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Visionary Artists, Visionary Auction

Visionary Artists, Visionary Auction

Rago Presents the Smithsonian Visionary Benefit Auction

24 April 2019

contributed by Bidsquare's Jessica Helen Weinberg

Rago Auctions, in collaboration with exclusive online host Bidsquare, is proud present the Smithsonian Visionary Artists Benefit Auction, which celebrates the distinct and honorable Visionary Award. Established in 2014, the Visionary Award is presented annually at the Smithsonian Craft Show to artists who have risen to the pinnacle of the world of sculptural arts and design. This year’s recipient, Joyce J. Scott, joins the small but prestigious list of past recipients: Faith Ringgold, Dale Chihuly, Toots Zynsky, Wendell Castle and Albert Paley. The auction catalog features works created by past and present Smithsonian Visionary Artists, many of whom are familiar to the Bidsquare auction block, and will be sold to benefit the Smithsonian Institution.

It's important to note that all 13 lots in the Visionary Benefit Auction are of the primary market and are being sold without buyer's premium. Online bidding will be available exclusively through Bidsquare from April 24th through May 20th. Take a glimpse at some of the exciting items that can be found in the Smithsonian Visionary Artists Benefit Auction this year.

Joyce J. Scott
Lover 1 from the Still Funny series
Est. $6,000 – 10,000

This year’s 2019 Visionary Award recipient, Joyce J. Scott is represented in five lots ranging from purely sculptural pieces such as "Lover 1" 2011 pictured above, as well as wearable works like, "For Him" 2017, a narrative necklace that utilizes woven glass beads, thread, and wire. Joyce J. Scott is an African-American artist from Baltimore, Maryland, and is best known for pioneering her messages through jewelry, beadwork, and glass. She employs these delicate media to reflect and comment on all aspects of popular culture, including her ancestry and the immediate world around her. Issues regarding race, sexism, politics, and stereotypes are all addressed. Scott says of her work, “I believe in messing with stereotypes…It’s important for me to use art in a manner that incites people to look and then carry something home – even if it’s subliminal…” Her work is part of the collections of the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Mint Museum of Craft + Design, the Spencer Museum of Art, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, among others. Scott is the recipient of the Genius Award, along with 26 additional prizes.

Toots Zynsky
Est. $9,500 – 16,000

Toots Zynsky has shown her support for this year’s benefit through a donated vase titled "Avventato", which she specifically produced for Rago's sale. Her signature heat-formed fillet-de-verre (glass thread) vessels have gained widespread recognition and acclaim for their poetic drama and motion-filled structure. Like all recipients of this prestigious award, Zynsky's unique approach continues to enrich and expand the field of glassmaking. The Smithsonian honored Toots Zynsky with the Visionary Award in 2015. Her extraordinary glass art is collected by major museums, including the deYoung Fine Arts Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Musee des Arts Decoratifs du Louvre, the Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery, the Stedelijk Museum, and many others.

Faith Ringgold
Mama Can Sing, Papa Can Blow #2: Come On and Dance with Me
Est. $425,000 – 500,000

Faith Ringgold, the 2017 Visionary Award recipient, is best known for the paintings that she quilts, which have stitched and altered the gaps between craft and fine art. She is represented by four lively works in this year’s benefit auction. Lot 5004, a massive 80 1/2" x 67" titled, “Mama Can Sing, Papa Can Blow #2: Come On and Dance with Me,” is the highest-priced work on offer and embodies Ringgold's powerful storytelling narratives of American life as seen through the lens of the African American female experience. She is the recipient of more than 75 awards and has been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Albert Paley
Solemnity’s Prologue
Est. $34,000-$56,500

A particularly familiar artist to Bidsquare, Albert Paley presents three exceptional metalworks in this year’s benefit. Paley is the recipient of the first Smithsonian Craft Fair Visionary Award as well as the first metal sculptor to receive the coveted Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Institute of Architects, the AIA’s highest award to a non-architect. Since 1974, when he won a commission to fabricate Portal Gates for the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery, Albert Paley has been welding a firm reputation for himself in the realm of monumental public sculptures and robust decorative pieces. His work can be found in the permanent collections of many major museums such as the The Museum of Arts and Design, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, among others.

All proceeds benefit the Smithsonian Institution. View a full listing of auction items available on, here.