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Abstract Expressionism with Featured Catalog Artist Willy Heeks

One of the most rewarding parts of starting your own collection is finding the stories that excite you. In anticipation of the Fall auction season, we would like to share with you some stories you can look forward to collecting in our September 20th Catalog Sale.

Willy Heeks | Abtract Expressionism

Willy Heeks (b. 1951) is an American abstract painter based in Rhode Island. Local collectors may find interest in his time spent at Temple’s Tyler School of Art for his MFA in 1977. Heeks’s body of work features layered and elaborate compositions and bold use of color. Grab a wonderful example of Heeks’s earlier work at our catalog auction in September.

Willy Heeks | Billow | Oil on Canvas

In Billow, Heeks wields a de Kooning color palette, spinning egg yolk yellows and salmon pinks against black and white washes. It speaks to a more traditional abstract expressionism—the visible swooping hand behind the brush and the overlay of dripping washes. Billow was painted in 1986 and displayed at Vanguard Gallery in Philadelphia. One review of the show noted the struggle of abstract painters in a time when Abstract Expressionism was considered “past its prime.”[1] Now this important American “Ism” is seeing an uptick in interest from buyers, painters, and museum-goers alike.

When viewing Heeks’s more recent work, we see an evolution of his process. His colors are more vibrant. The use of stencils and the mixture of mediums add depth and playful spirit. Heeks works in mixed media on paper, as well as in monotype. Regardless of his medium choice, he retains a lively hand and a knack for pulsing compositions. For lovers of color, here is an artist that harbors no fear in using neon yellow, lavender purple, magentas, mossy greens and ocean blues all on the same bold canvas. In recent years, Heeks’s work has been shown at the Bristol Art Museum, the Elizabeth Leach Gallery in Portland, and Scott White Contemporary Art, Inc. in San Diego.

Billow (Lot #8685) will go to auction on September 20th at our location in Chadds Ford, PA. Online, absentee, and phone bidding options are available. This oil on canvas is signed and dated 1986 on verso and measures 73” x 63 1/8” overall. It is estimated between $2,000 and $3,000.


[1] “A Revitalization of Abstraction: Willy Heeks at the Vanguard,” Victoria Donohoe, The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 9th, 1986.

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