Lynne Drexler’s 1962 Masterpiece To Star This September At Bonhams Los Angeles

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Grass Symphony (1962) by Lynne Drexler (1928-1999), oil on canvas, 48 1/4 x 62 1/4 in. Estimated at $500,000 – 700,000.
Grass Symphony (1962) by Lynne Drexler (1928-1999), oil on canvas, 48 1/4 x 62 1/4 in. Estimated at $500,000 – 700,000.

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Los Angeles –One of the most exceptional paintings by American painter Lynne Drexler (1928-1999), Grass Symphony (1962), will lead the Bonhams Post-War & Contemporary Art X Made in California auction on September 14 in Los Angeles. The vibrant, large-scale work was painted at the height of Drexler’s exploration of Abstract Expressionism and is exemplary of her iconic patchwork, brimming with color and verve. Gaining notoriety in recent years, Drexler has finally been recognized among the canon of great 20th century American painters. This important work will be exhibited in Hong Kong and New York prior to the auction and is estimated at $500,000 – 700,000.

Drexler moved to New York in the 1950s to study under Robert Motherwell at Hunter College and engrossed herself in the bohemian milieu, living in the Chelsea hotel and taking further classes with Hans Hofmann. The lessons Drexler took from Hofmann’s theories on music and color are on full display in Grass Symphony, each color meant to relay its own specific rhythm. Drexler avidly attended concerts at Carnegie Hall, with colored pencils and paper in hand, before returning to her studio, translating the sounds and music to canvas.

The lack of recognition in New York motivated the artist to relocate to Monhegan Island in Maine, where she continued to paint daily, building a large body of work that was recognized by the Monhegan Museum with a solo exhibition in 2008. As with other female Abstract Expressionists who have seen posthumous success in the market, Drexler’s art has broken the million-dollar mark and recently, in Bonhams’ May auction, Drexler’s 1959 work on paper soared to a price ten times the pre-sale estimate.  

“It is a privilege to showcase this breathtaking painting by Drexler who has finally gained the massive acclaim that her extraordinary works deserve,” commented Sonja Moro, Senior Specialist, Post-War & Contemporary Art and Head of Sale. “We’re also thrilled to present it in Los Angeles where Bonhams is the only international auction house with a salesroom, which will allow this masterpiece to be appreciated in this vibrant art capital brimming with talented artists, arts patrons, and collectors.”

Untitled (c. 1960s/70s) by Ernie Barnes (1938-2009). Estimate: 100,000-150,000.
Untitled (c. 1960s/70s) by Ernie Barnes (1938-2009). Estimate: 100,000-150,000.

Other highlights offered in Bonhams Post-War & Contemporary Art X Made in California auction include:

  • A painting by Ernie Barnes (1938-2009) depicting a game of pool comes to auction for the first time after being acquired directly from the artist in the early 1970s. Estimate: $100,000-150,000.
  • Raimonds Staprans (b. 1926) , who grew his artistic career in the San Francisco Bay Area, studying with Hans Hoffman in the 1950s and is known for his response to light and color in his still life and landscape paintings, will have three works offered in the sale. From three distinct periods of time, the works include: Vase with Flowers (1960) estimated at $10,000-15,000, Morning Mist (1986) estimated at $100,000-150,000, and Coalinga (1992) estimated at $80,000-120,000.
  • Four works are also offered by Gladys Nilsson (b. 1940), with estimates starting at $4,000. The three works on paper depict her signature style of abstracted figures, blending gestures through use of bright watercolors and a rare painting on canvas from her period in Sacramento was executed in her classic style during the same year as her solo show at the Whitney Museum of American Art, 1973.
  • Offered in the sale as one lot is the complete group of 13 individual original Verifax collages created by Wallace Berman (1926-1976) that became the basis for his famous Radio/Aether series. These individually signed collages are exemplary of Berman’s best-known body of work and have been in the collection of artist and gallerist Timothea Stewart since they were bought directly from Berman in 1974. These 13 unique works have been widely exhibited in the US and Europe, including at Timothea Stewart’s own gallery which was a key venue for the Los Angeles art world. Estimate: $180,000-250,000.
Danzin (n.d) by Gladys Nilsson (B. 1940), Radio-Aether Series (1986) by Wallace Berman (1926-1976), Morning Mist (1986) by Raimonds Staprans (B. 1926) [L-R].
Danzin (n.d)by Gladys Nilsson (B. 1940), Radio-Aether Series (1986) by Wallace Berman (1926-1976), Morning Mist (1986) by Raimonds Staprans (B. 1926) [L-R].

Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world’s largest and most renowned auctioneers, offering fine art and collectables, motor cars and a luxury division, including jewellery, watches, wine and whisky. The main salerooms are in London, New York, Los Angeles, Paris and Hong Kong, with auctions also held in Knightsbridge, Edinburgh, and Sydney. With a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 22 countries, Bonhams offers advice and valuation services in 53 specialist areas. For a full list of forthcoming auctions, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments, please visit

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