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Contemporary Art

Christie's New York

 7 P.M., May 15, 2013

Sale 2785

Historic Auction Totals More Than $495 Million, Highest Total Ever

Records set for Pollock, Lichtenstein, Basquiat, Guston and others


Pollock

Lot 18, "Number 19, 1948," by Jackson Pollock, oil and enamel on paper mounted on canvas, 30 7/8 by 22 5/8 inches

 
By Carter B. Horsley

The evening auction of Contemporary Art at Christie's New York May 15, 2013 has a fine "drip" building by Jackson Pollock, an excellent "zag" painting by Clyfford Still, three very good works by Willem de Kooning, a couple of good works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Franz Kline and Joseph Cornell, naturally a few by Andy Warhol and a fine Julie Mehretu.

Pollock detail

Detail of Lot 18

In an article in the February 19, 1949 edition of The Nation, Clement Greenberg, the critic, observed in his review of the second solo exhibition of Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) at the Betty Parsons Gallery that "the general quality that emerged from such pictures, especially Number Nineeen seemed more than enough to justify the claim that Pollock is one of the major painters of our time."

This lot is the cover illustration of the catalogue and the catalogue entry for it notes that "Displaying a fascinatingly dense, intricate and animated abstract surface - one that reveals the extraordinary mastery that Pollock had over his radical new medium of pouring, dripping and flicking enamel paint onto an unprimed ground - Number 19 of 1948 is one of the richest most engaging and successfully resolved of all theseg amous works."

"Emulating the techniques of the Navajo Indian sand painters that Pollock had known as a child, the placing of the painting on the ground made a surprising degree of difference in Pollok's working practice.  Not merely in terms of enhancing the ritualistic and totemic nature of the picture-making, but in freeing the painting from its traditional...field within which it was to be worked.  not only did his placing of the canvas on the ground then actively encourage drips and spills of paint onto its surface rather than direct applicaton with a brush but, most important of all, it enabled and encouraged the aritst to work around the picture from all sides and to treat its entire surface equally and non-hierarchically - to treat the canvas and its image as an holistic as well as a totemic and ritualistic entity."

It has an estimate of $25,000,000 to $35,000,000.

It sold for $58,363,750 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article, easily surpassing the previous auction record for Pollock of $40,402,500 set at Sotheby's New York November 13, 2012.

Koji Inoue, head of the evening sale, and Brett Gorvy, chairman and international head of Post-War and Contemporary Art at post-auction press conference

Koji Inoue, head of evening sale, and Brett Gorvy, chairman and International Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art, can barely contain their joy at the sale's results at press conference.


The auction was a sensational and historic success with its total of $495,021,500 making it the highest total in history and easily surpassing last fall's total of $412 million at Christie's New York as well as the previous night auction at Sotheby's that totalled $293,600,000.

Auctioner Jussi Pylkkanen soliciting bids

Auctioneer Jussi Pylkannen soliciting bids from one of the telephone "banks"


Auctioneer Pylkkanen accepting a bid

Auctioneer Pylkannen accepting a bid for a Hans Hofmann painting from the other telephone "bank"


Jussi Pylkkanen

Auctioneer Pylkannen at the post-auction press conference


At the press conference after the auction, Jussi Pylkannen said that there is "a new era in the art market with global competition that we have never seen before and it's reached a stage where it is quite difficult" to make estimates for works of very important quality that are now "reaching levels we couldn't have imagined  a few years ago."

"There's so much energy," he said and buyers increasingly want to be where the auction is," in the room and not on the phones, Mr. Pylkannen declared.  Mr. Pylkanned conducted the auction brilliantly like a master, with humor, vigor, drama and fine pace and the obvious heir to Christopher Burge's wonderful legacy of raptuously wooing and delighting bidders.  Mr. Burge recently retired as Chrstie's lead auctioneer, a post he held for decades.

The audience at Christie's burst into loud applause at least four times as Mr. Pylkannen banged his gavel with record prices and when the last work was sold the telephone bank of Christie's executives cheered loudly and long and euphoria was palpable.
Clyfford Still

Lot 21, "PH-1," by Clyfford Still, oil on canvas, 79 by 68  1/2 inches, 1953

Lot 21 is a majestic oil on canvas by Clyfford Still (1904-1980) entitled "PH-1."  It measures 79 by 68 1/2 inches and was painted in 1953.  It is a classic Still abstracton that conjures a jagged universe of very vibrant and colorful floating forms.  The composition is magnetic and energized and hypnotic.  This painting was included in the artist's retrospective show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1979-1980.  It has a conservative estimate of $15,000,000 to $20,000,000.
Christie's executives talking to bidders on phone

Executives at Christie's working the phones during offering of major painting by Clyfford Still, shown on screen

It was passed at $14 million and was one of only 4 lots that failed to sell out of 70 offered and the biggest surprise.

