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$30.1 Warhol leads Sotheby’s May 14, 2014 Contemporary Art Sale

May 14, 2014
Lot 34. JEFF KOONS B.1955 POPEYE signed, dated 2009-2011 and numbered 3/3 on the underside of Popeye's right foot mirror polished stainless steel with transparent color coating 78 x 51 3/4 x 28 1/2 in. 198.1 x 131 x 72.4 cm. Executed in 2009-2011, this work is number three from an edition of three plus one artist's proof. Estimate: $25-35 million.

Lot 34. JEFF KOONS B.1955 POPEYE
signed, dated 2009-2011 and numbered 3/3 on the underside of Popeye’s right foot
mirror polished stainless steel with transparent color coating: 78 x 51 3/4 x 28 1/2 in. 198.1 x 131 x 72.4 cm.
Executed in 2009-2011, this work is number three from an edition of three plus one artist’s proof.
Estimate: $25-35 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of $25 million ($28,165,000 with the buyer’s premium).

At their Evening Sale of Contemporary Art March 14, 2014, Sotheby’s had no hope of matching or exceeding Christie’s record breakjing $745 million haul of the night before, but they did manage to bring in $364,379,000 – of the evening’s 79 lots (following the withdrawal of two works), 12 failed to sell.  The sale was stuffed with blue chip works by bankable names – Warhol, Basquiat, Rothko, De Kooning, Diebenkorn, Calder, Twombly, Koons, Grotjahn, Richter and …

The first 19 lots came from the collection of Adam Sender, of whom Bloomberg News says was “one of the first hedge-fund managers to get serious about contemporary art … [and has now put] much of his collection on the auction block after shutting his firm Exis Capital Management Inc. … Todd Levin, director of New York-based Levin Art Group, said he helped Sender assemble the bulk of the collection from 1998 to 2008.” 

The sale, delayed some 20 minutes (allegedly because of Obama’s motorcade), opened with Raymond Pettibone’s No Title (Mimicked In Its …) estimated at $500,000-700,000, shot to $1.1 million ($1,325,000 with the buyer’s premium), followed by Glenn Ligon’s The Period, which saw aggressive bidding to a hammer of $520,000 ($629,000 with the buyer’s premium), against an estimate of $300,000-400,000. Richard Prince, whose market had been in a slump, recovered some of his market momentum, which continued with Untitled (Cowboy) – the work shot past its $1.5 million high estimate to make $2.6 million ($3,077,000 with the buyer’s premium).

Rosemarie Trockel’s Untitleda knitted work that included Playboy Bunny heads, established a new record for the artist at $4.3 million ($4,981,000 with the buyer’s premium), more than doubling the $2 million high estimate. Richard Prince’s Driving Me Crazy “joke painting” from 1988, estimated at $1.5-2 million, continued the artist’s market redemption by hammering form$2.2 million ($2,629,000 with the buyer’s premium). Lot 8, Martin Kippenberger’s Untitled, beat it’s $4 million high estimate during fevered bidding to make $4.8 million ($5,541,000 with fees), while John Baldessari’s Commissioned Painting: A Painting by Edgar Transue from 1969, jet crept over it’s $2 million low estimate to make $2.1 million ($2,517,000 with fees).

An early Dan Flavin, Alternate Diagonals of March 2, 1964 (to Don Judd)established a new artist’s record at $2.6 million ($3,077,00 with fees) – past the $1.2 million reserve price and the $2 million high estimate, and underbid David Zwirner, according to The Art Newspaper’s Charlotte Burns. Sarah Lucas’ installation, Ace in the Hole (below), made $750,000 ($905,00 with fees), while Chris Ofili’s Afrodizzia struggled to make $1.3 million ($1,565,000 with fees), against a $2 million low estimate.

The Basquiat Undiscovered Genius of the Mississippi Delta (below), opened at $19 million and hammered for only $21 million ($23,685,000 with fees), which seemed anticlimactic. Lot 23, the six Warhol self portraits (below) – the “first time on the market” according to the auctioneer – came with an irrevocable bid (a guaranteed sale). It opened at $23 million and crept ever so slowly to $26,750,000 ($30,125,000 with fees), becoming the most expensive lot of the evening, while the Mark Rothko’s very dark Untitled, the first of the evening tanked at $5 million against a $6 million low estimate – the Willem De Kooning’s Large Torso sculpture fared  similarly, failing at $2.8 million versus a $3.5 million low estimate. Willem de Kooning’s Untitled, estimated at $18-25 million, bombed at $16.5 million.

