Arts / Galleries

Watch Out, Christie’s?

A Family-Owned Dallas Auction Gallery Sets Up an Event Worthy of the Big Boys

BY // 05.18.16

With the behemoths — Christie’s and Sotheby’s — setting auction records this spring, one family-owned auction house in Texas stands out for its reputation for securing top lots away from the madding glare of Manhattan. Cue Dallas Auction Gallery, owned by local couple Kathi and Scott Shuford, who entered the biz in 2002.

Sited in the heart of the booming Dallas Design District, the auction house presents its spring sale this evening (Wednesday, May 18th), and there are plenty of intriguing lots. “Texas, national, and international collectors/collections are all represented, as well as a corporate collection,” notes Brandon Kennedy, director of fine arts for DAG (as well as a noted artist and curator who is in the past has been tapped for high-profile projects for the Dallas Art Fair).

Fresh from success for shepherding the Sam Wyly collection to the block this past fall — including a $1.025 million lot snapped up by an Americana collector, Gilbert Stuart’s 1798 Portrait of George Washington — DAG has put together a collection of offerings for its Fine Art Auction tonight that tilt toward Latin America, as well as an American modern master (timed with his now-on-view show in Fort Worth), plus an 1980s all star.

Here’s our personal Pick Six (to borrow a Texas Lottery term) from among the 136 lots that will be hammered down this evening beginning at 6 pm; our selections reflect a range of collecting areas and price points.

Crossing the block this Wednesday, May 18, is one of the Latin America’s greatest painters: pay attention to lot 37, strategically placed during the epicenter of the sale, a 1959 masterwork by Mexico’s greatest modernist, Rufino Tamayo‘s Naturaleza Muerta (Still Life). An exercise in space and color that seemingly depicts a watermelon, it’s far more than a still life.

The approximately 32 x 40-inch canvas represents watermelon slices, but in a way that equates them with architecture and poetry, while conjuring the light and heat of the painter’s native land. The liner notes from DAG’s catalog tell us it was created during Tamayo’s mature period, after 25 years of travels between Manhattan and Paris, upon his return to Mexico City. Prepare your paddle and your checkbook: auction estimate for the museum-worthy artwork — which has been authenticated by the Tamayo Foundation and is offered from a private Texas collection — is $600,000 to $800,000.

The Tamayo lot segues into other notable paintings. The best possess a geometric abstract component, including one from fellow Jesús Rafael Soto (lot 40). Formed from steel and Plexiglas, dated 1975, it would be perfect for a contemporary glass box. This Soto edition is modestly estimated between $15,000 and $20,000, a steel for an artist who, with Carlos Cruz-Diez, define the cutting edge of the southern continent. (You need to know more about this Venezuelan great.)

And a Dallas artist even breaks into the lineup. Self-taught sensation Ricardo Paniagua holds his own (lot 46) with a nifty op art tower estimated at $6,000 to $8,000. Not bad for a talent who in recent memory was selling works from a hot Texas sidewalk.

Meanwhile, two sleepers in this sale are by late D.C.-based talent Paul Reed, among the Washington Colorist school (with fellow, better-known painters Gene Davis, Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland). Reed’s lot 51, estimated at $7,000 to $9,000, looks timeless nearly 50 years after it was painted.

Also, there’s Frank Stella’s witty suite of color lithographs (lot 70) published by Gemini; a set of six, created in 1971, riff on Benjamin Moore paint colors and are estimated between $10,000 and $15,000. Scoring a Stella while his blockbuster is on view at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth could be a bit of kismet (exhibition through September 18).

Finally, Robert Longo busts up all this geometry. Lot 121, a lithograph from 2000, reprises Longo’s greatest hits from his 1980s-era “Men in the Cities” series with a dancing (or falling) woman that seems so right for now (estimate $7,000 to $10,000).

The Fine Art Auction at Dallas Auction Gallery, Wednesday, May 18, 6 pm. 2223 Monitor St., 214.653.3900, toll free 866.653.3900. If you can’t make it to Dallas, phone or online bids are accepted. Preview lots and bid, dallasauctiongallery.com.

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