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Rob Cowley highlights artwork from the collection of Joe & Anita Robertson, being offered in their honour in our Fall Live Auction of Important Canadian & International Art on Wednesday, December 6th at 4:00 pm (EST)

The artwork from the collection is being offered in memory of Joe, Anita and Laura Robertson. Each work of art was carefully chosen by the Robertson family and hung in their welcoming home.

Joe and Anita Robertson were prominent Niagara Peninsula businesspeople, both born to large, closely knit families. They met as teenagers while working at a McDonald’s in Bells Corners, Nepean and married in 1986, raising three children, Taylor, Clark and Laura.

Joe and Anita were lifelong best friends and business partners. They excelled in their careers, purchasing a small dental supply company in St. Catharines, Ontario to grow it under the name of Arcona Health Incorporated. They would sell the company with Joe becoming the CEO and Chair of the Board of Directors of the parent company’s Canadian subsidiary, Henry Schein Arcona Inc.

Laura Robertson, the family’s youngest child, grew up in St. Catharines before moving to Vancouver to earn her Bachelor’s of Kinesiology from the University of British Columbia in 2017. Laura had begun working in Brock University’s Kinesiology Department as a Facilities Coordinator at the time of her passing. She was an active volunteer at Red Roof Retreat and was proud to serve Niagara-on-the-Lake as a volunteer firefighter. Laura had a lifelong passion for the arts and was a skilled illustrator and oil painter.

Joe and Anita Robertson were philanthropically active in their Niagara-on-the-Lake and St. Catharines communities, making major financial contributions to the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre to build a multipurpose theatre, the Niagara Health Foundation to support the construction of the hospital and the Niagara-on-the-Lake nursery, as well as many other causes.

Besides being active volunteers, they also individually played pivotal roles supporting the St. Catharines & District United Way, the Council of Chairs of Ontario Universities, the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, Music Cares, Bravo Niagara and the Brock Performing Arts Centre. Joe also served on the board of Brock University for over a decade, and between 2012 and 2014 was Chair of their Board of Governors.

As such strong supporters and active participants of arts and culture, it is not surprising that the artwork they collected reflected their passion for art.

Cowley Abbott is proud to donate a portion of our commission from the sale of the family’s artwork to the United Way Niagara in memory of Joe, Anita and Laura Robertson and on behalf of their surviving children, Clark and Taylor.

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Anna Holmes highlights Helen McNicoll The Chintz Sofa
To be offered Wednesday, December 6th at 7:00 pm (EST)

The Live Auction of Artwork from An Important Private Collection of Canadian Art – Part III includes a superb selection of paintings by remarkable Canadian female painters, including The Chintz Sofa by Helen McNicoll, an impressionist painter and one of Canada’s most notable female artists. This well-known work has been exhibited extensively internationally for over a century, most recently in the 2023 exhibition, Cassatt‒McNicoll: Impressionists Between Worlds at the Art Gallery of Ontario. 

Emily Carr, Nirvana, circa 1930 is a well-known work by the artist. This fourth and final major work by Carr from the celebrated private collection relates to a 1912 watercolour currently in the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, as well as a 1930 canvas in another prominent private collection. 

Rare artworks by Charlotte Schreiber and Laura Muntz are also included in this Private Collection of Canadian Art, specifically Don’t Be Afraidby Charlotte Schreiber. This work was exhibited with the Ontario Society of Artists in May 1878 and the small study for this work is also included in the offerings.

This is an incredible opportunity to acquire an important historical Canadian artwork by these renowned female artists, and it is our privilege to continue to introduce these artworks to the market ahead of the December 6th auction. 

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Highlights of the first session of the Fall Live Auction include two canvases by abstract painter Guido Molinari, deaccessioned by the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). Molinari is represented by major works in the AGO’s collection, as well as across Canada. Following museum guidelines, the proceeds of deaccessioning go towards future acquisitions. Cowley Abbott is privileged to be entrusted with these artworks, on the heels of our success for the Winnipeg Art Gallery-Qaumajuq in June 2023.