Mark Rothko’s Untitledestimated at $8-12 million, buoyant in reds, oranges and yellows, from 1950, was decidedly more appealing and went for $10,750,000 ($12,205,000 with fees). It was followed by lot 30, the early Ryman (below), which made $2.4 million ($2,853,000 with fees), continuing to solidify the artist’s market bona fidesAndy Warhol’s 12 Mona Lisas (Reversal Series), estimated at $10-15 million, just made its low estimate ($11,365,000 with fees), followed by the Prince Nurse painting below, which hammered just under the $3 million low estimate at $2.8 million (3,301,000 with fees). The Koons Popeye was met with little auction room drama, opening at $23 million and going for $25 million ($28,165,000 with fees).

Richard Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park #20 of 1969, for which there is a dedicated video, was estimated at $9-12 million. It opened at $7 million and sold for the low estimate ($10,245,000 with fees).Robert Rauschenberg’s Combine from 1954, a mix of oil, charcoal, newspaper, canvas and fabric collage, lightbulb and two glass radiometers on nailed wooden structure, being sold by the Paul Taylor Dance Company (which has owned the work since 1964), estimated at $5-7 million, also just made the low estimate, selling to Larry Gagosian ($5,765,000 with fees). 

Jackson Pollock’s 1952 Black and White Painting, estimated at $8-12 million, struggled to make a hammer price of $7.5 million ($8,565,000 with fees). Willem de Kooning’s Montauk III  from 1969, last at auction in November 2010 and estimated at $10-15 million, hammered at $9 million ($10,245,000), while Cy Twombly’s Untitled from 2003, a white acrylic, oil and wax crayon on a buff handmade paper, estimated at $600,000-800,000, made the high estimate ($965,000 with fees). From Koon’s Equilibrium series comes Three Ball 50/50 Tank (Spalding Dr. JK Silver Series, Wilson Home Court, Wilson Final Four)estimated at $4-6 million – unlike to version that sold at Christie’s earlier this week, this one went unsold at $3.75 million.

Mark Grotjahn’s Untitled (Red Orange Brown Black Butterfly 560) from 2005, a colored pencil on paper work estimated at $800,000-1,200,000, made $1.1 million ($1,325,000 with fees). More results below.

 

 

Lot 17. SARAH LUCAS B.1962 ACE IN THE HOLE four bunnies (kapok, wire, tights, stockings, clamps, four chairs) and a baize card table dimensions variable Executed in 1998, this sculpture is unique. Estimate: $600,000-800,000.

Lot 17. SARAH LUCAS B.1962 ACE IN THE HOLE
four bunnies (kapok, wire, tights, stockings, clamps, four chairs) and a baize card table
dimensions variable
Executed in 1998, this sculpture is unique.
Estimate: $600,000-800,000. This lot sold for a hammer price of $750,000 ($905,000 with the buyer’s premium).

From the catalogue notes:

Ace in the Holecomes from Lucas’ renowned series of “Bunny” assemblages that she began in 1997: sculptural tableaux that incorporate stockings stuffed with cotton and wire, and shaped into the lower torso and legs of the female anatomy … Affixed to their chair supports by clamps, the mannequins sit lifelessly in sexually suggestive positions; they are framed in a pyramidal configuration by the fourth figure whose chair rests atop a felt card table at the center of the scene.

The symmetry of the models’ arrangement recalls the face of a playing card, their red and black tights mirroring the standard color palette of a loaded deck.

 

Lot 20. JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT 1960 - 1988 UNDISCOVERED GENIUS OF THE MISSISSIPPI DELTA titled acrylic, oilstick and paper collage on five joined canvases overall: 49 x 185 1/2 in. 124.5 x 471.2 cm. Executed in 1983. Estimate on Request.  Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 20. JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT 1960 – 1988 UNDISCOVERED GENIUS OF THE MISSISSIPPI DELTA
titled, acrylic, oilstick and paper collage on five joined canvases overall: 49 x 185 1/2 in. 124.5 x 471.2 cm. Executed in 1983.
Estimate on Request.
Click on image to enlarge.

From the lot notes:

Beyond the complexity of its unnerving formal harmony lies a multivalent chronicle of African-American history, archetypal of Basquiat’s exploration into the psychology of the collective diaspora. Just as the most significant History Paintings depicted rapt moments of intense unrest, Undiscovered Genius of the Mississippi Delta records the historical struggles permeating Basquiat’s African-American roots, communicated through the particular lens of his own biography. Drawing from an encyclopedic breadth of iconographic inspirations such as literature, music, science and anatomy, the present work possesses an intricate multiplicity that instantly arrests but rewards persistent re-evaluation.

