Western Art Sells High in Arizona

The 2021 Scottsdale Art Auction exceeded all expectations.

Bill Schenck’s Blood on the Horizon, combining photorealism with pop art, went for $64,350.

 

The annual Scottsdale Art Auction, held online on April 9 and 10, offered an outstanding selection of over 400 oil paintings, watercolors, sketches and sculptures depicting Western landscapes, peoples and action. It included a broad range of styles, from traditional depictions of the West to adventurous works by latter 20th- and early 21st-century artists. And, with a range of prices from a John Clymer charcoal at $936 to Charles Schreyvogel’s A Close Call at $819,000, there were Western images to meet nearly every budget.

The Scottsdale Art Auction’s biggest sellers were from the more traditional artists. The “big names” were well represented and paintings by Joseph Henry Sharp, Carl Rungius and Charles Russell all hammered in for considerably more than estimated. Russell’s The Battle at Belly River went for $409,500 and Rungius’s Grizzly Bear sold for $468,800. Other top sellers included Albert Bierstadt’s Star King Mountain for $497,250 and Oscar Berninghaus’s Forgotten, an image of saddled horses outside in the snow, at $210,060.

New approaches to Western art also made a strong showing at the auction. Thom Ross’s stylized rendition of my favorite Westerner, Buffalo Bill, went for $5,265 while Donna Howell-Sickles’ cowgirl image Sense of Place went for $7,605. Bill Schenck’s pop art-inspired Blood on the Horizon drew $64,350, compared to a top pre-auction estimate of $25,000. Logan Maxwell Hagege’s piece Gathering, went for $152,100, exceeding its high estimate by $17,100. Ed Mell’s Desert Composition I, one of the most abstract paintings in the auction, pulled in $23,400, compared to an estimate of $6,000.

The bidders’ response to this year’s Scottsdale Art Auction was clearly enthusiastic and demonstrated that art of the West, in all its forms, continues to be popular—pandemic and social upheaval notwithstanding.

All images courtesy Scottsdale Art Auction

Steve Friesen comes to “Collecting the West” with over 40 years of experience in collecting for museums, including evaluating and acquiring artifacts from the American West. 

 

Logan Maxwell Hagege’s Gathering, which uses bold colors and strong lines to portray a group of Navajos in the Southwest, sold for $152,100.

 

Upcoming Auctions

August 20-21, 2021

The Russell Auction

C.M. Russell Museum (Great Falls, MT)

CMRussell.org • 406-727-8787

 

September 9-12, 2021

Premier Firearms Auction #83

Rock Island Auction Co. (Rock Island, IL)

RockIslandAuction.com • 309-797-1500

 

September 14-18, 2021

Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale

Rendezvous Royale (Cody, WY)

RendezvousRoyale.org • (307) 587-5002

 

Maynard Dixon’s Westward Bound received $152,100, more than twice the highest estimate of $60,000, a figure undoubtedly encouraged by the renewed attention to his work in the last several years.

 

Early 20th-century impressionistic paintings by Birger Sandzen and Maynard Dixon brought six figures, with Sandzen’s Poplars in Moonlight (above) hammering in at $222,300.

 

Three Montana Cowboys, William Dunton’s image of cowboys seemingly riding through the state’s Big Sky, sold for $257,400.

 

Charles Russell’s depiction of the chaos during the The Battle at Belly River between the Blackfoot and the Cree in Alberta, went for $409,500.

 

Charles Schreyvogel’s A Close Call, an encounter between a cowboy and hostile Indians, captured the auction’s highest price of $819,000.

 

Among Carl Rungius’s most striking paintings are his renditions of grizzly bears. His Grizzly Bear, which sold for $468,800, was one of several Rungius paintings at the Scottsdale auction.

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