17, "Onement VI," by Barnett Newman, oil on canvas, 102 by 120 inches,
Carter B. Horsley
catalogue for this evening auction of Contemporary Art at Sotheby's
New York is 500 pages long and very heavy.
entry for the catalogue cover illustration, Lot 17, "Onement VI," by
Barnett Newman, is 14 pages long and the cover illustration shows only
a detail of the work with the artist, wearing a bowtie with his
eyeglasses hanging on a ribbon around his neck, standing next to it
proudly Artists don't usually appear in photographs on the
cover of evening auction catalogues.
is not the evening's only star as Jeff Koons has five works in the
auction and other highlights include stellar works by Mark Bradford and
Cecily Brown and strong examples by Clyfford Still, Francis Bacon,
Richard Diebenkorn, George Condo and Mark Rothko.
Newman is an oil on canvas that measures 102 by 120 inches and was
painted in 1953. It was once in the collection of Richard
catalogue provides the following commentary about the painting:
VI by Barnett Newman overwhelms and seduces the viewer with the
totality of its sensual, cascading washes of vibrant blue coexisting
with Newman's vertical 'Sign' of the human presence, his iconic and
has an estimate of $30,000,000 to $40,000,000. It
sold for $43,845,000 including the buyer's premium as do all results
mentioned in this article. It was a record for the artist at
the 64 offered lots, 53, or 82.8 percent, sold for $293,587,000.
The pre-sale estimate for $283,950,000 to $382,900,000.
"Domplatz, Mailand (Cathedral Square, Milan)," by Gerhard Richter, oil
on canvas, 108 by 114 inches, 1968
Lot 20 is an enormous oil on
canvas by Gerhard Riuchter (b. 1932) (see The
City Review article on Richter) that shows his
blurred, grisaille rendering of half of a photograph of the famous
square in Milan with the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II on the left and
the Duomo on the right. It measures 108 by 114 inches and was
painted in 1968. For about 30 years, it was owned by
Siemens-Elettra in Milan and it was consigned by the Hyatt Hotels
Corporation. The catalogue states that his is "a simply breathtaking
triumph of Gerhard Richter's 1960s photo-painting" and "was at the time
of its execution the largest figurative painting he had created and
stands today as the epitoje of this period of career." The catalogue
entry also quotes Robert Storr very accurate description of the work
that "brushed in generally thin, gently seismic vertical and horizontal
hatchings, the image wobbles optically, and the perspective shifts and
torques as it it were emanating from a giant black-and-white television
set with bad reception."
It has an estimate of $30,000,000 to
sold for $37,125,000, a record for the artist at auction and a record
for a living artist and was more than ten times
the price the work achieved at Sotheby's in London in 1998.
"PH-21," by Clyfford Still, oil on canvas, 77 by 68 3/4 inches, 1962
Lot 25 is a strong oil on
canvas by Clyfford Still (1904-1980) that measures 77 by 68 3/4 inches
and was painted in 1962. Its catalogue entry runs 16 pages, a
reflection, perhaps that the artist used more colors than Barnett
The Clyfford Still Museum
opened last year in Denver.
The lot has an estimate of
$16,000,000 to $20,000. It
sold for $20,885,000.
Lot 23, Study for Portrait
of P.L.," by Francis Bacon, oil on canvas, 78 by 57 inches, 1962
23 is a large oil on canvas by Francis Bacon (1909-1992) that is
entitled "Study for Portrait of P.L." It measures 78 by 57
inches and was painted in 1962.
It has an estimate of
$30,000,000 to $40,000,000. It
was passed at $27,000,000.
Detail of Lot
catalogue provides the following commentary about this work:
"Study for a Portrait of P.L.
marks a critical transition in Francis Bacon's historic oeuvre.
It is simultaneously an astonishingly intimate portrait of
the then most important person in the artist's life, Peter Lacy, and a
masterpiece of physiognomic, psychological and emotional analysis.
The....smears and blows of coagulated paint narrate the
extradordinary personal story of love, obsession, chaos
and disaster that had existed for much of the previous decade
between Bacon and Lacy."
