ANDY WARHOL (American 1928-1987)
Self-Portrait (blue)
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas, in four parts
Overall: 40 by 32 inches
Executed: 1963-1964
Pre-sale est.: $20,000,000-$30,000,000
Price realized: $38,442,500
CHRISTIE'S, N.Y.: "Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale"
#2440
May 11, 20011
Lot #22
Ilustration courtesy CHRISTIE'S IMAGES LTD., 2011

2011 Spring Contemporary Art Auctions in New York

By Brian Appel


How high can the art market go? The strength of the contemporary art market is stoked by the growth in the wealth of the world’s richest people. Forbes magazine reported 214 new billionaires just this year.
 

Many of the newly minted are collecting art for the same reasons seasoned collectors do: prestige, pleasure, profit, proximity to fame and genius, and to be seen as arbiters of taste.

Despite the less-than-sparkling economy here at home and around the world, more and more of these high net worth (HNWI) individuals—many from Russia, Brazil, India, Asia-Pacific and the Mid-East—are funneling their resources into the acquisition of these treasured cultural artifacts.

This spring the contemporary art market in New York saw $718 million traded at Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips de Pury & Co. as compared to $571 million from the spring of 2010.

Christie’s, the New York auction leader this season, surged from $282 million last spring to a robust $367 million this spring. Phillips de Pury & Co., which opened a new, posh, uptown flagship gallery and salesroom at 450 Park Avenue, more than doubled their sales from $45.7 million last spring to $108 million this spring. Still, at the height of the New York contemporary art auction bubble—which peaked in the spring of 2008 with a $955 million tally—the market is rallying and slowly but steadily climbing to levels from three years ago.

Sotheby’s

ANDY WARHOL (American, 1928-1987)
Sixteen Jackies
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas in sixteen panels
Each: 20 by 16 inches; Overall: 80 by 64 inches
Executed in 1964
Pre-sale est.: $20,000,000-$30,000,000
Price realized: $20,242,500
SOTHEBY'S, N.Y.: "Contemporary Art Evening Auction"
N08744
May 10, 2011
Lot #21
Illustration courtesy SOTHEBY'S IMAGES INC., 2011


Prices for Andy Warhol’s works are a good barometer for the art market in general and Warhol’s tour de force “Sixteen Jackies” from 1964 took the top spot at the house’s evening auction.

The sixteen panel artwork employed seven different source photographs from the press coverage that followed the First Lady from her smiling arrival at Dallas’ Love Field to her grieving at John F. Kennedy’s funeral in Washington, D.C.

Over the span of four days, the public watched transfixed as television provided live coverage of the aftermath of the assassination, the capture and shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald and the stately ceremony surrounding the President’s funeral. Today, the 24-hour coverage of cable news outlets is the norm, but the extent of the coverage of the Kennedy assassination and funeral was unprecedented in the 1960s, saturating the airwaves, the newspapers and the magazines.

The enormity of Jackie’s tragedy informed Warhol of America’s sense of loss, and her inner trauma was now allowed to become evident in her public persona, creating a more complicated image than the glamorous, symbolic face of a young and vibrant post-war America. The tragic events of 1963 transformed her into a symbol of national mourning, and the young widow became a subject in which Warhol’s fascination with death and disaster is intermingled with his fascination for celebrity more profoundly than anywhere else in Warhol’s oeuvre.

Assembled by newspaper magnate and long-time Warhol collector Peter Brant, the sixteen panel work—each panel was 20 by 16 inches—came with an aggressive $20 million-$30 million pre-sale estimate. The polyphonic, four by four painting which dramatically emphasizes the photographic sources and the cinematic quality of Warhol’s work is said to “unspool before us, as if frames from a documentary film.”

Two bidders fought over the 6 ½ foot by 5 ½ foot Pop masterpiece pushing the hammer fee up to $18 million, $2 million below the pre-sale minimum estimate but enough to satisfy the consigner’s secret minimum. With buyer’s premium, the work was traded at $20.2 million.

JEFF KOONS
Pink Panther
Porcelain
41 by 20 1/2 by 19 inches
Executed in 1988
This work is the artist's proof from an edition of three plus one artist's proof
Pre-sale est.: $20,000,000-$30,000,000
Price realized: $16,882,500
SOTHEBY'S, N.Y.: "Contemporary Art Evening Auction"
N08744
May 10, 2011
Lot #10
Illustration courtesy SOTHEBY'S IMAGES, INC., 2011


Jeff Koons’s “Pink Panther” of 1988 marks a serious point of departure for the artist, both in terms of his use of materials and his move from “readymade” material to high “craft”.
 

Part of the artist’s breakout “Banality” series, with its roots in Pop, Conceptual and Minimalist art, the work is deemed as more creative and complex than his earlier pieces and have become highly prized luxury consumer products for collectors with deep pockets and a hunger to acquire “global-brand” trophies.

The elite edition of three plus one artist proof is immensely illustrious. Koons and his dealers have limited supply by placing these works with important private and public collections. One version is housed in the Museum of Modern Art, New York, another resides in the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and a third is with none other than Peter Brant who paid $1.8 million in 1999 for the hapless-looking cartoon cat being hugged by a buxom blonde. It was a huge amount at the time and catapulted Koons’s record at auction which up to that point had topped out at $288,500.

The last remaining porcelain sculpture from the edition was consigned by the uber-rich art collector Benedikt Taschen. Known as a prescient taste-maker who has collected and sold Koons’s sculptures before, the high profile German art publisher traded “Blue Diamond”, a giant blue diamond ring for $11.8 million in 2007 and two years later sold Koons’s “Large Vase of Flowers”, also at Christie’s, for $5.7 million. Both sales helped skyrocket the value of the artist’s sculpture which elevated “slapstick comedy” to the highest level of sophistication and challenges the avant-garde’s claim to originality and creativity, two of the prime characteristics of postmodern artwork.

Unveiled at Koons’s seminal show “Banality”, the “Pink Panther” cartoon character was originally created for the eponymous 1963 Peter Seller’s comedy film vehicle featuring the bungling French police inspector Jacques Clouseau. Clouseau, an idiot savant who is brilliant and incredibly naïve at the same time, is the perfect vehicle for the loveable cartoon character. The Jayne Mansfield-like bombshell—a high-culture version of a low-culture archetype—can be said to define sexual fantasy in the classic Pop cast while the panther injects what the catalog notes describe as “a synthesis of bewildering surprise and forlorn disappointment, injecting the supposedly inanimate toy with real emotional character, making the artificial seem hyper-real.”

Koons’s casting of a cheap mass-produced stuffed toy as a “tragicomic antihero” is a perfect stand-in for a supremely postmodern narrative which is “Pink Panther.” The flawless execution of the contrasting textures of the porcelain surfaces in combination with the dazzling vivid colors “that reinforce the objects artificiality” no doubt played a role in pushing the value of the work to $15 million at the hammer. The take-home price after buyer’s premium reached just under $17 million.

LUCIO FONTANA (Italian, 1899-1968)
Concetto Spaziale
Waterpaint on canvas
38 1/4 by 51 3/4 inches
Executed in 1965
Pre-sale est.: $6,000,000-$8,000,000
Price realized: $6,242,500
SOTHEBY'S, N.Y.: "Contemporary Art Evening Auction"
N08744
May 10, 2011
Lot #39
Illustration courtesy SOTHEBY'S IMAGES LTD., 2011


Spearheading the “Spatialist” movement that rose in New York City along with the Abstract Expressionist movement, Lucio Fontana called for the liberation of painting and sculpture from “ossified convention” demanding that art explore concepts of time and space. On a more literal level Fontana’s calligraphic entrances transport the viewer beyond the flat plane of the canvas and into the sculptural realm where space is as inherent a component as time.

Fontana’s method involves painting the canvas a single hue, almost soaking it in shop-bought emulsion paint and after a few hours, and still slightly damp, he places the canvas on the easel and makes his cuts (“deflowering”) with graceful swoops of his Stanley knife. As a final step after the canvas dries, he gently pries the cuts with his fingers and “tapes” them in place from the back with a piece of strong black gauze. The result was a nonchalant audacious beauty that destroyed one kind of special illusion while creating another while nicely ignoring the distinctions between decorative and fine art and between plan and accident.

