From Frank Tenney Johnson to Walter Ufer, the beauty and diversity of Western art is reflected in the exceptional Western Art Collection of G. Andrew Bjurman.
Founded in 1793, renowned auctioneer Bonhams has seen some of the foremost pieces of fine art in the Western art scene. The auctioneer, which has salesrooms in London, New York, Los Angeles, Paris, and Hong Kong, is notable for its offerings in collectables, motor cars, jewelry, watches, wine and whiskey, and, of course, artwork. On November 1, a world class selection of Western American art from The Collection of G. Andrew Bjurman graced Bonhams' Los Angeles showroom, realizing $5,436,720 overall with 100% sold by value, making it one of the most valuable collections of Western art this year. But, what made it so valuable?
While the world of fine art is highly saturated with depictions of the American West. However, very few artworks have succeeded in capturing the nuanced reality of the West, from life on the plains to Native American history. The Bjurman collection included the works of Oscar Edmund Berninghaus, Frank Tenney Johnson, Joseph Henry Sharp, and Walter Ufer, and told 150 years worth of Western art history, making it an extraordinary collection for all who value the untold stories of the West.
Among these pieces, members of the Taos Society of Artists were highly represented, achieving some of the top results during the auction. Walter Ufer's The Water Women led the sale, amassing $567,375. Ufer (1876-1936) was one of the core founders of Taos Society of Artists and was hailed for his honest depictions of the American West as well as for putting a spotlight on Native Americans in the Southwest.
The Water Women by Walter Ufer
Another exceptional work of Western art that garnered success in the November 1 auction was Oscar Edmund Berninghaus' Ancient Forest of the Indians, sold for $542,175. With his signature use of sunlight and shadow to highlight a bold subject, Berninghaus (1874-1952) is just one of those artists that captures the eye organically, forcing the audience to focus in on the details behind the Western aesthetic.
Ancient Forest of the Indians by Oscar Edmund Berninghaus
This detailed dive into the West is also reflected in the work of Frank Tenney Johnson (1874-1939), particularly Rim Rock Wrangler which was sold for $315,375 and An Idle Dreamer which was sold for $239,775. Both depicting a solitary cowboy and his horse, these two pieces reflect solitude on the Western range in a sympathetic and romantic light.
Additional pieces that did incredibly well at the November 1 auction included Chollas Against the Mountains by Maynard Dixon (1875-1946) which was sold for $227,175, Spring Hunting Talk by Joseph Henry Sharp (1859-1953) which was sold for $227,575, and The Chant by Eanger Irving Couse (1866-1936) which was sold for $201,975.
The exceptional Western Art Collection of G. Andrew Bjurman's success rides not necessarily on the prestige of the artists featured, but on the nuanced portrait of the West that these pieces create together. The diversity represented in this collection, both in identity and style, stands as an example to other Western art collectors who wish to reflect the West in all of its beauty, conflict, and uniqueness.
El Domingo by Kim Douglas Wiggins
All images courtesy of Bonhams.