ANDY WARHOL (1928-1987)
Self Portrait, 1986

Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
108 x 108 inches
Pre-sale est.: $10,000,000-$15,000,000

Price realized: $32,562,500

Sotheby's, N.Y.; 'Contemporary Art Evening Auction", N08636

May 12, 2010

Lot #9

Illustration courtesy Sotheby's Images Ltd.

Spring 2010 Post-War & Contemporary Art Auctions in New York

By Brian Appel


Contemporary art auction totals in New York climbed back cautiously from their deep plunge of a little over a year and a half ago with the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the attendant banking crisis. Totals this season reached a still wobbly $571 million.

The “irrational exuberance” of the overheated art market that peaked in the spring of 2008 with figures that approached $1 billion for post-war & contemporary art hit rock bottom in November of 2008. Demand had been enormous given the roll up of private wealth from the new markets in India, China, Russia and the Middle East. Prices eased ever upward as the desire for quality consignments, buying power, and financial speculation colored collectors’ motives for the symbolic value of art with a capital A.

Today, the contemporary art market has shifted into a recovery mode that is referred to in auction parlance as “strong but selective”.

Artists whose markets have seen meteoric growth in the overheated boom period were among the most vulnerable to deflation, and a cooling drop of 15%-30% or more has not been uncommon. “Delay and pray” is the modus operandi from dealers and collectors holding works that have slumped along with the market.

Sotheby’s
In good times or bad, Andy Warhol has always performed beyond expectations at the house. A global powerhouse, “the Prince of Pop” realized a whopping 20% of Sotheby’s evening and day sale total—$53 million—for a stratospheric $2.1 million per lot average. Warhol’s low/high pre-sale estimates on the 25 lots sold were a conservative $24 million-$34 million—a substantial under-estimation of the artist’s global reach and his ability to attract the greatest depth of bidding in the room, and on the phone.

The breakout blockbuster of the season was the Tom Ford consigned Warhol “Self-Portrait (Purple)” from 1986 that hammered at $29 million ($32.6 million with buyer’s premium).

Purchased from the Anthony d’Offay gallery in London who acquired the hypnotically intense work in 1998 from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Inc. in New York (for as little as $400,000 judging from the purchase price of another 9 foot late self-portrait sold at Sotheby’s in 1997 [thanks artnet.com]) the multi-talented Mr. Ford bought early and pocketed quite a nice return on his investment.

When did Ford acquire this raw and confrontational work from d’Offay? We don’t know—private transactions are private unlike public auctions—but if d’Offay flipped it to Mr. Ford soon after he himself acquired it he would have probably asked for double what he paid for it at $800,000. Then again, it might make more sense that Ford bought it on an art buying binge in 2004 when he quit the house of Gucci (with many millions as he had become the largest shareholder of a company that at the time was valued at $10 billion).

In 2004, at the beginning of what turned out to be a four year explosion of contemporary art prices, Warhol works from the 1980s were still very undervalued. People were locked into the “Gee, What’s happened to Andy Warhol?” mode of thinking about the artist’s 1970s and 1980s artworks.

Most of the writing about Warhol wax philosophic about his activities from 1962 until 1968 when the fame of his Factory and its “reckless, bohemian lifestyle” remained the subject of gossip columns and a locus of chic society. No doubt his Pop paintings from the 1960s—that ended with the failed assassination attempt by the deranged Valerie Solanas in 1968—will continue to be seen as the apex of his imaginative creativity. But increasingly, scholars, curators, dealers and collectors are refocusing their attention on Warhol’s last great flourish of activity in 1986, his last year, when Warhol produced three major series: the so-called fright-wig “Self-Portraits”, the “Camouflage” paintings, and the “Last Supper” paintings.

Prescient collector/dealers who came in early, like the Mugrabi family—Jose and his two sons, Alberto (“Tico”) and David—Christophe Van de Weghe and Peter Brant took advantage of the soon-to-be-changing tide of sentiment toward Warhol’s late, great works which up until fairly recently were looked upon as nothing more than kitsch.

Regardless of how much Tom Ford paid for the monolithic, existential portrait, the sale established a new watermark for late works from Andy. Never before had any work created in the 1980s sold for so much. “Self Portrait (Purple)”—there are only four others in that scale: two in the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh (Yellow and Blue), one at the Ft. Worth Museum in Texas (Green) and one in a private collection (Red)—competes completely with the iconic works Warhol created in what most historians still conclude is his most seminal decade—the 1960s.
Warhol’s last burst of creative activity finally gets its due.
 


MARK ROTHKO (American, 1903-1
Untitled, 1961
Oil on canvas
93 1/8 x 80 1/8 inches
Pre-sale est.: $18,000,000-$25,000,000
Price realized: $31,442,500
Sotheby's, N.Y.: "Contemporary Art Evening Auction", N08636
May 12, 2010
Lot #14
Illustration courtesy Sotheby's Images Ltd.


