Clars Auction announces Important Winter Modern + Contemporary Art Auction
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Clars Auction announces Important Winter Modern + Contemporary Art Auction
Fernand Leger (French, 1881–1955), Deux Personnages, 1947, watercolor, 12.5" x 16.25" (32 x 41 cm). Estimate: $60,000–$90,000.

OAKLAND, CA.- A featured highlight this month is a watercolor on paper by influential German-Swiss artist Paul Klee. This piece, titled “Fragment of a Mural (Fragment einer Wandmalerei),” shows an abstract image that is left to the viewer to decipher. Klee is known for the use of geometric forms in his work, often building his arrangements with triangles and rectangles, but here we see an unrecognizable object, made more mysterious by the title identifying it as just one section from a larger composition. Klee is perhaps even better known for his innovative take on color theory. The blending of purple into red into gray tones seen in this work illustrates Klee’s opinion that small sections of color could be unified to create a harmonious visual. Furthermore, during his time as an instructor at the Bauhaus, Klee taught as a master of stained glass, often using smoking techniques to color pieces of glass. The muted tones in this watercolor echo the hazy, blended hues that would result from smoking glass. The work on paper is estimated at $100,000-$150,000.

Also included in the sale this month is a work on paper titled “Green Hill” by American artist Mark Tobey. As a founder of the Northwest School in Seattle, Washington, Tobey imbued in his peers an appreciation of East Asian culture, the effects of which are visible in “Green Hill,” with its muted color palette echoing Shan Shui landscapes, and an expressionist style that mimics calligraphy. The misty atmosphere of the Pacific Northwest was a driving influence on Tobey, who used earthy tones to illustrate “Green Hill,” with the green of the hill obscured almost completely by a heavy fog against a sepia sky. “Green Hill” is dated 1957, the year before Tobey became the second American artist to win the International Grand Prize at the 1958 Venice Biennale. The work is estimated at $30,000-$50,000.

Another important work in the February sale is a steel sculpture by acclaimed Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo. The piece depicts two figures, likely one male and one female based on their clothing, standing with hands overlapped in an uncomplicated embrace. The stylized figures are reminiscent of the simplified figures seen in well-known Tamayo paintings like “Tres Personajes,” with dominant geometric lines replacing the naturalistic curves of the human body. The sculpture shows the figures’ bodies as rectangles, with semicircle arms and circular hands. The male figure’s legs and female figure’s skirt are triangular, and the base is a narrow rectangular platform. The gray patina of the metallic material is consistent throughout and recalls the stone and clay sculptures of the Zapotec, an indigenous Pre-

Colombian culture from whom Tamayo claimed both heritage and inspiration. The work is estimated at $70,000-$100,000.

Next featured in the February sale is the “Makemono” lithograph scroll by Catalan painter and sculptor Joan Miro, created circa 1956. Considered a major figure in the Surrealist family, Miro uses this color- printed Chanton silk scroll to marry a traditional East Asian medium with his “automatism” technique, a method of revealing an individual’s psyche through spontaneous drawing and painting. “Makemono” presents form and color before narrative, showing abstract human figures interspersed with birds, eyes, and nonobjective forms derived purely from the artist’s imagination. From an edition of only 50, the vibrant scroll is anchored by wooden batons on each of the two ends and includes its original carved and painted wood box. The scroll is estimated at $20,000-$30,000.

Also on offer is an important work by French Cubist artist Fernand Leger (French, 1881-1955). The watercolor on paper, titled “Deux Personnages” and estimated at $60,000 - $90,000, was created in 1947 and hints at Leger’s abstraction and modification of the cubist form, once coined “Tubism” by critics of his work. As a cubist painter, he incorporated the movement of machinery, figures, and vibrant colors into his compositions, imagery that influenced him during WWI and later WWII, while he lived in America.

Other notable artworks to be offered in the sale include prints by Yayoi Kusama, a ceramic plate by Pablo Picasso, and a painting by Guy Anderson.

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