World Record for Ceramist Peter Voulkos Broken at Cowans+Clark+DelVecchio Ceramics Auction A Stoneware Stack Pot by Peter Voulkos broke a world record for the artist’s ceramics with a $105,750 selling price. The sale totaled $500,000, with over 80 bidders from six countries participating.
News-Antique.com - Nov 08,2010 - World Record for Ceramist Peter Voulkos
Broken at Cowans + Clark + DelVecchio
Modern and Contemporary Ceramics Auction
Most Important Piece to be offered in a Decade Sells for Six Figures
CHICAGO – With a room full of bidders at Chicago’s Navy Pier, and phones busy for nearly every lot, the inaugural Cowans + Clark + DelVecchio Modern and Contemporary Ceramics Auction radiated palpable energy throughout the entire 84-lot sale. The auction totaled $500,000, with over 80 bidders from six countries participating.
“The auction greatly exceeded our expectations,” commented Garth Clark, who, along with Mark Del Vecchio, partnered with Auctioneer Wes Cowan to produce the auction. “Prices were on average higher than previous auction records. We were thrilled to created wide margins for ceramics by Peter Voulkos, Jim Melchert, and Christine McHorse.”
Indeed, a Stoneware Stack Pot by Peter Voulkos (1924-2002, USA), titled Gash, was the highest-selling lot in the auction, breaking a world record for the artist’s ceramics with a selling price of $105,750. The piece was estimated to sell for $50,000/90,000. Voulkos is world-renowned for his abstract expressionist ceramic sculptures; he was instrumental in moving ceramics from functional to purely artistic forms in the 1950s. Clark noted that Gash is the most significant Voulkos to come to auction in over a decade.
Far exceeding its $7/9,000 estimate, Ghost Box by Jim Melchert (b. 1930, Ohio) soared to $26,440 thanks to competing bidders on the phone and floor. The significant piece was exhibited at Abstract Expressionist Ceramics, Art Gallery of the University of California, and Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, in 1966.
Christine Nofchissey McHorse’s, Vesuvius, an abstract ceramic from 2002, also garnered spirited bidding. The most recent piece by McHorse (b.1948, USA) to come to public auction, it sold for $17,625, exceeding its $12,000/15,000 estimate. McHorse, a resident of Sante Fe, is one of the Southwest’s most adventurous and important abstract ceramists. The pot is made from a continuous coil with no cutting or joining.
Betty Woodman’s His and Hers vases from 2002 realized $23,500, within the lot’s $20,000/30,000 estimate. Woodman (b. 1930, USA) was represented by several lots in the auction; her Iraklian Shelf Vase sold for $9,988, also within its $9,500/12,000 estimate.
Several works by Lucie Rie were offered, highlighted by a Blue Spotted Stoneware Bowl that brought $11,750, within its $10,000/12,000 estimate.
“This was an important and successful first step towards establishing a true secondary market for modern and contemporary ceramics,” noted Del Vecchio.
“Whatever we did today, we established market prices for artists whose works had never been seen in public. I couldn’t be happier with the auction results. We knew it was a risk but we were ambitious, and it paid off,” added Cowan.
The auction, whose presence at Navy Pier alongside SOFA Chicago made waves in the press, was deemed to be a successful venture by Mark Lyman, President of the Art Fair Company who produces SOFA. “I am very pleased with the success of the auction and that the dealers