37, "Lobster," by Jeff Koons, polychromed aluminum and coated steel
chain, 97 by 18 7/8 by 37 inches, 2003, this is number three of an
edition of three and one artist's proof
Lot 37, "Lobster," by Jeff
Koons (b. 1955), is polychromed aluminum and coated steel
chain and measures 97 by 18 7/8 by 37 inches. It was created
in 2003 and is number three of an
edition of three and one artist's proof. It has an estimate
of $6,000,000 to $8,000,000. It
sold for $6,325,000.
36, "New Hoover Celebrity IV, New Hoover Convertible, New Shelton 5
Gallon Wet/Dry, New Shelton 10 Gallon Wet/Dry Double-decker," by Jeff
Koons, four vacuum cleaners, fluorescent lights, acrylic, 99 by 53 1/4
by 28 inches, 1981-6
36 are four vacuum cleaners arranged in acrylic above fluorescent
lights by Jeff Koons. The work is entitled, "New Hoover
Celebrity IV, New Hoover Convertible, New Shelton 5
Gallon Wet/Dry, New Shelton 10 Gallon Wet/Dry Double-decker," and it
measures 99 by 53 1/4
by 28 inches. It was conceived and put together 1981-6.
It has an estimate of $10,000,000 to $15,000,000. It was passed at
"Balloon Monkey Wall Relief," by Jeff Koons, silkscreen on stainless
steel with polychromed edges, 103 5/8 by 119 7/8 by 1 1/4 inches, 2011-3
Lot 50 is
a Balloon Monkey
Wall Relief by Jeff Koons that measures 103 5/8 by 119 7/8 by 1 1/4
inches. It is silkscreen on stainless steel with polychromed
edges and was created in 2011-3. It has been donated by the
artist to the Artists for the Whitney of the Future. It has
an estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000. It sold for $785,000.
Rotter, the head of the Contemporary Department in New York said that
"works to benefit the Whitney Museum of American Art's new building"
totalled $11,806,000 in the auction, exceeding the high estimate of
Lot 38, "Wall
Relief with Bird," by Jeff Koons, polychromed wood, 72 by 50 by 27
inches, 1991, number one from an edition of three and an artist's proof.
Lot 38 is a large floral
display with a humming bird in polychromed wood by Jeff Koons.
The work measures 72 by 50 by 27 inches and was made in 1991.
It is number one of an edition of three and one artist's
proof. It has an estimate of $6,000,000 to $8,000,000. It was passed at $5,000,000.
Lot 9, "The
New Jeff Koons," by Jeff Koons, duratran, fluorescent light box, 40 5/8
by 30 5/8 by 8 inches, 1980
Lot 9 is a lightbox
enlargement of a photograph by Jeff Koons (b. 1955) when he was four
years old. It measures 40 5/8 by 30 5/8 by 8 inches and was
created in 1980. In the catalogue entry, the artist explains
that this was his "kindergarden photograph," adding that "This was at a
time when I really felt,or could recognizse that I felt like
an artist for the first time, and that art had come in under my feet
and was just taking me away, and I was following it. I always
like to think that the picture showed my greatest amount of integrity."
The work is unique. It has an estimate
of $2,500,000 to $3,500,000. It
sold for $9,405,000.
Clearly, the Koons market is full of surprises.
"Untitled," by Mark Rothko, oil on paper laid down on board, 48 1/2 by
40 1/2 inches, 1969
Lot 22 is an untitled oil on
paper laid down on board by Mark Rothko (1903-1970). It
measures 48 1/2 by 40 1/2 inches and was executed in 1969.
The catalogue provides the following commentary:
"The present work emanates an endemic luminosity through the paper's
capacity both to absorb and to reflect, and its composition is infused
with a certain energized tranquility. Here the bar of rich
dark hues simultaneously conjures both a central presence and a
void-like absence, pushing out into the expanse of blue around it at
the same time as apparently drawing the color into its abyss.
This horizontal axis provides both a point of focus and
demarcates a perennial balance-counterbalance relationship between the
areas above and below."
