-an excerpt from an article by Carol Salus, retired associate professor of Art History at Kent State University and lifelong friend of Roy Lichtenstein

In his pre-pop works, Roy Lichtenstein, one of the most cerebral, internationally significant and prolific artist of the past century, worked in a variety of media. Prior to his emergence on the New York art scene in the early 1960’s, Lichtenstein developed an impressive early oeuvre. While some of the paintings and prints from these early years are in permanent collections, scholarship, other than Ernst Busche’s 1988 essential study Roy Lichtenstein: Das Frühwerk 1942-1960, has yet to be completed in terms of thorough examination. There are two decades of paintings, works on paper, prints, drawings, sculpture, jewellery and even mosaic tile tables created by Lichtenstein before his career as a Pop artist was launched. While he lived in Cleveland (1951-1957) I was fortunate to now him and receive several works he made, among them a mosaic table top (ca. 1955). Mosaics, as will be shown in this discussion, reappear years later in his career.

Born in 1923, he and his younger sister Renee, were raised in an upper middle-class family on the upper West Side of Manhattan. His mother, to whom Roy was particularly close and whose wonderful sense of humor he inherited, was a homemaker. She died in 1991 at age 96. His father, who died in 1946, was a real estate broker who specialized in managing garage properties and parking lots. As a boy Roy developed a strong interest in drawing, and at age 15 he made a firm decision to be an artist.

Roy Lichtenstein was a public school student until he was 12; then he attended the Franklin School, a private academy from which he graduated in 1940. When he was 14 years old he began taking Saturday morning classes at the Parsons School of Design. After his senior years in high school, he enrolled in a summer class at the Art Students League taught by the American Realist painter Reginald Marsh.

He enrolled at Ohio State University in 1940 where his mentor Hoyt Sherman had a formidable influence on his development. Sherman developed experimental approaches to art education. Lichtenstein repeatedly acknowledged his former teacher for encouraging him “how to go about learning to look”. In 1943, a year before hi graduation, Lichtenstein was drafted into the army. He trained as a pilot and served in France and England. During his years in the military, he was assigned to enlarging cartoon images for the army newspaper Stars and Stripes. After the war, Lichtenstein, now under the GI Bill, returned to Ohio State University to complete his bachelor of Fine Arts degree in June 1946.

In August 1946 he entered the graduate program at Ohio State University and joined the Fine Arts department as an instructor. In March 1949 he received *an MFA degree from Ohio State University. In June 1949 he married Isabel Wilson (1921-1980) who worked in a cooperative art gallery in Cleveland. The huge postwar enrollment of college students under the GI Bill started to taper off by 1951, and in late summer, he, along with several other faculty members, was denied tenure.

In 1951 the couple moved to Cleveland, where they had friends and lived there for the next six years. Isabel, an interior decorator who specialized in modern design, had steady work. She introduced her clientele to Noguchi lamps, Jack Lenor Larsen fabrics, Eero Saarinen chair designs and Jens Risom furniture. Until 1957, Lichtenstein held different temporary jobs, most lasting about six months each-commercial art and design jobs, including: teaching drawing at the Cooper Union School, a commercial art school where he had to teach how to exactly represent a certain product; working as an engineering draftsman for product and process development for the Republic Steel Corporation (he had taken engineering drawing courses at Ohio State), decorating display windows at Halle’s Department store: drawing black and white dials for Hickok Electrical Instrument Company; and making project models at an architectural firm. he also designed furniture in Cleveland. He would work for six months or so, then take several months ooff to paint. He exhibited works during this period in both Ohio and New York City. These experiences in illustration during his years in Cleveland eased the later transition into his renowned Pop images.

Lichtenstein obscured his pre-Pop career with few exceptions. For this reason the study of some decorated tile tables and their context within his development is important. In his 1988 prodigious study of Lichtenstein’s early work, Ernst Busche astutely wrote that both the painter and his art dealer Leo Castelli were “more than a little responsible for the fact that our knowledge… is so incomplete” because of their conviction “that only the Pop work represents the “real” Lichtenstein.” Seldom presented to the public, these early works were relegated to a past Lichtenstein generally preferred not to discuss. Furthermore, Busche has noted that the artist was mostly not able or willing to answer questions about specific dates, titles or source images.

