BEN L. CULWELL (American, 1918-1992)
    Mr. Cooper's Funeral
    Mixed media on board
    18-1/4 x 19-3/4 inches (46.4 x 50.2 cm)
    Initialed lower left: BLC
    Titled, inscribed, and signed verso: "Mr. Cooper's Funeral" / 1949-1985 / Ben L. Culwell

    Texas artist Ben Culwell, was part of the 1946 exhibition of "Fourteen Americans" at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. This seminal show also displayed the works of artists Robert Motherwell, Arshile Gorky, and Isamu Noguchi and caused New Yorker art critic Robert Coates to coin the term "Abstract Expressionism." In the same article, Coates specifically points to Culwell's work as a particular example of the combination of Abstraction and Expressionism. Subsequent "American" exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art also included Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Robert Rauschenberg, among many others, and heralded the popularity of the Abstract Expressionist movement.

    These three paintings are a result of Culwell's continuing development of the painterly, abstract surface. Using a mixture of oil paint, enamel, and lacquer, he builds heavy layers of impasto with bits of gravel, glass, and other various objects for additional texture. His work has a three-dimensional quality which evokes relief paintings or modern sculpture. In this deeply layered surface Culwell buries images which reveal the sometimes violent realities of human life while remaining pleasing to the eye. When discussing the general nature of his artistic goals in the "Fourteen Americans" catalogue, he wrote that he tries to "express the sum of relationships which is a total human being" and states that the big problem of art is to keep human beings "abreast of the techniques and the inventions of material culture-to achieve adequate modern spiritual integrity." These three works are quintessential examples of this often overlooked, but important, artist's style as well as being aesthetically rich paintings.

    Condition Report*:

    Very good condition, minor abrasion to upper right corner.

    *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
    January, 2009
    24th-25th Saturday-Sunday
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