The twelve lyrically slender slashes of Fontana’s blade in the image above depended on the moment of chance in the performance. The pattern of slashes is a bravura exhibition of the unrepeatable moment, repeated; the immediacy of the artist’s gesture is suspended forever.

With works such as “Concetto spaziale”, the cut became Lucio Fontana’s emblematic contribution to the evolution of Post-War art. Instead of allowing the artist’s gesture to remain on the surface he makes it penetrate through the canvas.

ANDY WARHOL (American, 1928-1987)
Shadow (Red)
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
76 by 52 inches
Executed in 1978
Pre-sale est.: $700,000-$800,000
Price realized: $4,842,500
SOTHEBY'S, N.Y.: "Contemporary Art Evening Auction"
N08744
May 10, 2011
Lot #20
Illustration courtesy SOTHEBY'S IMAGES LTD., 2011


When we think of Andy Warhol we immediately think of images appropriated from the tabloid front pages, celebrity headshots, American consumer culture or pictures of death and disaster. But Andy also explored images that offered a refuge from the difficulties of politics, sex, love and death. He was simultaneously preoccupied in a career-long quest to come up with an abstract art that would make the “anti-pop mandarins of the New York art world” look at his work in a more favorable light. Andy made the Shadows paintings for those who thought that representational art was a reactionary glitch in the march of the 20th century avant-garde toward pure abstraction.

Starting in 1978 with the “Shadows” and the “Oxidation (Piss)” paintings, and moving through to the 1980s with the Rorschachs” (1984) and in the year prior to his premature death at 58 with the “Camouflage” painting of 1986, the act of deception, the fun of fooling people was not only a strategy—it was a compulsion.

Warhol’s closest confidents were unnerved when he ventured into abstraction, beseeching him, “But you’re Andy Warhol. You have to paint things.” The people closest to Warhol acknowledged that he clearly aspired to be an abstract artist, but according to Ronnie Cutrone (Andy’s assistant at the time), “It had to be some kind of sense of reality or humor.” Warhol’s response was to paint something ephemeral and “Shadows” was the answer.

Whether Warhol or Cutrone conceived this idea is not certain, but Warhol employed the same process that he used for portrait paintings: Cutrone took some Polaroids of stage-lit mat boards, then Warhol selected the images and had acetates made and traced the screens. As he had done for the Mao series, Warhol whipped up a painterly surface with a large squeegee mop to create the ground on which the Shadow tracings were screened. The thick impasto of the surfaces gave these works the imprimatur of “high art,” and the dark shadows lent them the brooding melancholy of profound meaning providing a stark contrast to the bright colors that project through the shadows.

Heiner Friedrick a German gallerist recently transplanted to Soho in Manhattan proposed an exhibition of Warhol’s “Shadows” at his West Broadway gallery in January of 1979. For this installation Warhol conceived of 102 canvases abutting one another in a continuous sequence around the gallery in a manner reminiscent of his 1963 Elvis installation at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles.

Typically, Warhol was self-deprecating and offhand in describing the “Shadows” paintings and, in particular, he described their installation at the Heiner Friedrich gallery as “disco décor.” He even used the installation as a backdrop to a fashion shoot in his magazine “Interview.”

His “Shadow (Red)” at once revisits, critiques, pokes fun at, and takes in surprising new directions the works of some of the major abstract painters from the 1940s and 1950s, especially Franz Kline. Sharply delineated vivid black forms on the left turn ragged and seem vaporous and drift across the blood red surface like a dark mist. There is something vaguely menacing about Warhol’s “Shadows”. His shadowy forms are enticing and luscious but also suggest, however obliquely and implicitly, encroaching blackness which might contain shuddering intimations of mortality and eternity.

All 102 panels were purchased as a single entity by the Lone Star Foundation (now the Dia Center for the Arts) for $20,000 apiece or just over $2 million. “Shadow (Red)” sold for $4.8 million making Dia’s installation worth just under $500 million at today’s prices.

JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT (American, 1960-1988)
Eroica 1
Acrylic and oilstick on paper mounted on canvas
90 7/8 by 88 3/4 inches
Executed in 1988
Pre-sale est.: $3,500,000-$4,500,000
Price realized: $5,906,500
SOTHEBY'S, N.Y.: "Contemporary Art Evening Auction"
N08744
May 10, 2011
Lot #49
Illustration courtesy SOTHEBY'S IMAGES LTD., 2011


In the last two years of his life Basquiat’s reality was descending into turmoil. His greatest works, as in the case of the above painting, are firmly anchored in his own history and result in compositions where a deeply personal, sometimes disturbing stream-of-consciousness floods across the canvas.

He had broken with his long-term dealer Bruno Bischofberger to be represented by Tony Shafrazi and in addition to his profound upset over the death of his friend Andy Warhol in 1987, Basquiat was plagued with thwarted romances and drug abuse.

Tony Shafrazi’s cousin Vrej Baghoomian, held the important and last show of Basquiat’s work during his lifetime at his Prince and Broadway gallery in April 1988 in which “Eroica 1” was a feature.  It is impossible not to read the painting as a premonition of his death, particularly given that the artist staged a photograph of himself in front of the piece with the ominous text “Man Dies” over his shoulder and his drug-related pallor taking center stage for the viewer.

By the late 1980s his works were imbued with words and lists that were both labels for and representations of the world; repetitions, misspellings, crossed out letters, circled and underlined words were deliberate and meant to invite closer scrutiny by the viewer. The incorporation of words in Basquiat’s work stems from both the artist’s earlier life as a graffiti artist, and from his love of books and music.

Basquiat often used symbols in his paintings and the catalog notes for this lot identify his favorite book as being “Symbol Sourcebook” by Henry Dreyfus. In “Eroica 1”, he incorporates the talon symbol, a cryptic symbol used by hobos that meant ‘man dies’ and was used to warn each other of potential dangers. This painting, like “Riding with Death” and others from the last year of Basquiat’s life encapsulates the complexities of the artist’s unraveling life and his intensified obsession with death.

Beethoven’s “Sympathy No. 3 in E flat Major” is also known as “Eroica” which Basquiat is undoubtedly referencing in this late work. The catalog notes that the second movement of the symphony, the funeral march for the fallen hero, “… resonates with Basquiat’s ‘Eroica’ which was played at Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s funeral. It is perhaps coincidental, although a fascinating connection back to the present work, in which Basquiat writes ‘FDR blues’ in the lower right quadrant.”

FDR Blues is itself a musical reference to the blues musician Champion Jack Dupree’s record of the same title. Dupree, the African-American blues pianist who moved around America until he settled in Detroit where he met the boxer Joe Louis—another hero Basquiat references—painted him in other works. Dupree, and other African-Americans supported FDR and his “New Deal” which produced jobs and promoted equality for minorities.

The complex nature of this work—executed at the end of his all too brief but highly productive nine year career—culminates everything Basquiat stood for.

A Basquiat collector himself, Johnny Depp aptly observed as early as 2003, “However crude the image may be or how fast it appears to have been executed—every line, mark, scratch, drip, foot and fingerprint, word, letter, rip and imperfection is there because he allowed it to be there.” (Exh. Cat., Paris, Fondation Dina Vierny, Musee Maillot, “Jean-Michel Basquiat,” 2003, p. 19.)

Christie’s

ANDY WARHOL (American 1928-1987)
Self-Portrait (blue)
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas, in four parts
Overall: 40 by 32 inches
Executed: 1963-1964
Pre-sale est.: $20,000,000-$30,000,000
Price realized: $38,442,500
CHRISTIE'S, N.Y.: "Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale"
#2440
May 11, 20011
Lot #22
Ilustration courtesy CHRISTIE'S IMAGES LTD., 2011


It was legendary dealer Ivan Karp of the Leo Castelli Gallery who was the first to suggest to Warhol to paint his first self-portrait. “You know people want to see you. Your looks are responsible for a certain part of your fame, they feed the imagination.” (I. Karp as sited in C. Ratcliff, “Andy Warhol”, New York, 1983, p.52). And it was Karp who was responsible for taking Florence Barron, a Detroit-based patron of the arts, to Andy Warhol’s studio in 1963 to discuss a portrait commission.