Ernst Busche came to my home when he was researching Lichtenstein’s large early oeuvre for his future book. The presences of a mosaic tile table was a surprise to him. Although few of these tables are known, Lichtenstein made them for clients with whom Isabel was working as a decorator. I later called him in Germany in 2005, and he was still fascinated by the discovery of these tables and had no new information about them.

The tiles are smalti, handmade glass tesserae produced in relatively small quantities according to classic Venetian traditions, and designed by the direct method. The table top is 35.5 a 1.3 x 41 cm. the butterfly is comprised of green triangular wings outlined in pale yellow and a pale yellow triangular body. Its antennae and head are outlined in black and blue tiles. The artist’s interest in abstraction is seen in the flat treatment of the central frontal image and the puzzle-like forms around it. The insect is surrounded by a variety of bold interlocking geometric shapes in delineated areas of blue, green, grey and blended colours, and black tiles.

Highlighting the Butterfly image, there are single reddish-orange tiles scattered throughout the picture plane. They are like tiny squares of warm color in an otherwise cool palette. These small red tiles in terms of compositional placement seem to fore-shadow the use of Lichtenstein’s  recognizable benday dots. The specks of color of the mosaic tiles are purely decorative in intent. The total image seen in the butterfly mosaic is one of simplicity-it is one of considered choices.

While the date of this butterfly mosaic is from the mid 1950’s, earlier in the decade Lichtenstein magnified insects in both his works on canvas and paper. Insect with Umbrella, 1950, a lithograph, Beetle with a Lollipop, 1950, The Bug, 1950, Untitled (Insect with Man), 1950-all oil paintings indicate his witty and personal approach to art. Later in his career he would magnify objects from comics, yellow page advertisements, newspapers, etc.

Another mosaic table top show’s Lichtenstein’s use of a more limited palette and different design. A pair of tables from a private collection are decorated in smalti tiles in bands of varying widths. The colours are light grey, dark grey, white, black and red. The tables in term of pattern can be related to some of Lichtenstein’s most abstract paintings-his large scale multi-patterned Mirror paintings which are designed to imitate the play of light. In these vast paintings to indicate identification of the complete surface of the canvas with the surface of a multi-paneled mirror, he painted bold colour bands. For example, in The Mirror in Six Panels, 1971, unmodulated bands of red, yellow and white are complimented by diagonal sections and vertical bands, a few touches of black and sliver of blue. This canvas and others in this series are all about reflections and shadows in which these ephemeral subtleties have been turned into his own system of codes and panels of colour. These works, which have been identified as rivaling the large-scale Color Field paintings and shaped canvases of the 1960’s, are significantly prefigures in these early mosaic table tops of the 1950’s. Most of the other tile tables Lichtenstein made during those years to accompany his wife’s interior decorating jobs appear to be missing. Four decades later Lichtenstein returned to the use of ceramic tiles. Tiles delineate all of the brush stroke-like facial features and circular support of the female bust in Barcelona Head, 1992. Part of a public-arts program in Barcelona, this sculpture was a major commission for the Summer Olympics. Garry Agpar in Public Art and the Remaking of Barcelona wrote: “it will be the first work of the artist has ever done with ceramic tiles. As with the Miro and Pepper projects, the use of ceramics is a deliberate linkage with Gaudi and Spanish tradition.” Not all parts of the quoted statements above are true.

Barcelona’s political leaders as far back as 1980 wanted to create an image for Barcelona as a “world class city” as a kind of “capital” of the western Mediterranean. In 1980, the municipality launched a program of art and parks “espaces urbans), which pre-dated the announcement of a winning Olympic bid in 1986. Then the choice in 1986 of Barcelona to host the 1992 Oympics-the 25th Summer Games was a milestone for the city’s artistic development. Sculpture was among the many transformations the city would undergo in preparation for what would be a major constructive and remodeling. This involved a massive commitment to outdoor sculpture. It is estimated that since the early 1980’s, $6.4 billion was spent on all aspects of the city’s urban renewal, including art. Local officials claim that between 1983 and 1987 more than $50 million was spent specifically on parks and outdoor sculpture.

