because the reflective band runs right across their faces, leaving their expression a mystery. I am particularly drawn to this print because I’m curious to know more about their dynamic. Are they happy to see one another? Are they angry? I could look at it and make a different guess each time depending on my own whims in that moment.
"Reflections on Conversation"