Totally Wired
Dazzling Ruth Asawa Sculpture in Bonhams New York Post-War & Contemporary Art Sale

A dazzling wire work by Ruth Asawa (1926-2013), Untitled (S.408 Hanging Five-Lobed, Two-Part Form, with the Second and Third Lobes Attached by Chain and Interior Spheres in the First and Third Lobes), leads Bonhams Post-War & Contemporary Art sale on July 1 in New York. It has an estimate of $1,000,000-1,500,000. The work will be on display at Bonhams saleroom in Los Angeles.

Untitled (S.408) was acquired in 1954, directly from the artist by the present owners, who were family friends. The work has remained hanging in the same family collection ever since. Asawa herself would often visit the house to see the sculpture, which was placed near a window to channel the light. This the first time Untitled (S.408) has ever been seen publicly.

Born in California in 1926, Ruth Asawa is best known for her delicate looped-wire sculptures which challenge conventional notions of form. As Rachel Spence writes in the forthcoming edition of Bonhams Magazine, "Asawa's works created from delicate, silvery mesh act as a magnet for light and shadow. Her love of wire stems from her desire to show how the relation between outside and inside was interdependent [and] integral."

Bonhams Global Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art, Ralph Taylor, commented; "Bonhams is proud to have long championed the work of often undervalued artists and Ruth Asawa is a shining example. We highlighted Asawa in our Trailblazers show of California artists at Bonhams San Francisco earlier this year and we have promoted her work in our Made in California sales. We are particularly excited to be offering a superb work that's fresh to the market with exceptional provenance. It has been in the same family collection for more than half a century after being acquired directly from Asawa in 1954. The work itself is superlative. Asawa pushed the boundaries of her material, and Untitled (S.408) perfectly expresses the beauty and skill encapsulated in the artist's dazzling hanging pieces."

The daughter of Japanese immigrants, Ruth Asawa studied at Black Mountain College in North Carolina from 1946-1949. It was there – where her teachers included Josef Albers, Buckminster Fuller, Willem de Kooning, and the composer John Cage – that she started to experiment with wire. "I was interested in the economy of a line, enclosing three-dimensional space" Asawa explained. A trip to Mexico in 1947 unlocked the door to this three-dimensional world when a craftsman in Toluca showed her how he wove baskets out of looping wire.
Asawa's wire sculptures brought her to prominence in the 1950s, when her work appeared in the Whitney Museum of American Art's Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Paintings, Sculpture, Watercolors and Drawing on several occasions. Alongside her art, Asawa was a passionate advocate for children's arts education. In 2010 the San Francisco School of the Arts, which she had helped to form in 1982, was renamed the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts in her honor. Asawa's work is held in several important international collections including New York's Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. She is also known for several significant public commissions including Andrea (1966), the beloved mermaid fountain in Ghirardelli Square, San Francisco and Fountain (1973), at The Hyatt on Union Square, San Francisco. Her death in 2013 saw an outpouring of further international recognition.

The sale will be a live 'behind-closed-doors' auction. An auctioneer will be present on the rostrum, and bids will be accepted in the following formats: online, on the phone, or by leaving an absentee bid. All bidding will be done remotely in accordance with the latest government guidelines.

Other highlights include:
• Roni Horn (American, 1955), When Dickinson Shut Her Eyes, no. 863 1993. Estimate: $180,000-220,000.
• John McLaughlin (American, 1898-1976) #1 1972, Estimate: $150,000-200,000.
• Andre Cadere (1934 – 1978), Barre de bois rond noir, blanc, rouge, 1975, Twelve segments of painted wood assemblage, 42.5 x 3.5 cm (AND004). Estimate: 140,00-180,000.
• Deborah Butterfield (American, b. 1949) Punch 1997, Estimate: $80,000-120,000.


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