Calder, Botero, Haring and Anuszkiewicz lead Heritage's Modern & Contemporary Art event

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Calder, Botero, Haring and Anuszkiewicz lead Heritage's Modern & Contemporary Art event
Fernando Botero (1932-2023), Reclining Woman with an Apple, 2007. Bronze, 21-1/2 x 56-1/2 x 21 inches. Estimate: $600,000 - $800,000.

DALLAS, TX.- Any artwork that emerges fresh from an artist's studio today rests on the foundation of the wild-and-wooly 20th century. Even new entries in video, digital, performance and mixed-media nod to earlier innovators; we can't understand today without yesterday, and the artists of the last century, working in the decades between and after two world wars and during social, political and philosophical upheaval, pioneered our re-conception of art. They gave us the works — and the potentialities — that we think of when we think of modern art, and now contemporary art.

The enduring seduction of great painting and sculpture is a remarkable phenomenon amidst so much disruption and innovation, and yet: Here we are in 2023, with an art world that continues to honor and admire the strongest works in these familiar two and three dimensions. On Nov. 14 Heritage presents, in its Modern & Contemporary Art Signature® Auction, a considered selection of modern and contemporary works that represent our ongoing love affair with great painting and sculpture: From Alexander Calder to Jean-Michel Basquiat; from Louise Nevelson to Richard Anuszkiewicz; from Andy Warhol and Keith Haring to Tom Sachs and Fernando Botero. The event is a cross-section of favorite artists who have taught us how to take in the world with a more appreciative and enriched eye.

“We are proud to offer superb and fresh-to-the-market examples of important art historical movements,” says Frank Hettig, Heritage's Vice President of Modern & Contemporary Art. “This auction honors visionary artists and their contributions to the world of art.”

Fernando Botero died just last month and left behind his legacy as the greatest of all Columbian artists, if not the most popular of all Latin American artists. His distinctive style, eventually coined as "Boterismo," presents his figures in voluminous, inflated form; they are instantly recognizable (and beloved) the world over. In the 1970s, when Botero made a successful jump from painting to sculpting in bronze, his global popularity exploded, even as he sometimes explored tough political subjects. In this event Heritage presents two emblematic Botero bronzes: Reclining Woman with an Apple from 2007 is a quintessential Botero nude — cheeky and languid in full repose; and Cavallo con Sella from 2011 is a Botero horse with the artist's playful eye for the hoofed animal's healthy proportions. Both are generous yet intimate; both number three in a tight edition of six; and both are Boterismo Proper, through and through.

Another work that epitomizes the strength of a globally popular artist is a substantial 1965 maquette from Alexander Calder. Triangles and Arches, in sheet metal and paint, has been exhibited at both the Whitney and the Nassau County Museum of Art. Calder considered his stabiles — his non-mobile works — his greatest feats of engineering, and this maquette's sweeping forms recall the spires and buttresses of the great Gothic cathedrals (marvels of engineering themselves). Louise Nevelson, another artist with such a distinctive presence in the canon, joins him in this auction with her robust dimensional relief Night Secret, from 1968, in painted wood. This is Nevelson in her prime.

Of course, crossing over from two to three dimensions (or vice versa) is nothing new for artists, though the following work was conceived in one form while it's received in another: Keith Haring's Untitled (Subway Door), circa 1981, was created during Haring's heyday of street-art transgression; the subterranean NYC MTA was a favorite canvas of the groundbreaking artist, and here's one subway work — Haring's hallmark chalk figure “impaled” by a snake that he emblazoned on a subway car door — presented in its freestanding three-dimensional form. This is the path of street art rescued from the wild.

Continuing in the Pop Art vein in honor of, well, the most popular of art forms, we slide into significant two-dimensional works, in this case paintings by a few of Haring's pals and peers: His work is joined in this event by an original silkscreen painting by Andy Warhol, this one titled Puma Invader (Negative)from 1985-86, which depicts a black and white magazine ad for a (now-) iconic sneaker;and a painting by Kenny Scharf titledOoze, from 1987.

The '80s were a fertile time in the Big Apple and Haring and Warhol each have several other notable works in this auction from this era, which is joined by an earlier work by another New York-based legend that's lately gotten a fair amount of press in that city's Paper of Record, the New York Times: It's an early painting by Chuck Close, titled Untitled (Danaë) from 1965-66, with a fascinating backstory of how it came to its current dogwalker owner. The story itself is a layperson's Antiques Roadshow dream — an unknown masterpiece rolled up and safely stowed in a closet for decades — and its rediscovery presents a chance of a lifetime for a dedicated Close collector.

Perhaps more than any other art form, painting beguiles us, and this event is populated with significant examples of a type of painting that by mid-century opened up the medium's appeal to a growing audience: Op Art. An exceptional selection of artwork, sourced from a private California collector, brings us the greatest hits of the artists whose work led to Time Magazine coining the term “Op Art” in 1964 — which in fact was a direct response to Julian Stanczak's “Optical Paintings” exhibition that year and the burgeoning presence of an artistic movement known for its captivating optical illusions. The abstract compositions here by Stanczak and his acclaimed peers evoke movement, vibrating patterns and morphing effects. Stanczak's blue Sonar, from 1978, leads the charge, accompanied by enigmatic paintings from Richard Anuszkiewicz — such as Luminous (1965) and Complementary Fission (1964) — and pioneer Op Artist Victor Vasarely, represented here with Rend, which was conceived in 1960 and executed in 1976. (The work will be included in the forthcoming Catalogue Raisonné de l'Oeuvre Peint de Victor Vasarely, which is currently being compiled by the Fondation Vasarely, Aix-en-Provence.)

Vasarely's painting, with its wavy lines and a spectrum of color graduating across a juicy round, was groovy then, and it's extra-groovy now — now that, with hindsight, we grasp just how much our complicated present is built on a foundation of the visions and visionaries of our complex past.

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