Warhol had just completed the multi-panel portrait of Ethel Scull and suggested a six-panel portrait of Florence. She famously responded: “Nobody knows me. I am a nothing. They want to see you.” So they made a deal. He would paint her portrait, but only after he created his portrait for her. And that is how it came about that Warhol painted his first major self-portrait.

In an interview with the collector’s son Guy Barron, Brett Gorvy, the International Co-Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art and Warhol scholar discovered that Mrs. Barron had paid only sixteen hundred dollars for the four-panel acrylic and silkscreen ink icon on canvas.

Gorvy states of the work: “It was the first time that he presents for posterity his self-transformation into the high priest of Pop and the arbiter of 1960s cool—the silver hair, the Wayfarer sunglasses, the dispassionate stare: the artist as enigmatic Superstar.” Brett’s essay “The Birth of Cool,” in a special catalog devoted only to this lot, compares Warhol’s self-portrait alongside Egon Schiele’s, Pablo Picasso’s and Francis Bacon’s, three of whom have sold works privately or at auction for over $100 million.

“Andy Warhol’s four-paneled self-portrait from 1963-1964, is acclaimed in every Warhol monograph and exhibition catalog as his first seminal self-portrait. It ranks not only as one of the most iconic and enigmatic portrayals of an artist’s own image, but its multi-panel format and use of mechanically-produced photographic imagery—the automated 25-cent “photomat” strip—are also acknowledged as the most radical advancements in portraiture since Cubism.”

The Warhol work—in four varying shares of blue—went on to sell in a riveting and unprecedented 16-minute competition between tenacious clients on the phones with private dealer Philippe Segalot, and Christie’s honcho Brett Gorvy. The painting was offered for $14 million to start and rose in $1 million increments until it reached $24 million where Segalot and Gorvy battled it out sometimes in unconventional increments of $100,000 (it’s usually at $250,000-$500,000 when bidding reaches $10 million) with the packed Sotheby’s salesroom hissing and booing and clapping and laughing—until Brett’s client successfully hammered at $34.2 million ($38.4 with buyer’s premium). Warhol’s first major artwork chronicling his earliest experiments with trademarking his own image, turned out to be the number one lot of the spring season.

MARK ROTHKO (American, 1903-1970)
Untitled No. 17
Oil on canvas
93 by 76 inches
Executed in 1961
Pre-sale est.: $18,000,000-$22,000,000
Price realized: $33,682,500
CHRISTIE'S, N.Y.: "Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale"
#2440
May 11, 2011, Rockefeller Plaza, N.Y.
Lot #8
Illustration courtesy CHRISTIE'S IMAGES LTD., 2011


Mark Rothko is a complicated artist to talk about because he is working completely non-figuratively, completely eliminating all elements of Surrealism or mythic imagery, providing us with a nonobjective composition of amorphous forms for which the artist is so championed.

No doubt Rothko had amassed a tremendous backlog of information about the artists who preceded him and have taken bits and pieces from them all but his mature work is instantly recognizable as a “Rothko” painting… as unique as a Bacon, or a Warhol.

From the early 1950s until his death by suicide in 1970, Rothko made a series of works in which any suggestion of figuration was abandoned in favor of superimposed rectangular shapes of color, with cloudy edges, that possessed an evanescence and incandescence unique to his art. Bathed in a painterly mist, these indeterminate forms project their hues out of the pictorial space, inviting the viewer to contemplate the space he had created.

The seductive power of Rothko’s canvases, built upon the elimination of line in favor of a blurred demarcation of color forms, is powerfully felt in “Untitled #17.” Here veils of a rich red and an opalescent pink are layered on top of a yolk yellow ground stretched to the perimeter of the canvas, allowing the ground to frame the dazzling interaction of color within. Such color juxtapositions achieve an alchemy of optical mystery, with the evanescent vapors of red, yellow and pink evoking a myriad of contradictory responses.

Oil paint seems to have been soaked into the present work, achieving a finish akin to the effects of watercolor bleeding into paper. Rothko fleshes out his color bands with feathery, liquid brushstrokes that further define these passages as densely painted areas. Such brushwork serves to establish the amorphous, evanescent forms that appear to float on top of each other. Rothko’s rectangular shapes hover on the subtly diffused canvas, lending each shape a halo-like effect that serves to simultaneously radiate out and recede into the picture plane. The artist has calibrated these color fields in relation to the proportions of the internal forms and the overall scale of the canvas.

As others have said about Rothko’s prime works, the viewer is not presented with an empty pattern merely to satiate the eye, but rather invents a portal into another dimension into which each individual can project their own feelings and emotions.

This apparently unknown canvas by Rothko—it is not listed in the artist’s catalogue raisonne, nor has it appeared in any books or in any exhibitions—was vetted by Christie’s experts who verified its authenticity with a London art historian and is being considered for inclusion in an addendum to the 1998 catalog raisonne.

Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner, the shaky provenance of the work did little to cool bidding on the almost eight foot tall canvas. It hammered at thirty million dollars well over its high estimate of twenty-two million. Take home price with buyer’s premium pushed the work to $33.7 million making it the second highest lot at the house behind the early Warhol self-portrait and second overall for the season. Still, the Rothko could not touch what is referred to as the Rockefeller Rothko that established the world record for the artist near the peak of the market in May of 2007. That painting—which was purchased by David Rockefeller in the 1960s for $11,000—brought $72.8 million, and is the yardstick for all future Rothko’s to come on the market.

ANDY WARHOL (American, 1928-1987)
Self-Portrait (red)
Synthetic polymer and silkscreen ink on canvas
108 1/4 by 106 1/2 inches
Executed: 1986
Pre-sale est.: $30,000,000-$40,000,000
Price realized: $27,522,500
CHRISTIE'S, N.Y.: "Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale"
#2440
May 11, 2011
Lot #16
Illustration courtesy CHRISTIE'S IMAGES LTD., 2011


“It was years since he had done a great self-portrait, and believe it or not, at the end of his life, nobody had a good word to say for him. Whether they were august museum directors, or collectors, or the general public he was considered a has-been. It was considered that he had done nothing good or important since Mao… in 1972. So I felt that it was behoven on me… if I was going to work with him, to make a great proposal to him for a really important work, to propose to him the self-portraits and that to be a colossal success. And you know they went all over the world to great collections and museums. There’s one hanging in the Metropolitan, there’s one hanging in the Guggenheim…” –Anthony D’Offay, Tate Shots, Video, Tate Modern, London 2002; Lot #16 cat. notes, p.80.

Warhol made two versions of this momentous image, the last self-portraits before his untimely death just months later in February of 1987. The version here, with Andy’s hair splaying out to the left was chosen and commissioned by D’Offay. But Andy ultimately chose another image where the gaze was slightly more severe, the artist’s eyes appearing more deeply sunken below his spiked hair which stood straight up—at once both flamboyant and shocking.

When Warhol took the finished paintings to D’Offay—thinking the dealer would not remember which image he had selected from the Polaroids months earlier—the dealer immediately saw the difference and implored Andy to re-do the series for the exhibition using his original choice with fuller features and a less severe overall effect. That is why there are two sets of the 1986 self-portraits—referred to as the “fright-wig” portraits.

By portraying himself through different decades of his life, Warhol became the most important subject matter of his many portraits.

The artist’s first mature self-portrait was the quartet, made from a strip of four images from 1963—the house’s top seller this season (see above)—in which his appearance is masked by dark glasses and the graininess of the then new screen process. This was followed immediately by a subsequent small series in 1964, similarly based on a photo-booth photograph but with only one image removed from a photo-booth strip (lot #34 of this sale which rang up $6.8 million).

By 1966, the year of the third great series of self-images, he was a star in his own right whose constructed public persona was almost as famous as his artistic production. Propelled into the public limelight, Warhol captured on canvas his role as the most alluring and elusive star in this most fertile site of artistic self-discovery.

The introspective hand to mouth pose fading into the shadows is at once revealing and mysterious. Warhol is showing only a particular side of himself while still concealing something from the viewer.

It was not until 20 years later—in the series to which the above lot belongs—that Warhol would find an equivalently powerful self-image. An image that could be argued to be the most disconnected from reality because of its enormous size, the hypnotic intensity of the gaze and the fact that the artist’s neck is invisible and the head, with its oddly lit nimbus of hair that seems posed forever over his head seems to convey an awareness of his own impending death.

