Hindman launches new sale, top lot sets world record

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Hindman set a new world record for a work by Chicago-based surrealist Gertrude Abercrombie (1909-1977) when her late career oil on panel, “The Dinosaur”, was sold to a buyer outside the region from Chicago for $387,500 vs. $30. / 50,000 estimate according to Zach Wirsum was in line with what his works generally bring. It was the best lot of the sale.

Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, photos courtesy of Hindman

CHICAGO — Launching a new sale can be a risky business for auctioneers, who tend to stick to tried-and-tested formats, but when Hindman had a gap in their first-quarter schedule and enough material to justify a new sale, they took the Leap of Faith. “Somewhere Out There” debuted on February 17, a sale of nearly 200 lots featuring works in various categories, including surreal, outsider, psychedelic, street art, magic realism, avant-garde, pop, visionary and activist. By all accounts, the sale was a resounding success, nearly tripling his pre-sale expectations and reaching $970,656 with a sell-through rate of over 84%.

“Almost a week after the sale, we are still reveling in its success,” said Zack Wirsum, Hindman’s senior specialist for post-war and contemporary art. “We have identified a hole in our first quarter auction schedule, which has historically been a quieter time for fine art. A good takeaway from the pandemic is that traditional planning doesn’t matter as much. We wanted to do something thematic rather than category specific, something that crosses genres. In Chicago, we appreciate Outsider, Surreal and the work of the Chicago Imagists. We wanted to make a sale that focuses on this work. It was a nice, organized and consistent sale with success for both high-end and entry-level work.

Wirsum and his team built the sale around Gertrude Abercrombie’s “The Dinosaur” (American, 1909-1977), which went on sale in late 2021. The 7½ x 9½ inch oil on panel was a large ostrich egg and a tiny dinosaur in a barren landscape that combines the artist’s distinctive simplicity with personal references to an ostrich egg she dreamed of and later acquired. The Chicago-based surrealist artist’s work has only recently gained global acclaim and the work has garnered some international interest but, in the end, it sold to a buyer in the United States – outside the Chicago area – which paid $387,500 and set a new world record for the artist.

Hindman also holds the current record ($324,500) for Chicago Imagist Gladys Nilsson, who was represented in the sale with two works. Of the two, his 1974 “Seams Strait” fetched the highest price at $17,500. Interest in the works of the Chicago Imagist gradually spread beyond Illinois and this will leave the area as well.

This untitled work (Bababad XI) by William Anastasi sold well despite being massive - 103 by 215 inches.  Zach Wirsum said he attracted intense competition, eventually selling to a new bidder in Germany for $93,750 (30/$50,000).

This untitled work (Bababad XI) by William Anastasi sold well despite being massive – 103 by 215 inches. Zach Wirsum said he attracted intense competition, eventually selling to a new bidder in Germany for $93,750 (30/$50,000).

While the first batch was small, the second was massive, measuring more than 8 by 17 feet, a size that “not everyone has wall space for,” Wirsum said. Untitled acrylic on canvas (Bababad XI) by William Anastasi (American, b.1933) from 1988 almost doubled its high estimate and sold for $93,750 to a buyer in Germany who had never bought from Hindman previously.

Joe Coleman’s (American, b.1955) 1995 acrylic on panel, “Give Me That Old Time Religion“, which sold to a collector in the Midwest, topped the chart and sold 87,500 $. It was a piece that Wirsum had been trying to put up for sale for a few years, but the auction theme sealed the deal with the seller.

International bidders came in force, bringing several works back to their country of origin. Among them, “My-Side-Your Side” by Yannis Gaitis (Greek, 1923-1984), which sold to a Greek buyer for $37,500 against an estimate of $15/25,000. An untitled bronze sculpture, originally believed to be by a British artist but found to be an incomplete work by French artist Philippe Hiquily (1925-2013), fetched $15,000 from a buyer French, and a Czechoslovakian bidder acquired the Czechoslovakian artist Jiri Anderle. “Space and Time” for $12,500.

“Our first attempt at launching this franchise, so to speak, was met with critical and financial acclaim,” Wirsum said. “It will definitely come back in the next first quarter.

Prices shown include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house. For more information, www.hindmanauctions.com or 312-280-01212.

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