"Juan Muņoz is one of the most important sculptors of his generation, and his enigmatic sculptures are no doubt a testament to the artist’s ability to confront, confound and beguile his audience. With a distinct emphasis on a return to the human form as well as on the relationship between sculpture, architecture and the viewer, Muņoz’s oeuvre is comprised mostly of sculptures, ‘conversation pieces’ and immersive installations that often place the viewer in a dramatic relationship to surrounding space and objects. The present piece, Three Laughing at One, is one of Muņoz’s latest works completed in 2000–one year before his tragic death in 2001. Following true to the artist’s iconic style, Three Laughing at One is a sculptural tableau comprised of monochromatic figures of men in grey, all modelled realistically and dressed in contemporary attire. The dynamic trio, while life-like, is intended to elicit ambiguity, frustrate and trigger doubt. Visually, the polyester-resin figures scaled to under life-size so that a little perspectival trick allows the viewer to perceive them as being further away–and higher up–than they really are. The surprise of such effect draws the viewer closer to the sculpture and ultimately subverts the relationship between the viewer and the artwork: instead of commanding the perspective, the subject at once becomes the object and all at once, the viewer is the one being looked at, and laughed at, by the three ventriloquist dummies."
Working his way from the center of the canvas outward
within a distinct compositional format, Noland's color schemes
developed in a similar progression of repeated concentric images as the
squares of his former professor Josef Albers, with whom he studied in
1947 at Black Mountain College. Concentrating on color as his primary
concern, Noland rigorously experimented with varying palettes.
Blooming and pulsating with light, the evocatively titled
painting, Heat, is simultaneously dense and
fluid, with the prominent raw canvas–a defining feature of Noland's
oeuvre–dramatizing the bold, stained colors that in turn create a
virtual spinning of the colored bands.
"Beyond the work’s formal qualities, Gottlieb succeeds in uniting the two predominant divisions of Abstract Expressionism, placing them in dynamic coexistence within a single frame. The black form in the bottom is painted in a choppy, painterly manner reminiscent of the active gestural expressionism of Jackson Pollock or Franz Kline, while the circle on top calls to mind the Color Field painting of Helen Frankenthaler or Mark Rothko. While the two schools are often seen as mutually exclusive, Gottlieb combines them with masterful ease, playing them against each other to enhance the texture of the work.
"The Burst paintings are a series governed by, if not idolizing, duality and opposition. The stability and calm of the green only serves to emphasize and exaggerate the passion and energy of the lower form. The composition draws on the constant volatility and flux of nature and the pre-historic struggles between order and chaos, creation and destruction, earth and fire. However, despite these inherent contrasts, the masses are linked together, inextricably drawn to each other by an invisible force. In fact, it is this tension between the two forms that contributes to the work’s elegance and lends the piece its hypnotic allure.
"Drawing heavily on the philosophy of the time, Gottlieb was particularly influenced by the work of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. From Freud he drew on the idea of the division of the conscious and subconscious, always striving to create something that was true to his inner self. Painting became a means toward self-discovery: 'When I feel I am fully charged and ready to let go on the canvas, I’m not in a position to analyze and view myself in an objective way. I have to let my feelings go and it is only afterwards that I become aware of what my feelings really were. ... From Jung he further drew on the idea of the binary, internalizing his assertion that nothing can exist without its opposite – that a being without opposites is completely unthinkable.'"
The catalogue provides the following commentary:
"The original creative impulse for Untitled emerged
from the profile of Ruscha’s 1939 Ford Sedan, whose outline reminded
the artist of a lumbering elephant. Both the Ford and the elephant
exhibit the same curvature along their backsides; the image of both
automobile and animal struggling uphill bearing such a colossal weight
appeared pleasingly poetic to Ruscha. This humorous transformation and
distortion of a typical Pop, mass-produced object in the form of a car
into an elephant holds many of Ruscha’s typical interests and yet
extends his art into realms and imagery he had not previously
explored....Smooth as a silver gelatin print and just out of focus, the
enigmatic Untitled was also inspired by black and white
photography and old celluloid film....With the elephant metonymically
representing America, Ruscha portrays the country to be in a literal
uphill struggle against the endangerment of its myth of greatness."
