William Turnbull (1922-2012)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more THE COLLECTION OF RICHARD L. WEISMANRichard L. Weisman was a prolific, passionate collector - a man whose love for art endeared him to some of the 20th century’s most influential creative figures. Known for his eclectic taste and signature joie de vivre, Weisman’s prescient eye allowed him to assemble a remarkable collection of masterworks united by a wide-ranging connoisseurship - a grouping that spanned Post-War and Contemporary art, Design, American Illustration, and more. “Richard bought paintings without reassurances or validations of any kind,” recalled friend Amy Fine Collins. “He was there in the beginning at Roy Lichtenstein and Clyfford Still’s exhibitions, not only with the foresight to buy but also with the instinct to select their best canvases.” For Weisman, art represented an opportunity to explore the vast scope of human creativity, free from all constraints. “I personally don’t like to limit the scope of my collecting,” he stated simply. “I just love the art.”Art and collecting were, in many ways, in Richard Weisman’s blood. “When you are young, you may feel that what you do as a collector has nothing to do with your family,” Weisman told an interviewer, “but my family background must have had some impact on me.” The son of the notable collectors Frederick and Marcia Weisman, Richard Weisman grew up surrounded by art and artists. His parents - famously depicted in David Hockney’s American Collectors, now at the Art Institute of Chicago - were two of California’s most distinguished connoisseurs and supporters of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and other institutions. Marcia’s brother, Norton Simon, too was a prominent California collector whose collection now resides in his eponymous museum in Pasedena. Richard Weisman’s first acquisition of his own came around his college years, when he purchased a work by the Chilean painter Roberto Matta. Dealer Richard Feigen described how “Richard’s buoyant enthusiasm for art carried from Matta in 1962 - to the Ferus Gallery, Irving Blum’s pioneering Los Angeles gallery - to Warhol and Lichtenstein - through to the 1980s.” “He came to art more naturally,” Feigen added, “than anyone I know of his generation.”During the formative years of Los Angeles’s cultural development, Weisman became a frequent visitor to galleries and artist studios, building the many connections and friendships for which he would become known. “Richard was very much there and always the careful observer,” Irving Blum said of the early years of the Ferus Gallery. “He quickly focused on the emerging Pop style, particularly Warhol and Lichtenstein. He chose carefully and assembled a distinguished collection by moving forward astutely.” In Los Angeles and New York, Weisman steadily assembled not only an exceptional grouping of masterworks - anchored by artists such as Warhol, Rothko, de Kooning, Still, Motherwell, Picasso, and Lichtenstein - but also a remarkable coterie of friends. “Artists, athletes, entertainers of all kinds,” friend Peter Beard observed, “ended up investing with his friendship and guidance.” Weisman became especially renowned for parties and gatherings in which individuals of all stripes came together in a joyous atmosphere infused with creative energy. “Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Barnett Newman, Rauschenberg, Rosenquist, Clyfford Still, George Segal, John de Andrea, Arman, Basquiat, Keith Haring, Botero, even de Kooning,” Beard enthused. “We met them all at Richard’s.”Among his many achievements in collecting, it is Richard Weisman’s close relationship with Andy Warhol for which he is best remembered. “Andy and I really got to be good friends in New York because of the social scene,” Weisman recalled, “and we also had the art world as a connection.” The collector described how the artist would often arrive at his apartment “with a whole bunch of paintings under his arm as presents.” When Weisman began to consider how to connect his seemingly disparate interest in sports and art “I wanted to do something that would bring these two worlds together,” he said the collector came to Warhol with a major commission. The Athletes Series, completed between 1977 and 1979, consisted of dozens of works depicting the major sports stars of the age, from Dorothy Hamill and Muhammed Ali to O.J. Simpson and Jack Nicklaus. “I chose the sports stars,” Weisman noted. “Andy didn’t really know the difference between a football and a golf ball.” The influential group of sports stars were justifiably intrigued by the enigmatic Warhol, and the feeling was mutual. “Athletes really do have fat in the right places,” the artist wrote in his diaries, “and they’re young in the right places.” Weisman, who would gift many of the Athlete Series canvases to institutions, looked back fondly at the entire process. “We had quite an adventure,” he said. “It was fun times.”Richard Weisman’s collection would evolve well into the 21st century, as his curiosity brought him to areas such as American Illustration - an area of the art historical canon he appreciated for its unique narrative ability and aesthetic resonance. “He makes decisions based on a gut level - his first intuitive response or impression,” noted Los Angeles artist Laddie John Dill. “There is eclecticism at work on a very high level with the Rockwell and Warhol ... It’s an interesting mix. I really admire his approach to art. He is very much his own mind.” With Weisman’s passing in December 2018, the art world lost not only one of its most ardent patrons, but one of its most steadfast friends. Across a lifetime of collecting and connoisseurship, he created a legacy in art that continues to resonate. “Richard Weisman has had fun,” Peter Beard declared, “and much, much more.”
William Turnbull (1922-2012)

