Art of the Americas - The Fall Quarterly Auction, September 2016

The painter John Beerman (b. 1958) lived and painted on the Hudson River for a quarter century. One of Beerman’s paintings of the Hudson is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s permanent collection, and his commissions include a piece for the Governor of New York and another for a restaurant right on the river. Sometimes called a modern transcendentalist, he is also a perhaps a contemporary Hudson River School artist, all the way down to his genes: Beerman has ancestral ties to Henry Hudson.

But Beerman is originally from Greensboro, and he recently moved back to North Carolina, resettling in Durham. So the moment feels auspicious for us to offer Potato Field, his luminous landscape painting. In fact, the opportunity is unprecedented: Potato Field is not only the first of Beerman’s paintings we’ve ever auctioned, it is also on the market for the first time since its original purchase in 1993, shortly after the painting’s creation, by a North Carolina collector who has consigned it with us. Potato Field is a large-scale work that commands a room. We’re excited to have Beerman back home—both the man and his work.

From farther afield comes Tige Vibrant, a whimsical but exacting construction by the pioneering Venezuelan artist Jesus Rafael Soto (1923 – 2005). Soto, best known for his Penetrables, large-scale installations the viewer walks inside, was a founder of kinetic and op art, which is enjoying a popularity boom. “Bridget Riley’s Blaze recently sold for a top record price,” says Leland Little’s Fine Art and Silver Director, Claire Fraser, referring to one the great op artist’s best-known pieces. A screenprint of Blaze sold at Leland Little for $29,000 in June.

Ansel Adams (1902 -1984), America’s greatest landscape photographer, needs no introduction, of course. His works in the September auction are part of a consignment from a Greensboro collector that includes prints by the social realist master Walker Evans, the pioneering French photographer Eugene Atget (1857 – 1927), and his emissary to America, Berenice Abbott (1898 – 1991). Abbott, an American who had a successful expatriate photography career among the Lost Generation in Europe, bought the entirety of Atget’s available collection there and brought it to New York City in 1929. She intended to spend a few weeks introducing his work to her homeland and then to return to France. Instead, she was captivated by the intensity and contrasts of New York, which had just been upheaved by the Great Depression. She never went back to Europe. Abbott not only brought Atget to America; she extended his Parisian legacy as his posthumous protégé, training her keen photographic eye on the life of New York.