"In Ripley Street Ridge, executed in 1976, Wayne Thiebaud’s brilliant palette and luscious handling of rich oil paint create a layered dialogue between realism and abstraction, in which the intensity of light, the play of shadow, and the conversation between architecture, street, and sky capture the true essence of Thiebaud’s beloved San Francisco. Thiebaud has long been recognized as one of America’s most prominent and celebrated artists for his paintings of pies and cakes, delicatessen counters, figure studies, and cityscapes that restructure space and perspective. The improbable geometry of Thiebaud’s San Francisco streetscapes, with their steep hills and dramatic horizon lines, demonstrates the complexities of form and structure inherent in Thiebaud’s practice. The thick impasto and candy-colored accents of paint lend the work a kaleidoscopic luminosity that brings to mind the iconic compositions of edible goods painted throughout his impressive and storied career. In Ripley Street Ridge, Thiebaud’s acute sensibility for color and texture packs a powerful visual punch, inviting viewers to return, again and again, to examine the sensuous surface. The Whitney Museum of American Art’s recent acquisition of Ripley Ridge (1977), a slightly larger canvas painted the following year— which depicts the very same scene as the present work— further affirms the position of this painting among the most iconic and significant examples of the artist’s oeuvre from this period.
"Ripley Street Ridge captures the post-war landscape of San Francisco, marking a significant shift from the still-life and figurative subjects that primarily preoccupied the artist in the 1960s and early 1970s. Painted in 1976, just four years after Thiebaud’s move to the city, Ripley Street Ridge demonstrates the artist’s fascination with the contradictions of urban life coexisting in a scene of extreme foreshortening and shifting perspectives. The precise articulation of the buildings and California sky demonstrate the artist’s keen interest in representation, yet the focus on atmospheric color and light rather than line or ground reveals Thiebaud’s masterful technique and concern with abstraction as a device. The dynamic topography of San Francisco, with its steep hills and dramatic viewpoints, was the perfect inspiration and platform for exaggerating spatial dynamics and investigating the intricacies of composing a painting. Thiebaud recalls, 'I was playing around with the abstract notion of edge–I was fascinated, living in San Francisco, by the way different streets just came in and then just vanished' (The artist in Exh. Cat., Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Wayne Thiebaud: A Paintings Retrospective, 2000, p. 58). Beyond the vanishing streets, Thiebaud pushes the horizon line to the top of the canvas and envelops the left side of the painting in the suggestion of a seemingly endless blue sky that solidifies the earth-ground orientation. In his detailing of the windows and rooftops that populate the street in question, Thiebaud ensures the shapes and vivid colors of this scene are not perceived as merely abstract forms.
"Through his work, Thiebaud explores non-objective experimentation with form, color and composition. Upon closer inspection, Thiebaud’s mastery of the arrangement of color and form in Ripley Street Ridge echoes the condensed structural organization as several of Pierre Matisse’s paintings, such as Interior at Nice from 1919. Here, Matisse explores a range of rich colors both cool and warm to capture the lush textures and patterns adorning the sitter’s lavish home overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The hard edge of the large open door creates a dramatic perspective that similarly foreshortens the sea, allowing the artist to capture the expansive landscape beyond the interior space articulated on canvas through the interplay of vertical and horizontal lines. Interestingly, both Matisse and Thiebaud’s handling of rich oil paint translates into nearly identical palm trees that appear in both compositions despite the artists’ unique and divergent painting styles.
