A wealth of contemporary art up for bid

Connoisseurs of Chagall, Lichtenstein or Picasso — and everyday art enthusiasts too — will have a unique opportunity this weekend to purchase items from among 1,200 works offered by the gallery that represented Andy Warhol and Keith Haring in their prime.

Friday at the Stanford Court Hotel ballroom, Martin Lawrence Galleries host their fall art auction featuring original paintings, bronze sculptures, serigraphs, etchings and lithographs by 47 of the 20th century’s most renowned artists.

“We are unlike any other auction. We aren’t trying to set the market value of these artists; we’re trying to reward our loyal clients and new clients by giving them the pieces they’ve been dreaming of for the best prices,” says Alexandra Ruhfel, director of the gallery on Beach Street in San Francisco, one of two in The City. “As long as you play, you will walk away with a deal and maybe even a piece of art you always wanted.”  

Selections on just one page of the catalog range from an old master-style painting with modern abstractions to an iconic Chagall to a Warhol “Marilyn” and an internationally recognized abstract impressionist from the Bay Area.

Also notable are works by Takashi Murakami, the artist who designed the colorful logo on Louis Vuitton bags that became one of the brand’s big sellers. His pieces aren’t often available to the public, but the catalog includes two full pages of contributions by the artist being called the “contemporary Warhol” at prices around $5,000.

“This is a rare opportunity to see such rare works for sale,” says Chadwick Johnson, director of the Geary Street gallery. “The auction is a fun experience because you can see a lot of styles of art all in one place.”

Suggested auction prices vary from $500 to $3 million, but Ruhfel says the majority of the catalog includes works in the $5,000-to- $10,000 range.

“Most of the pieces are affordable if you love them,” she says. Because bidding can start at significantly lower than retail prices, buyers with price limits often have the opportunity to get a one-of-a kind piece.

“The nice thing about the auction is that you can get an original painting by, for example, Kerry Hallam, one of the most famous impressionist painters who’s still living, for the price you can get for one of his prints,” says Ruhfel.

Taking into account that the number of works offered is somewhat daunting, prospective buyers are encouraged to meet with a consultant at either Martin Lawrence Gallery.

Not only are the consultants knowledgeable about the art, they’re also “excited to help customers strategize to win their most desired piece,” Ruhfel says.

Although auctions are known for energetic bidding wars, the Martin Lawrence “buy it now” auctions are a bit different. Ruhfel urges anyone interested in a listed work to come into the gallery before the event. In past years, as much as half the catalog has sold prior to the auction.

shaughey@sfexaminer.com

IF YOU GO

Martin Lawrence Galleries Fall Art Auction

Where: Stanford Court Hotel, 905 California St., San Francisco

When: Preview at 6:30 p.m. Friday; live auction at 8 p.m.

Tickets: Free with RSVP

Contact: (415) 229-2784, (415) 956-0345, www.martinlawrence.com

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