More than 50 Olympic sculptures were commissioned by Catalan, Spanish and foreign artists, and many were integrated with new developments and spaces. Pasquall Maragall, mayor of Barcelona during this period, summarized the art-and-parks program: the objective was a two fold one, which we defined as “monumentalizing the periphery”: on the one hand it involved taking art to the streets and squares of districts that had traditionally lacked sculptural elements, and on the other ensuring that this art would establish direct links with it’s surroundings in order to improve them.”

Robert Hughs, art critic of Time, described Barcelona’s sculpture program asthe most ambitious project of it’s kind that any government of a 20th century city has tried.” To minimally further elaborate, among the many famous non-American artists commissioned to participate in the public-art-program were Anthony Caro, Antoni Tapies and Edourdo Chillida who brought contemporary sculpture to the streets while Rebecca Horn’s towering minimalist sculpture looms over a beach.

 

 

 

 

Lot 93. Cast Aluminum bird by Don Drumm

Lot 94 Cast Brutalist Style Planter by Akron Ohio Favorite Don Drumm

If you grew up in NE Ohio like me, you’ll probably remember the mural on Rt. 77 near The University of Akron. Or maybe you dined at the Armadillo on Exchange street in the sixties. Perhaps you didn’t know it then, but you were witness to the work of Don Drumm. Don opened his studio in 1960 near the University of Akron. He pioneered the use of cast aluminum as a medium for creating art. Don worked at Penland School of Craft and has many awards and achievements. I used to visit his gallery as a kid with my mother, where we would marvel at the organic designs and shapes. When I returned to Ohio after graduating from SCAD, I applied for a job at Don’s gallery; unfortunately they weren’t hiring at the time (I think it was my Flock of Seagulls hairdo), but I didn’t mind. I still love his work, the timelessness of it, the memories of visiting the studio & gallery throughout the years and best of all, that he’s still creating art.

Now is the time to appreciate and purchase a Don Drumm work of art if not in our What’s Neue Pussycat-MCM Art & Design Auction, anywhere you can. To learn more please visit his website and gallery www.dondrummstudios.com. Neue Auctions has three of Don’s cast aluminum pieces in the current auction; lot 92 A large cast stag beetle, lot 93 a whimsical feathered bird, and lot 92 the Brutalist style planter featured here, measuring 12.5 x 22 x 11.75 inches and estimated for auction $2000-3000.

Cynthia Colling Maciejewski

This auction is primarily antique and art dealer consignments. For almost two months, the antique shops, malls and shows have been closed, cancelled or postponed. Dealers who’ve welcome you into their shops for years haven’t had any income to speak of since the coronavirus came to town. This is how the Pandemic Relief auction came to be.

We offered our services to Cleveland and surrounding area dealers with a reduced dealer commission rate to put more in their pockets. Bidding in this auction will help some of your favorite dealers pay their bills.

While still under a shelter-in-place order (or SIP as someone called it), we had to put our tag-line “Auctions Evolved” into play. We really had to evolve how we were going to work remotely with clients while the gallery was closed. We started “virtual consigning” using email, FaceTime and Zoom. You might notice the photography of the May Pandemic Relief auction is a little different. That’s because many photographed their own merchandise for the catalog. Only after the SIP was lifted, could we inspect items in person for condition reports and fill in the blanks of submitted descriptions and measurements. In other cases, items were shipped or delivered to my home, or we would pick up items wearing our masks from our clients doors. Then Bridget and I would swap items so she could catalog and I could photograph. It was alot of extra work but we made it through with the help our our team members.

