Dennis Oppenheim Drawings and Models for Sale at October Auction

40 architectural models and drawings by Dennis Oppenheim, plus furniture and design by Frank Lloyd Wright are for sale at auction on October 1, 2019.

In association with the Price Tower Arts Center, 40 architectural models and drawings by Dennis Oppenheim are for sale at auction on October 1st. The auction also features furniture by Frank Lloyd Wright who designed the Price Tower skyscraper in Bartlesville, OK.

Preview Dennis Oppenheim, Frank Lloyd Wright and other works in the October 1st design auction.

Auction Preview in Dallas September 26-30, 2019 at Heritage Auctions – Design District Showroom. 1518 Slocum Street, Dallas, TX 75207. Live Signature® Floor Auction is 11:00 AM Central Time, Tuesday, October 1, 2019.

Reprinted from the Auction Catalog – 2019 October 1 Design Signature Auction – Dallas #5420

Dennis Oppenheim, 1938-2011, was an extraordinarily prolific New York based American artist whose ambitious and diverse practice included earthworks, body art, conceptual art and large scale public sculpture and installations. Born in Electric City, Washington, he spent most of his early life in the Bay area before, and after, attending the California College of the Arts and Crafts and Stanford University, where he obtained his BFA and MFA, respectively. Moving to New York City in 1967, Oppenheim had his first solo exhibition there in 1968, and he went on to show internationally throughout his career. A contemporary and friend to many artists, such as Robert Smithson, Walter de Maria, and Vito Acconci; affinities with the works of Bruce Nauman, Alice Aycock (who he married), and Claes Oldenburg, among others, can also be seen. Recognized as a pioneering figure for his role in the landmark movements of contemporary art, Oppenheim’s work is held in many leading museum collections throughout the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; Tate Modern, London, U.K., among many other notable public collections. 

Following a visit by Dennis Oppenheim to see Frank Lloyd Wright’s seminal building, Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, he organized with Price Tower Arts Center an exhibition of his archive of architecture related drawings and models titled Dennis Oppenheim: Indoors, Outdoors (March 18-May 22, 2005). Referring to these works, the PTAC exhibition curator Dr. Mónica Ramirez-Montagut wrote, “The scale models of the hybrid forms presented in this exhibition should be seen as in constant transition. They are markings for a series of potential events. They deal with change and transformation of everyday life objects and constructions. They have been presented in this text as the result of Oppenheim’s sequential process through the artistic movement of the second half of the century…” (PTAC exh. catalogue, Dennis Oppenheim: Indoors, Outdoors, n.p.).  Fifteen works from the exhibition later traveled to MARTa Herford in Germany for the exhibition Dennis Oppenheim and Paolo Chiasera, on view from May 9 – June 28, 2009. 

After the exhibition at Price Tower Arts Center concluded, the collection was acquired from Oppenheim in its entirety. In donating the collection to Price Tower Arts Center, Oppenheim acknowledged the relationship between art, architecture and design, stating, “Price Tower Arts Center is showing work that moves from conventional sculpture toward something I feel to be the beginnings of a new sculpture/architecture hybrid.”  As hybrids fusing sculpture and architecture, these works are unstable and in precarious balance as constructions that are constantly transforming based on the viewers position.

Works in the collection range from his early Land Art projects of the 1960s to the public art commissions which characterized Oppenheim’s work of the last decades. It features models of some of his most important works from key creative periods, such as his early interventions Viewing Station (1967), Dead Furrow (1967) and Gallery Decomposition (1968), and ambitious Land Art works such as Ground System (1968) and Color Mix (1995). 


Viewing Station #1, 1967 – Dennis Oppenheim

  • Wood, 9-3/4 x 14-3/4 x 14-3/4 inches (24.8 x 37.5 x 37.5 cm)
  • Together with a group of monographs and publications on Dennis Oppenheim.
  • PROVENANCE: Dennis Oppenheim, New York
  • Estimate: $3,000 – $5,000.

Later conceptual installations such as Stage Set for a Film #1 (1998), Bus Home (2000) and Blue Shirt (2000) are included as are models for important realized projects that rank among Oppenheim’s major career highlights, such as Engagement (1997), Device to Root Out Evil (1997) and Architectural Cactus (2003). Showing his multi-disciplinary and process oriented approach to art making, several drawings are included in the collection as well, including those for significant transitional works such as Station for Detaining and Blinding Radio-Active Horses (1982) and An Operation for Mining, Elevating and Converting Memories of a Fifth Season (1980).

The works in the collection, intricate and detailed, are compelling objects that challenge the norms of architecture, structures and environment. As a group they represent the growth and transition of his practice from the dematerialized world of land and body performance art to monumental public outdoor sculptures and interactive installations. They put humanity’s direct encounter with the natural environment at its core. The model Variation of a Device to Root Out Evil relates to one of his most famous later works, shown at the 1997 Venice Biennale, and epitomizes his conceptual wit and fusion of sculpture and architecture. His humor is present throughout all of these works and continues to engage viewers all over the world. Summarizing Oppenheim’s stylistic approach in the New York Times, Roberta Smith wrote, “Mr. Oppenheim’s best work had a transparency, almost an obviousness that could seem hokey. But it also took the notion of communication seriously. It refused to talk down.”

The collection of over forty works shows the breadth of Oppenheim’s wide ranging, explorative practice and his dedication to process, political engagement, and wild inventiveness. The sale of these works will help ensure that the legacy of the Price family and Frank Lloyd Wright endures. Price Tower Arts Center continues to focus on the mission of preserving Frank Lloyd Wright’s only realized skyscraper, Price Tower, inspiring artists & audiences, and celebrating art, architecture and design through their museum programming and study center.  

View and bid on drawings and models by Dennis Oppenheim.

Posted by Jacqueline Lewis

Jacqueline Lewis is a Los Angeles-based independent art historian, curator and consultant.

  1. this is a wonderfull arcticle. I have always been a fan of pop art and Warhol is my fave.


    1. Venus, Thank you for your comment!


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