Los Angeles – Miss Liberty (1980), a seminal work by Robert Colescott (1925-2009), achieved $4.5 million at Bonhams Post-War & Contemporary Art auction in Los Angeles on February 17. A work of this museum-quality rarely comes to market and Bonhams was honored to present this masterpiece in Los Angeles. The work was acquired by the Art Bridges Foundation. Art Bridges is dedicated to expanding access to American Art and works with museums of all sizes to create and support arts programs that educate, inspire, and deepen engagement with local audiences. Privately held and largely unseen since shortly after it was painted, Miss Liberty attracted bidders with its powerful depiction of American freedom and racial equality. In the work, Colescott tackles the impenetrable tenets of American identity with humor, candor, and a potent visual sense.
“Not only are we thrilled with the results from today’s sale in Los Angeles, we were also delighted to have had the opportunity to showcase this monumental, profoundly important painting in California where Bonhams has established itself as the leading auction house on the West Coast.” commented Ralph Taylor, Global Head of Post-War & Contemporary Art for Bonhams. “This work in particular presents a hopeful and powerful message, and we are pleased that it resonated so strongly with individuals and institutions alike.”
Overall, the sale overall achieved $5.9 million with 80% sold by lot and 99% by value.
Additional highlights of the sale include:
- A very rare, exceptional work on paper, Untitled, circa 1951, by Franz Klein (1910-1962), sold for $138,975.
- Purple Pitcher, Cakes and Peonies, 1982, by Janet Fish (b. 1938), an American realist artist, sold for twice its estimate at $126,375.
- Two works by Liza Lou (b. 1969) surpassed their estimates, Ruffles, circa 1995, sold for $17,850 and Smacks, 1997, sold $21,675. Both works are from the artist’s project Kitchen, an endeavor to construct a kitchen entirely with lustrous beads in an attempt to elevate the history and impact of domestic spaces.
- Concave Crystal, 1986 by DeWain Valentine (1936-2022), a sculptor affiliated with the Southern California Light and Space movement of the 1960s, sold for $101,175, double its estimate.
- Tenth Street Painting, 1996, by Caio Fonseca (b. 1959) sold for $53,295, more than three times its estimate.
- Automatic Image #5, 1960, by Robert Motherwell (1915-1991) sold for $63,375.