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Contemporary Art Evening Auction

Sotheby's New York

7 PM, November 16, 2017

Sale 9713

Bacon


Lot 40, "Three Studies of George Dyer," by Francis Bacon, oil on canvas, each part 14 by 12 inches, 1966

By Carter B. Horsley

The November 16, 2017 Contemporary Art Evening Auction at Sotheby's New York is highlighted by several fine works by Bacon, Basquiat, Burri, Dubuffet, Kiefer, Rosenquist,
Warhol, Smith, and a red Fomula One Ferrari, the last another attempt by the auction houses to upset traditional selling categories and pander to collectors of Contemporary Art.

The auction total was $310,200,000, a 12 percent increase over the previous year's results with 96 percent of the 72 offered lots selling and 61 percent being offered with guarantees or irrevocable bids.  All 24 works on paper from the Diamondstein-Spielvogel collection sold, two-thirds of them above their high estimates.

A November 17, 2017 article by Anna Louie Sussman at artsy.net suggest that the results indicated that Sotheby's "preferred to cut deals ahead of the sale rather than hold out for a little drama in the room."  She quoted Brett Gorvy, a partner in the New York gallery of Lévy Gorvy and a former executive at Christie's as saying "it shows they didn't have much interest in the works and just wanted to get these things sold."

Bidders hailed from 36 countries, but Ms. Sussman observed that "the presence of Asian buyers was muted in comparison to both houses’ Impressionist and Modern sales, suggesting a meaningful trend in activity from that region."


Lot 40, "Three Studies of George Dyer," is an oil on canvas by Francis Bacon (1909-1992) with each part measures 14 by 12 inches.  It was painted in 1966 and was once owned by Basil and Elise Goulandris of Athens. It has an estimate of $35,000,000 to $45,000,000.  It sold for $38,614,000 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article.
 
In the same private collection for nearly half a century, the small triptych is one of five that depicts his longtime lover.

The catalogue entry provides the following commentary:

"Appearing in over 40 paintings, with as any created following his death as executed during his lifetime, Dyer possesses a commanding presence unlike any other.  Charged with desire and framed within a seductive dark ground, Three Studies of George Dyer wields the full force of Bacon's painterly bravura and pictorial authority with arresting intensity and consummate psycyhological depth....Dyer, aged twenty-nine, attempted to break in and burgle Bacon's studio....Each of Dyer's three portraits reverberates with violent smudges and a psychological profundity; however, these smear, swipes and blows to Dyer's visage are not marks of brutality, but rather the artist's insistence on chance, play, and radiant prismatic color...."



Mao by Warhol

Lot 45, "Mao," by Andy Warhol, acrylic, silkscreen ink and pencil on canvas, 82 by 60 inches, 1972


Lot 45, a large portrait of "Mao" was one of 199 works by Andy Warhol (1928-1987) of the Chinese leader was part of his first set of 11 works that was conceived following Richard Nixon's historic visit to China.  An acryllic, silkscreen ink and pencil on canvas, it measures 82 by 60 inches and was painted in 1972.

It has an estimate of $30,000,000 to $40,000,000.  It sold for $32,404,500.

Warhol last supper 39

Lot 31, "The Last Supper," by Andy Warhol, acryllic and silkscreen inks on canvas, 40 1/8 inches square, 1986

Lot 31 is a 40 1/8-inch square painting of "The Last Supper" by Warhol that was painted in 1986.   The work was created for the inaugural exhibition of art dealer Alexander Iolas's gallery in Milan across the piazza where Leonardo's original was at the Santa Maria delle Grazie.  It was one of 20 versions of the scene by Warhol in the exhibit

 It has an estimate of $4,000,000 to $6,000,000.  It sold for $4,631,000.

Lichtenstein29

Lot 29, "Female Head," by Roy Lichtenstein, oil and magna on canvas, 60 by 50 inches, 1977

Lot 29, "Female Head" is an oil and magna on canvas by Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997) that measures 60 by 50 inches and was painted in 1977.

The catalogue entry provides the following commentary:

"A dazzling vision of exquisite beauty and peerless formal execution, Female Head represents the ultimate crescendo of Roy Lichtestein's pioneering investigation into the form, content and meaning of Contemporary Art....Female Head fuses the diverse vernacular of Cubism, Surrealisn and Pop Art in a captivating dialogue between masterpieces past and present.  The painting has been in the collection of the family of Michael Moorhead Rea for four decades and was included in major tourng exhibitions on Lichtenstein in 1981-2 and 1993-5. 

It has an estimate of $10,000,000 to $15,000,000.  It sold for $24,501,500.