"Furthermore, Thiebaud’s experimentation and play between abstraction and realism calls to mind the work of Richard Diebenkorn and his Ocean Park series, in particular Ocean Park #19, which is in the permanent collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Thiebaud’s geometrically complex cityscapes are networks of faceted, interlocking planes of light and color, which convincingly portray the dramatic vantage points and pitched perspectives of San Francisco, while verging on pure abstraction through the collapse of spatial depth and sweeping swaths of color. Fellow Californians, Thiebaud and Diebenkorn share a love of light and each possesses an ineffable genius for capturing the fleeting qualities of light and shadow with his brush. On the surface, Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park series and Thiebaud’s landscapes and cityscapes strike us as being very different in their use of color and composition, but what they share is a concise pictoral vocabulary. Despite having a style and technique all his own, Thiebaud and his work pay homage to a long genealogy of artists, including Edward Hopper, Piet Mondrian and Giorgio Morandi, among others. Thiebaud himself remarked, 'I’m very influenced by the tradition of painting and not at all self-conscious about identifying my sources' (The artist in Exh. Cat., Wayne Thiebaud: A Paintings Retrospective, 2000, p. 11).
"In the spring of 1961, several years before the present work was painted, Thiebaud found himself in New York seeking gallery representation. Dealer Allan Stone encountered the discouraged artist outside his 82nd Street gallery following a long day of dealer visits. Stone, among the ranks of pre-eminent New York dealers, such as Leo Castelli and Sidney Janis, instinctively liked the artist and was intrigued by his works, which were far different than those of the Abstract Expressionist artists dominating the New York art scene. Thiebaud’s paintings are so serenely poised in their geometry, actively asserted in their space and haloed with punchy color that they seductively vibrate and resonate before the eye. Stone’s partnership and mentorship allowed Thiebaud to remain removed from the New York art world, geographically and creatively, while still experiencing national critical success. Thiebaud praised Stone following his first 1962 show at the Allan Stone Gallery saying, 'Allan really then became a friend. He was very, very careful with the work. He tried to ensure that it wouldn’t be collected by people who were just interested in the kind of dynamics of the art world' (Wayne Thiebaud in Oral history interview with Wayne Thiebaud, 2001 May 17-18, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution). Ripley Street Ridge, first sold through Allan Stone Gallery, caught the renowned dealer’s eye and was therefore destined to remain in the collections of true taste-making collectors.
"Thiebaud’s cityscapes such as Ripley Street Ridge provided the perfect forum through which he could explore the opposing tensions between modern abstraction and classic representation. As he observed, “There is an element of oriental art in them, that kind of flattening out of planes–and a lot of playing around...San Francisco is a fantasy city. It’s easy to make it into a pretend city, a kind of fairy tale” (The artist in Exh. Cat., Wayne Thiebaud: A Retrospective, 2000, p. 58).
"Thiebaud’s reference to ‘fantasy’ sheds light on the fact that his street scenes are not simply mere acts of observation, but also dynamic explorations of form and color. Thiebaud exercises any number of manipulations in the arrangement of elements, from color to light to texture of paint, to produce paintings that are, first and foremost, vibrant artistic constructions. Thiebaud’s distinctive painterly technique and kaleidoscopic use of color pay homage to his vibrant California lifestyle and landscape, telling the tale of the artist’s enduring romance with San Francisco. Thiebaud, celebrating his 99th birthday on the day of the Contemporary Art Day Auction, has long delighted in painting the impossible by celebrating the flatness of his paintings’ surfaces while capturing the nearly vertical hills of San Francisco. Ripley Street Ridge stands out as a museum-quality work in which Thiebaud pushes toward abstraction without ever crossing over in a way only he can master."
The lot has an estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,500,000. It sold for $3,320,000.
"Fernando Botero's monumental sculpture is cherished worldwide. Globally exhibited for over four decades, Botero's astonishing bronzes have graced the public squares of Latin American towns, idyllic European boulevards, and the main avenues of large metropolises on every continent. From Bogotá to Paris, New York to Hong Kong, Botero’s voluptuous and instantly recognizable characters have become ingrained in the public memory. Inescapable, his monumental sculpture has transcended its stationary nature to become integral to our understanding of these spaces.
"From the beginning of his artistic career over six decades ago, Botero has drawn inspiration from historical sources ranging from Roman and Greek classical sculpture to Renaissance and Baroque painting. Although historically grounded, his work can simultaneously portray everyday imagery; glimpses of human experience ranging from the intimate to the public, the personal to the political.
