2020 CAMH Auction is live through Saturday, June 27, 2020, at 9 pm CST.
A small-scale gem of a portrait that's by a talent who's rapidly gaining the attention of major collectors: Leilah Babirye’s “The Kuchu Series (Queer Ugandans),” 2019, speaks to identity and empowerment. (Courtesy the artist and Gordon Robichaux, New York)
Among the top lots in the CAMH's 2020 Art Auction: Nari Ward's "Available!!! Positon; Can i trust you?," 2018, is formed from pigmented cast cotton pulp. The Jamaican-born, New York-based artist was presented last fall in his first museum survey in Texas at the CAMH, "Nari Ward: We the People." (Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, and Seoul)
Eva LeWitt's "Yellow Loops, Blue Dots," 2020, transforms prosaic plastic material (here, PVC plastic, polyurethane foam, and Lexan) into surprising objects with a fetishistic sensibility. If the last name is familiar, it's because she's the progeny of minimalist/conceptual master Sol LeWitt. (Courtesy the artist)
Nationally exhibited Houston painter David McGee's elegiac "Meditation on the Middle Passage," 2020, speaks to this time in America. McGee first museum solo was at the CAMH in 1998 — "David McGee: Black Comedies and Night Music" — signaling his arrival as an important voice emanating from Texas. (Courtesy the artist)
Elizabeth Murray's "Study for 'Kind of Blue,' " 2004. The late American artist's work melds abstraction and figuration, nods to cartooning, and possesses a buoyant color palette. The artist is the subject of the upcoming two-person show, "Wild Life: Elizabeth Murray & Jessi Reaves," unveiling at the CAMH when the museum reopens. (Courtesy the Murray-Holman Family Trust)
Paul Mpagi Sepuya's "Mirror Study (0X5A7385)," 2018, conflates photography and sculpture to explore black, queer identity. L.A.-based Sepuya was featured in last summer's "Stonewall 50" exhibition at the CAMH, and also in a solo at Blaffer Art Museum as part of FotoFest 2020. (Courtesy the artist; DOCUMENT, Chicago; Team Gallery, New York; and Vielmetter, Los Angeles)
Rice University professor Lisa Lapinski's elegant, feminist sculpture, "Untitled," 2014, eludes to minimalism. (Courtesy the artist and Kristina Kite Gallery, Los Angeles)
The Art Guys' 1995 survey at the CAMH, "The Art Guys: Think Twice 1983-1995," marked a high mark in Houston art history. The dynamic duo, Jack Massing and the late Michael Galbreth, created work informed by a Dada/Fluxus sense of humor. Up for auction acquisition, "Three More Ideas (and another joke), from 101 of the World’s Greatest Sculpture Proposals," 2012. (Courtesy the artists)
MoMA-collected Reed Anderson is known for his flags, textiles, and paintings like "Backyard Brasil," 2019, an example of the autopoietic. (Courtesy the artist and Nancy Littlejohn Fine Art, Houston)
CAMH-exhibited, Houston artist Ann Stautberg's hand-painted photographic images often appear cinematic, conjuring up film-noir flicks. Offered at 2020 CAMH Auction, the artist's "6-12-17, #8," 2017. (Courtesy the artist and Barry Whistler Gallery, Dallas)
Houston artist Eduardo Portillo's "Everything You See Is a Supernova," 2020. The sculptural, shaped canvas is a signature of Portillo's practice. (Courtesy the artist and Barbara Davis Gallery, Houston)
Dallas-based Jay Shinn's "Dyad #17," 2020. Shinn's subtle drawing evokes the light-based installations that are his calling card. (Courtesy the artist and Barry Whistler Gallery, Dallas)
Anthony Sonnenberg's gorgeously Baroque ceramics were previously featured in last summer's CAMH group view, "Stonewall 50," which looked at the birth of the gay-rights movement. (Courtesy the artist and Conduit Gallery, Dallas)
Joseph Havel's "Friction (river stones)," 2014, formed from cast polyester resin, a paperback book, and stones, speaks to a union of the written word and the natural world. The artist is the long-standing director of the Glassell School of Art, MFAH. (Courtesy the artist and Hiram Butler Gallery, Houston)
New York-based sculptor Jessi Reaves conflates art and design and is the subject of the upcoming two-person CAMH show, "Wild Life: Elizabeth Murray & Jessi Reaves," on view when the museum reopens. Up for bidding, "Goals Sconce," 2020. (Courtesy the artist and Bridget Donahue, New York)
British-born painter Steven Charles has migrated between Texas and New York, and now calls Dallas home. The Pollock-Krasner Grant recipient characterizes his canvases as“schizophrenic monochromes.” Up for auction, "pyofmapl," 2017. (Courtesy the artist and Cris Worley Fine Arts, Dallas)
Texas painter Melissa Mille is celebrated for her sensitive, often allegorical depictions of flora and fauna. The artist launched her career with a pair of solos at the CAMH during the 1980s. Featured, Miller's "Pink Wall (5)," 2003. (Courtesy the artist and Moody Gallery, Houston)
Stonewall activist, denizen of the East Village scene, and collagist supreme Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt's "Placemat (Augustine, Student at Carthage)," 2006. (Courtesy the artist and Pavel Zoubok Fine Art, New York)
Austin lensman Mike Osborne's "Test Target, National Mall," 2019, comes from the series, "Federal Triangle," published in a volume by the same name in 2019 that made it onto Time Magazine's 30 Best Photo Books of 2019. (Courtesy the artist and Holly Johnson Gallery, Dallas)
2018 Texas Artist of the Year Francesca Fuchs' nuanced painting, "Framed Print: Tower," 2013. The former Core Fellow directs the painting program at the MFAH Glassell School of Art. (Courtesy the artist and Inman Gallery, Houston)