Lot 49 Guido Molinari Quantificateur, 1981
Lot 48 Guido Molinari Serial, 1964/1966

During Cowley Abbott’s Live Auction of Important Canadian and International Art on June 8th, Andy Warhol’s Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, from the Reigning Queens Series (1985) attracted international bidding, selling for $936,000. Proceeds from the sale of the set of four colour screenprints supported the development of an endowment fund to build more diverse representation in the Gallery’s permanent collection.

Andy Warhol Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom Sold for $936,000

Another fantastic highlight from the first session of the Fall Live Auction is Untitled, 2012 by Denyse Thomasos, an important Canadian-Trinidadian female artist. This painting was recently included in the celebrated exhibition, “Denyse Thomasos: Just Beyond”, a large retrospective seen at the Art Gallery of Toronto in 2022. Painted in the last year of her tragically short life, this is an important artwork by the artist, that we are honoured to be entrusted with this auction season.

Lot 12 Denyse Thomasos Untitled, 2012

We hope you will visit Cowley Abbott to view these artworks in our gallery ahead of the Fall Live Auction on December 6th at Toronto’s Globe & Mail Centre.

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Following the record-breaking success of the first two sessions, we are delighted to introduce to the auction market the third and final part of An Important Private Collection of Canadian Art. An incredible selection of rare and remarkable historical artwork, most of which is making its auction debut with Cowley Abbott. The auction on Wednesday, December 6th is a two-session live auction event. We look forward to welcoming collectors to our previews to share this season’s fantastic offerings.

An Incredible Exhibition Preview in Montreal

Visit the Toronto Auction Preview – Schedule a Viewing

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Already the highest-grossing single collection of Canadian art sold at auction at nearly $30 million, one of Canada’s most-significant private Canadian art collections has its final session

Toronto, ON (October 23, 2023): Rare and important artworks from several prominent private and public collections will go under the auction hammer in Cowley Abbott’s fall auction of Canadian and international masters on Wednesday, December 6. This two-session live auction is valued at over $10 million.

Highlights of the first session include two canvases by abstract painter Guido Molinari,deaccessioned by the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and five notable works by Canadian artists William James Bennett, Jack Bush, Marc-Aurèle Fortin, Jean Paul Lemieux and David Milne, from the collection of the late Joe and Anita Robertson.

Born in Montreal, Molinari (1933-2004) was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1971 and achieved international renown, having exhibited in New York and at the 1968 Venice Biennale, and was featured in retrospectives at the National Gallery of Canada, Art Gallery of Ontario and Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. His art is actively pursued by collectors around the world. Molinari is represented by major works in the AGO’s collection, as well as across Canada. Following museum guidelines, the proceeds of deaccessioning go towards future acquisitions.

The two works up for auction are Seriel, 1966 (auction estimate: $125,000 – $150,000) and Quantifcateur, 1981 (auction estimate: $70,000 – $90,000).

Guido Molinari
Seriel (1964/1966)
Guido Molinari
Quantifcateur (1981)

“It is our privilege to represent the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Collection of the late Joe and Anita Robertson in the offering of these Canadian artworks. Our firm has a history of success in the sale of Molinari’s work and they are already inviting strong interest from collectors. It is a pleasure to collaborate with our colleagues and neighbours at the AGO and we are thrilled to donate a portion of our commission to support future acquisitions by the institution.” – Rob Cowley, President, Cowley Abbott

From the collection of the late Joe and Anita Robertson, prominent Niagara region businesspeople and philanthropists, comes four spectacular paintings and a collection of four prints. The Robertson’s made major financial contributions to the performing arts and health organizations, and were active supporters of the United Way, among many other charitable causes.