Last May, a 108 inch by 108 inch purple on black “fright-wig” self-portrait (with the hair straight up) sold at Sotheby’s for $32.6 million. This year’s 106 ¾ inch by 106 ½ inch red on black “fright-wig” self-portrait (with the hair shooting out to the left) sold for $27.5 million.

The $5 million difference in price more than likely reflected the provenance of the work and the stronger connection to the existential nature of the portrait. Last year’s self-portrait was de-accessed by the designer and mega-Warhol collector Tom Ford from Gucci fame. But it might also be for the preference of the more severe Warhol version and the choice of purple as more regal than the crimson, blood red of this year’s model.

What is unclear is whether dealers Larry Gagosian or Jose Mugrabi—who were sitting side by side in the auction salesroom—won the work. Both are bullish on Warhol. Jose Mugrabi is reported to own 800 Warhols and Gagosian has been buying Warhol at both auction and private sale. During the bidding for this portrait, they were leaning toward each other in conversation just before the gavel came down. Both men are notorious for using very subtle head and/or hand gestures rather than hoisting a paddle to indicate a bid. Either way, the Warhol portrait masterwork—from a series that was undervalued until last year’s success at Sotheby’s—will no doubt reappear again on the auction block as prices for the Pop Prince’s works continue to spiral upwards

FRANCIS BACON (British, b. Ireland, 1909-1992)
Three Studies for Self-Portrait
Triptych--Oil on canvas
Each: 14 by 12 inches
Executed: 1974
Pre-sale est.: $16,000,000-$20,000,000
Price realized: $25,282,500
CHRISTIE'S, N.Y.: "Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale"
#2440
May 11, 2011
Lot #36
Illustration courtesy CHRISTIE'S IMAGES LTD., 2011


Executed at the zenith of Bacon’s career when his creative ambition was freed from the obstacle of commercial success, “Three Studies for Self-Portrait” is one of the most psychologically compelling and physically engaging works of Bacon’s near fifty year career.

Drawn perhaps from Eadweard Muybridge’s sequences of analytical photographs on the motion of animals and human beings, the shifting profiles and features of Bacon’s portrait heads appealed to the artist because, as he once explained, “I see every image all the time in a shifting way and almost in shifting sequences. So that one can take it from more or less what is called ordinary figuration to a very, very far point.” (as told to David Sylvester in 1975).

Endowing the complete work with a powerful sense of motion, the work explores the alternating moods and expressions and an atmosphere of uncomfortable and shifting psychological unease. Creating a fragility and life that is seldom achieved in Bacon’s single panel portraits, the triptych forces the viewer to engage in the struggle of identity along with the artist.

In “Three Studies for a Self-Portrait” the catalog notes state that the material and the non-material meet “… in what appears to be three fleeting flash-bulb moments that hauntingly capture in paint the very essence and vitality of Bacon’s psychological and physical presence.”

Although each portrait clearly differs from the others, the radiating lines, smudges and blurred distortions of all three seem to communicate with one another between the paintings so that something of Bacon’s living presence, his ‘emanation’ perhaps, seems to majestically infuse the work.

Like the other post-war 20th Century icon of self-portraiture Andy Warhol, Bacon worked mainly from photographs. His self-portraits were also often drawn from photo-booth portraits that he made of himself, but Bacon “… would also spend hours studying his own features in the mirror.”

“According to John Richardson, he would even deliberately let his stubble grow for three or four days and then using Max Factor pancake make-up rehearse the brush strokes and distortions he intended to make in the painting on his face in front of the mirror. Presenting three seemingly sequential images of Bacon’s face isolated against a rich purple background, this cosmetic aspect seems especially prominent in this work, for here, Bacon has heightened the paintings’ already rich variety of color by applying a sequence of striations in orange, turquoise and magenta in places by printing paint marks made by soaking either his sweater or a piece of corduroy with orange paint and impressing it onto the surface of these otherwise completed portraits. In this way, the final act of creation in “Three Studies for a Self-Portrait” echoes in some respects the prolonged and intensive process of putting on make-up and of self-examination and self-exploration that went into Bacon’s preparation for making such an image.”

The triptych’s three works in oil on canvas hammered at $22.5 million, $25.3 million with buyer’s premium, an impressive amount by any standard but miles off the artist’s majestic “Triptych” from 1976 which sold at Sotheby’s to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich for $86 million in the spring of 2008.

CY TWOMBLY (American, 1928-2011)
Untitled
Oil based house paint and wax crayon on canvas
48 by 55 inches
Executed: 1967
Pre-sale est.: $10,000,000-$15,000,000
Price realized: $15,202,500
CHRISTIE'S, N.Y.: "Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale
#2440
May 11, 2011
Lot #25
*WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR THE ARTIST
Illustration courtesy CHRISTIE'S IMAGES LTD., 2011


At a time when many of his generation were turning to contemporary popular culture for inspiration, Cy Twombly followed his forefathers in interrogating the traditional sources of Western art, looking back to Greek and Roman Antiquity and to the grandeur and decadence of the High Renaissance courtly love cycles for inspiration. But following a brief period of creative drought in the mid-1960s, 1966 saw Twombly abandon the emotive use of color to embark upon a cycle of matte grey canvases in search of a leaner, altogether more expressive clarity. Extraneous literary and historical concerns were cast aside as the artist sought to channel the vitality of his wrist towards exploring the expressive possibilities of autonomous rhythmic repetitions.

These Minimalist-looking paintings—now known as the “blackboard” paintings—significantly departed from the schismatic and spontaneous lyricism of Twombly’s earlier Roman paintings, and are distinguishable for their strict graphic, regularity, severe formal restraint and often-apparent emptiness.

Executed between 1966 and 1971, these new works were dubbed “blackboard” paintings because classroom blackboards or a child’s primer—temporal and highly graphic conveyers of information—inspired them. Twombly also painted them predominately on dark grey backgrounds that resembled blackboard slate.

Painted in 1967, “Untitled” was exhibited in the autumn of the same year at Leo Castelli’s gallery in New York where, after the recent debacle of Twombly’s flamboyantly expressionistic “Nine Discources on Commodus” exhibition, critics saw these grey-ground paintings as a necessary purging from his previous Baroque elaboration. They were immediately hailed as a much-needed return to form.

The catalog notes elaborate: “This process closely echoes the Palmer method of handwriting often taught to American children when they are first learning to write. This extremely strict, near mechanical technique required pupils to practice handwriting drills on a daily basis, moving neither fingers nor wrists but only their arms. "

Indeed, the Palmer method was the technique that Twombly himself had learned. Now Twombly worked in the opposite direction of the children who learned to impose a rigid order and a rational discipline on their hand. He adopted the technique of perpetually repeating a looped line to increase the fluid and graphic energy of his line while still maintaining continuum throughout. In this work especially, the artist controls equilibrium, layering the line sequentially, maintaining a regular height and scale of the loops running throughout its horizontal progression. Twombly’s strong, innovative and powerful line builds and pulsates like steady oncoming waves.

Phillips de Pury & Company

ANDY WARHOL (American, 1928-1987)
Liz #5 (Early Colored Liz)
Silkscreen ink and acrylic on linen
40 by 40 inches
Executed in 1963
Pre-sale est.: $25,000,000-$30,000,000
Price realized: $26,962,500
PHILLIPS de PURY & CO., N.Y.: "Part 1 Contemporary Art"
#NY010111
May 12, 2011
Lot #8
Illustration courtesy PHILLIPS de PURY & CO. IMAGES LTD., 2011


Once again Andy took the top slot in the spring New York auctions this time at Phillips de Pury & Company where “Liz #5”—one of 13 he made of Elizabeth Taylor in various colors—rose quickly to $24 million at the hammer, $26.9 million with the house’s buyer’s premium.

“Liz #5” realized $3.4 million more than actor Hugh Grant received for his Warhol “Liz” at Christie’s in November of 2007 when the market was almost at it’s peak. It’s been reported that Grant paid $3.6 million for his “Liz” at Sotheby’s in November of 2001.

Both 40 by 40 inch works embody the electric artificiality that made Warhol’s brand of Pop art so extraordinary. Some might say that the brilliant turquoise-hued phthalo green “Liz” that Phillips was offering, had a more perfectly registered screen, rendering Taylor’s halo of coal black hair slightly more volumizing, and hence richer than the “Liz” Hugh Grant de-accessed.

