By Carter B. Horsley
day auction at Sotheby's of Contemporary Art has a "morning"
catalogue and an "afternoon" catalogue.
The morning session features
some very nice works by Joseph Cornell (1903-1972) and a good
selection of post-war art highlighted by works by Brice Marden
(b. 1938), Wayne Thiebaud (b. 1920), Richard Artschwager (b. 1923),
Duane Hanson (1925-1996), George Segal (b. 1934), Alexander Calder
(1898-1976) and Andy Warhol (1928-1987).
Lot 195, "Construction
II (Custodian, Silent Dedication to MM)," by Cornell, is
a homage to Marilyn Monroe even though the objects in the mixed
media construction do not directly relate to the actress. The
excellent work measures 18 by 12 ¼ by 5 inches and was
executed in 1963. It has been consigned by the Collection of 7-Eleven,
Inc., and has an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold
for $92,750 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned
in this article.
Lot 185, "Untitled (Owl
Box)," is a good mixed media assemblage by Cornell that measures
9 ¼ by 5 ½ by 3 ¾ inches. Executed circa
1946-8, it has an estimate of $90,000 to $120,000 and is the back
cover illustration of the "morning" catalogue. It
failed to sell.
Lot 199, "Sand Tray,"
is another Cornell piece from the Collection of 7-Eleven Inc.
The wood and Plexiglass box with sand, lead ball, metal ring and
gouache on printed paper measures 6 ¼ by 9 ¾ by
1 ¼ inches and was executed circa 1949. It has an estimate
of $25,000 to $35,000. It sold for $41,000.
One of the strongest works
in the auction is Lot 144, "Untitled," by Brice Marden
(b. 1938), shown above. The frontispiece of the "morning"
catalogue, it is an ink and gouache on paper, 15 ½ by 12
inches, that was executed in 1980 and has an estimate of $60,000
to $80,000. It sold for $98,500.
Lot 106 is a very handsome
oil on canvas by Wayne Thiebaud, entitled "Interchange,"
shown above. The 39 ¾-by-26 ¾-inch painting is dated
1979 and has an estimate of $180,000 to $220,000. It sold for
$456,750. It is property of the Collection of 7-Eleven, Inc.
Lot 181, "Two Diners,"
is a fine work by Richard Artschwager that once was in the collection
of Asher B. Edelman. The 92-by-80-inch formica and acrylic on
celotex in artist's frame is dated 1987 and has an estimate of
$40,000 to $60,000. It sold for $38,125. It was exhibited
in the 1987 Biennial Exhibition of the Whitney Museum of American
Duane Hanson's sculptures usually
depict a variety of street or business people who often appear
a bit forlorn. Lot 111, however, is a snazzy, high-stepping "Baton
Twirler," decked out with red and white sequins. The 88 ½-inch
high polyester resin and Fiberglas, polychromed in oil and mixed
media sculpture was executed in 1970 and comes from the Collection
of Camille Oliver-Hoffmann. It has an estimate of only $60,000
to $80,000. It failed to sell.
Lot 184, "Helen Against
Wall with Door," is a 38-by-55-by-14-inch painted plaster
and wood work by George Segal that was executed in 1987 and has
a conservative estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It sold for
$258,750. This work is one of the artist's finest.
Lot 216, "Armadillo,"
is a fine and unusual painted metal stabile by Alexander Calder
that measures 8 ¾ by 19 ½ by 8 inches. Executed
circa 1965, the work comes from the Collection of 7-Eleven, Inc.,
and has an estimate of $50,000 to $70,000. It sold for $46,750.
Lots 107, which is illustrated
on the "morning" catalogue's cover, 108 and 109 are
works from Andy Warhol's "Ladies and Gentlemen" series
from the mid-1970s about drag queens. The catalogue notes that
"the genesis of the Ladies and Gentlemen series occurred
during a European trip in 1974 when Luciano Anselminio suggested
a portfolio of prints on the transvestite stars of Andy's films."
"Instead," the catalogue continued, "Warhol chose
to photograph anonymous transvestites with a less polished look.
The ten models for Ladies and Gentlemen were brought to his studio
from the Gilded Grape, a bar on Eighth Avenue and 45th Street,
and were paid by the half-hour to pose for Warhol's Polaroid.
With its long figurative tradition, Europe was an appropriate
arena for the genesis of this series, and it was only exhibited
as a group once during the artist's lifetime at the 16th Century
Palazzo di Diamante in Ferrara.
Lot 109 is dated 1975 and consists
of 12 images. The 56 ½-by-31 5/8-inch synthetic polymer
and silkscreen ink on canvas has an estimate of $250,000 to $350,000.
It sold for $573,750.
The back-cover illustration
of the "afternoon" catalogue is Lot 281, "Female
Bust," by Andres Serrano (b. 1950), shown at the top of this
article. It is a 40-by-30 Cibachrome print that was executed in
1888 and is number 4 of an edition of ten. It has an estimate
of $30,000 to $40,000. It sold for $43,875.
Lot 314, "All Those Eyes,"
is a 27 ½-by-31 1/2-inch gelatin silver print by Louise
Lawler (b. 1947) of two of Jeff Koons's most famous porcelain
sculptures, "Michael Jackson and Bubbles" and "The
Pink Panther." The catalogue does not indicate whether the
"Michael Jackson and Bubbles," which was made in an
edition of four, is the same one being auctioned by Sotheby's
May 15, 2001. (See The
City Review article.)
This lot is number 5/5 and is dated 1989 and has an estimate of
$20,000 to $25,000. It sold for $28,350.
One of the more striking lots
in the afternoon session is Lot 357, "Transparent No. 1,"
by Sigmar Polke (b. 1941), shown above. The 51-by-47 3/8-inch
resin on canvas in artist's frame and stand is dated 1988 and
has a conservative estimate of $150,000 to $200,000. It sold
The catalogue provides the
"In the late 1980s, Sigmar
Polke began a series of works which incorporated the translucency
of hydro-sensitive paints on a double-sided, free-standing canvas
exemplified by Transparent No. 1. Polke was influenced by a device
called the Laterna Magica, a precursor of the moving picture-show
dating from the late 1800s. In the `Transparent' series, he attempted
to superimpose multiple images, each its own picture with its
own perspective. His combinations of these images, which at once
seem incompatible and heterogeneous, become united in a montage
of metamorphic illusion.Polke may be deemed a modern day alchemist
due to his fascination with the effects of various materials in
combination. Propped on the stand like a double-sided Renaissance
drawing, this work's layerof resins and paint are distinctly visible.
These distract the eye from clearly perceiving any one image in
the painting, creating a dreamscape of disparate images. The resulting
tension between the visible and the invisible qualities of the
work lends an aura of mystery and suspense to these lushly beautiful
paintings, typified by Transparent No. 1."
Lot 371, "Muro Lamine,"
is an impressive work by Enzo Cucchi (b. 1949). The 98 ½-by-118
1/8-inch pigment, metal and color inlay on concrete is in two
parts and was executed in 1987. It has an estimate of $35,000
to $45,000. It failed to sell.