Description

    George Copeland Ault (American, 1891-1948)
    Miss Hollywood, 1948
    Oil on canvas
    35-3/4 x 26 inches (90.8 x 66.0 cm)
    Bears signature, date, and inscription lower right: G.C. Ault '48 / by L.A. his wife
    Titled on stretcher: 'Miss Hollywood'

    PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED NEW YORK COLLECTION



    PROVENANCE:
    Vanderwoude Tananbaum Gallery, New York.

    A Precisionist and Surrealist painter, George Ault had the ability to encapsulate the everyday beauty of the world in a moment of absolute stillness, in varying styles throughout his oeuvre. His paintings were based on what he saw around him, many of them architectural subjects, and rendered in a quietly controlled manner. By 1946, he turned to primarily abstract subjects, a world of random shapes and imaginary landscapes. He was a great admirer of Giorgio de Chirico, the Italian Surrealist, and Ault's later work showed more and more of this influence, as evidenced by Miss Hollywood from 1948.

    Ault was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and in 1899 he moved to London with his family and attended the Slade School and St. John's Wood Art School. He traveled extensively in Europe, which exposed him to the avant-garde art movements. In 1911, he returned to the United States, and by 1937 was settled in Woodstock, New York, where he freely explored his passion for the play of light at a favorite spot called Russell's Corners. He did numerous scenes that are almost entirely black, illuminated by a light high on an electrical pole.

    As Ault's work matured, he began to widen his artistic influences. He showed interest in the work of the Surrealists, particularly de Chirico. From him, Ault borrowed mysterious and improbable environments, where the habitual is transformed into strangeness. Both the architecture of the modern city and rural landscapes and seascapes are marked down in clear, communicative terms that suggest unfamiliarity as much as wonder at their beings.

    In the present work, Ault portrays the fabulous Miss Hollywood, resplendent in her nakedness, seated at the beach with nothing but a stiletto by her side. Miss Hollywood and her stiletto echo the angles and forms of the boats and sails in the distance. The figure's flat, unmodulated form appears almost unfinished. Whether an intentional artistic device or not, this contradictory effect serves to press the figure against the background, vivifying the interplay of dimensional space. These "unfinished" areas dually function to show his allegiance to drawing, whereby he probes the limits of form, its edge, where one color meets another.

    In 1948, the year in which he painted the present work, Ault was discovered dead five days after drowning in the Sawkill Brook on December 30, when he had taken a solitary walk in stormy and dark weather. The death was deemed a suicide by the coroner, though it was contested by his wife Louise as a fall caused by missing guardrails and ill health. Memorial exhibitions followed at the Woodstock Art Gallery and Milch Galleries. Miss Hollywood is one of the last oil paintings completed by Ault prior to his untimely death.


    Estimate: $50,000 - $70,000.

    Condition Report*:

    Unlined canvas; aside from light surface grime in left half of work, only visible in raking light, work remains in excellent condition; under UV exam, there appears to be a few spots of inpainting along right and right top edge. Framed Dimensions 36.75 X 26.75 Inches

    *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. 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 Dates
    November, 2015
    16th Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 0
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