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October 15, 2010

Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA), headquartered in a 17,000-square-foot gallery in Van Nuys, California, has been steadily auctioning works by important 20th century artists, designers and architects for nearly two decades, and will hold their 50th auction on October 17, 2010. Director Peter Loughrey, who established LAMA in 1992, cites Pacific Standard Time, Art in L.A. 1945–1980—a celebration of L.A. art with concurrent exhibitions throughout California beginning in fall 2011—as an inspiration for the auction offerings. “In anticipation of the Getty-funded ‘Pacific Standard Time’ exhibitions to be held throughout California next year, the market has been yearning for great California-related modernism,” he says. Loughrey names an original Eames ECS unit, once set up in the Herman Miller Showroom by the Eames office, as an “obvious highlight,” as well as a photomural of Mies van der Rohe designs created by the late architect Craig Ellwood (exhibited at LACMA in 1969), and a desk made for Walt Disney Studios by German-born designer KEM Weber, used in the studio to create early Disney animation. And no Alexander Calder devotee should miss the numbered, signed and dated hammock he created in 1975.

An Eames Contract Storage (ECS) unit, made in 1961, shown installed at the LAMA gallery in Los Angeles. “This particular example was set up in the Herman Miller showroom by the Eames office as the ideal combination of modular parts from this design,” says
An Eames Contract Storage (ECS) unit, made in 1961, shown installed at the LAMA gallery in Los Angeles. “This particular example was set up in the Herman Miller showroom by the Eames office as the ideal combination of modular parts from this design,” says Loughrey. The original ad for the unit reads, “ECS is a system of storage, sleeping and study units designed to meet the extraordinary requirements of the dormitory. ECS is also apt to be appropriate to other special and exacting situations.” Consisting of a desk, shelving, closet space and a Murphy bed, the ECS was marketed heavily as the solution for college dormitories and young kids’ rooms alike. Estimate: $10,000–$15,000. Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Modern Auctions.
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A rosewood-and-steel desk designed in 1960 by Danish architect and designer Bodil Kjaer. She referred to her furniture designs, commissioned for buildings by Paul Rudolph and Marcel Breuer, as “elements of architecture.” This model, number 901, was manufa
A rosewood-and-steel desk designed in 1960 by Danish architect and designer Bodil Kjaer. She referred to her furniture designs, commissioned for buildings by Paul Rudolph and Marcel Breuer, as “elements of architecture.” This model, number 901, was manufactured by E. Pedersen & Son. Estimate: $8,000–$10,000. Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Modern Auctions.
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The coconut chair in green vinyl, designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller in 1955. Nelson, who would design his famous Marshmallow sofa the following year, once remarked of Miller: “He is not playing follow-the leader.” Estimate: $3,000–$4,000. Photo
The coconut chair in green vinyl, designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller in 1955. Nelson, who would design his famous Marshmallow sofa the following year, once remarked of Miller: “He is not playing follow-the leader.” Estimate: $3,000–$4,000. Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Modern Auctions.
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Designed around 1927 for the offices of Walt Disney by German-born KEM Weber (1889–1963), this early modern desk was used in the studio to create Disney animation. Weber, who worked on the German section of the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco i
Designed around 1927 for the offices of Walt Disney by German-born KEM Weber (1889–1963), this early modern desk was used in the studio to create Disney animation. Weber, who worked on the German section of the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco in 1915, later designed furniture and interiors for the L.A.-based Barker Brothers before opening an office and studio in Hollywood in 1927. In 1933 he began designing film sets for Paramount. Estimate: $4,000–$6,000. Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Modern Auctions.
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Immortalized in Taschen’s "1000 Chairs," Pierre Paulin’s Tongue chair was designed in 1967 and is part of the permanent design collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Paulin began designing furniture for Thonet in the early 1950s; in 1958, he becam
Immortalized in Taschen’s "1000 Chairs," Pierre Paulin’s Tongue chair was designed in 1967 and is part of the permanent design collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Paulin began designing furniture for Thonet in the early 1950s; in 1958, he became a designer for Artifort—the manufacturer of this pair of chairs—where he conceptualized a series of chairs of steel tubing covered in foam and fabric. Estimate: $2,000–$3,000. Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Modern Auctions.
