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Selling Cream of Art Collector's Crop : Art: Some of Betty Asher's collection, including her artist-designed cups, will be previewed in Beverly Hills before going on the auction block in New York.

April 04, 1995|SUZANNE MUCHNIC | TIMES ART WRITER

Sotheby's auction house will sell about 100 artworks from the estate of Betty Asher, a Los Angeles-based collector, curator and dealer whose eye for contemporary art and cultural patronage helped to develop the local art scene.

The most valuable pieces from the Asher collection--paintings and sculpture by such well-known artists as Claes Oldenburg, Robert Gober, Roy Lichtenstein and Jonathan Borofsky--will go on the block in New York May 2-3, according to Nora Halpern, Sotheby's director of fine arts. The remaining works will be offered in various auctions, including a print sale in Los Angeles on Oct. 12, she said.

In an effort to promote interest in the Asher material, Sotheby's will present a preview exhibition in its Beverly Hills showroom Wednesday through April 12. Among the 24 pieces to be shown are Oldenburg's painted plaster "Coffee Cup" (valued at $35,000 to $45,000) and mixed-media "Coconut Cream Pie" ($40,000 to $50,000), and Borofsky's 10-foot-tall painting-and-sculpture combination "Black El Salvador Painting and Chattering Man" ($30,000 to $40,000).

Works by Lichtenstein include a stainless steel and plexiglass "Modern Sculpture" ($20,000 to $30,000) and nine six-piece place settings of china ($15,000 to $20,000).

Asher, a pioneering collector of Pop art who died last year at age 80, settled in Los Angeles in 1941. She served as a curatorial assistant at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from 1966 to 1979 and opened a contemporary art gallery with Patricia Faure in 1979. Ever present on the art scene, Asher was probably best known for her collection of unique artist-designed cups, many of which she donated to LACMA.

Her fondness for art that took its cues from functional objects is apparent in several works in the preview exhibition. A mixed-media sculpture by Gober is a realistic likeness of a sink. A painting by Philip Guston depicts a cup, and a charcoal drawing by Andrew Lord portrays a teapot. Another work by Lord is a set of three 6-foot-tall bronze lamps with paper shades.

Also represented will be abstract works Asher collected, such as a 1947 painting by John McLaughlin and two stainless steel sculptures by George Rickey.

Viewing hours, at 308 N. Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, are Wednesday through April 12, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

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