The chance to see one work by Birger SandzÚn on the auction block is a rare experience, let alone seeing 10.
The chance to see one work by Birger Sandzén on the auction block is a rare experience, let alone seeing 10.
The Kansas painter and printmaker lived in Lindsborg and created more than 3,000 paintings, prints and drawings from 1894 to 1954 — many of which are now held in museums or private collections.
“There are collections out there with multiple Sandzéns on the wall, but as an auctioneer, this is very unusual to see this many for sale,” said Jason Woody of Woody Auction. “Over time, these paintings were dispersed. Everybody tends to decide that they’ll hang on to them for a bit to watch the market or to keep it for the family.”
This month, 10 of Sandzén’s pieces owned by Emerson and Frieda Moore of Wichita will go up for auction. Emerson Moore died last month.
This collection includes four oil paintings with a starting bid of $7,500 each, three lithographs with a starting bid at $250, one drypoint, one watercolor and one student oil.
The Emerson and Freda Moore estate sale is scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 18 at the Woody Auction Gallery, 120 E. Third St. in Douglass.
Similar to Vincent van Gogh or Paul Cézanne, Sandzén used dabs of bright color to mimic the shimmer of light on a landscape.
Sandzén and art dealer Carl Smalley held exhibitions in the early 1900s on Main Street in McPherson. During that time, McPherson residents had easy access to quality art, which fueled business for many artists.
“This area has a long tradition of appreciating original art and art created by local artists. Sandzén got together with Carl Smalley and they put on the first exhibition at McPherson High School in 1911,” said Cori Sherman North, curator at the Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery in Lindsborg. “Artists from all over were invited to exhibit, and when they showed at the exhibitions, things were generally for sale as well. People who went to just see things could purchase right there, and I think a lot of them did.”
In addition to paintings, Sandzén created countless prints and lithographs with the Prairie Printmakers, which were well received by the McPherson County public in the early 1900s.
“The Prairie Print Makers were known or making lithographs in the 1930s. It was low cost, but original art,” North said. “These became even more popular for local people to collect because they could have a Sandzén print, or a Norma Bassett Hall woodcut for a low cost.”
Many of Sandzén’s images depict idyllic scenes of Kansas and other prairie landscapes. Residents take a certain pride in seeing their home state appreciated worldwide through Sandzén’s artistic lens.
“This is a healthy sign for the interest of art in central Kansas. We’re reconnecting to our cultural roots that are truly unique to Kansas,” North said. “Sandzén was so prolific, so he was always happy to see his work sold to private collections, people he knew, to strangers. He’d be very excited to see this.”
When the auction begins this weekend, Woody expects a strong turnout of individuals who embrace life in Kansas wholeheartedly.
“I would love to see every single Sandzén stay in the state. There’s no real reason why, other than having pride in the state,” Woody said. “‘Kansas’ and ‘art market’ aren’t two words that normally go together, so to have something like this so close to us is really special.”
For more information on the auction, visit http://woodyauction.com.