It has an estimate of $6,000,000 to $8,000,000. It was passed at $5,250,000.
16, "Ocean Park No. 46," by Richard Diebenkorn, oil on canvas, 81
inches square, 1971
Lot 16 is a huge oil on
canvas by Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993) (see The
City Review article on Diebenkorn) that is entitled "Ocean
Park No. 46." Ocean Park is a section of Santa Monica in
California and the artist began this famous series in 1967 and
continued it for 20 years. This work, which is 81 inches
square, was executed in 1971.
"With the Ocean Park series," the catalogue noted, "Diebenkorn sought
to occupy the space between figuration and abstraction with lyrical
ease....Like the planes and facets of color laid thinly and delicately,
one on top of the other, colored lines of paint are drawn and redawrn,
nearly covered and then retraced. Washes of pinks, peaches,
lavenders and yellows are embraced by bold stripes of blue, red, green
and yellow, banding and marking off geometric fields.
Diebenkorn shifted them as he constructed the composition,
leaving pentimenti as trace records of old ideas and hints of what
might have been; and yet the final solution, the topmost layer, lays
claim to a restful seemingly inevitable solution. Diebenkorn
took pains to show this painting as a process of altenative
decisiveness and recanting all advanced through the tactile materiality
of paint on canvas."
That is a fine description of most of the works in the series, but this
example is just too large and lacks the artist's normal poetry and
It has an estimate of $6,000,000 to $8,000,000. It sold for $11,085,000.
Lot 27, "The
Blue Unconscious," by Jackson Pollock, oil on canvas, 84 by 56 inches,
27, "The Blue Unconscious," is an oil on canvas by Jackson Pollock
(1912-1956) (see The City Review
article on Pollock) that measures 84 by 56 inches and was
painted in 1946.
The catalogue entry describes it was an immediate precursor of the
final breakthrough of his epochal "drip" technique in 1947.
It is the largest of the seven paintings in the artis's
"Sounds in the grass" series of 1946 that reflect his response to the
landscape of his new home in The Springs on Long Island. "The
Blue Unconscious embodies Pollock's searh for an organic integration of
both imagery with abstraction as well as emotive imulse with
technique," the entry continued.
The lot has an estimate of $20,000,000 to $30,000,000. It sold for $20,885,000.
"Untitled (Julius Caesar on Gold),"by Jean-Michel Basquiat, gold paint,
arili and oilstrick on canvas, 50 inches square, 1981
33 is a strong work by Jean-Michael Basquiat 91960-1988) entitled
"Untitled (Julius Caesar on Gold)." It is gold paint, acrylic
and oilstick on canvas and meausres 50 inches square. It wa
painted in 1981.It
an estimate of $7,000,000 to $9,000,000. It sold for $6,325,000.
"Purple and Yellow Abstraction," by George Condo, acrylic, charcoal and
pastel on canvas, 58 by 66 inches, 2012
works in the auction has been donated for "Artists For The Whitney of
the Future." One is Lot 5, Purple and Yellow Abstraction," by
George Condo (b. 1957). An acrylic, charcoal and pastel on
canvas, it measures 58 by 66 inches and was painted last year.
It was donated by the artist and the Skarstedt Gallery and is
one of the artist's best works.
It has an estimate of $300,000
to $400,000. It
sold for $1,055,000.
"Merry Widow," by Cecily Brown, oil on canvas, 76 by 98 inches, 1998
62, "Merry Widow," is a very large and dramatic and intriguing oil on
canvas by Cecily Brown (b. 1969). It measures 76 by 98 inches
and was created in 1998.
Detail of 62
It is reminiscent of the work of Hieronymous Bosch and Francis Bacon,
scrambled together. It has an estimate of $700,000 to
$1,000,000. It sold for $965,000.
"Potable Water," by Mark Bradford, billboard paper, photomechanical
reproductions, acrylic gel medium and additional mixed media on paper,
130 by 196 inches, 2005
63 is a very striking and very large work by Mark Bradford (b. 1961)
entitled "Potable Water." It is billboard paper,
photomechanical reproduction, acrylic gel medium and additional mixed
media on paper.