"Among his most celebrated sculptural series is his homage to Titian’s (Tiziano Vecillio) Rape of Europa. Painted by the Italian artist sometime during the period of 1559 to 1562 for the King of Spain Phillip II, the work depicts a demure and vulnerable Europa flailing her arms and legs as she is suddenly carried away on Jupiter’s back. Disguised as an ornamented white bull, Jupiter's massive strength seems to confront the viewer while two playful Cupids entertain themselves flying carelessly in a turbulent sky. While a clear reference to Titian’s masterpiece, Botero’s interpretation of this historical subject is a keen embodiment of his approach to contemporary sculpture. Distilled to its primary actors, Botero portrays Jupiter as an amiable bull whose tender nature is diametrically opposed to Titian’s fierce treatment. Likewise, our Europa appears placidly and comfortably seated on this larger than life bull; her long hair creating a beautiful cascade on her nude body. Feminine and coquettish, she crosses her legs and raises her right arm behind her head in a flirting pose more closely resembling the unabashed attitude of a contemporary model than that of a frightened mythological princess. Botero’s Rape of Europa is unequivocally unsentimental.
"As with other historical imagery, Botero reveals a surprising alternative narrative: one where women have been purposely afforded control of their fates. No longer victimized, they reveal themselves as powerful participants rejoicing in their choices—whether situated in family kitchens, brothels or opera houses. Ultimately, Botero’s monumental sculptures are formal masterpieces of composed volume and mass. He has said of his sculpture, 'I never give particular traits to my figures. I don’t want them to have personality, but rather that they represent a type that I create… what matters for me is the form, the voluptuous surfaces which emphasize the sensuality of my work.'"
"Executed in 1970, amidst a time of intense experimentation and global artistic innovation, Sam Gilliam’s With Crimson is a prismatic example of the artist’s highly coveted beveled edge canvases. Gilliam pushed the genre of Color Field painting forward as an influential leader of the Washington Color School. With Crimson embodies the very best of Gilliam’s extraordinarily colorful abstractions created using his pioneering painting technique which upended centuries of conventional practices. The exploding rays of vibrant jewel tones are anchored by rich crimson, for which the painting is titled, and by force invites the viewer into the otherworldly cosmos of color. Overflowing with a kaleidoscopic frenzy of Day-Glo highlights and secondary shades of blue, where these colors coalesce, they form deep pools of gradient pigment that dissolve into one another producing a dynamic sense of painterly activity. Warm tones emanate from the heart of the canvas in a spread of sunset orange and ruby red crimson, while cooler tendrils of violet and shards of teal cut through the surface of the work, fanning out into a polychrome topography.
"With Crimson has remained in the prominent collection of Arthur and Gigi Lazarus for nearly 50 years. Indeed, the Lazarus family acquired With Crimson in 1971 from Jefferson Place Gallery in Washington, D.C., a cooperative gallery that promoted emerging artists of the Washington Color School, including Kenneth Noland, Gene Davis, Howard Mehring and, of course, Sam Gilliam. Nesta Dorrance, who ran the gallery from 1961 until its closing in 1974, was instrumental in launching Gilliam’s career on an international level. Just two years after the present work was painted, Gilliam would go on to represent the United States at the Venice Biennale, having the distinction of being the first African American artist to ever do so.
"Gilliam’s many contributions to the art historical canon include his innovative process. First, he soaked an unprimed canvas in a diluted mixture of acrylic paint which he would then fold and twist onto itself. Gilliam would then suspend the saturated canvas overnight, leaving the paint to soak, mingle, stain and spread under the natural gravitational pull. Returning to the canvas the following morning, Gilliam would then sponge, daub, splatter and further fold or roll the canvas in order to unearth unexpected geometries and combinations. This carefully calculated yet fortuitous choreography becomes recorded on the surface of the finished product, much in the same way Jackson Pollock’s dynamic drips and daubs traced his dance-like circumlocution around the studio.