While our doors were closed, we came up with the idea of the Look Books to generate income for the gallery. After posting the Algessa O’Sickey collection, (which we are in charge of selling for the estate to benefit the Cleveland Sight Center), next came the collages of the ever-talented Mr. Charles Phillips. We quickly had sales within the first 24 and 48 hours of posting each! We sold about half of Charles’ work within the first week with several pieces going out of state. Today we added the paintings of Joseph McCullough; we had an exhibition of his work last summer that was attended by many former students, faculty and friends of the Cleveland Institute of the Arts. I hope you take a moment to peruse these books and hopefullt find something you must have. These original works are all reasonably priced for every level of collector.

I’ve asked many clients what they’re doing with their time at home. I hear two things; “clearing out stuff I don’t need” and “re-decorating” and trying to keep their spirits lifted with online shopping. The most popular items people are consigning right now are jewelry, oriental carpets and paintings. Whether is something you’re not wearling, using or need anymore, now is a great time to sell.

In a recent poll published in the New York Post, nearly three in four of those polled (72 percent) say buying something impulsively during the pandemic has positively affected their mood. It doesn’t have to be all about cleaning supplies and toilet paper! While sheltering at home, treat tourself and add a little something to brighten your day. Check out the May auction for something new that’s old to adorn your home or workspace for a fresh new look. Not only will it perk you up, you’ll be helping our local economy and businesses get back on track.

Need to sell?

We have always been an online only auction company. Working remotely from home has it’s challenges and distractions as you already know, but we’re not new to selling online. Known for our bespoke service and evolving ideas about how to run an auction house, your safety is our main concern. What should you do? First, send us an email about your item/s with pictures and we’ll respond right away with auction estimate. Next, after your items have been approved for auction we’ll send you sanitized shipping shipping materials, instructions and a prepaid UPS label for pick up. Your items will be insure at our expense. Now you have no excuse to avoid Spring cleaning.

Who’s buying

There is hope. In Clare McAndrew’s recent report “The Art Market 2020”, she suggests that millennials are making the moves. Among collectors, McAndrew found that the surest indicator of online buying—and buying overall—is age: 92% of millennial collectors reported having bought art online. Her survey of more than 1,300 high-net-worth individuals also found that millennials were the most active collector cohort, with average total expenditures on art and collectibles of $3 million over a two-year period. Millennials now make up nearly half (49%) of all collectors globally, according to the report.

Surprisingly, millennial collectors were also the most active consignors, with 71% of millennial collectors saying they’d resold works from their collections (compared to just one-third of boomer collectors). The report also showed a high rate of resales overall, with an average turnaround time between the original purchase of a work and its resale of just four years.

When you ask people their motivations for buying, everybody says ‘I buy it for passion’ and things like that, but when you look at their actual behavior, they’re getting in and out quickly, they have stuff in storage, some of them in long-term storage,” McAndrew said. “They’re acting very financially for being so aesthetically motivated.” That’s good news for sellers.

In certain circumstances, we are able to provide cash advances for consignments or outright purchases to help get folks through a tight spot. Email Cynthia or Bridget to discuss your options.

Featured painting

Experts say that a floral bouquet can ease your winter blues. Harvard research on happiness reveals that flowers at work or home increase the feelings of kindness and compassion. In a study by the University of Florida, they discovered that people with flowers in their homes reported a significant decrease in stress levels. A painting of flowers, although not fresh flowers, will last much, much longer. This can be a traditional still life of flowers in a vase or a more abstracted depiction of our floral friends. They are the perfect way to bring a touch of natural beauty into any room, and they make the perfect choice when you want to add that extra touch of quality, charm, and precision without being too specific.

In the February Fine Art auction, there are many to choose from, whether something traditional such as lot 16 by Jean-Jules Louis Cavailles (French 1901-1977) or something contemporary like lot 25 by Rose Haserodt (American, 21st C), we have something to add a colourful surge to any environment.