The catalogue notes that "In 2008, Anselm Kiefer unveiled a new cycle of works that focuses on the biblical figure of the Virgin Mary. The group of roughly thirty paintings and one sculpture was presented to the public in a highly-anticipated solo exhibition at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac in Salzburg titled Maria durch ein Dornwald ging [Maria walks amid the Thorn] – a German Advent and Christmas carol about the Virgin Mary which has been popular for over a century. Most paintings in this extensive group were fabricated in 2007/08, however the present piece is an immaculate exception in that it was started in the 1970s and completed over a number of months throughout the decades.
"In Maria durch ein Dornwald ging," the entry continues, "the focus of attention has been placed on the Christian religion and the iconography of the divine, a theme central to Anselm Kiefer’s philosophical concerns as well as artistic output for many years. In this body of works, elements that usually dominate the artist’s compositions such as landscapes and lakes are replaced with dramatic sites of mythological scenes including the assumption of the blessed Virgin Mary, the birth of Virgin Mary and the Holy House of Loreto, the invocation of the Virgin Mary through the Litany of Loreto and the Hail Mary prayer, and the appearance of God in the burning bush....the oversized composition is dominated by a set of majestic wings set against an abstract expanse of thick impasto. The astonishing layers of media and pigment, voluminous yet delicate, are iconic of the artist’s distinctive sedimenthing working method and a true testament of his artistic prowess. Kiefer’s approach is a fine balance between figuration and abstraction, and the result is a mesmerizing paradoxical canvas that hovers between emptiness and fullness. For over thirty years, Kiefer’s oeuvre has been characterized by a process of sedimentation, crossing, and reworking of themes, motifs and constellations that reappear time and again in very different media and formats."
It has an estimate of $500,000 to $700,000. It sold for $790,000.
"1968 was an important year for de Kooning. At this time, the artist travelled to Rome, and began experimenting with sculpture. The present work relates specifically to de Kooning's important sculptures, and it should be seen in this context. As with de Kooning's famed Woman series of an earlier decade, the present work references ancient depictions of women found in Cycladic and Sumerian sculptures that the artist observed on trips to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. But rather than the piercing frontal glare and glinting teeth of the ferocious 1950s Women, de Kooning's female form of the 1960s more closely resembles the voluptuous abdomen and thighs of an ancient fertility goddess, lying invitingly supine in a natural landscape. In the present work, the flesh of de Kooning's figures dematerialize into the swirling strokes that denote background and setting, presaging the complete merging of figure and ground. The flattened abstraction and clustered subjects in Two Figures I certainly relate to the art historical debate surrounding modernist pictorial space. Nevertheless the ambiguous and barely discernable figures exude an explicit sexuality. The provocative nature of this arousing subject matter is evident."
The work has an estimate of $600,000 to $800,000. It failed to sell.
The City Review article on the
Fall 2012 Impressionist & Modern
Art auction at Sotheby's New York
See The City Review article on the Fall 2012 Impressionist & Modern Art day auction at Sotheby's New York
See The City Review article on the Spring 2012 Impressionist & Modern Art auction at Sotheby's
See The City Review article on the Spring 2012 Impressionist & Modern Art auction at Christie's
See The City Review article on the Fall 2011 Impressionist & Modern Art auction at Sotheby's
See The City Review article on the Fall 2011 Impressionist & Modern Art auction at Christie's
See The City Review article on the Spring 2011 Impressionist & Modern Art auction at Sotheby's
See The City Review article on the Spring 2011 Impressionist & Modern Art auction at Christie's
See The City Review article on the Fall 2010 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's
See The City Review article on the Fall 2010 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Christie's
See The City Review article on the Spring 2010 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's
See The City Review article on the Spring 2010 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Christie's
See The City Review article on the Fall 2009 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's
See The City Review article on the Fall 2009 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Christie's
See The City Review article on the Spring 2009 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's
See The City Review article on the Spring 2009 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Christie's
See The City Review article on the Fall 2008 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Christie's
See The City Review article on the Fall 2008 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's