Archive for the '20th Century Design' Category


Awesome Mid-Century Modern Art That Inspires

Whether you are studying art on your own or you are taking a class at school, mid-century modern art is a style you are sure to enjoy learning more about. You can sometimes find pieces at estate liquidators if you want to own a piece of this art for yourself. There are several artists and specific pieces that are iconic and what people want to learn about first as these represent the best aspects of this period in art history.

Popular Chairs in Mid-Century Modern Art

The Tulip Chair and Papa Bear Chair are two of the most popular chairs of the time period. In fact, the Papa Bear is still common today and it was initially created by Hans Wegner. Both chairs have a retro design, but the Papa Bear almost perfectly combines retro and contemporary design. You can usually find a coordinating ottoman with this chair, giving it a recliner feel and level of comfort. Chairs in this style are still pretty common today in a diverse array of fabrics and colors. The Tulip is a chair traditionally constructed of plastic and like its name suggests, it looks like a tulip flower. You can find it in numerous patterns and colors.

Hans Wegner Papa Bear Chair and Ottoman.

Hans Wegner Papa Bear Chair and Ottoman.

Hans Wegner and His Artistic Talents

Hans Wegner is well-known for his furniture. He is a pioneer in this type of art, and when you learn more about him, you will be able to quickly recognize his styles and designs. Some of his most popular chairs include:

-Valet Chair

-Swivel Chair

-Flag Halyard Chair

-Ox Chair

-Wishbone Chair

-Shell Chair

-Sawbuck Chair

Two Hans Wegner Mobelfabrik Oak Wishbone Chairs

Two Hans Wegner Mobelfabrik Oak Wishbone Chairs

Exploring the Famous Art of Louis Kahn

Louis Kahn used his artistic talents to inspire his architecture. He was an architect who spent most of his career designing homes that for the time period were quite modern. When you see homes that he designed, they are pretty easy to recognize due to his unique style. One of his most famous properties is the Jesse Oser House in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. He designed this in 1940, but when you look at it, many of the elements look like the modern homes that you see built today. Elements like lots of windows and clean lines are major design factors in this home. This shows that Kahn was certainly ahead of the time period with his designs and creations.

You can see that mid-century modern art gave birth to a number of inspiring artists and famous pieces. Now that you know more about this style, you can start exploring the artists and pieces that you enjoy the most. If you are looking to own art from this period, consider visiting estate liquidators that might acquire art from this period.




Going, Going…Gone? No!

Missed Michaan’s last estate auction? For the following 5 business days post sale, you now have the opportunity to purchase unsold lots. Michaan’s presents “Buy It Now,” giving you a second chance at owning an unclaimed treasure. For more information and to view unsold estate auction lots, please click here.

mgallery copy



Grateful Dead Art Car: The Ultimate Trip, Man

Rock music is here to stay, with heavy hitters like The Grateful Dead going down in rock ‘n’ roll history. Perhaps the holy grail of any rock ‘n’ roll collection or piece of Grateful Dead memorabilia lies in one culturally historic automobile, known as “The Dred.” It is very rare in today’s collecting world that a music celebrity-owned, iconic and culturally important automobile shows up after 45 years. “The Dred” represents a frozen moment in time that references the Summer of Love of 1966, the early Grateful Dead, Owsley, LSD, rock ‘n’ roll music and ‘60s automobile art cars. Michaan’s is pleased to present such a historic automobile at auction on November 6, 2014.


"The Dred" estimated at $300,000-500,000

“The Dred” estimated at $300,000-500,000


She's got four of 'em...

She’s got four of ’em…

The Grateful Dead’s newly discovered first band truck from 1966 is an über important collector vehicle. It is an automotive representation of a historical time, complete with the key players of the counterculture revolution. Originally purchased by Owsley Stanley in 1966 to move The Grateful Dead’s band equipment, Owsley (known as the father of LSD) was also The Dead’s first manager and original soundman. The infamous automobile was Owsley developed, along with the drug LSD and the notorious Wall-of-Sound audio equipment for The Dead. The Studebaker truck became the first of The Grateful Dead’s early “Caravan of Six” band vehicles, which included The Dead’s original Sweet Magnolia tour bus. Dead Heads may also remember the lyric from the song “Truckin”: “…what a long, strange trip it’s been…” and fondly link it to “The Dred.”

Pretty as she is comin' and goin'....

Pretty as she is comin’ and goin’….

