OCMA gears up for 50th anniversary auction

Saturday night's sold-out gala dinner and auction at the Orange County Museum of Art will be the first in a series of events and shows commemorating its 50th anniversary in 2012.

Proceeds from the gala and auction will directly benefit the Newport Beach museum's exhibition and educational programming, officials said.

Although tickets to the evening — $125 for museum members and $150 for non-members — are gone, collectors can still bid online or by phone for one of 50 contemporary California art pieces on the block.

These include Richard Diebenkorn's "Untitled XVII," a monotype whose fair market value was $150,000. The late artist's monotype is listed as the priciest among 24 works by long-established or noted and up-and-coming contemporary California artists that will be auctioned live on Saturday. The live auction will follow after the last of five tables in a silent auction for 27 other pieces closes for bidding at 7:39 p.m, according to an OCMA auction brochure.

Diebenkorn (1929-1993), whose association with OCMA dates to 1965 and encompassed at least four exhibitions, will also headline a much-anticipated retrospective exhibition showcasing his Ocean Park series. The exhibit, one of two standalone shows marking OCMA's golden jubilee year, will open there on Feb. 26 and run through May 27.

"We have a good mix of historical contemporary art and cutting-edge contemporary art," said Karen Moss, the auction's co-curator, referring to the arc of contemporary California artists ranging from those who broke new artistic ground in 1960s and '70s to a generation of noted artists emerging today.

Andrea Fiuczynski, an international auctioneer and president of the Los Angeles branch of Christie's auction house, will be taking bids during the live auction that will accompany a sit-down dinner scheduled for 7:45 p.m. Saturday.

The museum opened in 1962 under the name of the Balboa Pavilion Gallery. It was housed at the Balboa Pavilion and, in 1968, renamed the Newport Harbor Art Museum. The institution moved to its present-day location on San Clemente Drive near Fashion Island in 1977.

In 1996, the museum changed its name to the Orange County Museum of Art. It kept that name although a merger between the Newport Harbor Art Museum and Laguna Art Museum that formed OCMA ultimately collapsed.

Collectors can bid for works by more famous members from the older generation of contemporary artists who previously have displayed their art at OCMA — such as Diebenkorn, Ed Ruscha, Joe Goode and Corona del Mar's Tony DeLap — or bid for art pieces made by younger artists whom OCMA has featured in its "California Biennial" shows.

Works by such artists as Mari Eastman, Patrick Wilson and John Zurier, who all participated in OCMA's biennial in 2010, will be part of the live auction.

Collectors who want to beat out competing bidders can clinch winning bids on items ahead of time — by going online or calling in bids at the listed fair market value — even on art pieces slated for live auction, OCMA officials said.

Such is the case with Richard Jackson's "Complementary Colors Face-to-Face (Blue/Orange)" piece, one of the pieces slated for Saturday's live auction.

The 86- by 56- by 56-inch piece depicts two dogs. One is painted orange and the other blue. The dogs are raising their right hind legs and urinating on each other.

At press time, a bidder had snapped up this work of art, which fetched $100,000 at fair market value.


Twitter: @ImranVittachi

Art Auction 2012: 50 Years / 50 Artists

To preview and bid remotely for lots in OCMA's silent and live auctions, go to http://www.ocma.net and click on the "art auction" box. Collectors who cannot attend the auctions in person can also place bids by calling (949) 759-1122 ext. 246.

A 7.75% tax will be added to all sales. Buyers will be responsible for covering the costs of shipping and arranging to pick up auction purchases at OCMA by appointment from Feb. 13 through Feb. 17. Artwork cannot be picked up during the night of the auction.

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