Following tightly behind Warhol’s psychologically dense “Self Portrait”, Mark Rothko’s magnum opus “Untitled” hammered at $29 million ($31.4 million with buyer’s premium).
Described by auction house specialists as both beautiful and tragic, the monumental, ethereal abstract oil on canvas had been acquired by Robert Mnuchin from C&M Arts (now L&M Arts) at a Christie’s auction in 1997 for $1.87 million.

Mnuchin—a former Goldman Sacks partner who opened his gallery in 1993—sold the work of oscillating red and orange stacked color rectangles to Mr. and Mrs. Hoffman, prominent Dallas art collectors who in turn sold the work three years later (2007) through C&M to Mexican financier and collector David Martinez.

That sale came with the proviso that Martinez would keep confidential all aspects of the transaction through which he had acquired it. Sources have reported that the 8-foot-tall Rothko work—a star example of what critics call New York School painting—is now the subject of a lawsuit in U.S. district court because Martinez broke his promise of secrecy by having Sotheby’s sell the painting at auction.

In the suit, Marguerite Hoffman—whose husband
Robert had recently died—sought unspecified damages claiming that Sotheby’s tried to capitalize on the fact that “the Rothko market is hot.” One month after Hoffman had sold her Rothko in 2007, a Rothko offered by David Rockefeller sold at Sotheby’s for $72.8 million at the peak of the contemporary art market.

The Hoffman suit names as co-defendants Sotheby’s; Tobias Meyer the chief auctioneer at the house, and L&M Arts, from whose principal, Robert Mnuchin, Hoffman and her late husband had bought their Rothko. The price that Hoffman paid hasn’t been disclosed, nor has the amount that Martinez paid. The suit says that Hoffman “was determined to avoid the embarrassment that she believed would ensue if the fact of the sale became public.”
 


BRICE MARDEN (American, b. 1938)
Cold Mountain 1 (Path), 1988-1989
Oil on canvas
108 x 144 inches
Pre-sale est.: $10,000,000-$15,000,000
Price realized: $9,602,500
Sotheby's, N.Y.: "Contemporary Art Evening Auction", N08636
May 12, 2010
Lot # 29
Illustration courtesy Sotheby's Images Ltd.


Between 1988 and 1991 Brice Marden produced a group of paintings, drawings and etchings that led him away from his critically acclaimed monochromatic beeswax paintings from the 1960s and 1970s. Inspired in part by the legendary 8th or 9th century Chinese poet Han Shan known as Cold Mountain, Marden’s black-and-white abstract works resonate somewhere between the calligraphic language of the Chinese Tang Dynasty and the lyrical gestures of Jackson Pollock’s lattice-like mark-making.

In December of 1988 the monumental nine foot high, twelve foot wide canvas was delivered to Marden’s studio. “Cold Mountain 1 (Path)”—the first of six paintings in the “Cold Mountain” series—became the stage for the artist’s application of eight soaring columns of elegant glyphs of black oil paint applied directly to the white primer of the canvas. The repetition of the abstract non-language forms and the play of the shapes that he thinned and scraped created a kind of tactile and sensuous theatre of repeating couplets.

Although there have been “Cold Mountain” drawings at auction, this is the first painting to come to the auction block. Of the six works in this series, one is in the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, another is in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA) and a third is a promised gift from the Meyerhoff Collection to the National Gallery of Art in Washington. Two others are in private collections; one in San Francisco and the other in Miami.

“Path”, arguably the most important work by Brice Marden ever to appear at auction, came with an aggressive $10 million-$15 million pre-sale estimate. It hammered at $8.5 million ($9.6 million with buyer’s premium). That was enough to surpass the consignor’s secret minimum and almost doubled the artist’s previous $4.3 million world auction record.
 


JACKSON POLLOCK (American, 1912-1956)
Number 12A, 1948: Yellow, Grey, Black, 1948
Enamel on gesso ground on paper
22 3/4 x 30 3/4 inches
Pre-sale est.: $4,000,000-$6,000,000
Price realized: $8,762,500
Sotheby's, N.Y.: "Contemporary Art Evening Auction", N08636
May 12, 2010
Lot #12
Illustration courtesy Sotheby's Images Ltd.


Jackson Pollock’s “Number 12A, 1948: Yellow, Gray, Black”, an inky black and metallic aluminum enamel work with gesso on paper created quite a stir at the rostrum. One of three works illustrated in the infamous August 8, 1949 “Life” magazine article titled “Jackson Pollock— Is He the Greatest Living Painter in the United States?” it proclaimed Pollock’s early and eternal role as a leading figure in American art.

The painting exemplifies the innovation that most defines Pollock’s achievement as embodied in the phrase “drawing into painting,” coined by William Rubin in 1967 to describe Pollock’s liberation of line from figuration into abstraction. The muscular, groundbreaking piece that married paint to the freedom of draftsmanship—and ultimately the expression of his innermost artistic impulses— hammered at $7.7 million ($8.8 million with buyer’s premium).
 


