Masters of fine art over the centuries lead Bonhams May sales in New York
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Masters of fine art over the centuries lead Bonhams May sales in New York
Friedhoftor (Murnau) by Gabriele Münter (1877-1962). Photo: Bonhams.

NEW YORK, NY.- Coming to Bonhams New York this May will be a series of three sales from the Fine Art departments: Impressionist & Modern Art on May 18, Post-War & Contemporary Art on May 19, and American Art on May 26. This series will feature a collection of works from the best artists in their respective categories including Martin Wong, Yayoi Kusama, Gabriele Münter, René Magritte, Milton Avery, and Fairfield Porter.

Impressionist & Modern Art
May 18

Bonhams kicks off its May series of Fine Art sales with Impressionist & Modern Art on May 18 in New York. Highlighting the sale is an oil painting, Friedhoftor (Murnau), by German expressionist painter Gabriele Münter (1877-1962), estimated at $250,000 - 350,000. One of the pioneering artists of the Der Blaue Reiter movement, Münter played a significant part in the emergence of Germany's avant-garde and is one of the key female figures within art history discourse. Painted in 1908 at the height of her career, the work captures the cemetery entrance in Murnau, a subject Münter painted on numerous occasions, and is indicative of her unique style; simplification of forms, flattened spatial perspective, and the use of bold and vivid colors. Additionally, the sale will feature Composition rythmique, les bleus (dit aussi Peinture rythmique, les bleus ou Les bleus) by French artist Albert Gleizes (1881-1953), one of the influential founders of the Cubism movement, estimated at $120,000 - 180,000.

The sale will also present a strong selection of sculptures including Cavallo by Marino Marini (1901-1980) and Les menottes de cuivre by René Magritte (1898-1967), each estimated at $400,000 – 600,000. Standing at nearly seven feet tall, Les menottes de cuivre is defined by its spectacular, grand presence and the way it synthesizes an array of concepts such as high versus low culture, appropriation, and subversion through the Surrealist lens. From the collection of sculptor and painter Amalia de Schulthess, Cavallo is exceptionally rare as it was an edition of six, two of which reside with the Fondazione Marino Marini in Pistoia, Italy. The work embodies Marino Marini's genius of the equine form, an illustrious subject which permeates throughout the sculptor's career.

Post-War & Contemporary Art
May 19

Leading Bonhams Post-War & Contemporary Art sale on May 19, is an important, large scale, and fresh-to-market painting by Martin Wong (1946-1999), titled Quong Yuen Shing & Co. Showcasing Wong’s legacy as a “painter of modern life,” the work depicts what was the longest continuously operating business in Chinatown, first opened in 1891. On the surface, Quong Yuen Shing & Co. appeared as a standard general store, but inside it served as a larger resource for Chinese immigrants coming to New York throughout the 1900s. Wong, known across the 1980s East Village art scene, gravitated towards the dark alleys and graffiti walls of the city, turning these dingy scenes into large-scale paintings in his virtuosic technique. Fascinated by the history of Quong Yuen Shing & Co., Wong returned to this store many times and considered the painting a seminal work when it was purchased by the present owner in 1998. It is estimated at $1,000,000 – 1,500,000.

Undoubtedly the largest and most ambitious painting to come to auction by another 1980s figure in New York City’s art scene, Kenny Scharf (b. 1958), will also be included in the sale. City of the Future is an iconic piece capturing Scharf’s signature ‘Pop Surrealism’ style. Another headline painting is Autumn Watch by Agnes Martin (1912-2004), which is the earliest painting that has come to market by the artist and is estimated at $400,000 – 600,000. Lastly, two Yayoi Kusama (b.1929) works present the artist’s most recognizable motifs: Pumpkin in green and black (estimate: $250,000-350,000) and Dots Obsession (estimate: $250,000-450,000) in gold, which is a rare use of this color for Kusama and a significant work by the artist.

American Art
May 26

Bonhams American Art sale will present works from some of the categories most cherished artists on May 26, including Milton Avery (1885-1965), Anna Mary Robinson “Grandma” Moses (1860-1961), and Thomas Moran (1837-1926). Considered one of the greatest colorists and innovators of the 19th century, Stormy Sea by James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) is one of the artist’s beloved waterscapes, with the palette similar to that of his notorious “nocturnes”. The painting is estimated at $80,000 – 120,000.

Robert Henri (1865-1929), known for his emotionally powerful portraits that convey the dignity and personality of all his sitters, painted a series of Spanish Gypsies like La Mora, presented in the upcoming sale. This work, estimated for $200,000 – 300,000, is a tour de force within Henri’s oeuvre of Spanish subjects and is a visual testament to the culture and people that he celebrated and experienced firsthand. Additional sale highlights include Still Life of Flowers on a Mirror by Fairfield Porter (1907-1975), one of the artist's most accomplished still life paintings which demonstrates his handling of a representational subject through his hallmark lens of abstraction, estimated at $100,000 – 150,000.

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