Two works from the celebrated art collection of the late California wine makers, Robert and Margrit Mondavi, will be offered at Bonhams Post-War & Contemporary Sale in New York, 16 May 2017. The collection was formerly displayed in the Mondavi family home and then at the Robert Mondavi Winery. Summer Angel, 1984, an evocative mid-career work by Helen Frankenthaler, is a fine example of her 'soak stain' technique; a method which set her apart from her contemporaries and put her firmly at the heart of Colour Field painting. Camellia Cake, 1995, by Wayne Thiebaud is characteristic of the artist's colourful depictions of nostalgia-inducing American imagery.
The Mondavis' winery, which housed their extensive art collection, is set in the surroundings of California's Napa Valley. After joining the Robert Mondavi Winery in 1967, a year after its founding, Margrit Mondavi began pairing her love of wine with food, art and travel. With her husband's encouragement, in 1970 she established a permanent collection of well-known and emerging artists. Until her passing in 2016, Margrit also hosted a rotating series of exhibitions each year at the Vineyard Room, at which up to 40 pieces by an artist were displayed for around two months. The dynamic couple's belief that wine and art should be enjoyed as part of a culturally rich life helped to catapult Napa Valley onto the world stage.
Auction highlight Summer Angel by Helen Frankenthaler (estimated at $700,000 - 900,000) uses blue tones to reflect an abstract natural landscape, which could be likened to the clear, sunny skies that California is noted for. Frankenthaler's use of paint differs notably from that of her contemporaries, including a process by which she watered down oil paint with turpentine and poured it onto the canvas directly. This process, which she dubbed 'soak stain', emphasised pure colour and the flatness of the canvas, and was a stark contrast to the older generation's preference for building layers of rough texture.
Best known for his still life treatment of everyday objects, Wayne Thiebaud's Camellia Cake is a fine example of the Pop art paintings which made him a truly original and recognisable American artist. A typical example of Thiebaud's work, Camellia Cake uses rich colours and well-defined shadows to depict a delicious cake on a minimal backdrop. His background in graphic design and advertising influenced his use of heavy pigment and exaggerated colour, while his practice of sketching with different coloured paints contributed to the multi-colored lines that define the edge of the cake, flower and shadow.
Jeremy Goldsmith, Director of Post-War and Contemporary Art, New York, said, "Wayne Thiebaud is well known for his depictions of sweet, sugary foodstuffs, and the luscious Camellia Cake is a typical example of his gestural brushwork. As proud proponents of artistic and culinary programmes in California, it seems only fitting that Camellia Cake has been enjoyed as part of the Mondavi's extensive art collection."
Other highlights include:
Created from painted and patinated bronze, Roy Lichtenstein's Brushstroke Head I, 1987 is another highlight of the auction. Estimated at $700,000 - $900,00, Brushstroke Head I is a fine example of Lichtenstein's signature style, referencing an earlier series of paintings by the artist from the 1960s. The sculpture comprises Ben-Day dots and thick lines, which together create the facial features and hair on a head which appears to be moving. This work is from an edition of six (plus one artist's proof).
Hans Hofmann's A Certain Mood, 1959 is estimated at $600,000 - 800,000. The vibrant oil on canvas is a typical example of the German-born American abstract expressionist's paintings.
For further information and images call Laura Watts on +44 (0) 20 7468 8210, or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.