If a painting purchase from our auction isn’t in your budget this time, consider visiting the Cleveland Museum of Art or your local museum or favourite art gallery. Research proves that your stress level will be decreased after viewing artwork, leading to better sleep, less anxiety and improved memory. After analysing 15 studies that had people looking at art for different reasons, neuroscientist Oshin Vartanian explaines that “areas of the brain involved in processing emotion and those that activate our pleasure and reward systems are also being engaged.” Basically, parts of the brain that are associated with contemplation are automatically sparked when viewing art, even if they aren’t thinking about it critically.

So take care of yourselves (and each other) by adding more color and happiness into your life through art.

 

As we all contemplate and fret about the state of the planet there is an impetus to consume less and recycle more. That is what the auction business is built on. On that note, at Neue Auctions, Nothing is Neue!

Oftentimes, old is better.  Better quality, better design and better style. With the recent sale of famous decorator Mario Buatta’s Estate in New York last week, a cultural event for sure, fashion might finally steer us toward a reexamination of collector style.  After so much time with neutral color and pared down design and with mid century modern hogging all the air in the room, other styles start to look weird and exotic- in a good way. 

Hence, if we don’t already, we should learn to love charming imperfection, as all of these old objects that have been changed and used and worn over the years are perfectly imperfect.  I’m not sure I would have liked the 18thc. Venetian chair if it looked as it did when it was first new. It would be too shiny, gaudy, too colorful. But if you allow 300 years of age to take effect, you have something completely wonderful.  The wear of hands on wood and paint, the fading of the paint and the upholstery by the sun, the softening of the edges all contribute. This effect is hard won. 

Come visit us at Neue Auctions in Beachwood Ohio, in the Ohio Design Centre to preview our old and beautiful offerings and to participate in our sustainable business model by buying old things at auction!

I used to think lucite furniture was kitsch but I’ve had a recent change of heart. We have a lucite and glass coffee table in our showroom and I love how this piece of furniture doesn’t visually crowd the space and hide the carpet below. What’s also great about transparent lucite and glass furniture is that you can incorporate it into most any decor. We have ours on a beautiful antique carpet surrounded by traditional arm chairs and a brown leather sofa. It can be the visual glue to seamlessly bind past with present.
I inquired with Graydon Yearick, principle of NYC based Graydon Yearick Architect, PLLC, what he thought about clear furniture; “I love lucite furniture. I love mixing it with antiques, the more ornate the better. A lucite coffee table with a Victorian settee… it’s also super in small spaces, or spaces where you want a minimalist affect. And it’s great in ornate spaces because it disappears and let’s the architecture and design take center stage. Mostly, it’s wonderful because it harkens back to the groovy time period of Antonioni, Kubrick and Warhol, an era when every preconception was being challenged.”
A little history about this clear wonder, it’s trademarked as Lucite, Plexiglas, Acrivue and, in Europe, Perspex. Thermoplastic furniture became popular in the 1960’s and 1970’s. The most respected designer of this medium is Charles Hollis Jones-called “a pioneer in acrylic design” by the LA Times. His firm, CHJ Designs, opened  in LA in the early 1970s. Jones designed pieces which were purchased by numerous celebrities, among them Frank Sinatra, Diana Ross, Dean Martin, Johnny Carson, and Tennessee Williams. He created small accessories, such as the acrylic and chrome waste bins and tissue boxes designed for Buffy Chandler. Frank Sinatra ordered forty tissue holders and wastepaper baskets for his Palm Springs residence after seeing them in an LA showroom. Christie’s in Beverly Hills offered eighty pieces of CHJ designed pieces in their “Innovators of 20th Century Style” auction in 2001.
I didn’t realize how many different types of pieces were manufactured; chairs, tables, lamps, stool and bar carts are aplenty from vintage dealers and it’s worked it’s way back into the limelight of today’s modern decor. Younger generations coming into inherited antiques can add a fresh twist to an otherwise stuffy decor with a clear piece, whether a  table, chair or accessory such as a lamp base or bar cart. A single piece in a room of antique furniture will lighten the space with a sense of playful sophistication. So keep lookout for a piece for yourself at auctions and estates sales. However, too much transparency  will time-warp you to the past where you’ll clearly miss the intended look you’re trying to achieve.