MAURIZIO CATTELAN (American, b. 1960)
Untitled, 2001
Painted wax, hair and fabric
Figure: Height 59 inches Hole: 23 5/8 x 15 3/4 inches
Ed.: '3/3' plus one AP
Pre-sale est.: $3,000,000-$4,000,000
Price realized: $7,922,500
Sotheby's, N.Y.: "Contemporary Art Evening Auction", N08636
May 12, 2010
Lot #41
Illustration courtesy Sotheby's Images Ltd.


Maurizio Cattelan, the Padua-born sculptor and Conceptualist who is alternatively regarded as a boisterous prankster and ingenious revolutionary is the enfant terrible of the Contemporary art establishment. Known for his satirical fabrications of an adolescent Adolph Hitler kneeling in prayer, an ageing Pope John Paul 11 smashed into the ground by a meterorite but still clutching his crozier, and the ultimate fantasy, naked supermodel Stephanie Seymour—who is in the middle of a messy divorce from the newsprint magnate and uber-collector Peter Brant—floating on the wall like a carved figurehead built into the bow of a ship.

In “Untitled” from 2001, one of Cattelan’s self-images emerges from the floor into a gallery of enshrined art history, parodying the veneration of art. The artist’s surrogate self, an interloper of the treasure-house of art history, can be seen as “a form of aggravated burglary of the established and canonical system” (of the art world).

The sculpture—part of an edition of three plus one artist’s proof—handily exceeded its high pre-sale estimate of $4 million reaching a heady $7.9 million. Cattelan’s artwork—whose intent is for art to be “purloined out of the static realm of the museum and back into the world”—shattered his previous world auction record of just over $3 million.

Sotheby’s knocked down $243 million in the evening and day sales, $226 million less than their $470 million water mark established in the red hot spring of 2008 but managed to walk away with the coveted #1 and #2 top consignments of the spring 2010 season.

Christie’s
Christie’s post-war and contemporary art evening sale opened with the $93.2 million white-glove sale of 31 lots consigned from the estate of mega-author and screenwriter Michael Crichton.
 


JASPER JOHNS (b. 1930)
Flag, 1960-1966
Encaustic and printed paper collage on paper laid down on canvas
17 1/2 x 26 3/4 inches
Est.: $10,000,000-$15,000,000
Realized: $28,642,500
CHRISTIE'S, N.Y.
Works from the Collection of Michael Crichton (#2406)
May 11, 2010
Lot #7
WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR THE ARTIST


Crichton’s masterful collection—a visual extension of his prolific life which also included directing and producing movies—was anchored by Jasper Johns’ encaustic and printed paper collage “Flag”, (1960-1966) that had never been on the public market before.

Acquired directly from the artist, the “painstakingly beautiful rendition” of the American flag, is credited as one of the first icons of Pop Art. “Flag” leapfrogged over the artist’s previous global auction record of $17.4 million landing in at $25.5 million ($28.6 million with buyer’s premium). The painting—recognized as “one of the greatest icons of Modern Art alongside Picasso’s “Guernica” and Warhol’s “Marilyn”’—is also noted as a harbinger of the ending of the supremacy of Abstract Expressionism. The painting came with a conservative $15 million post-boom pre-sale high estimate.

“Flag”—Crichton’s favorite object and the centerpiece of his art universe—placed first at Christie’s and third overall after the Warhol and Rothko lynchpins at Sotheby’s. The evening sale took in a total of $232 million, $42 million more than its chief rival.

To keep things in the proper perspective, the encaustic and newsprint collaged canvas was only half the size of the “Flag” painting hedge fund billionaire and mega-collector Steven A. Cohen picked up from Jean-Christophe Castelli—son of blue-chip master dealer Leo—less than two months before the sale. Although the terms of that deal were “strictly confidential”, experts estimate Cohen paid about $110 million for the work.

Cohen is also on record for the purchase of Willem de Kooning’s 1952-1953 “Woman 111” from record executive and film producer David Geffen for $137.5 million—Larry Gagosian brokered that deal—and the holy grail of post-war American art, Andy Warhol’s 1964 “Turquoise Marilyn” from Chicago collector Stefan Edlis in 2007 for $80 million.
 


ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG (1925-2008)
Trapese, 1964
Oil and silkscreen inks on canvas
120 x 48 inches
Est.: $5,000,000-$7,000,000
Realized: $6,354,500
CHRISTIE'S, N.Y.
Works from the Collection of Michael Crichton (#2406)
May 11, 2010
Lot #9


Michael Crichton was also a huge fan of Robert Rauschenberg. He especially loved the oil and silkscreen work on canvas “Trapeze” where the artist collages a repeating parachuting astronaut from early space tests with a voluptuous nude by Rubens. Christie’s catalog suggests that the painting was a perfect reflection of Crichton’s dual passions for art and technology.

Rauschenberg’s iconic Silkscreen Paintings were works that displayed what Robert Hughes has described as a “brilliantly heightened documentary flavor.” The canvases “… seemed to trap and accumulate an entire world of disparate and dynamic images on their demonstrably flat canvas surfaces.”