The sale was also characterized by our largest and strongest ever group of works by female artists, with records for Laura Owens and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, as well as strong results for Marlene Dumas and Louise Bourgeois. For the first time, Sotheby’s offered in our Contemporary Art Evening Auction a Formula One Ferrari, driven by racing legend Michael Schumacher, which broke the auction record for a modern era Formula One car.


Duffet 37

Lot 37, "Maison Fondée," by Jean Dubuffet, oil on canvas, 45 1/4 by 35 inches, 1961

Lot 37, "Maison Fondée," is an oil on canvas by Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985) that measures 45 1/4 by 35 inches.  It was painted in 1961 and was once in the collection of Leslie Wexner of Columbus, Ohio.

The catalogue entry provides the following commentary:

"A jubilant fusion of form and motion, Maison Fondée brilliantly exemplifies the visual complexity, vibrancy and creativity which characterize the very best of Jean Dubuffet's celebrated oevre."

The lot has an estimate of $12,000,000 to $18,000,000.  It failed to sell at $11,800,000.



...Dubuffet 36

Lot 36, "Rue St. Lazarre (La Gratouille)," by Jean Dubuffet, gouache on paper, 19 5/8 by 26 1/2 inches, 1962

Another Dubuffet, Lot 36, painted on year after Lot 37, is the much bright and very frenetic "Rue St. Lazarre (La Gratouille)," a gouache on paper that measures 19 5/8 by 26 1/2 inches. 

The catalogue entry provides the following 1981 quotation from the artist:

"...there will only be aggressively unreasonable forms, colors gaudy without reason, a theater of irrealities, an outrageous attempt against everything existing, the way wide open for the most outlandish inventions."

The lot has a very modest estimate of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000.  It sold for $3,375,000.

Spider

Lot 34, "Spider IV," by Louise Bourgeois, bronze, 80 by71 by 21 inches, 2/6, 1997

Lot 34 is a large black bronze spider by Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010) that measures 80 by 71 by 21 inches and was created in 1997.  It is numbered 2 of 6.  It has been widely exhibited and published.  It has an estimate of $10,000,000 to $15,000,000.  It sold for $14,679,200, a record for one of her "wall-mounted spiders."




It was one of nine works by female artists in the sale (the most ever in a Sotheby’s contemporary evening auction), many of whom Billault noted did extremely well Thursday night.
Works by two other women, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and Laura Owens, also set artist records. There were over 10 bidders for an untitled 2012 work by Owens, who is currently the subject of a solo show at the Whitney Museum of American Art. They pushed the final price up to $1.45 million, or $1.7 million with fees, more than four times its $300,000 high estimate. Yiadom-Boakye’s The Hours Behind You (2011), from the collection of Jerome and Ellen Stern, also went for over four times its high estimate of $350,000, at a hammer price of $1.3 million, or $1.5 million with fees.

Burri

Lot 48, "Nero Plastica, L.A.," by Alberto Burri,  plastic, synthetic polymer paint and Vinavol on fabric, 52 1/8 by 78 inches, 1963

Lot 48 is a large and lugubrious work by Alberto Burri (1915-1995) entitled "Nero Plastica, L.A."  Made of plastic, synthetic polymer paint and Vinavil on fabric, it measures 52 1/8 by 78 inches and was created with blowtorch in 1963.  It was exhibited in the 2015-6 retrospective on the artist at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.

The catalogue entry provides the following commentary:

"A resplendent volcanic topography of molten black plastic, Nero Plastica, L.A. stands as an unimpeachable testament to the explosive visual dynamism and intricately rendered elegance of Alberto Burri's revolutionary artistic practice."

 It has an estimate on request.  It sold for $10,953,500.

Basquiat 32

Lot 32, "Cabra," by Jean-Michel Basquiat, acryllic and oilstick on canvas, 60 1/4 inches square, 1982

Lot 32 is a vibrant acryllic and oilstick on canvas by Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988).  It is entitled "Cabra" and is 60 1/4 inches square.  It was painted in 1982.  It is from the collection of Yoko Ono.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"Distinctly evocative of his encyclopedic absorptive relationship with visual culture, the present work invokes with remarkable specificity, one of Muhammed Ali's most historic triumphs, his victory over fellow heavyweight boxer Oscar 'The Bull' Bonavena in their epic face-off in December 1970....In a vibrant maelstrom of saturated pigment, furious oilstick, and fiercely bold symbolism, Basquiat canonizes Ali's iconic victory against The Bull, immortalizing not only his supreme athletic showmanship, but also the athlete's triumph over racial oppression and subjugation."

The lot has an estimate of $9,000,000 to $12,000,000.  It sold for $10,953,500.