Lot 23. ANDY WARHOL 1928 - 1987 SIX SELF PORTRAITS each signed and dated 86 on the overlap acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas each: 22 x 22 in. 56 x 56 cm. Estimate: $25-35 million. Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 23. ANDY WARHOL 1928 – 1987 SIX SELF PORTRAITS
each signed and dated 86 on the overlap, acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas each: 22 x 22 in. 56 x 56 cm.
Estimate: $25-35 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of $26,750,000 ($30,125,000 with the buyer’s premium).
Click on image to enlarge.

From the catalogue:

This acclaimed series of final portraits was first unveiled by Anthony d’Offay at his London gallery in July 1986, the first and only show in Warhol’s career dedicated to the theme of self-portraiture. The gallerist recalls the genesis of the series: “I realised two things: first that Warhol was without question the greatest portrait painter of the 20th century, and secondly that it was many years since he had made an iconic self-portrait. A week later I visited Warhol in New York and suggested to him an exhibition of new self-portraits. A month later he had a series of images to show me in all of which he was wearing the now famous ‘fright wig’. One of the images not only had a demonic aspect but reminded me more of a death mask. I felt it was tempting fate to choose this image, so we settled instead on a self-portrait with a hypnotic intensity.” (Anthony d’Offay cited in Exh. Cat., Andy Warhol, Self Portraits, Kunstverein St. Gallen, Kunstmuseum, 2004, p. 131)

Lot 30. ROBERT RYMAN B.1930 UNTITLED signed and dated 64 twice on the reverse New Masters vinyl polymer paint on aluminum 18 x 18 x 7/8 in. 45.7 x 45.7 x 2.2 cm. Estimate: $1.8-2.5 million.

Lot 30. ROBERT RYMAN B.1930 UNTITLED, signed & dated 64 twice on the reverse
 New Masters vinyl polymer paint on aluminum: 18 x 18 x 7/8 in. 45.7 x 45.7 x 2.2 cm.
Estimate: $1.8-2.5 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of $2.6 million ($2,853,000 with the buyer’s premium).

From the catalogue:

The unconventional and highly rare aluminum support of Untitled has a metallic quality that glints through the ridges and recesses of the thickly applied pigment. As opposed to a canvas ground, the metal presents an impenetrable surface for the paint to rest upon, thereby actively encouraging the accumulation of dense impasto. Reflecting the light ever so subtly, this metallic underlayer presents the perfect coloristic counterbalance to the striking and impressive vibrancy of Ryman’s red and the cool elegance of his much beloved white. The pronounced texture of each swathe of pigment conveys the narrative of the painting’s creation, and while the swirling quality of the white pigment formally recalls the impassioned outbursts of artistic energy so distinctive to masters of Abstract Expressionism such as Willem de Kooning, there is no agenda of self-expression here. Instead of communicating emotion, Untitled communicates a pure materiality that affords the viewer the opportunity to experience it as both painting and sculpture.

Lot 32. RICHARD PRINCE B.1949 MILLIONAIRE NURSE signed, titled and dated 2002 on the overlap inkjet print and acrylic on canvas 58 x 36 in. 147.3 x 91.4 cm. Estimate: $3-4 million.

Lot 32. RICHARD PRINCE B.1949, MILLIONAIRE NURSE
signed, titled and dated 2002 on the overlap
inkjet print and acrylic on canvas: 58 x 36 in. 147.3 x 91.4 cm.
Estimate: $3-4 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of $2.8 million ($3,301 with the buyer’s premium).

From the catalogue:

The source image for the present work was the cover of the eponymous 1965 novel by Katherine Foreman, which Prince first scanned, and then enlarged and transferred onto canvas using an ink jet print, leaving a vestige of the anonymous facture that was the hallmark of his earlier oeuvre. After this initial act, however, Prince abandoned any notion of authorial anonymity and instead lavished the background of his canvas with the kind of unadulterated painterly release associated with his famed Abstract Expressionist forebears. Keeping the garish palette, yet radically altering the narrative of the book’s cover, Prince creates an entirely new and unique image in Millionaire Nurse. Through his layers of applied paint, all pictorial content aside from the body of the nurse and the blazing neon title are almost entirely erased, with only faint traces of the author’s name and the strap-line “Would her riches destroy her? – An exciting romance of medicine and high society” enigmatically remaining.

Lot 34. Detail. Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 34. Detail. Click on image to enlarge.

