||CHICAGO (November 6, 2010) – With a room full of bidders at Chicago’s Navy Pier, and phones busy for nearly every lot, the inaugural Cowans + Clark + DelVecchio Modern and Contemporary Ceramics Auction radiated palpable energy throughout the entire 84-lot sale. The auction totaled over $500,000, with over 80 bidders from six countries participating.
“The auction greatly exceeded our expectations,” commented Garth Clark, who, along with Mark Del Vecchio, partnered with Auctioneer Wes Cowan to produce the auction. “Prices were on average higher than previous auction records. We were thrilled to create new records for ceramics by Peter Voulkos, Jim Melchert, Christine McHorse and others.”
Indeed, a stoneware stack pot by Peter Voulkos (1924-2002, USA), titled ‘Gash’ (image at left), was the highest-selling lot in the auction, breaking a world record for the artist’s ceramics with a selling price of $105,750. The piece was estimated to sell for $50,000/90,000. Voulkos is world-renowned for his abstract expressionist ceramics; he was instrumental in moving ceramics from functional to purely artistic forms in the 1950s. Clark noted that ‘Gash’ is the most significant Voulkos to come to auction in over a decade.
Far exceeding its $7/9,000 estimate, ‘Ghost Box’ by Jim Melchert (b. 1930, Ohio) soared to $26,440 thanks to competing bidders on the phone and floor. The significant piece was exhibited on the ground-breaking 1966 Abstract Expressionist Ceramics Exhibition, Art Gallery of the University of California, and Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco.
Christine Nofchissey McHorse’s ‘Vesuvius,’ an abstract ceramic from 2002, also garnered spirited bidding. The most recent piece by McHorse (b.1948, USA) to come to public auction, it sold for $17,625, exceeding its $12,000/15,000 estimate. McHorse, a resident of Sante Fe, is one of the Southwest’s most adventurous and important abstract ceramists. The pot is made from a continuous coil with no cutting or joining.
“This was a major step towards establishing a true secondary market for modern and contemporary ceramics,” noted Del Vecchio.
“Today we established market prices for artists whose works had never been seen at auction and I couldn’t be happier with the results. We knew it was a risk but we were ambitious, and it paid off,” added Cowan.
The auction, whose presence at Navy Pier alongside SOFA Chicago made waves in the press, was deemed to be a successful venture by Mark Lyman, President of The Art Fair Company who produces SOFA. “I am very pleased with the success of the auction and that the dealers of ceramics at the SOFA fair and elsewhere have another reason to be confident in the value of the art they represent.”
Donna Schneier, a dealer at SOFA and the most vocal opponent to the auction, was in fact a bidder in the sale, and commented while paying for her merchandise, “I always support auctions.”
The first of its kind, the Auction brought to the international art market over 80 works by the most important 20th-century ceramic artists.
Cowans + Clark + DelVecchio will hold the next series of Modern and Contemporary Ceramics auctions in the Spring of 2011.