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$45.4 million Bacon Triptych Leads Sotheby’s June 2014 Contemporary Art Auction

June 29, 2014
Lot 27. PETER DOIG B.1959 COUNTRY-ROCK (WING-MIRROR) signed, dated 1999 and variously inscribed on the reverse oil on canvas 194.9 by 270cm.; 76 3/4 by 106 1/2 in. Estimate in excess of 9 million. Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 27. PETER DOIG B.1959 COUNTRY-ROCK (WING-MIRROR)
signed, dated 1999 and variously inscribed on the reverse
oil on canvas: 194.9 by 270cm.; 76 3/4 by 106 1/2 in.
Estimate in excess of £9 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of £7.5 million (£8,482,500 with the buyer’s premium)
Click on image to enlarge.

UPDATE: A raucous crowd at Sotheby’s this evening – the auctioneer repeatedly shush-ing the attendees and at one point pleading for “a little bit of peace and quiet.”  It didn’t work, but they still managed to sell £ 93,147,500 worth of the art.

As expected, the Bacon triptych was the top seller, hammering for £23,750,000 (£26,682,500 with the buyer’s premium or $45,400,274), while the Peter Doig came in at £7.5 million (£ 8,482,500 with fees), below the unpublished 9 million estimate, but still a record for the artist.

The first eleven lots came from the Sender Collection – all but the last one sold – though some lots, including Rosemarie Trockel’s knitted wool O.T. Death’s Head, Martin Kippenberger’s Untitled (Showcase with Egg Sculptures) and Cindy Sherman’s Untitled #145 all hammered for or nearly £100,000 below their low estimates.

Major buy-ins included Anthony Caro’s SunshineAnish Kapoor’s Turning the World Upside DownJohn Currin’s The Owensand a large Anselm Kiefer woodcut Wege.

By contrast, the market for Lucio Fontana and Andy Warhol remained solid.

The market’s attention turns to Christie’s tomorrow evening.

ORIGINAL POST: The cover lot for Sotheby’s June 30, 2104, Evening Sale of Contemporary Art in London is a Peter Doig picture of a roadside with a rainbow-painted entrance to an underpass on Toronto’s Don River Parkway (BTW – Sotheby’s has updated their Web site to include print version of their sale including this one).

Don Valley Parkway rainbow. VINCE TALOTTA / TORONTO STAR

Don Valley Parkway rainbow. VINCE TALOTTA / TORONTO STAR

It’s one of the highest estimated works among the 59 lots offered for sale that includes reliably marketable works by Francis Bacon, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Lucio Fontana, and others.

The sale opens with element works from the Sender Collection, continuing the disbursement the began with the recent contemporary art sales in New York. Urs Fisher’s Youyou, featuring two oversized metal nails (each about six feet long, opens the evening on a glib and cheeky note, followed by Rosemarie Trockel’s downbeat knitted wool O.T. (Death’s Heads) of 1990. The Sender group also includes two works by Damien Hirst – a butterfly painting titled Kingdom of Heaven and a 1992 medicine cabinet called Untitled AAAAAAA (Hirst began the medicine cabinet series in 1988 and it remains for me one of the best parts of his very uneven oeuvre) – and a quirky Martin Kippenberger sculpture, Untitled (Showcase with Egg Sculptures)executed one year before the artist died in 1997.

There are three lots of work by Francis Bacon led by the 1964 triptych Three Studies for Portrait of George Dyer (on Light Ground).

Lot 15. FRANCIS BACON 1909 - 1992 THREE STUDIES FOR PORTRAIT OF GEORGE DYER (ON LIGHT GROUND) oil on canvas, in three parts each: 35.5 by 30cm.; 14 by 12in. Executed in 1964. Estimate: 15-20 million. Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 15. FRANCIS BACON 1909 – 1992 THREE STUDIES FOR PORTRAIT OF GEORGE DYER (ON LIGHT GROUND)
oil on canvas, in three parts – each: 35.5 by 30cm.; 14 by 12in.
Executed in 1964.
Estimate: £15-20 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of £23,750,000 (£26,682,500 with the buyer’s premium or $45,400,274).
Click on image to enlarge.