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There is some debate over which form Calfornia artist Gordon Newell intended this glazed-ceramic sculpture to take—he first called it an anteater when he designed it in 1958, then later presented it as a bear in promotional materials for the L.A. Arboretu
There is some debate over which form Calfornia artist Gordon Newell intended this glazed-ceramic sculpture to take—he first called it an anteater when he designed it in 1958, then later presented it as a bear in promotional materials for the L.A. Arboretum. Either way, it was on the coffee tables of many a mid-century-modern home, including Richard Neutra’s Lovell Health house shot by Julius Shulman. Estimate: $5,000–$7,000. Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Modern Auctions.
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A 1951 ceramic lantern by Malcolm Leland, the designer of the terra-cotta screen cladding on Richard Neutra’s 1962 Hall of Records building in downtown L.A., partially inspired by Oscar Niemeyer’s sculptural screen additions to his 1950s and 1960s buildin
A 1951 ceramic lantern by Malcolm Leland, the designer of the terra-cotta screen cladding on Richard Neutra’s 1962 Hall of Records building in downtown L.A., partially inspired by Oscar Niemeyer’s sculptural screen additions to his 1950s and 1960s buildings for Brasilia, Brazil’s capital city. Leland worked closely with the ceramics and tile company Gladding, McBean and won the Good Design award from the Museum of Modern Art in 1955. Estimate: $3,000–$5,000. Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Modern Auctions.
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Studio craftsman Michael Coffey, who was a contemporary of artists Wharton Esherick, George Nakashima and Wendell Castle, designed the Viking chair in 1970. In addition to designing furniture (often in the basement of his Staten Island home), from 1953 to
Studio craftsman Michael Coffey, who was a contemporary of artists Wharton Esherick, George Nakashima and Wendell Castle, designed the Viking chair in 1970. In addition to designing furniture (often in the basement of his Staten Island home), from 1953 to 1972 Coffey worked as a community organizer helping low-income groups fight for basic needs. He designs today for Todd Merrill Antiques. Estimate: $6,000–$8,000. Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Modern Auctions.
8 / 10
The Eero Saarinen Tulip table is among the most ubiquitous mid-century modern pieces, but the stools, designed in 1957 with an aluminum base, are not quite as often encountered. Turned off by what he called the “ugly, confusing, unrestful world resulting
The Eero Saarinen Tulip table is among the most ubiquitous mid-century modern pieces, but the stools, designed in 1957 with an aluminum base, are not quite as often encountered. Turned off by what he called the “ugly, confusing, unrestful world resulting from the slum of legs underneath typical chairs and tables,” Saarinen introduced the collection, originally known as the Pedestal series, for Knoll, who still produces them today. Estimate: $1,500–$2,500. Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Modern Auctions.
9 / 10
This signed and dated hammock is vintage Alexander Calder—with his signature bright, primary colors infused into the handwoven piece. Calder became obsessed with Central and South American weaving techniques in the 1970s after Nicaraguan art collector Kit
This signed and dated hammock is vintage Alexander Calder—with his signature bright, primary colors infused into the handwoven piece. Calder became obsessed with Central and South American weaving techniques in the 1970s after Nicaraguan art collector Kitty Meyer brought Calder a Masaya hammock woven by artisans in Nicaragua to show her country’s appreciation for a lithograph he had gifted to the city of Managua following a devastating earthquake there in 1972. Estimate: $3,000–$5,000. Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Modern Auctions.
Courtesy of 
�John Nelson
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An Eames Contract Storage (ECS) unit, made in 1961, shown installed at the LAMA gallery in Los Angeles. “This particular example was set up in the Herman Miller showroom by the Eames office as the ideal combination of modular parts from this design,” says
An Eames Contract Storage (ECS) unit, made in 1961, shown installed at the LAMA gallery in Los Angeles. “This particular example was set up in the Herman Miller showroom by the Eames office as the ideal combination of modular parts from this design,” says Loughrey. The original ad for the unit reads, “ECS is a system of storage, sleeping and study units designed to meet the extraordinary requirements of the dormitory. ECS is also apt to be appropriate to other special and exacting situations.” Consisting of a desk, shelving, closet space and a Murphy bed, the ECS was marketed heavily as the solution for college dormitories and young kids’ rooms alike. Estimate: $10,000–$15,000. Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Modern Auctions.

To see some of our favorite picks from the auction preview, check out the slideshow.

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