Oscar Bluemner's Illusion of a Prairie leads American art sale alongside Frederic Church

The Important American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture auction at Christie's New York on November 30, at 10 am, will lead off with two vibrant landscapes from Oscar Bluemner and Frederic Church, two superb Georgia O'Keeffe paintings and a heroic tableau of Columbus departing for the New World by Emanuel Leutze, the renowned painter of Washington Crossing the Delaware.

A total of 136 lots will be offered, featuring outstanding works from diverse movements across the 19th and 20th centuries, including Hudson River School, American Impressionism, Modernism, and Western Art. The sale is expected to achieve in excess of $22 million.

The auction and pre-sale exhibition will take place in Christie's new 20th floor Special Exhibition Galleries, with 360-degree views of the Manhattan skyline.


Illusion of a Prairie, New Jersey (Red Farm at Pochuck), 1915, by
Oscar Bluemner

The O'Keeffe paintings, My Autumn and Black Iris (estimates: $2,000,000-3,000,000 and $1,200,000-1,800,000, respectively) and two Milton Avery paintings, Nude on the Beach and Sitting Hen, are part of the Property from a Distinguished West Coast Collection, which Christie's has been honoured to present in several sales this fall.

Remarkable for the extraordinary quality, rarity and iconic status of the works included, the group of paintings and sculptures offers serious collectors a chance to buy important works that haven't been available in decades.

A lead highlight among paintings consigned by various owners is Oscar Bluemner's Illusion of a Prairie, New Jersey (Red Farm at Pochuck), (estimate: $2,000,000-3,000,000), a powerful symphony of form and colour and a seminal work that was exhibited in the artist's first one-man show at Alfred Stieglitz's celebrated avant-garde gallery, "291."

Painted in 1915, this masterwork is also one of the earliest, large-scale (30 x 40 in) paintings to manifest Bluemner's fully developed and highly personal visual lexicon. He masterfully employs color as expression and reduces the landscape in order to capture his emotional response to the setting.

He simplifies trees, river, hills and buildings, rendering them with broad, emotive brushwork. Illusion of a Prairie, is an early triumph and a powerful, dramatic composition that manifests Bluemner's fully developed artistic vision, one that was both thoroughly unique and decisively modern.

The sale includes strong pieces by many other well-known artists from across the 19th and 20th centuries, including several works by Thomas Hart Benton, Charles Burchfield, George Inness, N.C. Wyeth, and Anna Mary Grandma Robertson Moses.  

Although the artworks for sale at Christie's carry huge estimates, you don't need to pay astronomical amounts to invest in the works of history's great artists.

Like this signed photograph of Grandma Moses, for instance.

She only began painting later in life, as it was gentler on her arthritis-stricken hands than needlework. Self-taught, Grandma Moses's art can be described as 'primitive' or folk art, disregarding strict perspective.

Today, Grandma Moses remains a legend for her depictions of American rural life - and signed photographs like the above example are likely to rise in value in coming years.

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