Bacon

Lot 46, "Study for Portrait," oil on canvas, 78 by 58 1/8 inches, 1981

Lot 46 is a good "Study for Portrait," by Francis Bacon (1909-1992).  An oil on canvas, it measures 78 by 58 1/8 inches and was painted in 1981.  


The lot has a conservative estimate of $18,000,000 to $25,000,000.  It was withdrawn even though it was better than one offered the previous night at Sotheby's.


Basquiat

Lot 10, "Dustheads," by Jean-Michel Basquiat, acrylic, oilstick, spray enamel and metallic paint on canvas, 72 by 84 inches, 1982

Lot 10 is a big and bold work by Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) entitled "Dustheads."  An acrylic, oilstick, spray enamel and metallic paint on canvas, it measures 72 by 84 inches and was painted in 1982.  It has an estimate of $25,000,000 to $35,000 and has been widely exhibited and published.  It sold for $48,843,750, shattering the artist's previous auction record of $26,402,500 set at Christie's New York November 14, 2012.

Basquiat 2

Lot 6, "Furious Man," by Jean-Michel Basquiat, oilstick, acrylic, wax crayon and ink on paper, 30 by 22 inches, 1982

Lot 6 is a good Basquiat acrylic, oilstick, wax crayon and ink on paper entitled "Furious Man."  It measures 30 by 22 inches and was created in 1982.  It has a modest estimate of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000.  It sold for $5,723,750.

Lichtenstein lady


Lot 34, "Woman with Flowered Hat," by Roy Lichtenstein, magna on canvas, 50 1/8 by 40 1/4 inches, 1963

Lot 34 is a widely exhibited and published 1963 work by Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997) entitled "Woman with Flowered Hat."  A magna on canvas, it measures 50 1/8 by 40 1/4 inches  It was formerly in the collections of Mr. and Mrs. Leon A. Mnuchin, Mr. and Mrs. S. I. Newhouse and the Gagosian Galllery.  According to Carol Vogel's May 16, 2013 article in The New York Times the seller was Ronald O. Perelman and the work is the "Pop artist's take on a Picasso canvas with the same title."  "Laurence Graff, the London jeweler, bought the Lichtenstein for $50 million, or $56.1 million with fees, well above its $32 million high estimate.  It was also a record setter for the artist at auction.  Mr. Graff, who sat in the front row of the salesroom, patiently outbid three telephone contenders.  After the sale, he said he had  bought it as a birthday present for himself; he turns 75 on June 13," the article continued.


Lichtenstein nude

Lot 49, "Nude with Yellow Flower," by Roy Lichtenstein, oil and magna on canvas, 92 by 72 inches, 1994

A later Lichtenstein, Lot 49, "Nude with Yellow Flower," is an oil and magna on canvas that measures 92 by 72 inches.  It was painted in 1994.  It has an estimate of $12,000,000 to $16,000,000. It sold for $23,643,750.

Rothko

Lot 55, ""Untitled (Black on Maroon)," by Mark Rothko, oil on canvas, 72 by 45 inches, 1958

Lot 55 is a dark oil on canvas by Mark Rothko (1903-1970). "Untitled (Black on Maroon)," it measures 72 by 45 inches and was painted in 1958.  It has an estimate of $15,000,000 to $20,000,000.  It sold for $27,003,750.

Guston

Lot 23, "To Fellini," by Philip Guston, "oil on canvas, 69 by 74 inches, 1958

Lot 23 is a large oil on canvas by Philip Guston (1913-1980) entitled "To Fellini."  It measures 69 by 74 inches and was painted in 1958.  It was formerly in the collection of Nelson A. Rockefeller, Richard Manoogian of Grosse Pointe and the Gagosian Gallery. It has been widely exhibited. It has an estimate of $8,000,000 to $12,000,000.  It sold for $25,883,750, an auction record for the artist.



DeKooning

Lot 17, "Untitled (XVII)," by Willem de Kooning, oil on canvas 80 by 70, 1984

Lot 17 is a good painting of flying colored ribbons against a white background by Willem de Kooning (1904-1997).  "Untitled (XVII)" is an oil on canvas that measures 80 by 70 inches and was painted in 1984.  It has been widely exhibited and published. It comes from the collection of Andy Williams, the singer.  It has an estimmte of $4,000,000 to $6,000,000. It sold for $9,755,750.