We're tracking Karen Navarro's work, recently featured in the May/June PaperCity. Here, Navarro's "Subject #2 variation 1," 2019, employs an appropriation technique not unlike that of DJ Screw; the rising Houston artist is featured in "Slowed and Throwed," on view once the museum reopens. (Courtesy the artist and Foto Relevance, Houston)
Photographer, bookmaker, creator Bucky Miller is the 2018 recipient of the Aaron Siskind Foundation Individual Photographer’s Fellowship. His wry, often enigmatic work is typified by "Science Fiction," 2018. (Courtesy the artist)
Exhibited at the CAMH, Nasher Sculpture Center, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, and during the 2004 Whitney Biennial, Erick Swenson is among Texas' most compelling sculptors. Available at auction, the artist's "Scuttle," 2012. The Dallas-based talent's hyperreal sculptures formed form resin comment upon both the human and animal kingdoms. (Courtesy the artist and Talley Dunn Gallery, Dallas)
Houston artist Dana Frankfort, a Yale MFA grad, Skowhegan School resident, and MFAH Core Fellow, paints adroit text-based abstractions. Up for acquisition, "And and," 2020. (Courtesy the artist and Inman Gallery, Houston)
Houston sculpture duo Sean Michael Kirby and Patrick Renner collaborate on "architecture as painting," 2020, crafted from intriguing materials — reanimated paint burnished into concrete over carved polystyrene. (Courtesy the artists)
Brit-born, former University of Houston professor Derek Boshier has been based on the West Coast for decades. For the CAMH Auction, the influential Pop painter (collected by the Tate and Pompidou) contributes "David Bowie as Lodger #2," 2017, based upon his 1979 album cover for the late shapeshifting musician, who was also the artist's friend. (Courtesy the artist)
When a global pandemic forces the cancellation of a museum’s largest fundraiser, how does the art space go on?
In the case of the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, a vaunted 70-plus year old institution — one of America’s oldest devoted to advancing the dialogue of art of our times — the answer was going to a Plan A.
As in the CAMH Auction, always a component of the museum’s spring soirée — CAMH Gala — now becomes the main attraction when the planned April party became a victim of the coronavirus-addled times.
This summer’s silver lining: As you read this, the 2020 CAMH Auction has been reconfigured digitally and is in full sway online — and there’s still time for an acquisition, from now through this Saturday, June 27 at 9 pm Central Standard Time.
Recent CAMH director hire Hesse McGraw tells PaperCity: “We are thrilled to bring the museum’s beloved annual art auction to an expanded audience this year by offering the entire event and auction online.”
McGraw then gives a shout out to the participating international, national and Texas-based artists, who stepped up (as well as their gallerists) to donate all proceeds from the auction sales to the museum.
“Now more than ever, this auction provides critical support to advance CAMH’s mission,” McGraw says. “We are deeply heartened by the acts of generosity of the donating artists — we cannot thank them enough for their trust and support of CAMH in the midst of the pandemic.”
For many artists, it was personal.
Talents like Nari Ward, David McGee, The Art Guys, Derek Boshier, Joe Havel, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Melissa Miller, and currently on view Karen Navarro (in the CAMH’s “Slowed and Throwed” riffing upon Houston’s late music icon, DJ Screw) have all been in seminal one-person or group exhibitions at the non-collecting museum that was founded in 1948.
Invited by the CAMH curatorial team, the artists and their creations — painting, sculpture, photo-based works, and those involving craft and design — reflect racial diversity and gender inclusivity, and span multi-generations. The estimated gallery-retail price points also make it possible for beginning-to-advanced collectors to get in on the art action.
Drum roll. In alpha order, here’s the prestigious list for the 2020 CAMH Auction artists: Reed Anderson, The Art Guys, Leilah Babirye, Derek Boshier, Steven Charles, Dana Frankfort, Francesca Fuchs, Joseph Havel, Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt, Lisa Lapinski, Eva LeWitt, David McGee, Bucky Miller, Melissa Miller, Elizabeth Murray, Karen Navarro, Mike Osborne, Eduardo Portillo, Jessi Reaves, Michael Sean Kirby and Patrick Renner, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Jay Shinn, Anthony Sonnenberg, Ann Stautberg, Erick Swenson, and Nari Ward.
To make bidding seamless, the museum has tapped the platform Qtego, which updates collectors on the status of lots. If a fresh bid comes in over theirs, they will be alerted via text message, and asked if they wish to bid again. Register to bid here.
The CAMH Auction is live now through this Saturday, June 27, at 9 pm CST.
For more info, or to schedule a private walkthrough to view auction artworks in person, contact Beth Peré, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While the CAMH remains closed for now, McGraw tells PaperCity: “We look forward to our re-opening [date to be announced] and to sharing the essential role of artists in the post-COVID recovery and re-imagining of our society.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Click thru the slideshow above or below this story for our annotated guide to the 26 lots and participating artists in the 2020 CAMH Auction.