From the lot notes:

Within the grand theatre of Francis Bacon’s life and work, George Dyer inhabits a position of tremendous importance. Appearing in over forty paintings, with as many created following his death as executed during his lifetime, Dyer wields a power unlike any other. His portrayal spans the full extent of human drama: at once vulnerable, brooding, romantic, absurd, heroic and tortured Bacon’s painterly incarnations traverse the sublime to the ridiculous. Painted within the first year of their meeting, Three Studies for Portrait of George Dyer (on Light Ground) materialised at the height of Bacon’s affection and infatuation with his new lover. Charged with desire and framed within a serene pale ground, this mutating and vibrant portrait combines masterfully scumbled, scraped and diffused handling of paint with arresting intensity and consummate psychological depth. Importantly, there is only one other named work of George Dyer that precedes the moment ofThree Studies for Portrait of George Dyer (on Light Ground)’s execution: this is the first 14 by 12 inch format triptych dated to the very end of 1963.

A monochrome by Yves Klein – a small painting with a big price – from 1960, is being off loaded by a Swiss private collection. It carries a guarantee, so it will sell.

Lot 18. YVES KLEIN 1928 - 1962 UNTITLED BLUE MONOCHROME (IKB 271)  dated 1960 and dedicated Bertini avec l’amitie de Yves Klein on the overlap dry pigment and synthetic resin on linen mounted on panel 50 by 50cm.; 19 3/4 by 19 3/4 in. Estimate: 2.5-3.5 million. Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 18. YVES KLEIN 1928 – 1962 UNTITLED BLUE MONOCHROME (IKB 271)
dated 1960 and dedicated Bertini avec l’amitie de Yves Klein on the overlap
dry pigment and synthetic resin on linen mounted on panel: 50 by 50cm.; 19 3/4 by 19 3/4 in.
Estimate: £2.5-3.5 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of £2.4 million (£2,770,500 with fees or $4,714,006)
Click on image to enlarge.

From the fulsome catalogue entry:

Expunging any trace of the human hand, Untitled Blue Monochrome (IKB 271) offers an untouched and pristine evocation of infinate space; Klein’s patented colour – a unique suspension of powdery raw pigment in liquid medium – envelopes the piece’s substantial square format, entirely covering all edges, to affect a hypnotic and truly enchanting intimation of sheer boundlessness through uninterrupted colour.

Lot 24. CY TWOMBLY (1928 - 2011) LYCIAN DRAWING (NIMPHIDIA) signed with the artist’s initials, titled and dated Sept 26 82  oil, crayon and pencil on Fabriano paper 100 by 70cm.; 39 3/8 by 27 1/2 in. Estimate: £650,000-850,000. Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 24. CY TWOMBLY (1928 – 2011) LYCIAN DRAWING (NIMPHIDIA)
signed with the artist’s initials, titled and dated Sept 26 82
oil, crayon and pencil on Fabriano paper: 100 by 70cm.; 39 3/8 by 27 1/2 in.
Estimate: £650,000-850,000. Bidding on this lot stopped at £520,000 and it failed to sell.
Click on image to enlarge.

From the lot notes:

First exhibited in Galerie Yvon Lambert in 1982, this work is part of a wider series completed in the same year, including the Lycian drawings, the Naxos drawings, and theSuma drawings. All of these were executed in the small town of Bassano just north of Rome, and all are initialled and dated in the same distinctive manner.

[…]

Lycia was an entire geopolitical region of Turkey in the Fifteenth and Fourteenth Centuries BC, known in the modern era for the exceptional preservation of its ruins and its language. In giving the viewer such a broad context, from history so distant it is all but imagined, Twombly declines the reader any sense of narrative and eschews any rational link with the composition below.

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