Beyond Warhol’s mastery of technique with “Liz #5”, the painting came equipped with an impeccable provenance. The 1963 Pop masterwork was snapped up by powerhouse art dealer Ileana Sonnabend soon after its execution and had been part of her personal collection for over four decades up until her death in 2007.

“Liz #5” also has had a storied exhibition history. The silkscreen ink and acrylic on linen painting has been in museum shows in Basel, Berlin, Barcelona, Hamburg, Sydney, Melbourne, Venice, Turin as well as a handful of cities in the U.S.A. including New York’s Stable Gallery, Sidney Janis Gallery and the Leo Castelli Gallery. More recently it was shown at the uptown Gagosian Gallery in an exhibition called “Warhol from the Sonnabend Collection.”

Warhol’s “Liz #5”, among other masterpieces from the 1960s and 1970s, were sold in 2008 reportedly to Larry Gagosian a year after Ileana’s death. The Sonnabend heirs reportedly yielded $600 million from this sale. “Liz #5” was among this group of paintings. Hedge-fund billionaire and SAC Capital head honcho Steven A. Cohen—presently being investigated by Federal prosecutors in an insider trading inquiry—reportedly purchased the Liz Taylor Warhol from Gagosian and was the consignor of the work at the Phillips sale.

To Andy Warhol, Elizabeth Taylor epitomized everything that fascinated him. She was shockingly beautiful and devastatingly alluring, yet her life was full of both tragedy and scandal. In one image, many of the central themes of his oeuvre: celebrity, wealth, privilege, sex, death, Hollywood, icons of American life are all there in spades.

Closely related to the candy-colored Marilyn paintings that he executed in the previous year, “Liz #5” asserts a radiant and disarming presence. The picture’s “neo-folk” energy has affinities with the sacred icons Warhol knew during his early years of worship at the St. John Chrysoston Byzantine Catholic Church in the impoverished Pittsburgh neighborhood where he grew up.

“For Andy,” observed art historian Jane Dillenberger, “[his] earliest experience of art was of religious art—and it may not have been very good art, but unlike for many Protestants or those outside the churches, whose experience of religious art may have been limited to museums, for Andy, art and religion were linked from a very early age.”

Like the paintings of Marilyn and Jackie, “Liz #5” portrays a vulnerable woman who spectacularly combines fame and tragedy, love and sorrow. Indeed, as in Warhol’s paintings of Jackie Kennedy smiling, the picture is all the more powerful because of the viewer’s ironic knowledge of the doom that will soon grip the seemingly happy and enviable person in the photograph.

ANDY WARHOL (American, 1928-1987)
Flowers
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen
48 by 48 inches
Executed in 1964
Pre-sale est.: $8,000,000-$12,000,000
Price realized: $8,146,500
PHILLIPS de PURY & CO., N.Y.: "Part 1 Contemporary Art"
#NY010111
May 12, 2011
Lot #21
Illustration courtesy PHILLIPS de PURY & CO. IMAGES LTD., 2011


One of the indelible images of twentieth-century art, “Flowers” was made between June and September 1964 at Warhol’s East 47th Street silver studio—which became a production line for “Flower” paintings of different sizes. Throughout this phase of his artistic development, Warhol pioneered and refined the screenprinting process that he had made his own. The first artist to make extensive use of this revolutionary process, Warhol was attracted by its affinity with the mass-produced image-making machines of consumer culture and by its anonymous, luxuriously slick facture which effaced the individual hand of the artist.

Each canvas was made up of three distinct phases: firstly, the forms of the flowers are stenciled, masked and the colored paints applied by hand onto the primed canvas; once dry, the flowers are masked and the green acrylic of the surrounded ground is applied with a wide brush in broad swatches, leaving barely discernable traces of the artist’s brush; finally the screen-print image is applied over the dried image.

The idea to make flowers the subject of a major series was apparently suggested to Warhol by Henry Geldzahler, then curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. By choosing to depict the disarmingly innocuous motif of flowers, Warhol was consciously and willfully engaging with an established canon of still-life painting stretching back to bygone centuries.

“With the flower paintings, Andy was just trying a different subject matter. In a funny way, he was kind of repeating the history of art. It was like, now we’re doing my Flower period! Like Monet’s water lilies, Van Gogh’s flowers, the genre.” (Gerand Malanga as cited in “A Year in the Life of Andy Warhol,” New York, 2003, p.74).

The source of the Warhol image appropriated for this series first appeared in the June 1964 issue of “Modern Photography”, intended to illustrate the varying visual effect of different exposure times and filter settings. No doubt the seriality of the images held immediate appeal for Warhol, however, it was through a sequence of interventions and manipulations—cropping the image and rotating one of the flowers 180 degrees—that Warhol derived his final composition.

The canvas is meticulously executed, using the same composition of the four hibiscus flowers against a green and black background. Each painting is uniquely colored—their petals in jewel-like vibrant hues of phthalo green, rich aubergine and opalescent white.

After the “Death and Disaster” series of 1962-1963—which depicted sensational images of electric chairs, suicides and horrendous car crashes—the motif of four blossoming hibiscus flowers appears almost anodyne, an antidote to the horror and violence of previous imagery.

Despite its apparent decorative quality, however, which doubtless appealed to Warhol in his program to make a truly popular art form, the motif is laced with the tragedy and morbidity that permeates Warhol’s oeuvre. Forever trying to capture the intangible transience of fame, the motif of the flourishing hibiscus serves as a metaphor for the brevity and unsustainability of celebrity—the flash of beauty that suddenly becomes tragic under the viewer’s gaze. Exuberant now, but soon to perish, the flower can also be seen on a more generic level as a symbol of the fragility of life, a haunting contemplation of death that is never far removed from Warhol’s work.

ANDY WARHOL & JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT (American, 1928-1987) & (American, 1960-1988)
Third Eye
Acrylic on canvas
80 ¾ by 128 ¾ inches
Executed: 1985
Pre-sale est.: $2,000,000-$3,000,000
Price realized: $7,200,000
PHILLIPS de PURY & CO.: “Part 1 Contemporary Art”
#NY010111
May 12, 2011
Lot #20
*WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR THE ARTIST DUO

Illustration courtesy PHILLIPS de PURY & CO. IMAGES LTD., 2011


Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol were from different generations and different sociological backgrounds. They had radically different painting styles and equally different aesthetics. They were at different stages of their lives and different levels of their own development. They began their friendship just as Warhol’s career was beginning to calm down from the frenzy of the 1960s and ‘70s and Basquiat’s career was beginning to explode. Somewhere though, they found a common ground and established a healthy relationship.

Andy was amazed by the ease with which Jean composed and constructed his paintings, and was constantly surprised by the never-ending flow of new ideas. Jean respected Andy’s philosophy and was in awe of his accomplishments and mastery of color and images.

Most of their collaborations were large scaled works measuring approximately 80 inches by 130 inches (or larger) with Warhol’s contribution featuring heraldically hand-painted enlargements of advertising images, headlines, and company logos, but partly in painterly brushstrokes, similar to that seen in some of his works of 1961 and early 1962. Basquiat was usually the second painter to work on the canvases and had fused his spontaneous, expressive, and effusive iconography with that of Warhol.

It was the brilliant dealer Bruno Bischofberger who had the idea for the two artists to combine both of their distinctive brands of art making in a series called “Collaborations” begun in 1984.

By 1983, Andy had given up drawing and hand-painting and it was Basquiat who got him to return to that. Basquiat said to Bischofberger “Andy is such a fantastic painter! His hand painting is as good as it was in the early years. I am going to try to convince him to start painting by hand again” (B. Bischofberger, “Collaborations and Reflections on/and Experiences with Basquiat, Clemente and Warhol.” “The Andy Warhol Show,” Milan, 2004, p.43).

Phillips de Pury & Company’s catalog places their relationship in context: “In the “Collaborations” each artist contributed both the materials and styles for which they were best known. Though each of the artist’s styles were worlds apart, when combined they created bold, powerful works. Both artists looked to popular culture for inspiration—Warhol to advertising and celebrities, Basquiat to street life, jazz musicians and professional athletes.