“One was reminded,” Hughes wrote, “of the shuttle and flicker of a TV set as the dial is clicked: rocket, eagle, Kennedy, dancers, oranges, box, all registered with the peacock-hued aniline-sharp intensity of electronic color.”

“Trapeze” arguably, is a summation of Rauschenberg’s greatest ideas and among the first works of 20th Century art “… to both anticipate and give visual form to the post-modernist idea of appropriation, seamless streaming imagery and information overload.”

“Trapeze” hammered at $5.6 million ($6.4 million with buyer’s premium) landing with uber-dealer Larry Gagosian who had sold the work to the consigner in the first place.

The purchase was not unexpected. The Gagosian Gallery had recently snatched exclusive representation of the artist’s estate from the Pace Gallery a month before the auctions were to begin.
 


YVES KLEIN (1928-1962)
Anthropometrie "Le Buffle" (ANT 93), 1960-1961
Pigment & resin on paper laid down on canvas
70 x 110 3/8 inches
Est.: $8,000,000-$12,000,000
Realized: $12,402,500
CHRISTIE'S, N.Y.
Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening (#2314)
May 11, 2010
Lot #35


One of the highlights of the evening sale was Yves Klein’s “Anthropometrie (ANT 93) Le Buffle”, (The Buffalo”), from 1960-1961. The six by nine foot pigment and resin monochrome work was expected to bring $10 million at auction. Executed in his signature Klein Blue (lKB) using a curvaceous model as one of his “living brushes”, the work on paper laid down on canvas brought $12.4 million (including buyer’s premium).

Like other artists of the “Nouveau Realiste” movement in France or the Italian artist Piero Manzoni, Klein’s practice was strongly influenced by the originality, irreverence and wit of the French artist Marcel Duchamp. Klein, who died of a heart attack at the age of 34 in 1962, is now seen as opening the gates for what came in the late 1960s and ‘70s and ‘80s in Minimalism, Conceptual and Performance Art.

Bolstering the sale was the artist’s upcoming solo museum shows at both the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.
 


ANDY WARHOL (American, 1928-1987)
Little Electric Chair, 1964-1965
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen
22 by 27 3/4 inches (55.9 by 70.5 cm.)
Pre-sale estimate: $2,000,000-$3,000,000
Price realized: $3,834,500
CHRISTIE'S, N.Y.: "Post-War & Contemporary Art", #2314
May 11, 2010
Lot #39
Illustration courtesy CHRISTIE'S IMAGES LTD.


Despite the art market’s skittish state of affairs, buyers with deep pockets lined up to buy Warhol’s work from the 1960s. The four lots offered from that decade brought a cool $33.3 million.

“Little Electric Chair”, from 1964-1965, Warhol’s chilling update on the age-old theme of momento mori— the spiritual mindfulness of death—constitutes one of the most powerful images in 20th-Century American art.

The artist based his painting on a press photo of an empty electric chair in a deserted prison chamber. Thought to be at Sing Sing State Penitentiary in New York, the executions were a topical subject in New York at this time and public debate around them may well have played a part in prompting Warhol’s choice of this sinister American icon as topical.

A perfect subject for inclusion in the series of “Death and Disaster” paintings that Warhol was preparing for his first exhibition in Paris at the Sonnabend Gallery, Warhol began using the image of the electric chair in 1963, the same year as the two final executions in New York State took place.

The emptiness and lack of human presence in the acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen work makes one feel completely isolated and alone; it makes you feel that darkness and death is near. Critics have said that the image of an unoccupied electric chair in an empty execution chamber becomes a poignant metaphor for death.

The catalog states: “On purely a pictorial level, the solitary emptiness and minimal vacancy of the image is profoundly disturbing. But this is also augmented by the deep blue and somber tones of Warhol’s grainy print and seemingly reinforced by the ominous single-word sign ordering ‘silence’.”

Expected to bring $2 million to $3 million, “Little Electric Chair” (a modern crucifix?) attracted enough cash-rich collectors that it exceeded its high estimate hammering at $3.4 ($3.8 with buyer’s premium).
 


ANDY WARHOL (American, 1928-1987)
Silver Liz, 1963
Spray enamel, synthetic polymer and silkscreen inks on linen
Diptych--40 by 80 inches (101.6 by 203.2 cm.)
Pre-sale estimate: $10,000,000-$15,000,000
Price realized: $18,338,500
CHRISTIE'S, N.Y.: "Post-War & Contemporary Art", #2314
May 11, 2010
Lot #45
Illustration courtesy CHRISTIE'S IMAGES LTD.


Two important aspects—mechanically reproduced readymade imagery and monochromatic color schemes—are evident in Warhol’s “Silver Liz” from 1963-1965. They will become, along with the principle of serial grid composition, the central strategies of Warhol’s entire painterly production.

Warhol’s “discovery” of the modernist tradition of monochrome painting—frequently concealed in the metallic monochrome sections of his paintings or blatantly in separate panels as in the spray enamel and synthetic polymer of “Silver Liz”—aligns his painterly work of the early 1960s with some of the key issues emerging from New York School painting with the monochrome strategies from the likes of Barnett Newman and Ad Reinhardt in the 1950s and into the early 1960s.