Basquiat 52

Lot 52, "Flash in Naples," by Jean-Michel Basquiat, acrylic, oil and oilstick on canvas, 66 1/8 by 60 3/8 inches. 1983

Another good Basquiat, "Flash in Naples," an oil, acrylic and oilstick that was created in 1983 has an estimate of $7,000,000 to $10,000,000.  It sold for $8,131,000.  In 2010, it had sold for $3.3 million at Sotheby's in New York.
 
Gistpm 39

Lot 39, "The Visit," by Philip Guston, oil on canvas, 68 1/8 by 58 3/4 inches, 1955

A large and very strong oil on canvas by Philip Guston (1913-1980), Lot 39, "The Visit" measures 68 1/8 by 58 3/4 inches and was painted in 1955 and was included in a major show the next year at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  It has remained in the same family collection since 1957.  It has an estimate of $6,000,000 to $8,000,000.  It sold for $8,356,800.


Guston 68

Lot 68, "Untitled," by Guston, oil on panel, 48 by 60 inches, 1973

Another excellent Guston is Lot 68, "Untitled," an oil on panel from 1973 that measures 48 by 60 inches and is a fine example of his return to figurative style following his earlier involved with gestural expressionism.  It has a modest estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,500,000.  It sold for $3,315,000.

Hockney 38


Lot 38, "Breakfast at Malibu, Wednesday," by David Hockney, oil on canvas, 24 by 36 inches, 1989

Lot 38, "Breakfast at Malibu, Wednesday," is a 1989 oil on canvas by David Hockney (b. 1937) that measures 24 by 36 inches.  It was included in a 2017 retrospective on Hockney at the Tate Britain.  It has an estimate of $1,200,000 to $1,800,000.  It sold for $4,687,500.

Gurskewy 69
Lot 69, "Madonna 1," by Andreas Gursky, C-print mounted on Plexiglass, 111 3/8 by 81 1/2 inches, 2001

Lot 69 is a very large and impressive photograph by Andreas Gurskey (b. 1955) of a 2001 Madonna concert in which the artist made a collage of prints into a finished image.  The lot has an estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000.  It sold for $1,035,000.


Smith 41

Lot 41, "Voltri-Bolton X," by David Smith, steel, 81 7/8 by 41 1/2 by 15 inches, 1962

Lot 41 is a superb steel sculpture by David Smith (1906-1965) entitled "Voltri-Bolton X."  It measures 81 7/8 by 41 1/2 by 15 inches and was created in 1962.  It has been exhibited at Storm King and in the 2006-7 restrospective on the artist. The catalogue reproduces an image of Kazimir Malevich abstract painting "Suprematism" of 1915 of which is sculpture has a definity affinity. It is one of about two-dozen works in the Volti-Bolton series and it has an estimate of $6,000,000 to $8,000,000.  It sold for $8,695,000.


Ferrari

Lot 55, "2001 Ferrari F2001"

Lot 55 is a 2001 Ferrari with which Michael Schumacher won the Monaco Grand Prix championship.  This is not a great example of the stylistic artistic of the Italian carmaker and should not included in a Contemporary Art auction.  It has an estimate of $4,000,000 to $5,500,000.  It sold for $7,504,000.

The auction began with 24 works from the Diamondstein-Spieglvogel Collection whose proceeds will benefit a non-profit organization.


Kiefer

Lot 18, "Dein Goldenes Haar, Margarethe," by Anselm Kiefer, watercolor and pencil on paper, 19 3/4 by 25 1/4 inches, 1980


Lot 18, "Dein Goldenes Haar, Margarethe," is a watercolor and pencil on paper by Anselm Kiefer (b. 1945).  It measures 19 3/4 by 25 1/4 and was painted in 1980. It has an estimate of $300,000 to $400,000.  It sold for $435,000.



Lichtenstein

Lot 13, 'The White Tree," by Roy Lichtenstein, pencil and colored pencil on paper, 11 1/2 by 22 1/2 inches, 1979

Lot 13 is a good pencil and colored pencil on paper by Lichtenstein.  Entitled "The White Tree," it measures 11 1/2 by 22 1/2 inches and was created in 1979.  It has an estimate of $450,000 to $650,000.  It sold for $975,000.

Rothko

Lot 8, "Untitled," by Mark Rothko, acrylic on paper mounted on canvas, 27 3/4 by 21 1/2 inches, 1968

Lot 8 is a good, untitled, acrylic on paper mounted on canvas by Mark Rothko (1903-1970).  It measures 27 3/4 by 21 1/2 inches.  It was painted in 1968.  It has an estimate of $5,000,000 to $7,000,000.  It sold for $6,437,500.


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