Though teaming up with the legendary Warhol was the stuff of dreams for Basquiat, the collaboration was mutually beneficial, if not more so for Warhol than Basquiat whose career had been sidelined recently. As Ronnie Cutrone said: “Jean-Michel thought he needed Warhol’s fame, and Andy thought he needed Jean-Michel’s new blood. Jean-Michel gave Andy a rebellious image again.” (V. Bockris, “Warhol: The Biography, Cambridge, 2003 p.461-2).

In the “Collaborations” Warhol would start most of the paintings… he would put something very concrete or recognizable like a newspaper heading or a product logo and then Basquiat would sort of deface it and then do more work on it. They used to paint over each other’s work all the time. Warhol’s bold color blocking and Basquiat’s frenzied mark-making created a moving tension between the two styles and across the canvas.

“A third eye represents a deeply mystical and spiritual belief in enlightenment and intuition and is typically associated with imagination and creativity. The present painting, so aptly titled, is a striking homage to the styles that made both artists so famous. There is a distinctly visceral and carnal feel to this painting with an undeniable focus on actual consumption. Warhol’s painted advertisements of prime cuts of meat form a visual tension with Basquiat’s anatomical depiction of a fractured skeleton and its organs. Basquiat’s carefully chosen words, “Chewing”, “Meat” and “Sausage”—some clearly visible, some crossed out, heighten the dynamism of the canvas. He once said “‘I cross out words so you will see them more: the fact that they are obscured makes you want to read them.”’ This constant adding and changing technique not only epitomized Basquiat’s own personal technique but also the central theme of the shared “Collaborations”. The giant twisted pretzel in the background is also no less evocative, perhaps a nod to New York City street life.” (Phillips catalog notes for the “Third Eye”, lot #20).

 

Doubling the pre-sale high estimate the painting easily became the new record for their collaborative paintings, and generated the most excitement of the evening.

ROY LICHTENSTEIN (American, 1923-1997)
Still Life with Mirror
Oil and Magna on canvas
96 1/2 by 54 inches
Executed in 1972
Pre-sale est.: $6,000,000-$8,000,000
Price realized: $6,578,500
PHILLIPS de PURY & CO., N.Y.: "Part 1 Contemporary Art"
#NY01011
May 12, 2011
Lot #23
Illustration courtesy PHILLIPS de PURY & CO. IMAGES LTD., 2011


During the 1970s, Lichtenstein eschewed the comic book imagery and familiar household items that had dominated his work of the 1960s and catapulted him to international fame. The artist turned toward more esoteric subjects inspired instead by the halls of museums and the pages of art books. Moving from “low” to “high” artistic sources, from all forms of mass produced printed materials like newspapers, sale circulars and newsstand publications, he created a number of series based on major avant-garde movements of 20th century art.

One might argue that Lichtenstein was tainting the canon works by older artists with techniques associated with manufacture and the masses. All these works drag what was revered as so-called “high art” into the realm of vulgarity of the tabloid, the billboard and the magazine.

High art had long provided Lichtenstein with subject matter however, as was seen in his diagram version of Cezanne’s portrait of his wife of 1962. Over the following years, the haystacks and cathedrals of Monet, the still life paintings of the Cubists and the Purists, Surrealism, Expressionism—all these figures and movements would fall prey to the clinical precision of Lichtenstein’s idiosyncratic style.

“A deceptively simple interior scene, “Still Life with Mirror”, (1972) is composed of a table on which a bowl of fruit, a coffee cup and the verso of a painting sit, construing a foreground. In the background of the image, is an oval mirror to the left on a light blue wall and bound on the upper right by yellow draping cloths. These elements seem mundane and nondescript, “rivaled banality” (D. Waldman “Roy Lichtenstein” Guggenheim Museum, 1993 p. 213). But they are a Lichtenstein Stretcher Frame Painting, a Lichtenstein Oval Mirror and a Lichtenstein Bowl of Fruit, as indicated in the title. They are actual works that Lichtenstein had previously painted, now taking part in an ensemble that itself would become a painting. The representation of these “things” are akin to platonic ideals of a mirror, a table, a curtain, a stretcher frame, a banana, grapefruit, apple, grape, cup and saucer. Reduced to elemental shape, three primary colors of the high modernism of Mondrian are exercised in support of a representational scene that is undermined by its own "flatness" (auction catalog notes for this lot.)

RICHARD PRINCE (American, b. 1949)
Wayward Nurse (Crashed)
Acrylic and inkjet on canvas
65 1/2 by 50 1/8 inches
Executed in 2006-2010
Pre-sale est.: $4,000,000-$6,000,000
Price realized: $4,562,500
PHILLIPS de PURY & CO., N.Y.: "Part 1 Contemporary Art"
#NY010111
May 12, 2011
Lot #14
Illustration courtesy PHILLIPS de PURY & CO. IMAGES LTD., 2011


Richard Prince has been mining images from the low culture of the mass media, advertising and entertainment since the late ‘70s when he worked for the tear-sheet department for “Time/Life” in midtown Manhattan. Beginning with advertising images of jewelry, furniture and male and female models from various print campaigns in the late ‘70s, and then famously moving on to one of America’s most recognizable images of itself in the Marlboro Man’s ever self-reliant cowboy, Prince understood that isolating and removing mass-culture imagery offered an opportunity to examine various codes of representation including gender and class. By re-contextualizing them by severe cropping or removing any ad copy or simply by re-photographing a black and white image on color film, the artist found ways to blur meaning and to create a critical dialogue with the objects created to satisfy the perceived needs of the expanding American consumer. Playing the role of director, Prince has been appropriating and then later submerging these powerful cultural conventions through the various fine art mediums of photography, painting and sculpture with the agenda of exposing universal cultural conventions.

Richard Prince’s “nurse” paintings however, seemed to have caught the cognoscenti by surprise, garnering a tremendous amount of attention since 2005 when “A Nurse Involved”—executed in 2002—broke the one million dollar mark at Phillips de Pury & Co.’s spring contemporary art auction in New York. Selling for $80,000-$100,000 just three years prior at the Barbara Gladstone Gallery in New York, the ink-jet print and acrylic on canvas became the poster child for the surge in prices leading up to the art market’s summer of 2008 peak.

Just sixteen months later, Prince’s “Tender Nurse”, 2002 sold for $2.3 million (also at Phillips) in New York. One year after that, almost to the day “Piney Woods Nurse”, (2002), broke out with a $6.1 million payday at Christie’s at Rockefeller Plaza. “Man Crazy Nurse #2” (2002) followed in the spring of 2008 at the Plaza again with a $7.4 million payday. The peak reached its summit on July 1st when the aptly titled “Overseas Nurse” hit $8.5 million in London just before the financial markets and the real estate bubble began to implode and the line of willing buyers ready to hand over whatever it took evaporated. As the fall of 2008 came to a close, Prince’s “nurse” paintings came back down to price levels attained in 2007 in the $3-$3.5 million range.

Prince’s melding of the flotsam and jetsam of our modern, media-saturated age—in this case the fetishized and sexualized exploits of nurses from the covers of the pulpy-underbelly of mainstream paperbacks—coupled with the scavenging touches of visual language from the Abstract-Expressionists, especially Jackson Pollock, Cy Twombly and Philip Guston, proved irresistible to Mr. Prince.

As with all his nurse paintings, Prince dramatically expands the pocketbook-size book cover to a heroic style, completely transforming the viewer’s encounter with the melodramatic, world emblematized therein.

“Wayward Nurse”, a work completed only last year, creates that striking balance between the good and the wicked, the lustful and the naughty. The high aspirations of the first specifically American art movement to achieve worldwide influence (Ab-Ex) with the low visual iconography of the horror/slasher B-movie, resonate off each other to create the perfect cocktail. The dark and gory side of nursing, hinted at by the blood-like burgundy and crimson paint that trickle down the nurse’s arms soaking her dress, coupled with those empathic eyes that seem made to soothe the sick make for a compelling spectacle that is as provocative and brilliant as anything the artist has done.

Re-Cap
One of the reasons collectors collect—besides the aforementioned pleasure, profit and proximity to fame motives—is that the innovative work they collect favorably reflects their own values of creativity and entrepreneurialism. Collectors could be said to ‘appropriate’ the ideas and politics of the artists they collect and these objects of art are integrated into their business plan and are designed to be congruent with their image.

