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    Description

    EUGENE BERMAN (American/Russian, 1899-1972)
    Seventeen Theatre Scene and Costume Designs, c. 1930s through c. 1950
    various sizes and media
    Some sheets signed, some initialed, some unsigned


    PROVENANCE:
    Private collection, New York.


    This remarkable group of stage and costume designs by the Russian-born Neo-Romantic and Surrealist artist Eugene Berman was acquired by the present owner en bloc. The sheets were once tipped into a portfolio having black construction paper leaves, to which many of the drawings still adhere, although the portfolio once containing them was long dismantled. Because the black construction paper sheets are sometimes annotated with names of the plays, specific acts, and the artist's initials "E.B" in Berman's hand in graphite, it seems highly probably that the portfolio from which these come was the artist's own, rather than an assemblage of Berman sketches by a later collector. The drawings range from highly finished conceptions rendered in pen and gouache to working drawings rendered completely in pastel, to more preliminary concept drawings in pencil. The cache of work provides a fascinating view of Berman's working process. Judging from the annotations on the various sheets, these drawings were made for productions of "America! America!", "Salome", "Agamemnon", "Frank and Frankenstein", "The Emperor Jones" by Eugene O'Neill, "The Lady of the Sea," and "Mourning Becomes Electra" by Eugene O'Neill.

    The largest drawing measures 12/5 x 19 inches (pencil drawing of stage design for "Electra").




    Condition Report*: Seven of the drawings are still either framed by or tipped onto crumbling black construction paper that apparently formed the leaves of a portfolio which once contained the drawings. These drawings are in extremely fragile condition for the most part, with numerous tears, some with substantial losses, scuffs, abrasions (see photographs posted online for a good view of condition issues). Ten of the sheets are loose, not adhered to any black construction paper backing. These are in fairly good condition despite surface grime, bent corners, and lots of handling wear.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2010
    27th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
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