Evolving from the various stages of gold and silver “Marilyns” in 1962, followed by the silver series of “Elvis Presley” and numerous other paintings silkscreened on silver planes throughout 1963 and 1964 (“Marlon Brando”, “Tunafish Disaster”, “Thirteen Most Wanted Men”), Warhol produced the first diptych paintings with large-sized monochrome panels in 1963 (“Mustard Race Riot”, ”Blue Electric Chair”) and the first monochrome metallic diptychs in 1964 (“Round Jackies”) and the “Silver Liz” diptych shown here (Warhol added the “blank” panel two years after in 1965).

The “blanks”, as he called the monochrome panels (in his typically derogatory understatement), worked in opposition to the instantly readable presence of the mass cultural iconicity of “Liz”. Warhol’s postmodern “Readymade” star coupled with the “high art” purity of the opposing modernist silver panel was a winning combination at the podium. It hammered at $16.3 million ($18.3 million with buyer’s premium) making it the highest lot of the sale after Johns’s “Flag” and bringing the evening’s grand total to a very respectable $232 million. Only five of the 79 lots Christie’s offered failed to sell with Americans dominating the buying.

Phillips de Pury & Company
Phillips’s first 22 lots came from the collection of Halsey Minor, the technology entrepreneur who was forced to sell his “cutting-edge” Contemporary Art and 20th-century design collection because of a delinquent loan to an affiliate of Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch.

The “NY Times” reported that Phillips won the property over Christie’s because the house promised to give back 8 percent of their buyer’s premium to ML Private Finance L.L.C. the entity to which the proceeds would go.

Only 3 of the 22 lots offered failed to sell.
 


RICHARD PRINCE (American, b. 1949)
Nurse in Hollywood #4, 2004
Acrylic and inkjet on canvas
69 x 42 inches
Pre-sale est.: $5,000,000-$7,000,000
Price realized: $6,466,500
Phillips de Pury & Co.; "The Halsey Minor Collection", NY010410
May 13, 2010
Lot #8
Illustration courtesy Phillips de Pury & Co. Images Ltd.


Phillips realized a total of $21.1 million with Richard Prince’s “Nurse in Hollywood #4” from 2004 leading the pack, realizing $6.5 million against its $5 million-$7 million pre-sale estimate.

Prince’s nurse painting, a Dadaesque artwork consisting largely of the re-contextualization of a 1960s “naughty-nurse” pulp fiction book cover onto the sublime expressivity of a “high-art”, New York School painting-influenced canvas—drips included— oozes irony. The digitally enhanced, photographic ink-jet “ready-made” is high-jacked onto the beatific highs of the hand-painted, transcendental sacrality of what some critics refer to as Prince’s Mark Rothkoesque surface.
 


MARK NEWSON (Australian, b. 1962)
Prototype "Lockheed Lounge," 1988
Fiberglass-reinforced polyester resin core, blind-riveted sheet aluminum, paint
34 1/2 x 65 3/4 x 24 1/2 inches
Unique prototype
Pre-sale est.: $1,000,000-$1,500,000
Price realized: $2,098,500
Phillips de Pury & Co.:"The Halsey Minor Collection", NY010410
May 13, 2010
Lot #4
Illustration courtesy Phillips de Pury & Co. Images Ltd.


Another star of the court-ordered sale was the Marc Newson “Lockheed Lounge” chair.

Once used in a Madonna video clip for her hit single “Rain”, the 1988 executed artwork prototype—distinguished by its white exposed fiberglass-reinforced resin feet—zoomed past its conservative $1 million-1.5 million estimate landing in at $2.1 million (with buyer’s premium) making it a new global auction record for the artist.

A huge Newson fan, Minor also acquired prototype versions of the designer’s 1987 “Pod of Drawers” and an artist’s proof of his 1993 “Orgone Stretch Lounge”, both of which failed to sell.
 


MARK GROTJAHN (American, b. 1968)
Untitled (White Butterfly MG01), 2001
Oil on canvas in two parts
Left panel: 72 x 22 inches; Right panel: 72 x 18 inches
Pre-sale est.: $800,000-$1,200,000
Price realized: $1,426,500
Phillips de Pury & Co.: "The Halsey Minor Collection", NY010410
May 13, 2010
Lot #10
Illustration courtesy Phillips de Pury & Co. Images Ltd.


Los Angeles-based artist Mark Grotjahn’s elegant, sumptuous work “Untitled (White Butterfly MG01)” combines the hard-edge of Op Art with the transcendental delicacy of abstract expressionism. Set on two narrow and elongated canvases, Grotjahn’s bands of milky pigment expand from the centre as rays of blinding light.

Executed in 2001, the spellbinding diptych might be seen as a thinly veiled reference to New York City’s Twin Towers.

Estimated to hammer between $800,000-$1.2 million the quietly provocative work sold for $1.4 million (with buyer’s premium) a new world record for the artist.
 