For high quality global branded art, it seems Andy Warhol’s work—which landing first in each of the three major auction houses’ prestigious evening sales this season—can draw even the most price-conscious buyer to the auction podium. Out of the $718 million of post-war and contemporary art that sold at the big three auction houses in New York this spring, Warhol’s sales accounted for a remarkable $179 million of that total. Love him or despise him, it seems one cannot have a serious collection of contemporary art without the “Prince of Pop” in your collection. As Andy famously said: “Making money is art, and working is art and good business is the best art”.

Thanks go to www.artnet.com for extending its ‘Price database’ to track previous prices of some of the artworks referenced in this article.

RESERVES AND BUY-INS: All lots from all sales are offered subject to a “RESERVE”, which is a confidential minimum price below which the lot will not be sold. The reserve cannot exceed the low estimate printed in the catalog or on-line. If the auctioneer decides that any bid is below the reserve of any article offered, he/she may invent bids up to the reserve of the article offered, after which he/she has to find a real bidder. The auctioneer may reject the same and withdraw the article from sale if the highest bidder is below the reserve of the article offered. The withdrawal is accompanied at the sound of the hammer and the auctioneer saying “PASS” as the hammer goes down on the article. Passed items are also referred to as “BUY-INS” and appear as missing lot numbers on the results page published by the house after the sale.

HAMMER PRICE, BUYER’S PREMIUM AND ESTIMATES: For lots that are sold the last price for the lot as announced by the auctioneer is the “HAMMER PRICE.” Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips de Pury & Co. charge a premium to the buyer on the final bid price on each lot sold. The “BUYER’S PREMIUM” is 25% of the final bid price of any lot up to and including $50,000, 20% of the excess of the hammer price above $50,000 and up to and including $1,000,000. Prices in the “TOP 25” below include the buyer’s premium. “ESTIMATES” of the selling price might reflect vendors’ expectations which might be too high or reflect an auction house’s strategy to publish unrealistically low figures to attract potential buyers. In most cases the estimates reflect buyers’ and sellers’ expectations and/or prices realized from previously recorded transactions. Either way, auction house published low/high estimates should not be relied upon as a statement of the price at which the item will sell, or its value for any other purpose. Auction house “ESTIMATES” do not include the buyer’s premium.


Top 25

1) ANDY WARHOL (American, 1928-1987)
Self-Portrait
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas, in four parts
Overall: 40 by 32 inches
Executed in 1963-1964
Pre-sale est.: $20,000,000-$30,000,000
Price realized: $38,442,500
CHRISTIE’S, N.Y.: “Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale” #2440
May 11, 2011
Lot #22
*WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR ANY PORTRAIT BY THE ARTIST


2) MARK ROTHKO (American, 1903-1970)
Untitled #17
Oil on canvas
93 by 76 inches
Executed: 1961
Pre-sale est.: $18,000,000-$22,000,000
Price realized: $33,682,500
CHRISTIE’S, N.Y.: “Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale”
#2440
May 11, 2011
Lot #8


3) ANDY WARHOL (American, 1928-1987)
Self-Portrait
Synthetic polymer and silkscreen ink on canvas
106 ¾ by 106 ½ inches
Executed: 1986
Pre-sale est.: $30,000,000-$40,000,000
Price realized: $27,522,500
CHRISTIE’S, N.Y.: “Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale”
#2440
May 11, 2011
Lot #16


4) ANDY WARHOL (American, 1928-1987)
Liz #5 (Early Colored Liz)
Silkscreen ink and acrylic on linen
40 by 40 inches
Executed: 1963
Pre-sale est.: $25,000,000-$35,000,000
Price realized: $26,962,500
PHILLIPS de PURY & CO., N.Y.: “Part 1 Contemporary Art”
#NY010111
May 12, 2011
Lot #8


5) FRANCIS BACON (British, b. Ireland, 1909-1992)
Three Studies for Self-Portrait
Triptych—Oil on canvas
Each: 14 by 12 inches
Executed: 1974
Pre-sale est.: $16,000,000-$20,000,000
Price realized: $25,282,500
CHRISTIE’S, N.Y.: “Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale”
#2440
May 11, 2011
Lot #36


6) ANDY WARHOL (American, 1928-1987)
Sixteen Jackies
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas in 16 panels
Each: 20 by 16 inches
Executed: 1964
Pre-sale est.: $20,000,000-$30,000,000
Price realized: $20,242,500
SOTHEBY’S, N.Y.: “Contemporary Art Evening Auction”
N08744
May 10, 2011
Lot #21


7) JEFF KOONS (American, b. 1955)
Pink Panther
Porcelain
This work is an AP from an edition of three plus one AP
41 by 20 ½ by 19 inches
Executed: 1988
Pre-sale est.: $20,000,000-$30,000,000
Price realized: $16,882,500
SOTHEBY’S, N.Y.: “Contemporary Art Evening Auction”
N08744
May 10, 2011
Lot #10


8) CY TWOMBLY (American, b. 1928)
Untitled
Oil based house paint and wax crayon on canvas
48 by 55 inches
Executed: 1967
Pre-sale est.: $10,000,000-$15,000,000
Price realized: $15,202,500
CHRISTIE’S, N.Y.: “Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale”
#2440
May 11, 2011
Lot #25
*WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR THE ARTIST


9) FRANCIS BACON (British, b. Ireland, 1909-1992)
Untitled (Crouching Nude on Rail)
Oil on canvas
77 ½ by 54 inches
Executed: 1952
Pre-sale est.: $10,000,000-$15,000,000
Price realized: $9,602,500
CHRISTIE’S, N.Y.: “Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale”
#2440
May 11, 2011
Lot #13


10) ANDY WARHOL (American, 1928-1987)
Flowers
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen
48 by 48 inches
Executed: 1964
Pre-sale est.: $8,000,000-$12,000,000
Price realized: $8,146,500
PHILLIPS de PURY & CO., N.Y.: “Part 1 Contemporary Art”
#NY010111
May 12, 2011
Lot #21


11) RICHARD DIEBENKORN (American, 1922-1993)
Ocean Park #121
Oil on canvas
78 ¼ by 78 3/8 inches
Executed: 1980
Pre-sale est.: $7,000,000-$9,000,000
Price realized: $7,698,500
CHRISTIE’S, N.Y.: “Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale”
#2440
May 11, 2011
Lot #12
*WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR THE ARTIST


12) ANDY WARHOL & JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT (American, 1928-1987) & (American, 1960-1988)
Third Eye
Acrylic on canvas
80 ¾ by 128 ¾ inches
Executed: 1985
Pre-sale est.: $2,000,000-$3,000,000
Price realized: $7,200,000
PHILLIPS de PURY & CO.: “Part 1 Contemporary Art”
#NY010111
May 12, 2011
Lot #20
*WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR THE ARTIST DUO


2-WAY TIE
13) URS FISCHER (Swiss, b. 1973)
Untitled (Lamp/Bear)
Cast bronze, epoxy primer, urethane paint, acrylic polyurethane topcoat, acrylic glass, gas discharge lamp and stainless steel framework
275 5/8 by 255 7/8 by 295 ¼ inches
This work is number one from an edition of two plus 1 AP
Executed: 2005-2006
Pre-sale est.: $4,500,000-$6,500,000
Price realized: $6,802,500
CHRISTIE’S, N.Y.: “Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale”
#2440
May 11, 2011
Lot #32
*WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR THE ARTIST

ANDY WARHOL (American, 1928-1987)
Self-Portrait
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
20 by 16 inches
Executed: 1963-1964
Pre-sale est.: $6,000,000-$8,000,000
Price realized: $6,802,500
CHRISTIE’S, N.Y.: “Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale”
#2440
May 11, 2011
Lot #34

3-WAY TIE
14) PHILIP GUSTON (American, 1913-1980)
Painter’s City
Oil on canvas
65 by 77 ¼ inches
Executed: 1956-1957
Pre-sale est.: $4,500,000-$6,500,000
Price realized: $6,578,500
CHRISTIE’S, N.Y.: “Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale”
#2440
May 11, 2011
Lot #11