The illustrated auction catalog will be posted online at when it becomes available. Previews open at Michaan’s Auctions on October the 31st to November the 2nd, as well as the day of sale, November 6, 2014. “The Dred” will also be made available to view at Michaan’s Annex warehouse on October the 5th, November the 2nd and by appointment. Mid-century modern inquiries can be made to Mr. Greg Favors at (510) 227-2524. For general information please call (510) 740-0220 ext. 0 or e-mail Michaan’s Auctions is located at 2751 Todd Street, Alameda, CA 94501. Michaan’s Annex warehouse is located at 2701 Monarch Street, Alameda, CA 94501.



Understanding the Misunderstandings Pt 2 – Refurbishment

20th Century Design Specialist Greg Favors:
“Unlike the case with many period furnishings, refurbishment of modern furniture is not necessarily a negative thing.  If done properly, it can even increase the value of a piece.  Often times, foam and upholstery deteriorates with use and time.  Bringing these elements back to their original condition often improves the overall condition, making the furniture more sellable in today’s market.  The authenticity of let’s say, the foam of a couch cushion, is not a sticking point for a modern furniture enthusiast.”

Vladimir Kagan Free Form Sofa - recovered in a teal microfiber upholstery

Vladimir Kagan Free Form Sofa – recovered in a teal microfiber upholstery

Please visit Michaan’s Auctions appraisal event every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Main Gallery located at 2751 Todd Street, Alameda, CA 94501.  This free service is a wonderful opportunity to not only find out information on up to five pieces, but to potentially find out if you are sitting on a treasure!

By Laura A. Baker


U.S. Auction Record Set as Bidders Favor Asawa

A Ruth Asawa tied wire sculpture was the top selling lot in Michaan’s Fine Art, Furniture, Decorative Arts and Jewelry Auction held on December 6, 2013.  The sculpture became the highest selling Asawa wire wreath form sold at U.S. auction, realizing a price of $102,660 (lot 1059, $80,000-90,000).  Michaan’s Twentieth Century Design Specialist Mr. Greg Favors was instrumental in bringing the piece to auction from its debut at a Michaan’s appraisal event.  When the sculpture first came in, Greg knew right away that he had something special on his hands.  Weeks of preparation followed to present the piece at sale, ending with a finale of a winning bid from a prominent New York gallery owner.  From Mr. Favors to the favor of bidders at auction, a successful sale was indeed achieved.


RUTH LANIER ASAWA (Californian 1926-2013) Wire Sculpture, tied wire branching wall mounted wreath, Sold for $102,660

Complete results for Michaan’s Fine Art, Furniture, Decorative Arts and Jewelry Auction as well as future sale information and bid submission is available online at  For general information please call (510) 740-0220 ext. 0 or e-mail  Michaan’s Auctions is located at 2751 Todd Street, Alameda, CA 94501.


Modern Brazilian Furniture: Hotter Than the Girl from Ipanema

It goes without saying that modern furniture is hot.  But what is becoming increasingly “quente” at the moment?  Modern Brazilian furniture.  The June 2013 issue of Art + Auction solely featured modern Brazilian furnishings in their column titled Must Haves.  Brazilian modernist furniture pioneer Joaquim Tenreiro (1906-1992) kicked off their list of picks, with his appropriately named “Sleepwalker Armchair” taking center stage.  When speaking of the modern Brazilian furniture movement, Tenreiro is an undeniable influence.  He is largely known as the father of modern furniture in Brazil, leaving behind an unrivaled design legacy that is revered to this day.

“Mesa Triangular” Table by Joaquim Tenreiro.

Michaan’s 20th Century Design Auction will feature a classic Tenreiro dining table known as the “Mesa Triangular” ($30,000-40,000).  The piece is quite cheerful with its bright yellow, triangular table top, but there is also something wonderfully unusual and otherworldly about it.  Tenreiro believed that Brazilian furniture should be “…formally light…A lightness which has nothing to do with weight itself, but with graciousness, and the functionality of spaces.”  The shape is somewhat reminiscent of the classic Star Trek symbol; beam me up to auction, Scotty!

“Mesa Triangular” Table by Joaquim Tenreiro.

The “Mesa Triangular” table will be offered amongst over 140 lots of modern furniture and decorations on Saturday, July the 6th at 1:00 p.m.  Previews will be held in Michaan’s Main Gallery the day before as well as the day of sale. Michaan’s Auctions is located at 2751 Todd Street, Alameda, CA 94501.


What Time Is It? It’s Time To Get Modern!

Modern furniture and decorations are back in a major way.  Generation X and hipsters at heart make up a major part of the genres fan-base and it’s not hard to see why.  Modern pieces are cutting-edge, creative, interesting, fun and functional, providing an artisan sense of originality to any living space.  Most major auction houses with a modern department or offered mod lots have seen great demand for these pieces, with final sales often commanding premium prices.  Michaan’s 20th Century Design Auction offers many lots that can not only spice up your décor, but maybe even your life.  See how a little touch of mod can do just that in the following April 6 sale highlights.

