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4 Hidden Gems at Wright’s Art Auction

Keep an eye on these underpriced big names at the sale on February 27.

A 2004 work of pottery by Theaster Gates on sale at Wright's auction February 27.   Photo: Courtesy of the Wright Auction House

Chicago’s art auction scene isn’t nearly as high stakes as New York’s record-shattering sales. In fact, that’s what makes the offerings in Chicago a little more fun to browse.

Sure, you can find some big names, but it’s their miscellanies and curios that get placed on the auction block here. So, at Wright’s upcoming February 27 sale, you can find Picasso dinnerware, Dali candlesticks, and a Koons puppy vase.

How do you recognize the masterpieces from the kitsch? Here are a few things worth keeping an eye on.

Donald Judd, Library Desk, 1982/2003

If you can tell the difference between a Donald Judd sculpture and IKEA furniture (here’s a quiz to help), you may be lusting for a desk designed by the Minimalist master. The pine construction is handsome, if simple. It’s clearly not for sticky notes and coffee mugs. Presale estimate: $7,000–$9,000.

Anish Kapoor, Untitled 06, 2007

Admirers of The Bean and its artist Anish Kapoor may have an affinity for Untitled 06, a fiery red and yellow etching created in 2007, one year after his Millennium Park masterwork. The image’s bulbous, blurry object seems descended from the mirrored mothership in the park. Presale estimate: $$2,500–$3,500.

Arman, Dollar Bill, 1964

When is a one-dollar bill actually worth $1,000 (or more)? When the French artist Arman screenprints his signature atop it.(Robert Rauschenberg owned this one.) Arman used found objects, from garbage to sedans to dollars, as fodder for his sculptures. Presale estimate: $1,000–$1,500.

Theaster Gates, untitled, 2004

People are already trying to cash in on Theaster Gates’s early work. Before he revitalized South Side architecture, Gates was a potter. This vase from 2004 is less than a foot tall, has a jagged lip, and is doused in gunmetal gray glaze. The design is rough but assertive. Presale estimate: $4,000–$6,000.

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