WILLEM DE KOONING (American, b. Rotterdam, Netherland, 1904-1997)
Woman and Child
Oil on paper laid down on canvas
55 by 36 inches
Executed: 1967-1968
Pre-sale est.: $3,500,000-$5,500,000
Price realized: $6,578,500
CHRISTIE’S, N.Y.: “Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale”
#2440
May 11, 2011
Lot #60

ROY LICHTENSTEIN (American, 1923-1997)
Still Life with Mirror
Oil and Magna on canvas
96 ½ by 54 inches
Executed: 1972
Pre-sale est.: $6,000,000-$8,000,000
Price realized: $6,578,500
PHILLIPS de PURY & CO., N.Y.: “Part 1 Contemporary Art”
#NY010111
May 12, 2011
Lot #23


15) LUCIO FONTANA (Italian, 1899-1968)
Concetto Spaziale
Waterpaint on canvas
38 ¼ by 51 ¼ inches
Executed: 1965
Pre-sale est.: $6,000,000-$8,000,000
Price realized: $6,242,500
SOTHEBY’S, N.Y.: “Contemporary Art Evening Auction”
N08744
May 10, 2011
Lot #39


16) JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT (American, 1960-1988)
Eroica 1
Acrylic and oilstick on paper mounted on canvas
90 7/8 by 88 ¾ inches
Executed: 1988
Pre-sale est.: $3,500,000-$4,500,000
Price realized: $5,906,500
SOTHEBY’S, N.Y.: “Contemporary Art Evening Auction”
N08744
May 10, 2011
Lot #49


17) ANDY WARHOL (American, 1928-1987)
The Complete Athletes Series:
O.J. Simpson, Dorothy Hamill, Pele, Mohammed Ali, Tom Seaver, Rod Gilbert, Jack Nicklaus, Willie Shoemaker, Chris Evert, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Each: 40 by 40 inches
Executed: 1978
Pre-sale est.: $4,000,000-$6,000,000
Price realized: $5,682,500
CHRISTIE’S, N.Y.: “Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Auction”
#2440
May 11, 2011
Lot #54


2-WAY TIE
18) JOAN MITCHELL (American, 1925-1992)
Mont St. Hilaire
Oil on canvas
80 by 76 inches
Executed: 1956
Pre-sale est.: $2,800,000-$4,500,000
Price realized: $5,010,500
CHRISTIE’S, N.Y.: “Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale”
#2440
May 11, 2011
Lot #9

GERHARD RICHTER (German, b. 1932)
Wolken (Rosa)
Triptych—Oil on canvas
78 3/4 by 118 1/8 inches
Executed: 1970
Pre-sale est.: $3,000,000-$4,000,000
Price realized: $5,010,500
CHRISTIE’S, N.Y.: “Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale”
#2440
May 11, 2011
Lot #14


19) ANDY WARHOL (American, 1928-1987)
Shadow (Red)
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
76 by 52 inches
Executed: 1978
Pre-sale est.: $700,000-$900,000
Price realized: $4,842,500
SOTHEBY’S, N.Y.: “Contemporary Art Evening Sale”
N08744
May 10, 2011
Lot #20


3-WAY TIE
20) JOHN CHAMBERLAIN (American, b. 1927)
Nutcracker
Painted and chromium-plated steel
45 ½ by 43 ½ by 32 inches
Executed: 1958
Pre-sale est.: $1,200,000-$1,800,000
Price realized: $4,786,500
SOTHEBY’S, N.Y.: “The Collection of Allan Stone, Vol.1”
N08815
May 9, 2011
Lot #9
*WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR THE ARTIST

RICHARD PRINCE (American, b. 1949)
Nurse on Horseback
Inkjet print and acrylic on canvas
78 by 58 inches
Executed: 2004
Pre-sale est.: $3,500,000-$4,500,000
Price realized: $4,786,500
CHRISTIE’S, N.Y.: “Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale”
#2440
May 11, 2011
Lot #5

ANDY WARHOL (American, 1928-1987)
Most Wanted Men No. 3, Ellis Ruiz B.
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
48 by 39 1/8 inches
Executed: 1964
Pre-sale est.: $4,000,000-$6,000,000
Price realized: $4,786,500
CHRISTIE’S, N.Y.: “Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale”
#2440
May 11, 2011
Lot #24


21) JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT (American, 1960-1988)
Gas Truck
Triptych—acrylic and oil stick on canvas
50 by 169 inches
Executed: 1984
Pre-sale est.: $4,000,000-$6,000,000
Price realized: $4,674,500
CHRISTIE’S, N.Y.: “Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale”
#2440
May 11, 2011
Lot #19


2-WAY TIE
22) WILLEM DE KOONING (American, b. Rotterdam, Netherland, 1904-1997)
Event in a Barn
Oil, enamel and paper collage on board
24 ¾ by 33 inches
Executed: 1947
Pre-sale est.: $5,000,000-$7,000,000
Price realized: $4,562,500
SOTHEBY’S, N.Y.: “The Collection of Allan Stone, Vol 1”
N08815
May 9, 2011
Lot #11

RICHARD PRINCE (American, b. 1949)
Wayward Nurse (Crashed)
Acrylic and ink-jet on canvas
65 ½ by 50 1/8 inch
Executed: 2006-2010
Pre-sale est.: $4,000,000-$6,000,000
Price realized: $4,562,500
PHILLIPS de PURY & CO., N.Y.: “Part 1 Contemporary Art”
#NY010111
May 12, 2011
Lot #14


23) WILLEM DE KOONING (American, b. Rotterdam, Netherland, 1904-1997)
Untitled V11
Oil on canvas
77 by 88 inches
Executed: 1986
Pre-sale est.: $4,000,000-$6,000,000
Price realized: $4,282,500
SOTHEBY’S, N.Y.: “Contemporary Art Evening Auction”
N08744
May 10, 2011
Lot #34


2-WAY TIE
24) ROBERT INDIANA (American, b. 1928)
Love Red/Blue
Painted aluminum
144 by 144 by 72 inches
Executed: 1990
This work is number one from an edition of three
Pre-sale est.: $2,000,000-$3,000,000
Price realized: $4,114,500
CHRISTIE’S, N.Y.: “Post-War & Contemporary Art Afternoon Session”
#2442
May 12, 2011
Lot #393

GERHARD RICHTER (German, b. 1932)
Abstraktes Bild
Oil on canvas
78 ¾ by 63 inches
Executed: 1988
Pre-sale est.: $3,000,000-$4,000,000
Price realized: $4,114,500
PHILLIPS de PURY & CO., N.Y.: “Part 1 Contemporary Art”
#NY010111
May 12, 2011
Lot #19


2-WAY TIE
25) WAYNE THIEBAUD (American, b. 1920)
Pies
Oil on canvas
22 by 28 inches
Executed: 1961
Pre-sale est.: $2,500,000-$3,500,000
Price realized: $4,002,500
SOTHEBY’S, N.Y.: “The Collection of Allan Stone, Vol. 11;
The Art of Wayne Thiebaud”
N08815
May 9, 2011
Lot #30

ANDY WARHOL (American, 1928-1987)
Mao (Mao 10)
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen
26 by 22 inches
Executed: 1973
Pre-sale est.: $3,500,000-$4,500,000
Price realized: $4,002,500
PHILLIPS de PURY & CO., N.Y.: “Part 1 Contemporary Art”
#NY010111
May 12, 2010
Lot #25


2011 / Spring / Contemporary Art / Auction Totals
$718,451,124 / Andy Warhol $179,009,475

Sotheby’s / $242,883,374 / Andy Warhol $39,662,750
*Evening Auction N08744 / $128,104,500 / Andy Warhol $35,999,000
*Day Auction N08475 / $59,973,375 / Andy Warhol $3,663,750
*Allan Stone Vol 1 & 11 N08815 / $54,805,499 / Andy Warhol (nil)

Christie’s / $367,425,350 / Andy Warhol $97,321,350
*Evening Sale #2440 / $301,683,000 / Andy Warhol $90,988,000
*Morning Sale #2441 / $31,406,625 / Andy Warhol $5,610,850
*Afternoon Sale # 2442 / $34,335,725 / Andy Warhol $722,500

Phillips de Pury & Co. / $108,142,400 / Andy Warhol $42,025,375
*Part 1 / #NY010111 / $98,825,500 / Andy Warhol $41,770,000
*Part 11 / #NY010211 / $9,316,900 / Andy Warhol $255,375

 

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