The image above embodies the intertwining of art, money and celebrity that is revolting to so many – the backdrop suggests this stainless steel cartoon character is on the red carpet at an awards ceremony, on a fashion show catwalk, and/or in a boxing ring. Fatuous, silly and self-absorbed. And then there’s the catalogue entry that includes contextualizing photos meant to indicate the significance of the Koons’ work – images of Michelangelo’s statue of David, the famous first century AD Laocoon, Constantin Brancusi’s 1927 Bird in Space and a 1960 Alberto Giacometti Walking Man.  To hone that point, there’s also a video about Popeye.

Oh, come on!

From the catalogue:

Jeff Koons has an eye for Pop. Heir to Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, Koons is the unmitigated twenty-first century successor to the Pop revolution of the 1960s. Celebrities, cartoon characters, paradigms of popular taste and archetypes of kitsch sentimentality all articulated in saccharine candy colors, faux-lux materials and high gloss comprise the quintessential Koonsian universe. This supreme eye for Pop, or indeed Pop-eye, is the very concept (and Duchampian linguistic pun) that underlines the powerful metaphoric significance of his most accomplished and major work of recent years – an immaculate and gleaming six and-a-half foot tall heroic statue depicting the swarthy cartoon sailor of the very same name.

Lot 36. CY TWOMBLY 1928-2011 UNTITLED signed and dated 1959 oil, wax crayon and pencil on canvas 37 3/4 x 54 1/2 in. 95.9 x 138.4 cm. Estimate: $3.5-4.5 milllion.

Lot 36. CY TWOMBLY, 1928-2011 UNTITLED, signed and dated 1959
oil, wax crayon and pencil on canvas: 37 3/4 x 54 1/2 in. 95.9 x 138.4 cm.
Estimate: $3.5-4.5 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of $3,750,000 ($4,365,000 with the buyer’s premium).

From the catalogue:

Untitled is a vibrant response to Rome’s exuberance, and the rapture of the Mediterranean land and seascape. Compared to some of his earlier works executed during the first half of the 1950s, the present painting is lighter; the marks are more dispersed, allowing for a better appreciation of each individual element. Untitled also demonstrates an advanced level of lyricism, while presenting a more aggressive release of explicitly defiling disorder. To decipher Twombly’s idiosyncratic forms through a framework of conventional aesthetic values, however, is to ignore the intentionality behind their decisive ambiguity. Despite a residual yearning to decipher these written marks, Twombly’s visual language has neither syntax nor logic.

Lot 37. YVES KLEIN 1928 - 1962 RÉLIEF ÉPONGE BLEU (RE 51) signed and dated 59 on the reverse dry pigment and synthetic resin, natural sponges and pebbles on board 40 3/4 x 40 3/8 x 3 1/2 in. 103.5 x 102.5 x 9 cm. Estimate: $15-20 million.

Lot 37. YVES KLEIN, 1928 – 1962, RÉLIEF ÉPONGE BLEU (RE 51), signed and dated 59 on the reverse
dry pigment and synthetic resin, natural sponges and pebbles on board:
40 3/4 x 40 3/8 x 3 1/2 in. 103.5 x 102.5 x 9 cm.
Estimate: $15-20 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of $15 million ($16,965,000 with the buyer’s premium).

From the catalogue:

Klein’s meteoric career—ended barely before it had truly begun—was devoted to a relentless search for an immaterial world beyond our own. To this end he developed modes of expression that fused together a sweeping array of profoundly held interests in aesthetics, nature and mysticism. Among these artistic dialects the Rélief épongesissue the most effective manifestation of the complex mysteries that filled the artist’s life. Forging the kernel of Klein’s epoch of immateriality, these unreal masterworks deliver the crescendo promised by the IKB, gold and roseMonochromes; and bring to life the enigmatic shadows of the Anthropométries. While the Monochromes invite the viewer into Klein’s world, this Rélief éponge advances out into the world of the viewer; whereas the Anthropométriesnarrate the trace of transient human presence, RE 51absorbs ancient creatures into the depths of its fathomless and immaterial blue. Although it may be indicative of some alien planetary landscape or the deepest ocean bed, the topography of RE 51 encapsulates the artist’s pure concept of an ethereal and intangible state.

Lot 40. GERHARD RICHTER B.1932 BLAU signed and dated 1988, and numbered 658 twice on the reverse oil on canvas 118 1/8 x 118 1/8 in. 300 x 300 cm. Estimate: $25-35 million.

