Los Angeles, CA— As we approach the second half of 2023, John Moran Auctioneers will
present their bi-annual Modern & Contemporary Fine Art sale, Tuesday, June 13 th at 12:00pm
PDT. This auction features works by many important arts of the 20 th and 21 st centuries, including
paintings, prints and multiples, photography, and sculpture by Alice Baber, Jacques Lipschitz,
Karl Benjamin, Joan Miró, Damien Hirst, Mary Lovelace O’Neal, Herb Ritts, among others. This
sale will also feature a capsule collection of works from the estate of the esteemed New York
gallerist, Howard Wise, including important works by Charmion von Wiegand, Takis, Nam June
Paik, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, and Peter Hujar.
Howard Wise (1903-1989) was an important American art patron and gallerist who left an
indelible mark on the American art scene. After beginning his career as an industrialist, Wise
sold off his family business to pursue his interests in the arts. He opened his first gallery in his
hometown of Cleveland, Ohio in 1957, where he exhibited works by prominent contemporary
European artists that proved to be unpopular with his Midwestern audience. In 1960, Wise
made the decision to relocate his business to New York City and opened his gallery on 57th
Street to great acclaim. Over the next several decades, the Howard Wise Gallery became a hub
for the international avant-garde art scene. Howard’s second wife, Barbara Wise (1929-2011),
played a huge part in the gallery’s success, as she helped cultivate the growing social scene at
the gallery and was a strong advocate for many actors and artists throughout her life. Although
the gallery was a for-profit business, Howard and Barbara Wise ran the gallery more as a
museum exhibition space than as a business and wanted it to be used as an experimental
showcase. After the gallery closed in 1971, the Wises established a foundation known as the
Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), which helped artists and organizations working within the
emerging video art movement. Moran’s is pleased to bring works from the collection of the late
Howard and Barbara Wise to auction for the very first time.
Growing international acclaim and recognition as a major female figure of the Abstract
Expressionist movement is Alice Baber (1928-1982). Back in August of 2022, Moran’s had
achieved a new world auction record for the artist, $187,500 (including buyer’s premium) for her
work, “Swirl Of Sounds – The Ghost In The Banyan Tree,” 1976. Then, in their February 2023
Art + Design auction, interest in Baber grew exponentially and her “Axe In The Grove,” 1966,
hammered in a whopping $275,000 (including buyer’s premium)—earning the artist an even
better world auction record! Now, on the heels of this momentum, collectors have another
chance to be a part of Baber’s red-hot market, this time with her paintings, “The Sound of the
Summer Hermit” and “The Key of Sound and Light,” 1976, with an estimate of $50,000-70,000,
and “Light Ladder,” 1966, estimated $20,000-30,000.
La Meneuse de Lune, 1975, will be one of five works offered by the Spanish artist Joan Miró
(1893-1983). In La Meneuse de Lune, estimated, $30,000-50,000, Miró explores his distinctive
artistic style and combines it with a mystical theme often associated with the moon. The print
showcases a fantastical scene that invites viewers into a world of imagination and whimsy. His
use of bold colors adds vibrancy and intensity to the work through a rich palette of blues,
oranges, reds, and greens, creating a harmonious interplay of hues. The juxtaposition of warm
and cool colors enhances the dreamlike quality of the artwork, evoking emotions and a sense of
One of the highlights from the Howard Wise capsule collection is Charmion von Wiegand’s, The
Lotuses, 1960. Von Wiegand (1896-1983) was an American artist and journalist who played a
significant role in the development of abstract art and the promotion of spiritual philosophies in
the 20th century. With an estimate of $30,000-50,000, "The Lotuses" dates to a period in the
artist's career when she found herself immersed in a rapidly changing artistic landscape. She
moved away from strict geometric abstraction and began incorporating more organic and fluid
forms in her work, reflecting the broader artistic movements of the time, such as Abstract
Expressionism and the Color Field movement.
Other noteworthy selections from the Wise collection are Untitled (#222), 1959, by Ernest
Briggs, estimated $25,000-30,000, and an electrified sculpture, Signal, circa 1967-71, by
Panayiotis “Takis” Vassilakis, having a $15,000-20,000 estimate. Briggs (1923-1984) was a
second-generation Abstract Expressionist painter known for his expressive brushwork,
geometric compositions, and revolution in abstract painting that secured New York City’s
position as the art capital of the world in the post-World War II period. Takis (1925-2019) was a
prominent Greek artist known for his groundbreaking contributions to the fields of kinetic art and
sculpture. Throughout his career he challenged conventional artistic practices and explored the
relationship between art, science, and technology. His innovative works, characterized by their
use of magnetism and motion, established him as a leading figure in the international art scene.
Karl Benjamin (1925-2012) was an American abstract artist who played a significant role in the
development of abstract art in Southern California. Benjamin rose to fame as one of four Los
Angeles based Abstract Classicists in 1959 and subsequently developed a rich vocabulary of
colors and hard-edge shapes in masterful compositions of tightly balanced repose as seen in
“FS #8,” 1962. Estimated $20,000-30,000, this work comes from his “Free Style” (hence the
“FS” in the title) series.
This auction will also feature four works by the Southern California native, Josh (SHAG) Agle (b.
1962). Josh Agle, known professionally as SHAG, is a contemporary artist widely recognized for
his distinctive style that captures the essence of mid-century modernism and retro pop culture.
With his vibrant colors, bold designs, and playful characters, as seen in, L.A. Modern (Day),
2005, estimated $5,000-7,000, SHAG has become an icon in the world of modern art.
Other examples of the impressive variety of sculpture offered in the sale feature Jacques
Lipchitz (1891-1973) and Bruno Romeda (1933-2017). Melancholia, 1971, comes directly from
the private collection of French American Cubist sculptor, Jacques Lipchitz with a $15,000-
20,000 estimate. Inspired by primitive geometric forms, as seen in Untitled #13 (Circle
Sculpture), 1986, estimated $12,000-18,000, Bruno Romeda is considered a complete artist
because all his work begins by joining twigs, rods, and sticks. His work is an example of
technical perfection, harmonizing proportions and bronze work.
—Brenda Smith, John Moran Auctioneers
---------- Upcoming Auctions ----------
John Moran Auctioneers will continue their 2023 lineup with the Art of the American West
auction, Tuesday, June 6 th , followed by the Modern & Contemporary Fine Art sale, Tuesday,
June 13 th . Be sure to mark your calendars for these upcoming auctions so you don’t miss out on
the action, and the treasures!
Art of the American West: Tuesday, June 6 th | 12:00 pm PDT
Modern & Contemporary Fine Art: Tuesday, June 13 th |12:00pm PDT
ReDesigned: Tuesday, July 11 th | 12:00pm PDT
For upcoming highlights, online catalogues, and more information on these sales, visit Moran's
website: www.johnmoran.com and follow us on social media: @johnmoranauctioneers. Along
with our website, bidding is now available online via Moran's new mobile app, Moran Mobile,
available on both iOS and Android operating systems. You may also choose to bid by phone or
Consignments are always welcome:
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org today!
By John Moran Auctioneers
Copyright © 1999 - 2023 John Moran Auctioneers. All Rights Reserved.