2011 Auction Season

While we prepare for costumes and candy, daydream about turkey and football, and start thinking about holiday wish lists, the auction scene in the Western Art world is in full swing! While I would love to talk about how incredible game 6 was of the World Series, and how we should have started Christian Ponder from the beginning of the season, let's dive into the upcoming auction schedule because it's action packed!

Bob Kuhn
Just recently, Little John's Auction Service held a sale that featured the collection of Robert Petersen and it contained a few gems.  While Little John's Auctioneers specializes in antique firearms, they were able to consign the Robert Petersen collection which included a couple really nice Bob Kuhns, a few terrific David Shepherds, a couple Rungius', a Russell pen and ink, and a few nice paintings by some of today's leading contemporary artists like Michael Coleman, Luke Frazier and Charles Fritz.  While the sale isn't comparable to any of the Western powerhouses like Coeur d'Alene Art Auction, Scottsdale Art Auction or Sothebys and Christie's, but it's all about acquiring quality paintings at a good value.  I thought I was going to be able to steal some quality paintings, but in the end, just about everything sold extremely well.  One, it goes to show how savvy collectors are these days, and that the art market continues to grow stronger from the pits of 2008.  The Kuhn market continues to be strong with a 22" x 34" oil of a whitetail buck with a few does in the background selling for $74,750.  While $74,750 for an original Bob Kuhn of that size is still a fantastic buy, it's a big price from an auctioneer that specializes in antique firearms.  This seemed to be the theme for the whole sale with another Kuhn measuring 18 1/2 x 35 1/2 of cape buffaloes selling for $97,750.  Because so many of the paintings sold so well, it just goes to show that quality works by established artists are still selling and selling well.  I know it sounds like a broken record, but it just confirms the idea of purchasing quality paintings because it will have a better resale value.  How do you know whether it's a quality painting or not?  That's where research, having a trusted dealer you can bounce ideas off of, and looking at a lot of paintings by a particular artist will pay dividends.  I always compare it to drinking wine.  If you rarely drink wine, then you won't be able to tell the difference between a good bottle and a crappy bottle.  Whereas, if you drink wine often, then you will be able to compare different wines, and your palette becomes refined so you can distinguish between good wine and bad wine.  You will naturally find out what you like and what you don't.  The more art you look at, the more refined your eye will become, and you will know what you like, and what you don't like.  Because it's so subjective, there's no right or wrong answer, it depends on your taste.

November is packed with quality auctions and wonderful opportunities to acquire quality works.  Doyle New York is presenting an auction on November 2, 2011.  Highlights from their sale include an important portrait by Robert Henri and if you're looking for just Western American works, there's a nice Charles Russell bronze titled Smokin' Up and estimated at $15,000 - $25,000.  I always get nervous with Russell bronzes, but this one does have a Roman Bronze Work NY stamp, so that's always a plus.

Heritage Auctions is having their American Paintings sale on November 5, 2011 in Dallas, TX. Highlights of their sale include a couple magnificent paintings by W.R. Leigh. Home Sweet Home measures 40" x 60" and is estimated $400,000 - $600,000 and if you don't get that one, Renegade at Bay estimated $300,000 - $500,000 measuring 24" x 29" is the very next lot. You will also find works by Bill Anton, Frank McCarthy, Edward Borein, Maynard Dixon, and Philip Goodwin.  Click here to check out the entire catalog.