Hero II

William Turnbull (1922-2012)
Hero II
bronze with a green patina and stone, unique
35 in. (88.9 cm.) high
Conceived in 1958.
Acquired by Marcia Weisman before 1966, and thence by descent to the present owner.
Exhibition catalogue, Turnbull, New York, Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, 1963, n.p., no. 15, illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, William Turnbull: Sculpture and Paintings, Balboa, Pavilion Gallery, 1966, n.p., no. 7, illustrated.
A. A. Davidson, The Sculpture of William Turnbull, Much Hadham, 2005, p. 107, no. 87, illustrated.
New York, Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, Turnbull, October 1963, no. 15.
Balboa, Pavilion Gallery, William Turnbull: Sculpture and Paintings, March – April 1966, no. 7.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
These lots have been imported from outside the EU or, if the UK has withdrawn from the EU without an agreed transition deal, from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.
This lot has been imported from outside the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Customs Duty (as applicable) will be added to the hammer price and Import VAT at 20% will be charged on the Duty inclusive hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer''s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice. Please see Conditions of Sale.

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William Porter

Lot Essay

Appearing simultaneously archaic and contemporary, Hero II embodies William Turnbull’s individual approach to sculpture, an approach that imbues his work with a timeless ambiguity that is a product of the artist’s uniquely eclectic range of inspirations.

By the late 1950s, when Turnbull was still in his thirties, he was becoming acknowledged as one of the leading artists of his generation. He was represented by the prestigious Marlborough Gerson Gallery in New York alongside principal figures in American painting such as Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. It is, therefore, unsurprising that one of his sculptures was to take centre stage in one of David Hockney’s masterpieces of the 1960s, American Collectors, 1968 (Art Institute of Chicago). Hockney was typically reluctant to accept commissions, and previously declined Marcia Weisman’s request for him to paint her husband, Fred, but the artist was to later embrace the opportunity to paint them alongside their renowned art collection. Hockney chooses to foreground Hero II by placing the work in between the two important collectors, with Fred facing the sculpture directly. As a result, Hockney’s composition seems to pay homage to Turnbull, celebrating his endeavor to convey a pure and stripped back abstraction of the human form.

Exemplifying Turnbull’s aversion to artistic hierarchy, Hero II draws upon archaeological artefacts to achieve an advanced contemporary abstraction. After moving to London in 1946 to study at the Slade School of Art, Turnbull frequented the British Museum, where he was inspired by the multitude of archaeological and anthropological objects, pre-classical forms of art and religious statues. Turnbull was to discover the inner power of these ancient artworks, evoking a sense of monumentality regardless of their scale.

‘I went a lot to the British Museum when I came to London. The British Museum has always been my museum, more than the National Gallery. I just thought it was the most extraordinary place … they are like archaeological sites. And I think I have always felt in a sense that the further back the exhibits were, the more modern they looked. I am always amazed how objects that are three thousand, four thousand or more years old can look as if they were done much more recently than things made fifty or sixty years ago. This way they can jump right through time. To be able to look at objects without hierarchy, without feeling that this one is higher, more developed than that one, this is very refreshing’ (W. Turnbull in conversation with C. Renfrew, 6 May 1998, exhibition catalogue, William Turnbull sculpture and paintings, London, Waddington Galleries, 1998, p. 7).

The formative effects of these ancient objects had a profound impact upon Turnbull’s sculptural practice and execution. All of Turnbull’s sculptures from 1958 to 1962 consist of two or more separate elements stacked on top of one another. Despite a will towards intense abstraction, these works allude to the universal image of the standing figure, comprised of rough human proportions with a strong connection to the ground on which they stand. ‘Turnbull was making sculpture by taking the physiognomy as a ‘given’, then acting them out part by part in a sculpture.’ (R. Morphet, exhibition catalogue, William Turnbull, London, Tate, 1973, p. 33). His forms remain simple and anti-idealised: two roughly hewn blocks of stone, arranged in totem, crowned by the marked bronze ‘head’, allude to ancient ritual and bygone eras. Yet, Turnbull’s attraction to these archaeological artefacts was not simply to do with a sense of nostalgia; he, instead, wished to exhibit a notion of timelessness.

‘Almost anything could be a head – and a head almost anything – given the lightest clue to the decoding.

The sort of thing that interested me was –
How little would suggest a head
How much load will the shape take and still read head
Head as a colony
Head as landscape
Head as mask
Head as ideogram
Head as sign, etc …’

(W. Turnbull’s notes, quoted in R. Morphet, exhibition catalogue, William Turnbull, London, Tate, 1973, p. 33).

Equally, the specificity of Turnbull’s oeuvre enables the unique dual association with ancient imagery and contemporary artistic practices. The textured surface of Hero II reveals a preoccupation with a practical aesthetic as well as a visual one. This followed Paul Klee’s philosophy that art should emerge from the working process, rather than being the product of a clearly pre-defined idea. The use of corrugated cardboard to manipulate the surface of wet plaster before casting in bronze, exemplifies Turnbull’s engagement with spontaneity. These kinds of sensory explorations were championed by the leading artists of American painting at the time, such as the Abstract Expressionists. These innovative painting methods that strove to depict the artist’s subconscious were much harder to translate into the act of making sculpture as the very medium itself seems to arrest sensation rather than liberating it. However, the deeply textured surface of Hero II indicates the human presence of the artist and the pervasiveness of his individual vision. As such, Turnbull’s sculpture is an intimate and distinctive evocation of artistic interiority and expression.

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