SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, CA, September 26, 2022 – Turner Auctions + Appraisals is very pleased to present two auctions from the estate of noted California artist, Ira Yeager (1938-2022). Offered at both live and online auctions in October 2022, the sales feature Yeager’s artworks, plus fine art, decorative arts, furniture, and more from his vast collection and estate, which encompasses multiple residences. Between these two auctions, around 700 lots from Yeager’s personal collection of found objects amassed over many years – what he called “objects trouvés” – go up for bid.
Turner Auctions + Appraisals will hold the live auction in Napa Valley, California, on Saturday and Sunday, October 1-2, 2022, at YÄGER GALERIE, 1312 Lincoln, Calistoga, California, from 10am PDT; the auction is available for preview on Friday, September 30, from 10am-6pm. Turner Auctions + Appraisals begins its online auction on Saturday, October 15, 2022, at 10:30 am PDT; sale items are available for preview and bidding now. The online auction will be featured live on Bidsquare.
Lot 240, Ira Yeager (1938-2022), Title/Subject: "San Miguel De Allende". Size: 48in x 48in (image). Year Created: 1969 Signature: Lower Right. Medium/Ground: Oil and Acrylic on canvas.
World-renowned for diverse works of art created over six decades, Ira Yeager is acclaimed for his Native American portraits, history-themed paintings, and abstract landscapes. He was born in 1938 in Bellingham, Washington, on the coast of the Pacific Ocean near the Canadian border. His father had a namesake sporting goods store, still in operation today, and was a friendly competitor of Eddie Bauer, the man. Ira came of age hunting, fishing, appreciating the natural beauty of the outdoors. Foretelling interests to come, he also come in regular contact with Native Americans and Canadian First Peoples with whom his father would trade fishing or hunting rights for goods from his store.
Young Ira’s interests were primarily elsewhere, however. When he was about eight years old, he asked for a set of oil paints for Christmas and received them from his mother, always an enthusiastic supporter of his artistic endeavors. He knew from that time that art was to be part of his future, and indeed the smell of oil paints remained a sensory recollection throughout his life.
In 1957, Ira moved to the San Francisco Bay area to attend the California College of Arts and Crafts, where he studied with abstract expressionist Richard Diebenkorn; then with Elmer Bischoff at the San Francisco Art Institute. He then went to the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence to further his studies, beginning a lifelong passion for Europe, Morocco, travel, cultural immersion, and eccentric characters in his wide circle of friends. A true bohemian, Yeager felt at home in many places – and acquired many homes along the way: San Francisco, also where his studio was located; Corfu, Greece, where he and his partner George Hellyer lived for a decade; Santa Fe, New Mexico, where recent exhibitions were held in the LewAllen Galleries; Calistoga in Napa Valley, also home to the YÄGER GALERIE; and Sea Ranch, California. Many of his favorite places were near the water, reflecting his coastal birthplace and always calling him back. An enthusiastic entertainer, his many homes welcomed a wide array of friends and acquaintances who would add fun to the festivities. Among them were famed contemporary artists or writers, including Truman Capote, Joan Brown, Tennessee Williams, William Boroughs, and others. From his first solo exhibition in the 1960s in San Francisco, Yeager’s work has been widely lauded and shown in numerous Northern California venues and in Santa Fe. His art is held in many private and public collections throughout the United States and Europe.
Lot 197, Navajo Cuff of a Kachina. Silver, turquoise and coral. Stamping, marked "STERLING" and artist mark. Center blue stone possible a composite material and painted.
In German, the word “Jäger,” which became the anglicized surname “Yeager,” means “hunter” – a spot-on description of a man who searched, found, and collected throughout his life. Always on the hunt, Yeager was an avid collector for over 70 years, beginning from around age 14 with objects found locally, such as glass floats or paint boxes. His interests were diverse, exotic, and eclectic – from Native American jewelry and baskets or firearms and duck decoys, reminders of items from his youth; to European pieces that reflected the history or color palettes of France and Italy of the 17th or 18th centuries. As Yeager said, he could “go anywhere and find something from the 18th century” – that is, something that supported the tradition of design of the era and that could inform or inspire his own work. In fact, often his finds would show up in his artworks: a colorful teapot or shapely chair, for example, might end up pictured on his canvas – or a footstool or table might become the canvas itself!
Brian Fuller, Yeager’s friend and colleague for over 30 years, is his Gallerist and Curator. There at Fuller’s YÄGER GALERIE in Calistoga, Yeager’s works and objects trouvés are showcased in context, just as the artist did. Speaking about Yeager and his passion for collecting, Fuller said “Ira came from the land of Christmas trees and always knew there was something beyond.” His collection was sourced from many places “beyond” – among them, Yeager’s varied residences in Europe (noting that he felt living in Corfu, Greece, was the closest thing to living in an 18th-century village). America was also a valuable collecting resource, particularly San Francisco, where his dear friend Lillian Williams owned a shop of French antiques, and the city’s grand estates, whose owners would carry objects of culture and discernment back from their Europe travels. From these many enjoyable forays into hunting, history and cultures, Yeager created his “follies,” properties replete with and surrounded by special, hand-picked items. There, in an environment created by him, he could react to his found objects and use them as a reference for his artistic works. Surrounded by his found treasures and the fruits of his collecting passion, he found inspiration for his own artistic creations and to, as he said, “push paint around.”
Lot 245, Ira Yeager (1938-2022). Title/Subject: Native American head with raised/relief features. Size: 24 1/4in x 11 1/4in; wide of base 9 3/8in. Year Created: Third quarter 20th century. Signature: Unsigned (from the Estate of Ira Yeager). Medium/Ground: Oil and acrylic painted wood sculpture.
As an artist and collector, “Ira chose beauty,” said Fuller, seeking beautiful lines, shapes, and colors that would culminate in his artwork. While inspired to paint European ancestry or Indian portraits, he sought to “reinvent history,” giving his works a contemporary and challenging interpretation. According to Fuller, Yeager knew when to stop – always leaving something irregular, an edge, to give his work added life, age, or patina. Now, with Ira Yeager’s passing, Fuller is sharing a lifetime of objects trouvés – and continuing the YÄGER GALERIE, whose contextual vignettes of art and found objects celebrate the spirit and flair of how Yeager lived and worked. It is there the legacy of Ira Yeager will continue to engage, inspire, and flourish.
By Turner Auctions + Appraisals LLC
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