Painting by Atsuko Tanaka headlines MBA Seattle Auction Houses Modernism sale

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Painting by Atsuko Tanaka headlines MBA Seattle Auction Houses Modernism sale
Important untitled synthetic polymer on canvas painting by the Japanese modernist Atsuko Tanaka (1932-2005), 64 ½ inches by 51 inches (canvas, less frame) (est. $300,000-$600,000).

RENTON, WASH.- An important untitled synthetic polymer on canvas painting by the Japanese modernist Atsuko Tanaka (1932-2005), two sculptures by British artist Anthony Caro (1924-2013), and two charcoal self-portraits by Jonas Wood (American, b. 1977) are all part of MBA Seattle Auction House’s Important Modernism: Art and Object auction slated for September 28th.

The online-only auction will start at 5 pm Pacific time, with online bidding available through the MBA Seattle Auction House website ( as well as and Phone and absentee bids will also be taken. Previews will be held Tuesday and Wednesday, Sept. 26-27, from 10-5 PST; and Thursday, Sept. 28, from 10-4; or by appointment.

With a pre-sale estimate of $300,000-$600,000, and a real chance to finish in the seven figures, the Tanaka painting is the auction’s undisputed headliner. “We’re pleased and honored to be offering this important, museum quality painting by Tanaka,” said Michael Mroczek of MBA Seattle Auction House. “It’s been in private hands here in Seattle since its last purchase in 1998.”

The vibrant, colorful modernist work, measuring a stout 64 ½ inches by 51 inches (canvas, less frame), originally came out of a private estate in the Dakota Building in New York City. Tanaka would create her most iconic work, The Electric Dress, in 1955 and executed this painting four years later. She joined the Gutai Art Association, an avant garde art group in Japan, in 1955.

Tanaka maintained membership until 1965, meaning this work was painted within that period at Gutai, making it quite rare and desirable. The bright colors and abstract composition resemble the bright lights and circuitry of her famed Electric Dress. “With her large canvases selling up to $1.6 million, we are very excited to see where the final hammer drops,” Mr. Mroczek remarked.

The electric abstraction is artist signed in Kanji lower right signed and dated again on verso. It’s housed in a wood frame that’s only slightly larger than the canvas, which is in overall excellent condition. There’s a Christie’s “00105798” inventory label and a Lou Sgroi Studio ink stamp on the stretcher verso. Tanaka’s paintings can be found in many of the world’s prominent museums.

The rest of the auction catalog is no less compelling. “We’re delighted to have such a great grouping of modern material all from local Northwest collections,” Mr. Mroczek pointed out. “This will be an exciting auction with rarities in multiples mediums and modern genres. The 218 lots include important ceramics and glass and important multiples – something for everybody.”

The pieces by Anthony Caro include a welded steel and stoneware sculpture from the 1970s titled Story Book, 15 ½ inches tall by 16 inches wide and in overall excellent condition (est. $15,000-$25,000); and a welded and painted steel sculpture, also from the 1970s, titled Ready (Table Piece), measuring 33 inches in height by 20 inches in width (est. $20,000-$30,000).

The charcoal on paper self-portraits by Jonas Wood are both untitled drawings from 2003 and each one is an early abstracted self-portrait by an important modernist. They were given as a gift from the artist to the present owner and are signed with the artist’s full name on verso. One is 9 ¼ inches square and one is 7 ½ inches by 8 ¼ inches. Both have estimates of $10,000-$20,000.

Three stoneware vessels by Hans Coper (British, 1920-1981) are being offered with no reserves and are all in excellent condition. They are titled Footed Vessel with Inlay, 5 ¾ inches by 4 ½ inches (est. $10,000-$20,000); Footed Manganese Vessel, 4 ¼ inches by 3 ¾ inches (est. $7,500-$15,000); and Corseted Form Vessel, measuring 6 inches by 4 ½ inches (est. $7,500-$15,000).

A 1969 etching with aquatint on wove paper by Joan Miro (Spanish, 1893-1983), titled Soleil Ebouillante (Dupin 518), is expected to change hands for $8,000-$12,000. The 39 inch by 23 ½ inch work (sight, less the gallery frame) is pencil signed and numbered #34 in an edition of 75 lower image and margin. The strong impression work was published by Maeght Editeur, Paris.

A 1969 screenprint on a sheet measuring 81 inches by 36 inches by Gene Davis (American, 1920-1985), titled Yankee Doodle, pencil signed and numbered #110 from an edition of 144, is expected to find a new home for $6,000-$9,000. The framed work, in excellent condition with strong colors, was published by HKL, Ltd. (N.Y.) and printed by Fine Creations, Ltd. (N.Y.).

A 1967 screenprint on Schollers Hammer Board paper by Josef Albers (American, 1888-1976), titled SP-XII (Homage to the Square), is estimated to bring $3,00-$6,000. The 21 ½ inch square (sight, less frame) work is pencil signed and numbered 90 of 125 edition in the lower margin. It was published by Domberger, Stuttgart, and is in excellent condition, boasting strong colors.

Blown glass creations by the master of his craft, Dale Chihuly (American, b. 1941), are highly prized by collectors. There are several to choose from in the auction, all with estimates of $2,000-$4,000. They’re titled Philodendron Ikebana (2002), Cinnamon Macchia (2001), Blue Sky Basket Set (2004), Mango Basket (2000) and Black Sparkle Seaform (1992). All are signed.

Other artists in the auction include Lucie Rie, Bernard Leach, Beatrice Wood, Sonja Blomdahl, Akio Takamori, Josef Albers, Pablo Picasso and others. The Northwest School of artists will include works by Mark Tobey, Morris Graves, Guy Anderson, Kenneth Callahan, William Cumming, Richard Gilkey, Leo Kenney, Frank Okada and others.

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