DeKooning1

Lot 59, 'Untitled," by Willem de Kooning, oil on canvas, 80 by 70 inches, 1987

Another of de Kooning's late lyrical abstractions is Lot 59, "Untitled," an oil on canvas from 1987 that measures 80 by 70 inches.  Like Lot 17, it is more attractive than many of the paintings in this series because many of the "ribbons" are thicker, making for a more interesting composition.  It has an estimate of $3,000,000 to $4,000,000.  It sold for $4,603,750.


DeKooning3

Lot 29, "Woman (Blue Eyes)," by Willem de Kooning, oil, enamel, and charcoal on two sheets of paper (laid down on canvas), 28 by 20 inches, 1953

Lot 29 is a strong and colorful work by de Kooning that is entitled "Woman (Blue Eyes)," an oil, enamel, and charcoal on two sheets of paper laid down on canvas.  It measures 28 by 20 inches and was executed in 1953.  It was given to the Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo by Seymour Knox in 1986 and then deaccessioned about a decade later.  It has an ambitious estimate of $12,000,000 to $16,000,000.  It sold for $19,163,750.

Julie Mehretu

Lot 52, "Retopistics: A Renegade Excavation," by Julie Mehretu, ink and acrylic on canvas 102 1/2 by 208 1/2 inches, 2001

One of the auction's most spectacular works is Lot 52, "Retopistics: A Renegade Excavation," by Julie Mehretu (b. 1970), an ink and acrylic on canvas that measures 102 1/2 by 208 1/2 inches.  It was executed in 2001.  It was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2007.  It has an estimate of $1,400,000 to $1,800,000.  It sold for $4.603,750.


Twombly

Lot 44, "Untitled (Gaeta)," by Cy Twombly, oil based house paint, acrylic, wax crayon, lead pencil and paper collage on wooden panel, 49 1/2 by 72 3/4 inches, 2000

Lot 44 is a large wooden panel by Cy Twombly (1928-2011) that is more colorful than most of his works.  It measures 49 1/2 by 72 3/4 inches and was created in 2000.  It has an estimate of $5,000,000 to $7,000,000.  It sold for $6,395,750.


Twombly sculpture

Lot 33, "Untitled (Rome)," by Cy Twombly, bronze 76 1/4 inches high, 1987, number 5 from an edition of six

Lot 33 is a scrawny and distinctively unattractive, bronze sculpture by Twombly that is 76 1/4 inches high and was created in 1987 as number 5 of an edition of six.  The structure holds a simulation of a poppy pod. The catalogue entry maintains that "the formal parallel with Alberto Giacometti's celebrated Walking Man I, 1960, cannot go unmentioned." It has an estimate of $6,000,000 to $8,000,000.  It sold for $7,789,750.

Cornell princess


Lot 46, "Medici Princess," by Joseph Cornell, wood box construction - glass, tinted glass,mirror, wood, printed paper collage, paint and nails, 16 5/8 by 11 3/4 by 4 5/8 inches, circa 1950s

Lot 46, "Medici Princess," is one of the fine wood box constructions by Joseph Cornell (1903-1972).  It measures 16 5/8 by 11 3/4 by 4 5/8 inches and was made circa 1950s.  It has an estimate of $700,000 to $1,000,000.  It failed to sell and was passed at $500,000.

Cornell glasses

Lot 19, "Magic Soap Bubble Set," by Joseph Cornell, wood box construction 18 by 22  by 3 1/4 inches, 1940

Another Cornell wood box construction is Lot 19, "Magic Soap Bubble Set."  It measures 18 by 22 by 3 1/4 inches and was created in 1940.  It has an estimate of $500,000 to $700,000.  It sold for $4,827,750.


Warhol self-portrait

Lot 31, "Self Portrait," by Andy Warhol, synthetic polymer and silkscreen ink on canvas, 22 inches square, 1968


Lot 31 is a strong self portrait by Andy Warhol (1928-1987) that is synthetic polymer and silkscreen ink on canvas.  It is 22 inches square and was created in 1968.  It was once in the collection of Albert and Vera List of Greenwich, Conn., and the Dominique Levy Gallery in New York.  It has an estimate of $4,000,000 to $6,000,000.  It sold for $5,219,750.


Warhol Marilyns

Lot 51, "Nine Multicolored Marilyns (Reversal Series)," by Andy Warhol, synthetic polymer and silkscreen inks, 54 1/4 by 41 5/8 inches, 1979-1986

Lot 51 is a synthetic polymer and silkscreen inks on canvas by Warhol of "Nine Multicolored Marilyns (Reversal Series)."  It measures 54 1/4 by 41 5/8 inches and was created 1979-1986.  It has an estimate of $5,500,000 to $6,500,000. It sold for $7,403,750.


