Today’s spotlight is on a beautiful pair of Jamini Roy paintings that we sold for a client. We’re updating the highlights from our 2014 consignments and auctions, and these paintings were certainly an exciting find. Jamini Roy (1887-1972) was a celebrated Indian artist who was noted for his revolutionary modernist work. Roy began his artistic career painting in an academic style, creating Western style portraits and impressionistic landscapes. He became dissatisfied with working only in the Western tradition and turned instead to the art of his own culture.
Roy spent his boyhood in Bengal and the traditional folk arts of the area, specifically Kalighat painting, influenced and informed some of his best known paintings. The Kalighat style emphasizes bold, flat colors and simplified forms. Roy reinterpreted the traditional iconography of Kalighat painting, creating vibrantly hued images of ordinary people and animals, and imbuing them with a lyrical grace and immediacy. The clean, crisp modernist lines of Roy’s paintings captured the essence of his subjects. Roy’s paintings were a critical and commercial success. Critical acclaim revolved not only around how Jamini Roy combined sophisticated modernist sensibilities with the vibrancy of folk art, but also regarded his work as the revival of an Indian artistic identity, entirely separate from Western art. The Indian government honored him with the Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian award, and he is a designated National Treasure of India.
These two paintings were purchased directly from Jamini Roy in the 1960s. We brought the paintings to sale for our client where they sold for a combined price of $11,932.
In 2009, a client brought in a striking mixed media collage signed Esteban Vicente. Our client had purchased the piece directly from the artist in the 1950s and was interested in exploring the possibility of selling it.
Esteban Vicente Perez (1903-2001) was a Spanish-born American artist and one of the first generation of New York School abstract expressionists. The New York School was an informal, avant-garde group of painters, poets, dancers, and musicians. The painters drew inspiration from a variety of sources, including surrealism and action painting. Vicente was an active member of the New York School, participating in some of the first Abstract Expressionist exhibitions, including the Sidney Janis Gallery and Charles Egan Gallery, as well as the seminal shows at the Kootz Gallery in 1950 and the 9th Street Art Exhibition in 1951.
Vicente thoughtfully explored the interaction between color, form, and texture in his paintings and collages. His early collages showed a great spontaneity, with carefully layered pieces of cut-and-torn paper. The collage that our client brought in had a beautifully subtle use of color and a wonderfully textural look. The art of collage is a combination of intention and accident, an exciting open-ended process for the artist. Vicente is often credited as reinvigorating the art of collage, lending it the immediacy and energy of action painting.
This was a wonderful original contemporary work of art that we brought to auction for our client. At the end of the day, the Esteban Vicente collage brought $25,000.
Winter is tough, but aren’t these beautiful?
At some point when I was a young boy, I was told that no two snowflakes were alike. This amazed me: the idea that every single single snowflake that fell to the ground was unique and like no other. I tried looking at them myself, but it’s not an easy task to catch a single flake undamaged to examine closely. The best I was able to do was catch small fragments or scoop up a little pile on my mitten. I could see the beautiful structure of the crystals and yes, none of the bits that I saw identically resembled each other. This made it especially incredible when I was told that there was a man who had photographed thousands of individual perfect snowflakes. His name was Wilson A Bentley.
Imagine my delight (more years later than I care to think about) when I walked into a client evaluation appointment and there were three original photographs of snowflakes signed “W A Bentley” across their backs. My client knew about Wilson Bentley, needed money for a purchase, and was curious to know their worth and if I could help her sell them. I did a little research and discovered that original photographs by Bentley usually sell for between $1000 and $1500 each. That each of these were both autographed by Bentley would probably make them sell toward the higher end of that range.
My client was very pleased and gave two of the snowflakes to us to sell for her. She did keep one for herself. If I owned the three I would probably do the same thing; they are delightful objects in their own right. It is a testament to Bentley that, because he did such a consummate job of capturing so many superbly focused and distinct images of individual snowflakes, there was a span of more than 100 years before anyone else attempted it again. When they did, they used the identical techniques that he used.
Wilson Bentley’s nickname was, (can you guess?) Snowflake, and it is estimated he made images of about 5000 snowflakes between 1885 and 1931. He described snowflake as “tiny miracles of beauty” and was the first to publish the suggestion that no two snowflakes were alike. It is perhaps apt that he died in 1931 from pneumonia after walking six miles through a blizzard.