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Tuesday, 11 February 2014 14:25

American Folk Art Museum Announces New Acquisitions

The American Folk Art Museum in New York has acquired a number of traditional folk art works as well as pieces by self-taught artists, enhancing its already-expansive permanent collection. With objects dating from the eighteenth century to the present, the museum is devoted to preserving, conserving and interpreting works of traditional and contemporary folk art.

Among the recent acquisitions is ‘The Peaceable Kingdom,’ a painting by the Quaker artist Edward Hicks. Hicks painted at least 62 versions of The Peaceable Kingdom over a period of more than 30 years. This particular version was given to Hicks’ daughter as a wedding present and remained in the Hicks family for many years. It was later represented by Edith Gregor Halpert and her pioneering American Folk Art Gallery, Terry Dintenfass, and the Sidney Janis Gallery. The painting was donated to the Folk Art Museum by Sidney Janis’ son Carroll, and his wife, Donna.

Other highlights include an elaborate architectural portrait by self-taught artist Achilles Rizzoli titled ‘The Kathredal’; a 19th-century watercolor book purchased at the recent Sotheby’s sale of the collection of Ralph O. Esmerian; an ethereal work by Thornton Dial that was gifted to the museum by the artist’s family; and a crayon and pencil drawing on pieced paper by the Mexican-American artist, Martín Ramirez, which was donated to the Folk Art Museum by David L. Davies, a former Museum trustee, and Jack Weeden, who had previously established a $1 million exhibition fund in their names.

Published in News
Monday, 18 March 2013 16:47

Exhibition Explores Evolution of the Quilt

Beyond the Bed: The American Quilt Evolution, which is on view at the Katonah Museum of Art in Katonah, New York, traces the evolution of the North American quilt from the early 19th century to the present day. The exhibition is guest curated by Jean M. Burke of Vermont’s Shelburne Museum and explores how the form, fashion and, function of quilts have changed over the centuries.

Beyond the Bed presents a wide variety of objects from bed coverings, wall decorations, and clothing to three-dimensional sculptures and furniture accessories. While, some of the quilts on view are traditional in pattern and construction, others are more progressive.

Highlights include a rare pincushion quilt attributed to a member of the Vanderbilt family; Ella B. Chase’s (unknown-1919) Pickwick Papers Crazy Quilt depicting characters from Charles Dickens’ Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club; a tromp l’oeil quilt carved by Fraser Smith (b. 1971) from a 200-pound block of wood; and a free-standing quilted sculpture by Dominique Ehrmann.

Beyond the Bed: The American Quilt Evolution will be on view through June 16, 2013.

Published in News
Thursday, 29 November 2012 18:26

New York Hosts Two Major American Art Auctions

The back-to-back American art auctions that took place at Christie’s and Sotheby’s this week both garnered impressive numbers. The auction at Christie’s on November 28 set the bar high when it reached $38,469,650 in sales. However, Sotheby’s followed up strong and achieved a total sale of $27,608,500, exceeding the high estimate of $24,158,000. Franklin Riehlman, owner of Franklin Riehlman Fine Art in New York City said, “Prices at Sotheby’s were nice and strong. Christie’s had a phenomenal sale and Liz Sterling has done a wonderful job reconstructing the department.” Elizabeth Sterling was appointed the head of American art at Christie’s earlier this year.

The top lot at Christie’s was Edward Hopper’s October on Cape Cod (1946), which went for $9.6 million and set a new record for the most expensive item sold to an online bidder. The oil painting, which features a house and small barn from a distance, is one of the last works by Hopper remaining in private hands. Other solid sales were Charles Burchfield’s Golden Dream (1959), which brought $1,202,500; Stuart Davis’ City Snow Scene (1911), which also reached $1,202,500; and Martin John Heade’s Hummingbird Perched on the Orchid Plant (1901), which brought $1,802,500.

Georgia O’Keeffe fared well at both auctions and took the top two lots at Sotheby’s; both plant paintings, Autumn Leaf II (1927) realized $4,282,500 and A White Camellia (1938) brought $3,218,500. “O’Keeffe did very well,” said Riehlman. “There was a lot of bidding.” An O’Keeffe painting titled Sun Water Maine (1922) also reached the second highest price at Christie’s when it realized $2,210,500, exceeding the high estimate of $1,500,000.

Norman Rockwell continued to perform well at Sotheby’s and two paintings exceeded their high estimates when The Muscleman (1941) sold for $2,210,500 (high estimate: $800,000) and Doctor and Doll (1942) reached $1,874,500 (high estimate: $700,000). Other impressive sales included Alfred Jacob Miller’s Caravan En Route [Sir William Drummond Stewart’s Caravan] (circa 1850), which went for $1,762,500 and Arthur Dove’s Town Scraper (circa 1933), which realized $1,258,500.

“The market for early modernists seems very strong,” said Riehlman. “Older works didn’t do as well. Cassatt and Prendergast are spotty, but 15 years ago every Cassatt would have sold.” Out of the one Mary Cassatt work offered at Sotheby’s and two present at Christie’s, not a single piece sold. Similarly, Maurice Prendergast’s one painting offered by Sotheby’s, Park Street Church, Boston (circa 1905-07), failed to sell and at Sotheby’s, Picnic Party (circa 1900-03) didn’t quite reach its low estimate of $300,000 when it sold for $290,500 and New Hampshire (circa 1910-13) just broke its low estimate of $40,000 when it realized $43,750.

“Both houses are being very selective in terms of traditional 18th and 19th century materials,” said Riehlman. Buyers are much more likely to make significant purchases when the majority of works are top-quality. Despite the declining interest in older works, there was a lot of action at both sales. Riehlman was planning on buying Marvin Cone’s Stone City Landscape (1936), which realized $752,500, a record for the artist. “It went like a freight train right by me,” he said, a testament to just how eager buyers were this week.  

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