Made in California: a celebration of Californian modern art

California bridge

Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash

The Golden State is famous for its beaches, sunny weather, and bustling cities. So it’s no surprise that a state as alive and vibrant as ours has produced many fantastic works of art. If you’re an art collector in LA, circle the 26th April in your calendar, because that’s when Bonhams Los Angeles is holding a sale of Californian art.

One piece in particular that catches the eye of our expert art pawnbrokers is Orange Store Front by John Register, a painting of a Californian shopfront in a realist style. The New York-born artist spent much of his adult life in California, dedicating his life to recreating scenes he found in the Golden State. His work is almost exclusively devoid of people, which was a purposeful device used by Register to convey the loneliness of his existence. Orange Store Front is the only piece available by Register at the sale, and has a predicted sale price of $32,000 to $48,000. It’s one of the most valuable pieces in the sale, so this is one to keep an eye out for on sale day.

Four of the lots are by Wayne Thiebaud, a stalwart of the California art scene since the 1960s. The Wayne Thiebaud pieces that are up for grabs will evoke feelings of recognition from any Californian, particularly those who live in LA. Freeway Curve 2 depicts an elevated freeway full of cars and trucks in a monochrome colour scheme. This scene will be familiar to anyone who’s spent any meaningful amount of time in LA, driving along the freeways that sprawl across the city. This piece has been valued at between $20,000 and $30,000.

Another piece by Thiebaud, Ripley Ridge, shows a stereotypical Californian street, presented in a flattened, off-kilter manner. This piece is likely to sell for between $25,000 and $35,000.

Another artist with a number of lots up for sale is Nathan Oliveira, a Californian born in Oakland to Portuguese parents in 1928. Until his death in 2010, he amassed a reputation for painting a broad variety of subjects and styles, though broadly remaining within the discipline of abstraction.

The standout lot from Oliveira is Seated General, painted in 1978. The artist used charcoal to sketch out jagged lines in the shape of a mysterious figure, filling in the detail using gloomy grey and yellow watercolors. The figure’s features are just about visible, but are smudged and murky, as if viewed through a thick fog. Bonhams have put a valuation of $15,000 to $25,000 on the piece, so be prepared to pay somewhere in that ballpark if you want to add it to your collection.

One piece that really captures the beauty of LA, based on the opinion of our art experts is Peter Alexander’s Compton, which depicts LA in a top-down view from the hills. It’s expected to go for $6,000 to $8,000. Another artist to keep an eye out for is Carlos Almaraz, whose piece California Theatre depicts a scene that will be familiar to every Californian. It’s available for between $2,000 and $2,800.

To look at the full list of lots, and to find out details about how to attend the sale, take a look at the Bonhams site here.