From an early New York canvas by David Milne (Billowing Trees, estimate $100,000 – $150,000); to a rare, large canvas by Jack Bush of Port Loring (Sunset at Port Loring, estimate $25,000 – $35,000); to William James Bennett’s captivating scenes of Niagara Falls (four aquatints, estimate $15,000 – $20,000) and a pair of celebrated subjects by Quebec masters, Jean Paul Lemieux (Femme en noir, estimate: $150,000 – $200,000) and Marc-Aurèle Fortin (Vieille maison, estimate $40,000 – $60,000), each work of art was carefully chosen by the Robertson, who have been advised by Brett Sherlock through the auction process. Cowley Abbott will donate a portion of their selling commission to the United Way Niagara Falls in memory of Joe, Anita and their daughter Laura, who passed away in 2018. An online auction of artwork from the Robertson Family Collection will also be held by Cowley Abbott this fall.

The second session of the live auction event is devoted entirely to the final sale of a landmark three-session auction of one of Canada’s most prominent, well-known and extensively-exhibited private art collections. Expertly curated over 60 years, the collection of rare and remarkable artworks features prime example, museum-quality paintings, drawings and sculptures by Canada’s most celebrated historical artists.

With two-thirds sold to-date for nearly $30 million, it is already the highest-grossing single collection of Canadian art to ever sell at auction. The sales through Cowley Abbott have achieved over 20 artist records, with nine artworks selling in excess of $1 million and 80 of 100 works of art sold exceeding the high-end pre-sale auction estimate. The final session is rich in important and rare art by celebrated Canadian historical artists, including the members of the Group of Seven, Emily Carr, Cornelius Krieghoff, Helen McNicoll and Paul Peel.

The two-session live auction, Important Canadian & International Art and Artwork from An Important Private Collection (Part Three), takes place on Wednesday, December 6 at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. EST respectively at the Globe and Mail Centre, 351 King St. East, Toronto. It will also be livestreamed online at, allowing for simultaneous in-person, telephone, absentee and real-time online bidding – enabling prospective buyers to participate from anywhere in the world.

Before hitting the auction block, highlights will be previewed at Montreal’s Mount Stephen Hotel from November 9th to 11th and then all artworks included in the two-session live sale will be exhibited at Cowley Abbott’s gallery, 326 Dundas Street West, located across the street from the Art Gallery of Ontario, free for the public to view from November 16th to December 5th.

Preceding the official November fall previews, a free pop-up public exhibition, Important Canadian and International Art Selections, will feature roughly 70 artworks from the two sales, on display in the Cowley Abbott Toronto Gallery from October 23rd to November 3rd.

Additional fall auction highlights include:

Andy Warhol, Mick Jagger Auction Estimate: $135,000-175,000 Warhol was fascinated by pop culture and captured many famous individuals in his art, including The Rolling Stones’ frontman Mick Jagger. His creative relationship with the singer in the 70s included many artistic collaborations including their iconic Sticky Finger album cover.   Session 1 – Fall Auction of Important Canadian and International Art
Clarence Gagnon, Ice Harvest, Quebec, 1935 Auction Estimate: $400,000-600,000 Major works by Gagnon such as this are very rare. The large-scale canvas depicts a highly celebrated and cherished subject for the artist: ice harvesting in Quebec. The canvas is expected to challenge the auction record for Gagnon’s work.   Session 2 – Artwork from An Important Private Collection    
Helen McNicoll, The Chintz Sofa, circa 1912 Auction Estimate: $250,000-350,000 McNicoll was an impressionist painter and one of Canada’s most notable female artists. This well-known work has exhibited extensively and internationally for over a century, most recently in the 2023 exhibition, Cassatt‒McNicoll: Impressionists Between Worlds at the Art Gallery of Ontario.   Session 2 – Artwork from An Important Private Collection  
 Arthur Lismer, Ragged Lake, Algonquin Park, 1914 Auction Estimate: $250,000-$350,000 (canvas) and $60,000-$80,000 (preparatory sketch) This oil canvas and its preparatory oil sketch date to an important early trip to Algonquin Park taken by Lismer and Tom Thomson, just a few years prior to the formation of the Group of Seven. This collection has already featured the sale of two record-setting sketches by the artist and the sketch here is expected to challenge the record. This is a rare offering of a canvas and related sketch in the same auction.   Session 2 – Artwork from An Important Private Collection