ED RUSCHA (American, b. 1937)
Higher Standards/Lower Prices, 2007
Acrylic on canvas in two parts
48 x 110 inches each
Pre-sale est.: $1,500,000-$2,500,000
Price realized:$1,426,500
Phillips de Pury & Co.: "The haley Minor Collection", NY010410
May 13, 2010
Lot #7
Illustration courtesy Phillips de Pury & Co. Images, Ltd.


The catalog makes abundantly clear that mountain imagery has always served as a visual shorthand for the sublime, “… from the pantheist canvases of Caspar David Friedrich and the Catskills of the Hudson Eiver School to Ansel Adams’s photographs of the Rockies.”
Here, Ed Ruscha pairs one painting of a beautiful mountain range with another version of the same mountain range with the addition of some unwanted buildings in “Higher Standards/Lower Prices” from 2007.

An acrylic on canvas work in two parts, the work documents the dramatic effects of time in a manner that is both empirical and metaphorically charged. The presumably gargantuan size of these fictitious buildings—no doubt referencing Costco & Wal-Mart and the like—speaks to how commercialism and consumerism are rapidly encroaching on the natural world.

It sold for just under its low presale estimate at $1.4 million.
 


JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT (American, 1960-1988)
Rubber, 1984
Acrylic, oil and Xerox collage on wooden door
82 x 33 5/8 inches
Pre-sale est.: $1,500,000-$2,500,000
Price realized: $1,762,500
Phillips de Pury & Co.: "Part 1 -- Contemporary Art"; NY010110
May 13, 2010
Lot #116
Illustration courtesy Phillips de Pury & Co. Images Ltd.


The $21 million Halsey Minor auction was followed immediately by the $17.1 million “Part 1” of the house’s contemporary art multi-consignor sale with Jean-Michel Basquiat’s 1984 acrylic, oil and Xerox collage on wooden door entitled “Rubber” taking the top spot at $1.8 million.

By 1982, Basquiat was showing regularly alongside Julian Schnabel, David Salle, Francesco Clemente and Enzo Cucchi, becoming part of a loose-knit group that art-writers, curators and collectors would soon be calling the Neo-expressionist movement. He was soon to outpace them all even though his life was taken away from him by mixed-drug toxicity in 1988 when he was only 28 years old.

In 1977, when he was 17, Basquiat started spray-painting graffiti art on slum buildings in lower Manhattan, adding the infamous signature of “SAMO” or “SAMO shit” (i.e., “same ‘ol shit”). The graphics were pithy messages that later found there way onto his canvases and discarded wood he would find in his travels. The catalog gives a succinct description of the work below.

“Visually divided into three distinct sections by a triad of blue squares, the panel bears the illusion of a vertical triptych. Within each section floats a faceless and figureless head bearing cartoon-like resemblance to the artist, who has placed himself in many of his works. Each head floats alone in its space, punctuated by oversized yellow crowns that hint at power and authority; the marked absence of form and function invoke a sense of lost identity. Orbit-like and eyeless, affixing reptilian tongues mid-air, the demonic faces appear hungry, confined and suspended in space and time.”

Re-Cap
Art with a capital A is still the most fetishized of our commodities. Fine art is the last truly sacred thing within our materialistic culture that engages us in an intellectual and aesthetic challenge. Through acquisition—especially in key post-war artworks—participants can add their own particular inflection to the conversations and events of the day in a way that dovetails with the protean fire conventionally assigned to the artist alone.

And for those who have the luck of sufficient liquidity and a savvy take on the glamour and social status that surround rare, high-quality artworks that are undervalued, investments can have a financial appeal that remains unprecedented in trade among individuals globally.

PLEASE N.B.:
Thank you to www.artnet.com for extending their Price Database to track prices on some of the works of art referenced in this article.

RESERVES & 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 the article offered, he may invent bids up to the reserve, after which he 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 gavel 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 & 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 hammer price up to and including $50,000, 20% of any amount in excess of $50,000 up to and including $1,000,000, and 12% of any amount in excess of $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.

Spring, (New York) 2010
Contemporary Art
Totals $571,081,850


SOTHEBY’S
Evening: $189,969,000 / Day: $53,375,050 / Total: $243,344,050


CHRISTIE’S
Evening: $231,907,000 / Day: $50,156,675 / Total: $282,063,675


PHILLIPS de PURY & CO.
Halsey Minor: $21,049,500 / Part 1: $17,130,000 / Part 11: $7,494,625 / Total: $45,674,125


Top 25

1) ANDY WARHOL (1928-1987)
Self Portrait, 1986
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
108 x 108 inches
Pre-sale est.: $10,000,000-$15,000,000
Price realized: $32,562,500
SOTHEBY’S, N.Y.: “Contemporary Art Evening Auction”,
N08636
May 12, 2010
Lot #9


2) MARK ROTHKO (1903-1970)
Untitled, 1961
Oil on canvas
93 1/8 x 80 1/8 inches
Pre-sale est.: $18,000,000-$25,000,000
Price realized: $31,442,500
SOTHEBY’S, N.Y.: “Contemporary Art Evening Auction”,
N08636
May 12, 2010
Lot #14