Warhol Mao

Lot 39, "Mao," by Andy Warhol, synthetic polymer and silkscreen ink on canvas, 26 by 22 inches, 1973

Lot 39 is a portrait of Mao against a green background by Andy Warhol.  A synthetic polymer and silkscreen ink on canvas, it measures 26 by 22 inches and was created i 1973.  It is property from the collectin of Celeste and Armand Bartos.  It has an estimate of $3,000,000 to $4,000,000.  It sold for $6,283,750.


Kline

Lot 25, "Accent aigu," by Franz Kline,, oil  on canvas 78 by 49 iinches, 1957

Lot 25 is an excellent abstraction by Franz Kline (1910-1962) that is entitled "Accent aigu."  An oil on canvas, it measures 78 by 49 inches and was painted in 1957.  It has an estimate of $9,000,000 to $12,000,000.  It failed to sell and was passed at $7,500,000.


Kline 1

Lot 72, "Painting No. 3," by Franz Kline, oil on masonite, 37 7/8 by 30 7/8 inches, 1952

A smaller and earlier Kline is Lot 72, "Painting No. 3," an oil on masonite that measures 37 7/8 by 30 7/8 inches and was painted in 1852.  It has an estimate of $2,000,000 to $3,000,000.  It sold for $2,811,750.


Gottlieb


Lot 24, "Balance," by Adolph Gottlieb, oil on canvas, 60 by 90 inches, 1960

Lot 24 is a very fine abstraction by Adolph Gottlieb (1903-1974) that is property of the Robert F. Mayer Family Collection.  Mr. Mayer helped found the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago in 1961. The oil on canvas measures 60 by 90 inches and was painted in 1960.  It has a modest estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000.  It sold for $3,259,750.

Plates by Koons

Lot 64, "Plate Set," by Jeff Koons, oil on canvas, 126 by 116 inches, 1995-8

Lot 64 is a large and bright oil on canvas by Jeff Koons (b. 1955), the subject of a cover article in this week's edition of New York  Magazine.  Entitled "Plate Set," it measures 126 by 116 inches and was painted 1995-8.  It has an estimate of $4,000,000 to $6,000,000.  It failed to sell and was passed at $3,100,000.  At Sotheby's the previous night, Koons also encountered some buyer resistence as two of five offered works by him found no buyers.




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See The City Review article on the Contemporary Art Spring 2012 evening auction at Sotheby's New York

See The City Review article on the Contemporary Art Spring 2012 evening auction at Christie's New York

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See The City Review article on the Contemporary Art evening auction at Phillips de Pury May 12, 2011

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See The City Review article on the Fall 2010 Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2010 Contemporary Art day auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2010 Contemporary Art evening auction at Phillips de Pury


See The City Review article on the Spring 2010 Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's


See The City Review article on the Spring 2010 Contemporary Art day auction at Sotheby's


See The City Review article on the Spring 2010 Contemporary Art evening auction at Phillips de Pury

See The City Review article on the Spring 2010 Contemporary Art day auction at Phillips de Pury


See The City Review article on the Fall 2009 Contemporary Art evening auction at Christie's


See The City Review article on the Fall 2009 Contemporary Art day auction at Christie's


See The City Review article on the Fall 2009 Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's


See The City Review article on the Fall 2009 Contemporary Art day auction at Sotheby's


See The City Review Fall 2009 Contemporary Art evening auction at Phillips de Pury


See The City Review article on the Spring 2009 evening Contemporary Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2009 evening Contemporary Art auction at Christie's

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See The City Review article on the Spring 2008 Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2008 Contemporary Art evening auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2007 Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2007 Contemporary Art evening auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2006 Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2006 Contemporary Art evening auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2006 Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2006 Contemporary Art evening auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2005 Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2005 Post-War and Contemporary Art evening auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2005 Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2005 Contemporary Art evening auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2004 Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2004 Contemporary Art evening auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2004 Contemporary Art evening auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the May 12, 2004 morning session Contemporary Art auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the May 12 Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the May 13 Contemporary Art morning auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2003 Contemporary Art evening auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's Fall 2003

See The City Review article on the Contemporary Art evening auction at Christie's Spring 2003

See The City Review article on the Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's Spring 2003

See The City Review article on the Contemporary Art evening auction at Christie's Fall 2002

See The City Review article on the Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's Fall 2002

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See The City Review article on the Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's May 15, 2002

See The City Review article on the Contemporary Art day auction at Sotheby's May 16, 2002

See The City Review article on the Contemporary Art evening auction in the fall of 2001 at Christie's

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See The City Review article on the Christie's Post-War Art evening auction May 16, 2001

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See The City Review article on the Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's, Nov. 14, 2000

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See The City Review article on the Christie's, May 19, 1999 Contemporary Art auction

See The City Review article on the Christie's, May 20, 1999 Contemporary Art Part 2 auction
 

 



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