"Measuring nearly six feet across, With Crimson is expansive and sculptural. Gilliam here has created an object overflowing with contradictions that wrestle on the surface: the canvas is both dense with architectural blocks of color yet appears airy and seemingly weightless. Interested in breaking down the traditional distinctions between painting, architecture and sculpture, Gilliam's final tool to blur these rigid distinctions was to implement the use of beveled edged stretchers, which give the impression that a painting is emerging three-dimensionally from the wall as an object of weight and substance.
"Radiating an inner glow, Gilliam’s With Crimson elevates
the sensory potential of color, depth and form. Through his
groundbreaking process of creation, Gilliam makes paint luminous,
combining a myriad of finishes and pigments with sophisticated color
transitions on a sculptural surface, all of which mimic the qualities
of light and shadow."
It has an estimate of $600,000 to $800,000. It sold for $1,004,000.
Lot 106,"Domremy," by Sam Francis, watercolor and gouache on paper, 27 by 40 inches, 1958
106, "Domremy," is a great watercolor and gouache on paper by Sam
Francis (1923-1994). It measures 27 by 40 inches and was painted
"Sam Francis’ lyrical Domrémy is a mystical example of the
artist's output at the height of his career. The gouache’s reds and maroon,
ochres, and deep black are tinged with subtleties of blue that brings one
deeper and deeper into the work. Executed in 1958, after the artist had
completed two trips around the world that brought him from
"Layering nearly translucent areas of color with more thickly
applied gouache, the color in Domrémy jumps from itself to the starkness of the
untouched white sheet. The expanses of deliberate, vivid color are exacerbated
by the vastness of the negative space on either side of the cascading
color—areas that are highly intentional. While in
"In Gregory in the Pool (Paper Pool 4), David Hockney captures an endearing view of his friend and lover, Gregory Evans, during a forty-five day stay with master printmaker Kenneth Tyler at Tyler's Mt. Kisco home. Hockney’s various explorations of the Paper Pool series from this period remain a celebration of the artist’s highly-coveted and deeply personal theme in which painting and paper-making are fused. Both serendipity and chance intervened in the late summer of 1978, as Hockney found himself temporarily stranded in New York while attempting to return to California following a trip to London. Having misplaced his driver’s license, Hockney was forced to stay in New York and called Kenneth Tyler in order to help fill the time. It was during this visit to Mt. Kisco that Tyler introduced Hockney to a new technique for unique paper works that involved wet paper pulp impregnated with carefully mixed rich, saturated colored dyes resulting in painterly pressed paper pulp works including Gregory in the Pool (Paper Pool 4).
"While many of the works from the Paper Pools series are devoid of a figurative subject, instead focusing on the unique qualities of light, Gregory in the Pool (Paper Pool 4) is one of three variations to include a human subject. Hockney explained the present work saying, 'I didn’t like doing everything without figures, so I added Gregory in the pool...I drew the figure out very simply, then I made the mold, and used two pink colors which I put together and then I kneaded them with my fingers, which I thought was nice because it’s nice to do that to flesh. It was a good contrast to the effect of water and the effect of shadow” (David Hockney in Nikos Stangos, Ed., David Hockney: Paper Pools, New York 1980, p. 36). The subject, Gregory Evans, Hockney’s longtime companion and curator, has been a consistent model, inspiration and support system for Hockney throughout his life. The two met in 1974 and Hockney began making portraits of him almost immediately. When asked in a 2015 interview who the love of his life is Hockney replied, 'Maybe Gregory,' which further cements the significance of the present work. Pinpoints of bright white peek through the cool blue paper pulp, giving the effect of sparkling light as it glistens across the surface of the pool water enveloping Gregory. Bathed in the aura the work emanates, the viewer becomes acutely aware of the sense of camaraderie between Hockney outside of the pool and Gregory soaking in the cool water as the afternoon sunshine draws long shadows across the pool deck.
