DeWain Valentine’s Blue Slab is like a pillar to everything postwar California was about: slick, bright, breezily cool. When the 1970 sculpture fetched $175,000 at Los Angeles Modern Auctions (Lama) in March 2015, well above its estimate of $30,000 to $50,000, it also became a signpost in the market rise for the group of so-called Light and Space artists, of which Valentine was a part. Since then he has been shown at David Zwirner in New York, while his gallery, Almine Rech, mounted a successful solo booth at Frieze Masters in London in 2015.
“Now everybody is very comfortable with the fact that it’s going to cost you between $200,000 and $500,000 to get an extraordinary work of his,” says Peter Loughrey, founding director of Lama. “And,” adds Loughrey, “we sold that one [Blue Slab] to Europe.”