JEH MacDonald, Laurentian Hillside  Auction Estimate: $250,000 – $350,000 (canvas) and $20,000 – $30,000 (preparatory oil sketch) Created during an early, foundational painting trip by future Group of Seven members, MacDonald and Lawren Harris. The pair of works have exhibited extensively across Canada and globally.
Session 2 – Artwork from An Important Private Collection  
Emily Carr, Nirvana, circa 1930 Auction Estimate: $250,000 – $350,000 A well-known work by Carr, this fourth and final major work by Carr from the celebrated private collection relates to a 1912 watercolour currently in the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, as well as a 1930 canvas in another prominent private collection.   Session 2 – Artwork from An Important Private Collection  
Jean Paul Lemieux, Jeune fille au chandail jaune (1964) Auction Estimate: $550,000 – $650,000 First featured in a quickly sold-out exhibition at Montreal’s Galerie Agnès Lefort in 1965, this major canvas by Quebec master Jean Paul Lemieux captivates viewers and is expected to invite excited bidding in December.   Session 1 – Fall Auction of Important Canadian and International Art  
Jack Bush, Bridge Passage (1975) Auction Estimate: $300,000-400,000 One of two major canvases by the celebrated Canadian colourfield painter, his works have demanded strong prices in recent auction seasons, including a record price for Column on Browns, sold by Cowley Abbott in Fall 2020 for $870,000. Being held in Canadian and American collections and exhibited on both sides of the border, Bridge Passage makes its auction debut this fall.   Session 1 – Fall Auction of Important Canadian and International Art
Jack Bush, Rose Red & Red (1966) Auction estimate: $400,000 – $600,000 First exhibited at the Sao Paulo IX Biennial in 1967, the canvas has been included in exhibitions across Canada since it was painted, most recently as part of the travelling Bush exhibition organized by the Esker Foundation in Calgary.   Session 1 – Fall Auction of Important Canadian and International Art

For a full auction schedule, additional highlights, or an online catalogue please visit Those interested in consignment can arrange a consultation by contacting Cowley Abbott’s specialists at 1-866-931-8415 or [email protected]. Preliminary auction assessments are offered on a complimentary and confidential basis with no further obligation.

About Cowley Abbott
Since its inception in 2013, Cowley Abbott’s live and online auctions have included headline-grabbing works that have regularly smashed auction records. Cowley Abbott has rapidly grown to be a leader in today’s competitive Canadian auction industry, with a dual gallery in downtown Toronto and representatives across Canada. Cowley Abbott’s effective set of services marry the traditional methods of promoting artwork with technology and innovative means to connect collectors with artwork of rarity and quality.

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If you are new to art collecting, browsing online auctions is a great place to start. At the click of a button, you may find yourself the proud owner of an artwork by a reputable artist. 

John Hoyland
Blues, Reds
Estimate: $800 – 1,000

Buy at Auction versus at a Gallery

Galleries are the primary (retail) market for buying art. Gallery owners spend a lot of time and money choosing which artists they want to represent and building a strong clientele base and marking strategy. Galleries can also set their own prices, since the artwork is usually being sold for the first time. Auctions are the secondary market for buying art, which means that the prices fluctuate according to supply & demand, design trends, and therefore what a buyer is willing to pay. This often means that an artwork at auction will sell for less than at a gallery, because the buyer pays the market price rather than the retail price.

In recent years, buying art at auction has become incredibly accessible, with online sales being offered every month at auction houses worldwide. Whether you are looking for a contemporary artist specifically or a work by a more obscure artist, do some searching and have a little patience, because chances are it will be come up at auction somewhere! According to The Art Market Report 2023, “online bidding has evolved from a minority alternative to the dominant method of accessing sales.”

