Lichtenstein, Rauschenberg, Hockney, and Johns highlight 'The Marmor Family Collection' up for auction
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Lichtenstein, Rauschenberg, Hockney, and Johns highlight 'The Marmor Family Collection' up for auction
Lot 152: Sam Maloof (1916-2009), A walnut settee, 1969. The carved walnut two-seater settee with blue hopsack cloth upholstery.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- On Tuesday, March 26th, 2023, at 12:00 pm PDT, John Moran Auctioneers is proud to present the first of their bi-annual California Living sales. An auction encompassing the California aesthetic with examples of fine art and design highlighted by The Marmor Family Collection with a focus on art of the 1960s and 1970s. Blue chip artists Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, David Hockney, Jasper Johns will lead their collection. The sale will also feature design pieces by Sam Maloof, Jonathan Adler, and other mid-century gems.

Dr. Judd Marmor, a psychiatrist in Los Angeles, and his wife Dr. Katherine Marmor, a psychologist, were well acquainted in the LA art scene during the last half of the 20th century. They forged connections with modern and contemporary artists such as William N. Copley, George Herms, Ed Kienholz, Roy Lichtenstein, Ed Ruscha, Frank Stella, and H.C. Westermann, among others. The couple built a large collection of prints and assemblages, were founding members of Museum of Contemporary Art, and were long-time supporters of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Through their acumen and purchases from artists’ studios and galleries, their collection represents a microcosm of Los Angeles art from this influential period. This sale includes Pop Art collected by Judd and Katherine Marmor as well as works added by their son, Michael and his wife, Jane Marmor that emphasize Op Art and Indigenous art.

Leading the offerings in the Marmor Collection is lot 35, a steel sculpture by Sir Anthony Alfred Caro titled, “Table Piece CCCLXXIII," 1977. Caro (1924-2013) was an English abstract sculptor whose work is characterized by assemblages of metal using ‘found’ industrial objects. Considered as one of the greatest British sculptors of his generation, Moran’s is pleased to present this Caro work with a $40,000-60,000 estimate. Lot 27 is a sculpture by Peter Alexander (1939-2020), an American artist part of the Light and Space artist movement in southern California in the 1960s. Most notable for his resin sculptures, Moran’s is featuring “Grey Wedge,” 1969, a floor sculpture that tapers from a smoky black to a clear resin, estimated at $20,000-30,000.

Highlighting the selection of fine art is “Jade Hole,” 1980, by Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008), an artist known for his groundbreaking work in printmaking and photography, inspiring countless innovations and pushing the boundaries of what was possible in the realm of contemporary art. Estimated at $40,000-60,000, lot 78 is an example of Rauschenberg’s use of his own photography and multi-media processes, a testament to his commitment to innovation and experimentation. [PHOTO 3]

One of the artists the Marmors befriended was an influential figure in the postwar art world, William Copley (1919-1996). Renowned for his vibrant and audacious works that challenged conventional artistic norms, Copley’s body of work is a rich tapestry of loosely narrative compositions, featuring curvilinear figures, bold contours, and a vibrant palette of colors. His legacy is vital link between European Surrealism and American Pop art. Lot 30 will offer “Haut Boy,” 1970, estimated at $30,000-50,000.

Lot 20 is a piece by Jasper Johns, “Light Bulb,” from his “Lead Reliefs” series, 1969, estimated at $20,000-30,000. Jasper Johns' "Light Bulb” lead relief is a profound exploration of American cultural symbols encapsulated in lead, revealing the artist's enduring fascination with mundane objects and their transformation into potent symbols of meaning. The series encapsulates Johns' lifelong endeavor to destabilize and recontextualize the ordinary, transforming "things the mind already knows" into objects of contemplation and intrigue. At the heart of this piece lies the enigmatic presence of the light bulb, a motif that recurs throughout Johns' career as a symbol of illumination and artistic creation. This “Light Bulb” lead relief represents a pivotal moment in Jasper Johns' artistic evolution, showcasing his mastery of medium and his relentless pursuit of visual and conceptual complexity.

Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997) was another artist the Marmors were fortunate to have in their social circle. The couple’s vast print collection included many Lichtensteins, 16 of which are featured in this sale. Among the offerings are “CRAK!,” 1964, estimated $15,000-20,000, multiple works from his 1969 “Haystack Series” and 1972 “Mirror Series”, each estimated at $8,000-12,000, and lots 23-26 are from his 1970 “Modern Head” series, estimates ranging from $10,000-20,000. Lichtenstein's "Modern Head" series, created in the 1970s, stands as a critical dismantling of the history of Modern Art. This series represents a shift in Lichtenstein's approach, moving away from mass-produced imagery towards the appropriation of stylistic conventions and specific works of Modern masters, including Picasso, Monet, Matisse, and Mondrian. Each work in the "Modern Head" series was produced using a distinct commercial printing process, including woodcut, lithography, line-cut, embossing, and die-cut paper overlay.

Other notable fine art comes from artists associated with the Bay area art scene, Paul Wonner and Joan Brown. Paul Wonner (1920-2008) rose to prominence in the 1950s as an abstract expressionist affiliated with the Bay Area Figurative Movement. In 1956, Wonner started painting a series of dreamlike male bathers and boys with bouquets such as lot 136, “Boy with Flowers,” 1961, estimated at $60,000-80,000. Lot 131 is “Mary and Julie #16,” 1976, by Joan Brown, one of the most renowned American painters emerging prominently from the Bay Area scene. In "Mary Julia #16", estimated at $8,000-12,000, Brown immortalized her muse in an evocative portrayal, adorned with a skull embroidered bomber jacket and striking red and black heels. Her skillful blending of influences from artistic giants like Matisse, Valasquez and Goya resonate with depth, drawing viewers into a world of interpretation and speculation.

The sale also features design pieces by Ray and Charles Eames, Jonathan Adler, Charles-Edouard “Le Corbusier” Jeanneret, and a 1969 walnut settee by Sam Maloof, lot 152, estimated at $6,000-8,000. The sale is now live on our website.

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