"This new process Tyler shared with Hockney involved the pouring of dyed liquid paper pulp into molds constructed from galvanized metal strips soldered together, almost like cookie cutters, onto a wet paper surface. Alongside Tyler, Hockney applied the colored paper pulp using several everyday tools including soup ladles, turkey basters, spoons and brushes further allowing for additional colored pulp and liquid dyes to be applied freehand. The result was then pressed between felts in a high-pressure hydraulic press and left to dry, ultimately creating a final piece where the color of the paper pulp vividly permeates the paper surface, giving it an intensity of hue that is inseparable from the sheet itself. After experimenting with various colors and techniques, Hockney made his first images including Sunflower, Steps with Shadow, Green Pool with Diving Board and Shadow and Gregory in the Pool. Hockney found this wet, messy process to be naturally suited to capturing the liquid nature of the swimming pools within the confines of the sheet. Spurred on by Tyler’s excitement for the physicality of this new medium, Hockney became energized and worked for forty-five days straight mastering this new technique, learning its limitations and transcending them to create vibrant works such as the present work, Gregory in the Pool (Paper Pool 4). Inspired by Tyler’s swimming pool, this dazzling series reprises one of Hockney’s most iconic motifs. Here, Hockney recorded the effects of sunlight as it reflected upon the water at various time of the day, creating a series of unique works on paper, in which dye-infused paper pulp was pressed into stunning, color-soaked sheets.
"Hockney expressed his satisfaction with the series saying, 'They are like paintings, which is why I stayed; if they hadn’t been like paintings, I think I would have left after doing the first two or three small ones, I would have thought that was enough. And they also helped me in another way: painting in England before, I kept saying I thought the paintings were getting too gray, too tight and I kept getting finicky and I wanted to be bolder. Another thing that was nice about Paper Pools was that you were forced to do it that way, you were forced to think of things in another way, you couldn’t work in the way you have been doing before' (David Hockney in Nikos Stangos, Ed., David Hockney: Paper Pools, New York 1980, p. 100).
The lot has an estimate of $600,000 to $800,000. It failed to sell.
"For Robert Indiana, beloved American painter of signs and symbols, numbers had a deeply personal significance. Beside their self-referential numeric definitions, each Arabic numeral represented a moment or memory in Indiana’s life, and the artist took great interest in a system whose symbols never changed but could be endlessly rearranged to create new meanings. One Through Zero (The Ten Numbers) is immediately recognizable as pure Indiana: simultaneously biographical and universal, the monumental sculptural forms are carefully fabricated in his characteristic typography and bright colors.
"Numbers began appearing as a standalone motif in Indiana’s oeuvre in the 1960s, but never on such a large scale as the One Through Zero (The Ten Numbers) series. He was fascinated by their easy legibility and their ability to shapeshift between a semi-mystical significance and pure form without ever changing shape. 'My work is almost entirely autobiographical. Everything I’ve done has something to do with my life' (the artist in Barbaralee Diamonstein, Inside New York’s Art World, New York 1979, p. 153). Numbers defined the artist's childhood. Growing up in Indiana, the state from which he adapted his 'nom de brush,'during the Great Depression, he had lived in 21 houses by the age of 17. A red and green Philips 66 gas station sign loomed over the route his father took to work each day; inspiring him to later assign those colors to the sculptural Six. He called the ten-story, neon sign 'the one most fascinating visual object in [his] entire youth;' the sign, combined with commercial stencils he found in his studio in New York, would lead to the creation of the hard-edged, colorful visual language that made him so famous (the artist in “Oral History Interview with Robert Indiana,” Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, September 12 – November 7 1963, n.p.).
"Robert Indiana’s polychromed numbers sculptures are, beyond their plump, sinuous forms and vibrant color combinations, a monument to the life-cycle of mankind. With his cycle of numbers from One Through Zero, a theme Indiana first essayed in a series of paintings in 1964-65, the artist conceived the cardinal numbers as marking the stages of life from birth (One) to death (Zero). Indiana deployed numbers frequently in his sculptures and paintings prior to that time, but with this painting series of the mid-sixties, he assigned specific color combinations to each number. These same combinations would subsequently be used in the polychromed numbers sculptures that Indiana conceived in 1978 and executed decades later, such as this set completed in 2003.