George Nelson Multicolored Ball Clock

George Nelson Multicolored Ball Clock. Original Howard Miller 1950s production with original paint.

Multicolored Ball Clock by George Nelson – lot 1201, $500-700
Is it time for fun?  I think so!  Reflecting modern design’s playful and distinctive side is a multicolored ball clock by George Nelson for Howard Miller.  Hour markers are fashioned by skewered, painted wooden balls in powder blue, coral, olive green and black.  Animated hour and minute hands compliment the overall look, set upon a simple white, round face.  Now you can say, “It’s half past the second black ball.”

Vladimir Kagan Free Form Sofa

Vladimir Kagan Free Form Sofa. Recovered in a teal microfiber upholstery.

Vladimir Kagan Free Form Modern Sofa – lot 1132, $3,750-4,250
You.  Lounging on a fluid, sinuous couch by one of the most important furniture designers of the 20th century.  Cigarette holder in hand.  Perfect sheath dress on from the Alameda Point Vintage Fashion Faire.  Louboutin heels.  Jackie O. sunglasses.  No smile.  Best. Facebook. picture. ever.  (That is if you are a woman).

Harvey Probber Rosewood Gentleman's Cabinet

Harvey Probber Rosewood Gentleman’s Cabinet.

Harvey Probber Rosewood Chest – lot 1258, $1,800-2,250
Clearly mod items can add some fun to life, but let’s not forget just how practical and functional they can really be.  Point in case is a Harvey Probber rosewood chest.  Numerous shelves and drawers are condensed into the interior, making it a most effective storage unit.  The fact that it is crafted in bookmatched Brazilian rosewood is the icing on the cake.  The harvesting of this wood has been extremely controlled for over a decade, making it quite an expensive and sought after material.  As beautiful as it is useful!

Visit us on April the 6th for Michaan’s 20th Century Design Auction and take a modern approach to life!


Eichler Estate Collection Finds New Home at Michaan’s

A truly exciting collection of Joseph Eichler furniture has found its way into Michaan’s modern sale, to be held on April 6, 2013.  The original, quality Eichler pieces are reason enough to grab your paddle, but the esteemed provenance could throw you into a bidding tizzy.  Over 15 lots of Eichler furniture pieces from an Eichler family estate were secured by Michaan’s Modern Design Specialist, Greg Favors.  Greg is undoubtedly excited to present the furniture treasures to the public, noting, “The Eichler collection pieces at Michaan’s are a great find on many levels.  Not only did they come out of a model Eichler home, but are from an actual Eichler family residence.  I personally find an Omni shelving unit and CSS wall unit to be highlights of the sale.  Their open designs are classic Eichler and honestly appear as if they were plucked out of an Eichler home.  Both pieces display characteristics collectors vie for: they are rare, of signature style, are very functional and practical and are in great condition to boot.”

1953 Eames LCW Transitional Chair in Birch

1953 Eames LCW Transitional Chair in Birch.

The Eichler collection pieces will be part of an over 200 lot sale, featuring modern designers such as Charles and Ray Eames, Peter Hvidt, George Nelson, Harvey Probber and Nakashima.  So, whether you get your hands on one of these coveted Eichlers or not, you can still come out a modern winner!


Snapshots from the Sale: Modern Furniture and Decorations

20th Century Modern Design Specialist Greg Favors:
“Many in the art world consider Mavis McClure to be one of the most talented figurative artists of the decade.  She is also self taught which I admire.  These would work great in a garden, living room or foyer.  I look at the pair as one piece and I believe this was also the intention of the artist.  But if you wanted to break them up or display the statue as pieces that might also be interesting.”  Lot 3444, $8,000-10,000.

Ceramic Figures of a Man and a Woman

Ceramic Figures of a Man and a Woman

Ceramic Figures of a Man and a Woman

Ceramic Figures of a Man and a Woman

Fine and Modern Furniture and Decorations and Fine Jewelry
Auction: Friday, December 7, 2012
Previews: November 30 through December 2


Snapshots from the Sale: Modern Furniture and Decorations

20th Century Modern Design Specialist Greg Favors:
“This is a truly special piece from an iconic artist.  This John Dickinson game table is from the private estate of his longtime friend and business associate, Larry Maloney. Dickinson’s signature use of white lacquer atop hardwood is classic in its understated  style.  The provenance alone should have bidders clamoring for the piece.”  Lot 3421, $3,000-5,000.

John Dickenson Gaming Table

John Dickenson Gaming Table

Fine and Modern Furniture and Decorations and Fine Jewelry
Auction: Friday, December 7, 2012
Previews: November 30 through December 2

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