As summer has sadly ended, it’s that time of year to happily focus attention once again on your interior spaces. Having a lovely, welcoming environment to come home to after a long, trying day is restorative to both one’s mental and physical health. In addition to relaxing the mind, it also engages the brain’s creativity channels. Whether it is realized or not, we tend to feel better in a well thought out space with attractive original artwork and well designed and arranged spaces. 

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Our current auction scheduled for September 14 and 15 2019 is loaded with affordable original artwork for your looking, learning and decorating efforts. Look around your current residence. If you have plenty of wall space, we recommend filling it up Salon Style for an always exciting, engaging and original look. The Salon Style originated with art exhibitions in the 19thc. Where paintings were hung floor to ceiling.  

There are some great scenes in the recent film Mr. Turner, about the life of artist J.M.W.Turner which recreate the Royal Academy Exhibition. A must see, if you have not seen it. 

Modern Art looks wonderful hung Salon style, but why not mix styles together? It’s the privilege we have today that those in the 19thc. did not.  

When hanging a wall, focus on like colors or color families and consider the shapes and sizes of the frames. It can be a fun puzzle to create on the wall as you fit the pieces together. You can do this over time, and please do not worry about nail holes in the wall. They can always be filled.  

The first day of our auction includes multitudes of artworks with estimate ranges beginning between $100-$500. Some examples below and our auction online for many more!!!!

 

 

The Neue Auctions appraisal fair at the Cleveland Heights Library on Lee Rd. was a wonderful community event that we look forward to having on a regular basis. There was a line of eager antiques enthusiasts waiting for the doors to open. The weather was beautiful on Sunday and we were worried the crowd would be small but the Neue team evaluated approximately 80 items!

The entire Neue Auctions team was on hand to offer insights and valuations of everyones items, which ranged from family heirlooms to estate sale discoveries-no item was too big or too small for an opinion of value. Some of the highlights of the day were an Art Deco period platinum diamond ring,  an oil painting of boats in a Bass Rocks MA harbor, a Clarice Cliff teepee teapot and a lovely circa 1920’s Hungarian knitted window panel from the old country.

Stay informed of future appraisal events by joining our mailing list and following us on social media. If your organization, club or group would like to book a Neue Auctions appraisal fair, please email us. We enjoy seeing wonderful things, meeting new people and helping folks understand the history of antiques and what determines their values.

Understanding your consignment options is paramount. Believe it or not, an auction of your prized possession may not be the best way to realize maximum potential. Whether a fine painting or fine jewelry, if it’s not the right fit for the item, it’s not the right fit for you.

That’s where we come in; the auction specialist. It’s our job to guide you through the auction process and recommend the best course of action for you. Not everything is in our wheelhouse and if we don’t have the right audience for your item or collection, we’ll refer you to another firm who might. Typically, auction is the best choice to sell because competitive bidding drives up the price. However, other more creative measures may be suggested. For example, a retail consignment might be better for a larger piece of furniture that might otherwise fall through the cracks in an auction.

In certain cases we may believe we’ll get a better result by offering your item privately to a collector, museum or corporate collection who may be seeking to fill a void in an existing collection. Big collectors are often willing to pay higher prices in a private sale scenario rather through auction. Many busy dealers don’t have the time to comb through lot offerings to bid or don’t want clients knowing the purchase price of an item for resell. There’s nothing wrong with making a profit and a living, but many dealers simply enjoy being private about it and that’s ok.  Some folks prefer staying anonymous and don’t want anyone to know they are parting with family treasures which may be seen at auction and might be linked to them-think Rockefeller or Carnegie.

I’ve had the fortune of selling a few important lamps via Private Treaty over the years. I’ve enjoyed seeing several of them together on loan for an exhibition at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Of course I would have loved to sell these via auction and it would have been quite the feather in my auction cap, but the bottom line was a private sale was better for all the parties involved.

The point is to try and select an auction house who’ll meet your needs. Whether buying or selling, contact one of our specialists to discuss your unique situation so we may provide you a bespoke experience and make sure you understand your options.