It’s a table! It’s a sculpture! Stop, you’re both right. A fossil marble table by Isamu Noguchi sold yesterday at Christie’s in New York for a stunning $2.88 million (including commission), a new world auction record for a piece of furniture by the artist and the third highest price ever achieved at auction for a Noguchi work. The low table was made in 1948-49 for Mr. and Mrs. Samuel C. Dretzin to furnish their new Sydney Katz-designed summer home in Chappaqua, New York, and remained in the family until yesterday. Christie’s estimated the work, “unquestionably the most important piece of Noguchi furniture ever to come to public sale,” at between $800,000 and $1.2 million.
It was also a good day for the legacy of Charles and Ray Eames. A 1943 sculpture by the collaborative couple sold for $458,500 to a European institution. “As with any creative partnership, it is difficult to segregate the contributions offered by the individual contributors,” notes the sale catalogue, “however the playfully serpentine outline of the structure is clearly related to the mobiles, sculptures, and graphics of Ray, and in particular to the covers that she designed for the magazine Art & Architecture that same year, 1943.” Made of painstakingly layered laminates, the biomorphic work was exhibited a year later at the Museum of Modern Art’s “Design for Use” exhibition.