Texan artists past and present brought strong prices in Dallas last week, as Heritage Auctions’ dedicated Texas Art sale fetched almost $640,000.
Topping the sale was A Blue Bonnet Field-Evening, a 1921 work by Julian Onderdonk, regarded as "the father of Texas painting". The blue bonnet landscapes of San Antonia were a subject which Onderdonk returned to again and again throughout his celebrated career, and the example offered at Heritage $103,125.
Further works by the artist included Landscape with Apple Blossom Trees, which sold for $21,250, and Spring Landscape, which sold for $16,250.
Although Onderdonk’s early 20th century landscape fetched the highest price, the story of the sale was the success of the Lone Star state’s more contemporary artists.
Leading the way for the crop of current artists was David Bates, the renowned Dallas-based artist whose work mixes the aesthetics of Southern folk art with influences from throughout European art history.
Bates’ work resides in major private and public collections across the U.S., and has seen record auction prices in recent years. His 1992 painting Red Pickup, offered from a distinguished private collection, sold for $27,500, followed by his 1984 still-life work Blue Willow, which sold for $22,500.
Two contrasting landscapes also brought similarly impressive prices: Billy Hassell’s vibrant and colourful Morning on the Trinity River, Ft. Worth, which sold for $25,000, and Kermit Oliver’s arid landscape Dusk, which sold for $22,500.
"There’s a lot of intriguing interest in Texas contemporary art," said Atlee Phillips, Director of Texas Art at Heritage. "Of course, Onderdonk’s work nearly always performs well at auction, but the demand for contemporary artists cannot be ignored. It’s an exciting time for contemporary Texas art; the market is very strong."
There were also notable results for Porfirio Salinas’ Bluebonnets near San Antonio, which sold for $27,500; Everett Franklin Spruce’s 1950s landscape Storm Sunset, Lake Travis, which sold for $18,750; Jesús Bautista Moroles’ monumental pink granite sculpture Tote, which sold for $15,000; and Dawson Dawson-Watson’s Entrance to the Gallagher Ranch in Bandera, Texas, which also sold for $15,000.