3) JASPER JOHNS (b. 1930)
Flag, 1960-1966
Encaustic and printed paper collage on paper laid down on canvas
17 ½ x 26 ¾ inches
Pre-sale est.: $10,000,000-$15,000,000
Price realized: $28,642,500
CHRISTIE’S, N.Y.: “Works From the Collection of Michael Crichton”,
#2406
May 11, 2010
Lot #7
*WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR THE ARTIST


4) ANDY WARHOL (1928-1987)
Silver Liz, 1963
Spray enamel, synthetic polymer and silkscreen inks on linen
Diptych-40 x 80 inches
Pre-sale est.: $10,000,000-$15,000,000
Price realized: $18,338,500
CHRISTIE’S, N.Y.: “Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale”
#2314
May 11, 2010
Lot #45


5) YVES KLEIN (1928-1962)
Anthropometrie “Le Buffle” (ANT 93), 1960-1961
Pigment and resin on paper laid down on canvas
70 x 110 3/8 inches
Pre-sale est.: $8,000,000-$12,000,000
Price realized: $12,402,500
CHRISTIE’S, N.Y.: “Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale”
#2314
May 11, 2010
Lot #35


6) ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG (1925-2008)
Studio Painting, 1960-1961
Combine painting: Oil, charcoal, printed paper and fabric collage on canvas with metal, wire, twine, sewn and stuffed fabric, in two parts
75 ½ x 73 x 6 inches
Pre-sale est.: $6,000,000-$9,000,000
Price realized: $11,058,500
CHRISTIE’S, N.Y.: “Works from the Collection of Michael Crichton”
#2406
May 11, 2010
Lot #24


7) ROY LICHTENSTEIN (1923-1997)
Untitled Composition, 1978
Oil and magna on canvas
84 x 120 inches
Pre-sale est.: $4,500,000-$6,500,000
Price realized: $10,162,500
CHRISTIE’S, N.Y.: “Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale”
#2314
May 11, 2010
Lot #32


8) BRICE MARDEN (b. 1938)
Cold Mountain 1 (Path), 1988-1989
Oil on canvas
108 x 144 inches
Pre-sale est.: $10,000,000-$15,000,000
Price realized: $9,602,500
SOTHEBY’S, N.Y.: “Contemporary Art Evening Auction”
N08636
May 12, 2010
Lot #29
*WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR THE ARTIST


9) JACKSON POLLOCK (1912-1956)
Number 12A, 1948: Yellow, Grey, Black, 1948
Enamel on gesso ground on paper
22 ¾ x 30 ¾ inches
Pre-sale est.: $4,000,000-$6,000,000
Price realized: $8,762,500
SOTHEBY’S, N.Y.: “Contemporary Art Evening Auction”
N08636
May 12, 2010
Lot #12


10) MAURIZIO CATTELAN (b. 1960)
Untitled, 2001
Painted wax, hair and fabric
Figure: Height: 59 inches; Hole: 23 5/8 x 15 ¾ inches
Pre-sale estimate: $3,000,000-$4,000,000
Price realized: $7,922,500
SOTHEBY’S, N.Y.: “Contemporary Art Evening Auction”
N08636
May 12, 2010
Lot #41
*WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR THE ARTIST


11) ANDY WARHOL (1928-1987)
Four Flowers, 1964
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas in four panels
Overall: 48 x 48 inches
Pre-sale est.: $5,000,000-$7,000,000
Price realized: $7,642,500
SOTHEBY’S, N.Y.: “Contemporary Art Evening Auction”
N08636
May 12, 2010
Lot #24


12) JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT (1960-1988)
Untitled (Stardust), 1983
Acrylic and oilstick on canvas
84 x 52 inches
Pre-sale est.: $1,800,000-$2,500,000
Price realized: $7,250,500
SOTHEBY’S, N.Y.: “Contemporary Art Evening Auction”
N08636
Lot #52


13) PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
Femme et fillettes, 1961
Oil on canvas
63 7/8 x 51 ¼ inches
Pre-sale est.: $5,500,000-$7,500,000
Price realized: $6,578,500
CHRISTIE’S, N.Y.: “Works from the Collection of Michael Crichton”
#2406
May 11, 2010
Lot #13


14) RICHARD PRINCE (b. 1949)
Nurse in Hollywood #4, 2004
Acrylic and inkjet on canvas
69 x 42 inches
Pre-sale est.: $5,000,000-$7,000,000
Price realized: $6,466,500
PHILLIPS de PURY & CO., N.Y.: “The Halsey Minor Collection”
NY010410
May 13, 2010
Lot #8


2-WAY TIE
15) SAM FRANCIS (1923-1994)
Middle Blue, 1957
Oil on canvas
72 x 96 inches
Pre-sale est.: $3,000,000-$5,000,000
Price realized: $6,354,500
CHRISTIE’S, N.Y.: “Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale”
#2314
May 11, 2010
Lot #38
*WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR THE ARTIST

ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG (1925-2008)
Trapeze, 1964
Oil and silkscreen inks on canvas, in two parts
120 x 48 inches
Pre-sale estimate: $5,000,000-$7,000,000
Price realized: $6,354,500
CHRISTIE’S, N.Y.: “Works from the Collection of Michael Crichton”
#2406
May 11, 2010
Lot #9


16) JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT (1960-1988)
Self Portrait as a Heel, 1982
Acrylic and oilstick on canvas
50 x 40 inches
Pre-sale est.: $4,000,000-$6,000,000
Price realized: $5,986,500
CHRISTIE’S, N.Y.: “Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale”
#2314
May 11, 2010
Lot #60


17) ANDY WARHOL (1928-1987)
Self Portrait, 1964
Diptych-synthetic polymer, metallic paint and silkscreen inks on canvas
20 x 32 inches
Pre-sale est.: $5,000,000-$7,000,000
Price realized: $5,682,500
CHRISTIE’S, N.Y.: “Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale”
#2314
May 11, 2010
Lot #42


18) ANDY WARHOL (1928-1987)
Holly Solomon, 1966
9 panels-acrylic, silkscreen ink and graphite on linen
Each: 27 x 27 inches
Pre-sale est.: $7,000,000-$12,000,000
Price realized: $5,458,500
CHRISTIE’S, N.Y.: “Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale”
#2314
May 11, 2010
Lot #51


19) JASPER JOHNS (b. 1930)
Study for a Painting, 2002
Encaustic on linen and wood with metal and string
63 ¼ x 78 ¼ x 6 inches
Pre-sale est.: $3,000,000-$5,000,000
Price realized: $5,346,500
CHRISTIE’S, N.Y.: “Works from the Collection of Michael Crichton”
#2406
May 11, 2010
Lot #22


20) CHRISTOPHER WOOL (b. 1955)
Blue Fool, 1990
Enamel on aluminum
108 x 72 inches
Pre-sale est.: $1,500,000-$2,000,000
Price realized: $5,010,500
CHRISTIE’S, N.Y.: “Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale”
#2314
May 11, 2010
Lot #43
*WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR THE ARTIST


21) JUAN MUNOZ (1952-2001)
Conversation Piece 111, 2001
Bronze in six parts
Tallest: 60 x 26 x 36 inches
Shortest: 56 ½ x 36 x 29 inches
Pre-sale est.: $2,500,000-$3,500,000
Price realized: $4,898,500
SOTHEBY’S, N.Y.: “Contemporary Art Evening Auction”
N08636
May 12, 2010
Lot #47
*WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR THE ARTIST

2-WAY TIE
22) JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT (1960-1988)
Man Struck by Lightning-2 Witnesses, 1982
Acrylic and oilstick on canvas
72 x 72 inches
Pre-sale est.: $3,500,000-$4,500,000
Price realized: $4,786,500
CHRISTIE’S, N.Y.: “Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale”
#2314
May 11, 2010
Lot #44

MARK ROTHKO (1903-1970)
Untitled, 1959
Oil on paper laid down on board
37 ¾ x 25 7/8 inches
Pre-sale est.: $3,500,000-$4,500,000
Price realized: $4,786,500
CHRISTIES, N.Y.: “Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale”
#2314
May 11, 2010
Lot #53


2-WAY TIE
23) PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
Femme a la robe rose, 1917
Oil on canvas
39 ½ x 32 ¼ inches
Pre-sale est.: $5,500,000-$7,500,000
Price realized: $4,562,500
CHRISTIE’S, N.Y.: “Work from the Collection of Michael Crichton”
#2406
May 11, 2010
Lot #19

ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG (1925-2008)
Untitled, 1954
Combine painting-oil, printed paper and fabric collage with dried grass on wood box
15 ½ x 14 7/8 x 2 inches
Pre-sale est.: $3,500,000-$4,500,000
Price realized: $4,562,500
CHRISTIE’S, N.Y.: “Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale”
#2314
May 11, 2010
Lot #48


2-WAY TIE
24) ROY LICHTENSTEIN (1923-1997)
Figures in Landscape, 1977
Oil, magna and graphite on canvas
69 ¾ x 80 inches
Pre-sale est.: $2,500,000-$3,500,000
Price realized: $4,338,500
CHRISTIES, N.Y.: “Works from the Collection of Michael Crichton”
#2406
May 11, 2010
Lot #28

PIERO MANZONI (1933-1963)
Achrome, 1958
39 ½ x 29 ½ inches
Pre-sale est.: $3,000,000-$4,000,000
Price realized: $4,338,500
CHRISTIE’S, N.Y.: “Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale”
#2314
May 11, 2010
Lot #37


25) ROY LICHTENSTEIN (1923-1997)
Expressionist Head, 1980
Oil and magna on canvas
72 x 60 inches
Pre-sale est.: $3,500,000-$5,500,000
Price realized: $4,282,500
SOTHEBY’S, N.Y.: “Contemporary Art Evening Auction”
N08636
May 12, 2010
Lot #22

 

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