Elaine de Kooning, Syd Solomon and Alma Thomas Highlight 20th Century Abstraction Auction at Doyle

  • NEW YORK, New York
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  • March 31, 2022

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Elaine de Kooning, Cave #17 (Orange Grotto), 1984, Acrylic on paper mounted to canvas, Sheet 30 1/4 x 39 inches. Lot 39.

Doyle will hold an auction of 20th Century Abstraction on Tuesday, April 5 at 11am. This exciting sale will showcase abstract art spanning the 1940s through the end of the century and will include paintings, drawings, sculpture and prints. From the American Abstract Expressionists, as well as several prototypical artists that predated them, the auction documents the global evolution of abstraction within and beyond the fabled New York School; including Color Field artists, hard-edge abstraction, Minimalism and much more.

The public is invited to the exhibition on view Saturday, April 2 through Monday, April 4 at Doyle, located at 175 East 87th Street in New York. View the catalogue and place bids at DOYLE.com

Elaine de Kooning
A work from Elaine de Kooning’s famed Cave Walls series, Cave #17 (Orange Grotto) from 1984, depicts a bull within a vivid orange field. De Kooning received a rare invitation to tour the Paleolithic cave paintings in Lascaux, France in 1983, and created this series inspired by what she saw. The bull had been an oft-returned to form appearing in de Kooning’s work going back to at least the 1950s, and while in this painting she is again depicting a bull – but appearing here as an image sourced from ancient times. Lot 39

Syd Solomon, Lowtide Patterns at Midnight Pass, triptych, 1982, Oil on canvas, Overall 48 x 90 1/2 inches. Lot 38.

Syd Solomon
World War II veteran Syd Solomon designed camouflage for the military, and ran reconnaissance flights, both of which influenced his abstract painting techniques. A masterful triptych from 1982, Lowtide Patterns at Midnight Pass evokes the environment of Solomon’s native Sarasota locale. Solomon was fascinated by the ecology of the nearby Gulf of Mexico, drawing inspiration from the famed white sands of Midnight Pass. Lot 38

Alma Thomas
One of two diminutive works on paper featured in the sale, this untitled work by Alma Thomas was created sometime in the late 1970s. A key member of the pioneering Washington Color School, Thomas was the first Black woman to show at the Whitney Museum. Like many of her most accomplished works, Thomas employs color in a dramatic, rhythmic pattern, with rivers of deep reds punctuated with flashes of sparking blues. Lot 28

Alma Thomas, Untitled, Acrylic on paper, 6 3/8 x 8 3/4 inches. Lot 28.

Serge Poliakoff
Moscow-born New School of Paris abstract painter Serge Poliakoff transitioned into abstraction in the late 1930s after befriending Wassily Kandinsky and Sonia and Robert Delaunay. Considered as a great influence on contemporary abstract painters such as Jonathan Lasker and Brice Marden, Poliakoff is beloved for his bold use of color and unique geometric compositions. From 1945, Composition Abstraite employs chunky blocks of color, with Kandinsky-like abstract forms undulating across the picture plane. Lot 1

Pratuang Emjaroean
Self-taught painter Pratuang Emjaroean fought against misconceptions and societal constraints in his native Thailand, becoming one of the nation’s most beloved painters. This untitled canvas evokes Emjaroean’s Buddhist mindset, employing natural forms in his lushly colored abstract composition. Lot 10

William Congdon
Arriving in New York in 1948 after serving in World War II, William Congdon would begin showing at the prestigious Betty Parsons Gallery in 1949. Congdon’s relationship with Parsons would continue for nearly 20 years, though he would spend much of his life from the 1950s and on living and painting in Europe. Peggy Guggenheim would meet Congdon in Venice during the '50s, going on to becoming one of his most ardent collectors and supporters. Both works by Congdon featured in the April 5 sale are from his early period in New York, and reflect the new, challenging abstract art of Post-War New York City. Lot 2

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