Lot 40. GERHARD RICHTER, B.1932, BLAU, signed and dated 1988, and numbered 658 twice on the reverse
oil on canvas: 118 1/8 x 118 1/8 in. 300 x 300 cm.
Estimate: $25-35 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of $25.5 million ($28,725,000 with the buyer’s premium)

From the catalogue:

Richter’s creation of Blau necessitated a conscious suspension of the artist’s artistic will and assertion of judgment. Over a protracted period of execution, the painting underwent multiple variations in which each new sweeping accretion of paint brought new color and textural juxtaposition that were reworked until the optimum threshold of harmonious articulation was reached. Within this process, grounds of arresting pigment were applied only to be effaced and drawn out by large track-like strokes. Although spontaneous in their lyrical grandeur, these overlaid marks were in fact cerebrally labored. Yet Richter holds no presuppositions in the devising of his abstract paintings: in his own words it is by “letting a thing come, rather than creating it – no assertions, constructions, formulations, inventions, ideologies” that Richter looks “to gain access to all that is genuine, richer, more alive: to what is beyond my understanding.” (Gerhard Richter, ‘Notes 1985’ in Hans-Ulrich Obrist ed., Gerhard Richter: The Daily Practice of Painting, Writings 1962-1993, p. 119)

Lot 41. CY TWOMBLY 1928-2011 UNTITLED acrylic on canvas 84 5/8 x 65 1/2 in. 214.9 x 166.7 cm. Executed in 2006. Estimate: $9-12 million.

Lot 41. CY TWOMBLY, 1928-2011, UNTITLED
acrylic on canvas: 84 5/8 x 65 1/2 in. 214.9 x 166.7 cm.
Executed in 2006.
Estimate: $9-12 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of $9 million ($10,245,000 with the buyer’s premium).

From the catalogue:

Twombly began to investigate the possibilities of his sweeping signature lasso loops in 1952 after a series of trips with Robert Rauschenberg to Northern Africa, Spain, Italy and France. There he became fascinated by the ancient forms of graffiti he found scrawled on historic monuments, making him question the connection between man’s place in the world and the physical records he leaves behind. On his return to America, Twombly was drafted into the army where he trained as a cryptographer, constantly examining and deciphering codes. Immersed in this cryptic, lexical sphere, at night Twombly would make drawings in the dark echoing the surrealist technique of automatic writing articulated in the drawings of Andre Masson, the ‘dream pictures’ of Joan Miró and the frottages of Max Ernst.

Lot 44. ANDY WARHOL 1928 - 1987 BIG ELECTRIC CHAIR acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas 54 x 74 in. 137.2 x 187.9 cm. Executed in 1967-1968, this work is stamped twice by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and The Estate of Andy Warhol and numbered PA57.011 on the overlap. Estimate: $18-25 million.

Lot 44. ANDY WARHOL, 1928 – 1987, BIG ELECTRIC CHAIR
acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas: 54 x 74 in. 137.2 x 187.9 cm.
Executed in 1967-1968, this work is stamped twice by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and The Estate of Andy Warhol and numbered PA57.011 on the overlap.
Estimate: $18-25 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of $18.1 million $20,437,000 with the buyer’s premium).

From the catalogue:

Nowhere else in Andy Warhol’s prodigious output does he more affectingly capture the metaphysical terror of living in the Technicolor Sixties than in Big Electric Chair. For the artist who singlehandedly defined the intense prismatic palette of Pop art, Big Electric Chair from 1967-1968 embodies the most daring and sophisticated deployment of color across all of Warhol’s most critically lauded Death and Disaster paintings. Exceptionally rare, it is one of only fourteen large-format depictions of the subject, of which the majority reside in major international collections such as the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, and the Menil Collection in Houston. The present work is the sole Big Electric Chair that saw Warhol divide the canvas into three discrete fields of uniform color and silkscreen the surface twice—once in a dark purple and subsequently in a velvet green.

Lot 64. WADE GUYTON B.1972 UNTITLED Epson UltraChrome inkjet on canvas 90 x 53 in. 228.6 x 134.6 cm. Executed in 2006. Estimate: $3.5-4.5 million.

Lot 64. WADE GUYTON, B.1972, UNTITLED
Epson UltraChrome inkjet on canvas:
90 x 53 in. 228.6 x 134.6 cm.
Executed in 2006.
Estimate: $3.5-4.5 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of $5.2 million ($5,989,000 with the buyer’s premium).

From the catalogue:

Microsoft Word is Guyton’s palette; the keyboard is his paintbrush. Guyton types, enlarges and duplicates the letter U in various attractive hues, positioning the resulting forms on his screen atop a JPEG of flames scanned from the dust-jacket of a book he can no longer recall. Treating these computer-generated shapes and digitally scanned found images as Duchampian readymades—forms unique for their minimalist, visual appeal—Guyton then prints the files on monumental swathes of primed canvas, folded in half to fit through the machine.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Raymond ffoulkes permalink
    May 15, 2014 5:59 AM

    Mostly what this tells us is that we need a top tax band of 98%…

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