The young artist is keen to show the originality of her personality. The disapproval of war is a common theme of the period in America exacerbated by the Vietnam events. She does not want to be dazzled by the sun of California and finds an influence in the monotonous use of dull colors in the still lifes of Morandi.
She attends the circle of Joni Gordon, a young self taught woman who takes the role of an incubator of contemporary art in Los Angeles and later will operate an avant-garde gallery. From the deceased estate of Gordon, three artworks for sale by Sotheby's in New York on September 24 enable a complete review of the early career of Celmins.
Her varied techniques almost always rely on a photographic original in a hyperrealistic approach. Burning Plane, oil on canvas 36 x 62 cm painted in 1965, reproduces in grisaille a newspaper photo of a war drama that made eleven dead. The smoke creates the same visual effect as the blurring of the military aircraft by Richter two years earlier. This painting is estimated $ 900K, lot 6.
The preferred technique of Celmins is graphite on paper. Clouds No. 2 is a very large drawing, 67 x 99 cm, made between 1965 and 1967. This theme of hyperrealism in an unrecognizable place anticipates her Oceans. An Ocean in graphite on acrylic background 36 x 48 cm made in 1968 sold for $ 1.68M including premium at Christie's on 13 November 2013. Clouds is estimated $ 400K, lot 7. The series of paintings by Richter on the same theme is later.
Pink Pearl Eraser is an acrylic on balsa wood 17 x 50 x 8 cm made in 1966-1967, estimated $ 180K, lot 8, of pure Pop Art inspiration while symbolizing the art of drawing.
I have not found any evidence of a reciprocal influence of Celmins and Richter despite the similarity of their art at that time.
Results including premium :
Clouds No 2 (charcoal on paper) : $ 1.56M
Pink Pearl eraser (acrylic on balsa wood) : $ 1.56M