Choose a Work and Gather Information

Once you discover an artist you enjoy, learn as much as possible about their practice and what type of artwork most appeals to you. A great source of information is Artnet and Artsy, which offer detailed information about artists, artworks and auctions. By doing further research, you will better understand both the artist’s trajectory and why an artwork is being offered at a certain value. However, it is also fun to browse online auction listings by categories that interest you (ex. “Prints & Multiples“, “The Canadian Landscape“, “Art of Quebec“) and discovering new artworks and artists you were not expecting!

Viewing an artwork in person may not always be possible with online auctions, which is why we suggest requesting a condition report before bidding on a lot. A key aspect that collectors should keep in mind is the condition, since artworks at auction are sold “as is.” While a certain amount of wear and tear is to be expected from an older artwork, you should be (and can be) made fully aware of any past restoration or restoration that needs to be done. For example, a 70-year-old watercolour may have a few creases in the paper and some tiny spots of staining, causing it to be priced lower than if it were in perfect condition. A condition report will enable you to learn about these issues and decide if they affect if or how high you bid on the artwork. Cowley Abbott specialists are also happy to discuss the reports with you on the phone, to help you feel confident in the bidding process.

Become More Familiar with Buyer’s Terms

Whenever you buy online from an auction house, there are a few key terms to always keep in mind:


Each lot receives a low and high estimate, corresponding to the opinion of experts about the range in which the lot might sell at auction. Estimates are based on the condition and on recent auction records of comparable artworks. It usually serves as the basis for establishing the reserve price.


This is the minimum price that a consignor and an auction house have agreed upon to sell an artwork. Reserves are usually set at or below the low estimate. During Cowley Abbott’s online auctions, the reserve price will be the opening bid, shown as “Next Bid” below the auction estimate.

Maximum Bid

When bidding on a lot, you may choose to place a maximum bid representing the highest amount you are willing to pay for an item. The system will then place incremental bids on your behalf based on the bid increments until your maximum bid has been reached. This is so you don’t have to stand by your computer the whole afternoon while the bidding is unfolding, making sure you don’t miss anything (although many bidders prefer this way!)

Hammer Price

This is the winning bid for a lot at auction, which does not include the buyer’s premium.

Buyer’s Premium

This is the amount above the hammer price that must be paid as part of the total purchase price. All auction houses add a percentage on top of the hammer price. At Cowley Abbott, the buyer’s premium is 20% for online sales.

As Is

Property sold at auction is offered “as is,” meaning it is sold with all existing imperfections and faults.

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We are excited to be offering three prints by master printmaker Stanley William Hayter (1901–1988) in our September Prints & Multiples online auction. Hayter studied chemistry and geology in England and worked for several years as a research scientist in the Middle East. He painted during his free time and, in 1926, moved to Paris to become a full-time artist. The following year he established Atelier 17, a printmaking workshop where artists such as Max Ernst, Joan Miró and Pablo Picasso could experiment with different techniques and media. In 1940, Hayter moved his studio to New York, where he would operate for nearly a decade before returning to France. 

There, he attracted not only European painters and printmakers taking refuge from the war, particularly those affiliated with Surrealism, but also young American artists interested in the ideas these exiles brought with them. The exposure to the European artists and Hayter’s teaching had an enormous impact on American artists, many of whom were affiliated with the New York School, and greatly affected the future of printmaking in the United States. Jackson Pollock was influenced by Hayter in New York, particularly by his emphasis on automatism and reliance on the unconscious. The Atelier helped shape the early years of Abstract Expressionism and became one of the most influential graphic arts workshops of the twentieth century.

Lot 17
Stanley William Hayter
Le chas de l’aiguille, 1946
Estimate: $800 – 1,000

This beautiful etching Chas de l’aiguille has a controlled and sinuous arrangement of thin lines. The free-flowing lines appear to be spontaneously drawn, recalling the automatism that inspired Surrealism. The etching is nearly abstract, with female anatomical features emerging from the tangled lines. Chas de l’aiguille, which translates to “Eye of the needle,” is particularly remarkable and rare because it dates to 1946—making it one of Hayter’s earliest prints executed post-war while living in New York.