Martin Grelle's Apsaalooka Horse Hunters
The annual Santa Fe Art Auction will be held on November 12, 2011 at 1:30pm MST in Santa Fe.  I just had a moment there where I thought I was an idiot for mentioning the Santa Fe Art Auction is in Santa Fe, but then again, the Coeur d'Alene Art Auction is in Reno, so I'm not totally losing it.  Peter Riess, Vice President and Executive Director of the Santa Fe Art Auction always puts together a tremendous sale of quality Southwestern Art.  Nothing's changed this year with a terrific lineup of quality contemporary works and exquisite historical works by Taos Founders.  Some of the highlights include an unbelievable work by Clark Hulings titled Aix Fountain measuring 27" x 44" and estimated $200,000 - $300,000.  Hulings' market has been very strong and I anticipate this painting to sell very well.  I guess we'll see if I know anything once the results are posted.  Other highlights include Walter Ufer's The White Pack, E.I Couse's The Eagle Dance, Maynard Dixon's Willows at Carmel, 1925, and Ernest Blumenshein's Studio Fireplace.  It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Martin Grelle's work.  He's been to my gallery for a couple of shows, and has to be one of the most down-to-earth and talented people I know.  Not to mention I've sold numerous paintings of his over the years.  I would be extremely surprised if Martin's painting Apsaalooka Horse Hunters measuring 48" x 66" and estimated $200,000 - $300,000 doesn't sell for over the low estimate of $200,000.  This is signature Martin with the Grand Tetons looming in the background, the combination of the coolness of the season and the warmth of the sun shining throughout the painting, and his innate knowledge of his subject matter including the horses.  If you can pick this painting up for under $200,000 you're getting an absolute steal, but like I said, I would be surprised if you do.  Click here to check out the entire catalog.

Clark Hulings Aix Fountain
Altermanns will be presenting an auction on Sunday, November 13, 2011 at 1:00pm in Santa Fe. It seems these days that if there's a major Western art auction somewhere, Altermanns Auctioneers is potentially having a sale too. Is there one in the works for Reno or Jackson, WY next year?? While Altermanns is probably not ever going to put up numbers like the Coeur d'Alene Art Auction, they always offer a great selection of classic Western art, and there's always a few gems to be found in most of their sales. It's always worth browsing their catalog, because if you're a fan of Western art, you may find something you like and possibly get it for a good price. They always have a great selection of Cowboy Artists of America works available, and there has to be at least a half dozen G. Harvey paintings available in varying sizes. I thought there was a good selection of Martin Grelle paintings being presented, and I especially like Martin Grelle's The Sign measuring 28" x 36" created in 2002, which is right when the demand for his work really took off. You'll also find works by Frank McCarthy, Clark Hulings, Roy Anderson, Jim Norton, Tom Gilleon, William Acheff, Mian Situ, Z.S. Liang and many more.  You can check out the entire catalog by visiting Altermann's website.

Christie's will have their American Paintings sale on November 30, 2011 at 10:00am. While they haven't published any highlights of the sale yet, I will keep you posted as they do. Christies never ceases to offer quality Western American works, so keep it on your radar.

Sotheby's American Paintings, Drawings & Sculpture Sale is December 1, 2011 at 10:00am. Among the Western American works being presented are paintings by Albert Bierstadt, Ernest Hennings and Maynard Dixon, as well as sculpture by Frederic Remington and Charles Schreyvogel, among others. I'm excited to see the 4 significant works by George Catlin that have been in the Field Museum since 1894 and were commissioned by Benjamin O'Fallon, who was the nephew of William Clark. The extraordinary works include two portraits of the prominent Indian Chiefs Black Hawk and One Horn, as well as Interior of a Mandan Lodge and Buffalo Chase, A Surround by the Hidatsa. You can view the catalog by visiting Sotheby's website.

When purchasing from auctions, it's important to identify the works you love most, do your research, identify what you want to pay for the painting and stay disciplined.  Naturally, if you want to build a collection that can potentially provide a return on your investment, you need to acquire your works at fair prices as well as identify quality works.  I know that life keeps us on our toes, and acquiring paintings from auctions might not be at the top of your priority list, but that's exactly why you have ME.  Contact me if you have any questions.  I am happy to research works you're interested in, represent you at auctions, or just be a sounding board on quality of paintings, prices, artists or our families.  Just because it's Halloween, enjoy!


  1. Nice post and art work..Several parts of the world adopted the rich Western culture, including their Western Art Style.

  2. I got so many points here, that's why i love reading your post. Thank you so much!


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