Monday, September 10, 2018

Prices soar for Washington Color School artists

From Jean Efron Art Consultants:
A group of loosely affiliated artists working in Washington, DC in the 1960s and 1970s, known as The Washington Color School primarily because of their use of pure color as the subject matter of their paintings, has received heightened attention in the art market, both nationally and internationally.
A major characteristic of Color School paintings is the use of unprimed canvas on which diluted pigment was applied, sometimes by pouring, permitting the pigment to do strange and wonderful things as it soaked into the canvas and spread into adjoining colors or the bare canvas. Perhaps one of the most creative applications of this technique was adopted by Sam Gilliam in his early paintings by folding the canvas after pigment had been applied and while it was still wet. By folding and unfolding the pigment stained canvas Gilliam created a group of stunningly beautiful paintings having unexpected forms of deep and shimmering colors.
Recently, one of these stained and folded paintings sold at Sotheby's in London for over $1.2 million, setting a world-wide auction record for the artist. Washington, DC art consultant, Jean Efron, who consigned the painting to Sotheby's on behalf of the sellers, said, “We are seeing very strong demand for Sam Gilliam's early work. The stained and folded canvases, in particular, have attracted a lot of attention because they are recognized as representing a singular original development in the history of American art. I think it is very appropriate that a Sam Gilliam painting that achieved a record auction price was owned by a Washington, DC collector.” Jean Efron Art Consultants recently facilitated the private sale of another important early Sam Gilliam artwork that had been in an owner’s collection for more than four decades.
Gilliam’s early work (1967 through 1973) is the subject of a major exhibition at the Kunstmuseum in Basel, Switzerland. According to Efron, "Sam has always been recognized as a major creative force in American Art. I have always considered him one of the most creative artists I have known. The Basel exhibition is the most recent demonstration of that recognition. However, only recently, has that recognition migrated into the art market pushing up prices for his work, in some cases dramatically.                           
Efron's firm, Jean Efron Art Consultants, has recently represented a number of clients selling paintings by Sam Gilliam. However, she says, "Sam Gilliam is not the only artist identified with the Washington Color School whose paintings are attracting a lot of attention in the art market. We are seeing strong demand for paintings by Alma Thomas, whose work has dramatically increased in value in the past two or three years as has some of the work of Anne Truitt. And, of course, the work of Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland always have enthusiastic buyers.” Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Thomas Downing and Gene Davis are perhaps most closely associated with the Color School. Sam Gilliam’s early work, and some of the work of Alma Thomas and Paul Reed, as well as the work of Leon Berkowitz, Thomas Mehring and Anne Truitt are also considered by some to be included with The Washington Color School designation. According to Efron, “It is not unusual to see exceptional examples of works by Gilliam, Alma Thomas, Louis, and Noland being offered and sold for seven figure prices.”
About Jean Efron Art Consultants LLC: Jean Efron Art Consultants LLC is a Washington, DC, based art advisory firm that provides comprehensive fine art services. Since 1973, the firm has provided collection development and management services to both private and public clients including many of Washington, DC’s most discerning law firms, developers, associations and corporations.