Underappreciated Contemporary Artists in the Limelight at Stair’s December Auction
Stair’s early December art auction will put underappreciated contemporary artists on the global map this season. Stair is summing up 2021 with an amalgamation of works spanning the 20th and 21st centuries. The sale offers paintings, works on paper, sculpture, and photography from European and American artists working in modern and post-war modalities. The catalog includes a sculptural chair by Donald Judd, as well as photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe, Brassaï, and Andy Warhol.
However, it’s the works from Pintupi artist Ronnie Tjampitjinpa, Iraqi artist Saadi Al Kaabi, Polish sculptor Igor Mitoraj, and American artist Jane Hammond that cannot be missed. Before the bidding begins, Auction Daily takes a look at these underappreciated contemporary artists who are showcasing their culture in the form of fine art.
Fragmented Faces by Igor Mitoraj
Fragmented sculptures made Igor Mitoraj (1944 – 2014) one of Europe’s leading sculptors. Mitoraj’s works appear publicly in Washington, Los Angeles, Rome, and London to be observed and, for those who understand their value, admired. “Igor knew how to shape his sculptures drawing inspiration from ancient arts that he made contemporary, that he revived in a personal way,” says his friend and art dealer Stefano Contini. Mitoraj’s sculptures are built like the classical Roman ones, but there is a twist. Their fragmented limbs and torsos, their bandaged faces speak volumes about how the artist viewed human bodies that go through degeneration and perhaps a lot of suffering.
Luci di Nara, a bronze figure from 1988 by the Polish sculptor is available in Stair’s upcoming sale (estimate: USD 15,000 – $30,000). The British Museum in London installed a large-scale version of this sculpture in 2002.
Untitled Paintings From Saadi Al Kaabi
Like Mitoraj, human forms have an important place in Saadi Al Kaabi’s paintings. A graduate of Baghdad’s Institute of Fine Arts in 1960, Al Kaabi was also actively involved in the avant-garde modern art scene. His take on the human body does not conform to the way it often appears in Iraqi art, colorful and full of details. Although Al Kaabi draws inspiration from the culturally diverse reservoir of Iraqi art and heritage, his art tends to look at human forms mechanically. Styles of Cubism and Expressionism, which he experimented with in the 1960s and 70s, merge with Islamic art in his pieces.
Al Kaabi uses earthy tones to create human forms that have strong outlines and thick layers of texture. Two of his untitled paintings are available in this Stair auction (estimate: $3,000 – $5,000 each).
Aboriginal Art by Ronnie Tjampitjinpa
Sitting under the sun, in the wilderness, Aboriginal Australian artists like Ronnie Tjampitjinpa (b. 1943) create their masterpieces much like their ancestors did hundreds, maybe thousands of years ago. Tjampitjinpa’s art is his ancestral inheritance. Yet, Tjampitjinpa does not depict the story of the colonizers or the struggles of his ancestors. He belongs to the second generation of Papunya Tula Artists who explore the themes of dreaming and the Tingari cycle. In short, the Tingari cycle tells the story of the mythological elders who traveled across the vast Western Desert sharing their knowledge of rituals and laws.
A 1993 oil on canvas piece by Tjampitjinpa is available in Stair’s upcoming auction (estimate: $3,000 – $5,000). The artist individually creates works that depict his water dreaming, bushfire dreaming, and Tingari cycle. The lines after lines in this piece seem structured, but the flow is organic, much like a dream.
Queen of Collage – Jane Hammond
New York-based artist Jane Hammond (b. 1950) is the queen of collage. Her collaboration with Pace Paper has led to several new “Collaged Monoprints.” For these, Hammond creates monoprints, mostly by hand, and then combines them to create her distinct collages. She puts unsuspecting monoprints of icons together, placing figures like Mahatma Gandhi and Andy Warhol in the same collage. Unusual for the viewer, but that is the way they meet in her world of collage.
Hammond’s Spells and Incantations is a three-dimensional lithograph and screenprint in colors with chine-collé and gold leaf (estimate: $2,000 – $4,000). It is one of 45 pieces produced in a 2007 edition.
Beyond these underappreciated contemporary artists, the sale also has prints by Alexander Calder, Jasper Johns, and Brice Marden. Bidders will find paintings by Loren MacIver, Irene Rice Pereira, and Maurizio di Vincenzo, and works by Fumio Yoshimura, Emilio Gilioli, and Nam June Paik. The catalog will include a sculpture by Felipe Castañeda, a work by Kenneth Noland, two large clay pieces by Peter Voulkos, and a large Paul Chaleff bronze cauldron.
Stair’s 20th Century, Modern & Contemporary Fine Art auction will start on Thursday, December 2, 2021 at 11:00 AM EST. Visit Stair Galleries for more information and to place a bid.
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