Auction Results: Post War and Contemporary Art at Hindman

Liz Catalano
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Works by Bob Thompson, Miyoko Ito, and Cy Twombly Exceed Estimates

Hindman’s Post War and Contemporary Art sale concluded on May 21, 2020, in Chicago with several lots far surpassing their presale estimates. It was held during a week of fine art and design events, with 600 lots offered during four auctions. 74 lots were included in this sale, with 86% selling. The auction total reached above USD 1,500,000.

Bob Thompson, The Sack (The Snook), 1961. Image from Hindman.
Bob Thompson, The Sack (The Snook), 1961. Image from Hindman.

Among the notable results was Bob Thompson’s The Sack (The Snook), which sold for $212,500 after 33 bids. This result is more than seven times higher than the upper estimate of $30,000. Executed in 1961, this piece was created during the artist’s brief stay in Paris. Thompson, an African American artist with a short but notable career, was best known for his figurative works that employed dramatic, expressive colors. He experienced explosive success in the New York art scene of the late 1950s and early 1960s, cut short by his premature death at the age of 28.

The Sack (The Snook) appears to draw on Greco-Roman mythology and the Bible, placed in a contemporary context. It shows two hatted figures covering a third in a black robe, while another group shoves a person into a violet sack. “The flattened forms and silhouettes evoke the undulating rhythms and syncopated movement found in jazz music… these elements combine to create an abstracted, dreamlike atmosphere that renders place and time indistinct,” the auction house wrote in the painting’s lot essay.

Thompson’s work has seen increased exposure in recent years. He has been included in exhibitions both in the United States and abroad, including African American Art in the 20th Century at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC, and Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas. The market has responded to this trend: an oil painting by Thompson titled Cathedral sold for $327,750 at Christie’s in 2013. Hammer prices for his paintings have crossed $100,000 several times in the years since. Thompson’s estate was acquired by Michael Rosenfeld Gallery in 2019 after 23 years of representation.

Miyoko Ito, Irrigation, 1976. Image from Hindman.
Miyoko Ito, Irrigation, 1976. Image from Hindman.

Paintings by Miyoko Ito, an abstract artist often associated with the Chicago Imagists, also pushed this auction to success. The first lot under the hammer was Ito’s 1976 piece titled Irrigation, which sold for $112,500 after 24 bids. Several of the artist’s works have been offered by Hindman in recent years, with her current auction record set in December of 2019. This most recent sale confirms the rising interest in Ito. All four of her available paintings sold above their high estimates.

“Works by the Chicago Imagists are particularly exciting, and we look forward to building on the momentum from the record-setting prices Hindman achieved for these artists in 2019,” Hindman’s Director of Fine Art, Joseph Stanfield, said before the auction.

Cy Twombly’s untitled 1965 pencil and wax crayon work showed strong results as well, selling for $96,000 after a presale estimate of $50,000 – $70,000. This piece follows Twombly’s signature stream of consciousness style, with bunched scribbles hovering above a filled-in rectangle and several small color swatches.

Cy Twombly, Untitled, 1965. Image from Hindman.
Cy Twombly, Untitled, 1965. Image from Hindman.

This sale concluded on the heels of Hindman’s American and European Art event on May 20th. Notable lots from that auction included a Theodore Clement Steele painting that finished with a price of $131,250, well above its estimate of $6,000 to $8,000. Childe Hassam’s Portrait of Ethel Moore had a final price of $75,000, landing in the upper end of its $60,000 to $80,000 estimate.

View the complete results of the Post War and Contemporary Art auction by visiting Hindman.