Detail of Lot
It is 130 by196 inches and
was created in 2005. It has an estimate of $600,000 to $800,000. It sold for $701,000.
"Stadium," by Maurizio Cattelan, wood, acrylic, steel and plastic,
47 1/4 by 276 by 27 1/2 inches, 1991
Lot 39 is a multi-player
gaming board that is entitled "Stadium" and was created by Maurizio
Cattelan (b. 1960) in 1991. It is made of wood, acrylic,
steel and plasic and measures 47 1/4 by 276 by 27 1/2 inches.
It was the artist's first sculpture.
of Lot 39
It has an estimate
of $2,500,000 to $3,500,000. It sold for $2,629,000.
"Great American Nude #44,"by Tom Wesselmann, acrylic and paper collage
on board with radiator, telephone, coat and door, 81 1/8 by 106 1/4 by
12 1/2 inches, 1963
30 is an amusing work by Tom Wesselmann (1931-2004) entitled "Great
American Nude #44." It consists of acrylic and paper collage
on board with radiator, telephone, coat and door. It measures
81 1/8 by 106 1/4 by 12 1/2 inches . It was created
in 1963. It was once in the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Robert
C. Scull of New York and has been exhibited and published widely.
It has an estimate of $4,000,000 to $6,000,000. It sold for $4,085,000.
44, "Pink Smash," by Adolph Gottlieb, oil on canvas, 108 by 90 inches,
44 is a major and large oil on canvas by Adolph Gottlieb (1903-1974).
Entitled "Pink Smash," it measures 108 by 90 inches and was
painted in 1959.
It has an estimate of $3,000,000 to
sold for $3,301,000.
"Sculpture éponge bleue sans titre, SE 168," by Yves Klein, 44 1/2
inches high, 1959
12, "Sculpture éponge bleue sans titre, SE 168," is a 44 1/2 inche high
circular sponge with two holes painted in deep blue on a narrow wire
stem, also painted blue, by Yves Klein (1928-1962). It was
once in the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Burton Tremaine of Meriden,
Connecticut andisproperty from the collection of Sidney Janis.
It has an "estimate on request." It sold for $22,005,000, a record
for a sculpture by the artist.
Lot 49, "ET's
Long Neck, Two Brains, Penis and Scrotum," by Mike Kelly, found stuffed
animals, 129 7/8 by 10 1/8 by 9 inches, 1989
49 is a vertical assemblage of stuffed animals by Mike Kelly
(1954-2012). Entitled "ET's Long Neck, Two Brains, Penis and
Scrotum," it is 129 7/9 inches high and was created in 1989.
It has an estimate of $450,000 to $650,000. It sold for $485,000.
"Untitled," by Cy Twombly, oil, wax crayon and chalk on paper, 27 1/2
by 39 1/4 inches, 1971
1 is an excellent oil, wax crayon and chalk on paper by Cy Twombly
(1928-2011) that was created in 1971 and measures 27 1/2 by 39 1/4
inches and is a gift of the Cy Twombly Foundation to Artists for the
Future of the Whitney. it hs a modest estimate of $500,000 to
sold for $1,385,000.
"Airborne," by Morris Louis, magna on canvas, 92 1/2 inches square, 1959
45 is a lovely work by Morris Louis (1912-1962) entitled "Airborne."
A magna on canvas, it is 92 1/2 inches square and was painted
in 1959. It has an estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000. It sold for $1,685,000.
"Baltimore Oriole Securing Freshwater Fish," by Ed Ruscha,, oil on
canvas, 59 by 55 inches, 1965
31, "Baltimore Oriole Securing Freshwater Fish," is an oil on canvas by
Ed Ruscha (b. 1937). It measures 59 by 55 inches and was
painted in 1965, The whimsical picture has an ambitious
estimate of $3,000,000 to $5,000,000. It sold for $4,757,000.
"Cagney,"by Andy Warhol, silkscreen print on paper, 29 7/8 by 39 7/8