Traylor and Ramirez share the spotlight in Christie’s $ 2.1 million art brut sale
NEW YORK CITY— Christie’s art brut sale on January 21 totaled more than $ 2.1 million, led by a work by Bill Traylor, “Two Dogs Fighting; Man chasing the dog,“ which made $ 293,750. This is the fifth highest record for a Traylor at auction.
The circa 1939-1942 artwork was created using tempera, graphite, and colored pencils on white card stock and measured 18 x 25¾ inches. The provenance on the piece lists Gael and Michael Mendelsohn, who purchased the work in 1994 from the Ricco / Maresca Gallery. It was then sold to the shipper by the Giampietro gallery in 2004.
The work had been included in the 2000 version of The intuitive eye: the Mendelsohn collection, as well as the 2018 release of Valerie Rousseau and Debra Purden, Bill traylor. It had also been exhibited at the American Folk Art Museum in the 2013 exhibition “Traylor in Motion: Wonders from New York Collections”.
Christie’s scholar Cara Zimmerman wrote: “’Two Dogs Fighting’ is an important and exceptional work, revealing the artist’s mastery over space, its subject matter and its media. The energy inequality of the reused map is highlighted by the active breeding dogs and the kicking man, and Traylor masterfully positions the red dog’s head to recognize and engage the highest arched area of the the map, making the surface itself an integral part of the composition. . Traylor’s signature, rarely included in his works, is embedded in the central portion of the image, situating the artist actively in the midst of his subjects.
Priced at $ 187,500 out of a high estimate of $ 80,000, Martin Ramirez “Untitled (Tunnels and Trains)”, a 1950s graphite and pencil on two joined sheets of brown paper measuring 67 by 38 inches. This work was from the dealer Phyllis Kind and had a long history of exhibiting in museums in the United States. Time Art critic Robert Hughes described “Untitled (Tunnels and Train)” in 1988 as “so grand in its architecture of repeated curves that it deserves a place in any anthology of American drawing.”
Artist auction records were set for Judith Scott, Laura Craig McNellis and Raymond Matterson.
Watch for a full review of this sale in an upcoming issue.