Lot 18
Stanley William Hayter
Day & Night, 1952
Estimate: $1,500 – 2,500

Day and Night is a beautiful colour aquatint with etching by Hayter dating to 1952. At this time, Hayter would have been back in France while keeping ties with his American students and contemporaries in New York as Abstract Expressionism was exploding on the art scene. This print, with very loose references to human features, shows the artist’s transition from Surrealism to Abstract Expressionism and from figuration to abstraction. 

Lot 16
Stanley William Hayter
Sealed Web, 1968
Estimate: $1,500 – 2,500

The third print by Hayter in this month’s auction is another colour aquatint with etching entitled Sealed Web. Entirely abstract with no reference to figuration and executed in a bright yet simplified colour palette of orange and blue, the work is a product of its time, dating to 1968. By this point, Abstract Expressionism had peaked and branched out into other abstract movements, including Color-Field painting, characterized by large areas of bright colours. The vibrations created by the layered web of lines also bear similarities to Op Art—a movement that emerged in the mid-1960s and focused on creating optical illusions for the viewer. 

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The celebrated Pop artist David Hockney took the art world by storm in the 1960s and 1970s with his sun-drenched series of poolside modernist homes, capturing his newfound Californian lifestyle. He continues to stay relevant today by adapting to new technological advancements, from Polaroid cameras to iPads.

His works regularly break auction records, most recently with poolside drawings selling for over 2 million USD at Sotheby’s and Christie’s, respectively. During our Spring Live Auction of Important Canadian and International Art, his ink drawing Nehemiah Checking the Walls of Jerusalem not only drew an intense bidding war, but it sold for $102,000, well above its pre-sale estimate of $12,000 to $16,000.

In our upcoming online auction of Prints & Multiples, opening on August 29th, we will be offering two prints by the British artist. Initially published in 1970, Six Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm with Illustrations by David Hockney revisits the Grimm tales through whimsical black-and-white etchings, including The Little Hare, Rapunzel and Rumpelstiltskin.

“They’re fascinating, the little stories, told in a very very simple, direct, straightforward language and style; it was this simplicity that attracted me. They cover quite a strange range of experience, from the magical to the moral,” described Hockney in his 1976 autobiography.

His suite of thirty-nine etchings took nearly a year to complete, using a cross-hatching method to create variations in tone and texture. Hockney wanted to create a spontaneous effect by drawing the forms quickly to work out the style and the references to the period.

The Enchantress with the Baby Rapunzel

For Rapunzel, Hockney draws on art historical sources, with the face made deliberately ugly and the pose based on Hieronymus Bosch’s The Adoration of the Magi (ca. 1475), while the copse of trees in the background is reminiscent of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Annunciation (ca. 1472). He also drew inspiration from Vittore Carpaccio and Paolo Uccello for the costumes.

Hockney took liberties with the source material, however, referring to the old lady not as a witch but as an enchantress since “an enchantress is less wicked, really, and after all this woman in the story doesn’t keep the child; she’s quite kind about it.”

Corpses on Fire

This second print comes from The Boy Who Left Home to Learn Fear, which Hockney believed to be “such a strange Gothic story; I’d no idea how to illustrate it. I only knew I wanted to do it.” Here he depicted two corpses on fire with moon-like faces. The figures stare blankly forward as their hazy bodies become engulfed by flames.

According to the German folktale, a young, naive boy slept beneath the gallows one night, where there were still seven hanged men, because he wanted to learn how to shudder. He built a fire to stay warm, and upon seeing the bodies sway in the wind, he realized they must be cold. He decided to cut the bodies down and placed them by the flames, but they did not stir when their clothing caught on fire. Annoyed at their reckless behaviour, the young, careless boy re-hung them on the gallows before travelling on.

Hockney’s series of etchings were ultimately proofed by Maurice Payne, printed by Piet Clement on Hodgkinson handmade paper and published by Petersburg Press in London and New York. A miniature book was published by Oxford University Press, selling over 150,000 copies.

With the fall 2023 auction season fast approaching, Cowley Abbott is seeking consignments of international art for our upcoming online and live sales.

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In the past few decades, Japanese artists have taken the contemporary art world by storm, presenting bold and inventive works that embody Japan’s rich cultural history. They challenge Western traditions and push the boundaries of contemporary art, like Yayoi Kusama and Yoshitomo Nara, whose revolutionary works have attracted international acclaim and commercial success.

Photo by Rahil Chadha on Unsplash

Born in 1929 in Matsumoto, Yayoi Kusama is one of the most successful living female artists, best known for her signature polka dots and mirrored infinity rooms. Her style relies on repetitive patterns and vibrant colours and is influenced by Conceptual Art, Pop Art and Abstract Expressionism. She left Japan for New York in 1957, and by 1962, she was exhibiting at the Green Gallery alongside well-established avant-garde artists such as Claes Oldenburg, James Rosenquist and Andy Warhol. 

In 1946, the pumpkin first appeared in Kusama’s work when she exhibited in a travelling show in Nagano and Matsumoto, Japan. From then on, she began incorporating pumpkins in her dot-motif paintings, drawings and prints. For instance, a giant black and yellow polka-dotted pumpkin has stood at the end of a pier on Naoshima Island since 1994. It was the first of many examples of public art that Kusama began to display in Japan, France, the United States and Korea.

Kusama explained in a 2015 interview: “I love pumpkins because of their humorous form, warm feeling, and a human-like quality and form. My desire to create works of pumpkins still continues. I have enthusiasm as if I were still a child.”

Lot 228. Yayoi Kusama, Pumpkin (Red & Yellow)
Estimate: $2,000 – 3,000

Another pioneering figure in contemporary art is Yoshitomo Nara, whose work is influenced by childhood memories, popular music and current events. Born in 1959 in Hirosaki, Nara became fascinated with Neo-Expressionism and punk rock while studying at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in Germany. He first gained recognition in the 1990s during Japan’s Pop Art movement. By 2001, he had become associated with the avant-garde group of Japanese artists known as Superflat, who used bright colours, patterns and cartoon motifs to challenge Japan’s hyper-consumerist culture. The group also included Takashi Murakami and Chiho Aoshima. 

Nara is renowned for his works featuring young children appearing simultaneously innocent and enigmatic. His distinct style is introspective, exploring a wide range of feelings, from joy to loneliness to rebellion. Nara adopts a muted colour palette and minimalist approach to present simple subjects whose oversized features reveal complex emotions. 

His characters often brandish weapons, like knives or scissors, as shown in this lithograph. Nara once commented on this recurring motif, saying: “Look at them, they are so small, like toys. Do you think they could fight with those? I don’t think so. Rather, I kind of see the children among other, bigger, bad people all around them, who are holding bigger knives.”

Lot 229. Yoshitomo Nara, Suite of Three Colour Lithographs
Estimate: $2,500 – 4,000

Born in Osaka in 1974, MADSAKI is a Jersey-raised contemporary painter who graduated in 1996 from Parsons School of Design in New York before starting to exhibit at galleries in Tokyo, Seoul, Los Angeles and New York. He would eventually return to Japan, becoming one of the most influential Japanese artists after Takashi Murakami invited him to exhibit at Hidari Zingaro in 2016.

Being Japanese-American, MADSAKI straddles two cultural identities often at odds with each other. Despite being a member of the Western art world, he playfully criticizes the canon and believes there should be no distinction between high and low art. He draws inspiration for his acrylic and aerosol paintings from an eclectic mix of sources: Old Masters, popular advertisements and films. 

His instantly recognizable subject matter is full of childlike energy and emotions. “Specifically, I am interested in how experience enters memory, and once there, how it’s flattened into a two-dimensional image. Memory makes images feel simultaneously very close and very far,” described the artist in a 2021 interview with L’Officiel Saint Barth.

Lot 230. MADSAKI, Masters of the Universe Power Sword. Estimate: $1,000 – 1,500

The June Online Auction will close on Tuesday, June 27, starting at 2 pm EDT.