"In Indiana’s imagination, each color combination has significance. For example, Four, representing adolescence, is assigned the 'most raucous and unruly color combination' of red and yellow. The red and green of Six are the colors of the Phillips 66 sign of Indiana’s childhood; Indiana’s father, who was born in June (the sixth month), worked for the company and habitually travelled Route 66. Eight features the rich colors of fall season; the black and yellow caution stripes of Nine signify ‘caution, death is near’; and the ashen grisaille of Zero represents death. One needn’t understand the rich web of biographical and symbolic associations of the sculptural series or its numbered parts to appreciate Indiana’s playfully straightforward but meticulously crafted aesthetic, but, as with much of Indiana’s art, there is much more than initially meets the eye in this deceptively simple Pop masterpiece.
"The curving surface of each number shifts and changes as one moves around the sculpture, giving the numerals expressive loops and waves that give life to the heavy aluminum. The two-color combinations pop when viewed from the side, emphasizing 'the graphic essence of his forms while giving his sculptures vibrant three-dimensional life' (Ibid.). The aesthetic success of the Number series can be seen in the 'Indiana style' typography popular today in contemporary design and advertising and used in the fields of fashion, technology, finance and beyond.
"Indiana valued double-association in his work, frequently exploring verbal-visual themes such as the number 66, which he liked both for its visual pattern and its connection to his childhood. A self-proclaimed painter of signs, he followed Pop Art’s embrace of fabrication and commercialization while rejecting the academicism of Abstract Expressionism. Along with the signs of his youth, Indiana combined the geometric, colorful flatness of Ellsworth Kelly’s works with the themes of Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns to create his own unique style. One Through Zero (The Ten Numbers) monumentalizes one of the most important motifs of Indiana’s oeuvre. Their playful color and appealingly commercial typography are intriguingly complicated by their potential for recreation; by arranging and rearranging their order, one may place oneself in dialogue with Indiana and form new meanings from symbols hundreds of years old."
The lot has an estimate of $1.500,000 to $2,000,000. It sold for $2,060,000.
Weiwei’s iconic series of sculptures, the
Animals/Zodiac Heads, is a significant international project
simultaneously signals his position as China’s most pervasive artist
whilst exploring themes of globalization and identity that inform his
series recreates the twelve traditional Chinese zodiac sculptures that
adorned the Yuanming Yuan fountain clock, an artistic and architectural
centerpiece of the imperial gardens outside of Beijing enjoyed by
several Qing dynasty
rulers in the 18th and 19th centuries.
original zodiac head sculptures were subsequently looted
from the fountain by French and British soldiers during the Opium Wars.
devastating plundering was one of a series of episodes that are now
collectively known as the 'century of humiliation,' spanning
to 1945. In 1976 following the death of Chairman Mao, the demise of the
Cultural Revolution which sought to destroy cultural artifacts, and the
subsequent reopening of China’s
economy towards the end of the 20th century, there was a renewed
the zodiac heads both in China
and abroad. Only seven of the original heads still exist and the
five remain unknown. As a result of the increased fervor for the
Chinese zodiac heads over the past several decades, their monetary
value on the
international art market has soared and they have since become
an ardent—and at times contentious—sense of nationalism.
creating his contemporary interpretation of the original
imperial zodiac heads with the Circle
of Animals/Zodiac Heads sculptures, Ai
Weiwei effectively reunites the twelve animals once again, thus
full set by re-envisioning the five that are still missing. He
Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads
body of work in two distinct versions: a
monumental Bronze size to be displayed outdoors as public art; and a
size Gold set for museum display and closer in size to the originals.
this significant body of work, Ai Weiwei explores
notions of authenticity and patrimony by encouraging a provocation of
'real' and what is 'fake' in relation to cultural artifacts
and contemporary artwork. His vision to recreate the legendary
sculptures in a
gleaming gold patina elevates the objects to the status of sacred
further emphasizing the melodrama surrounding the looting of the
the mystery of the missing five heads. In the present work Ai Weiwei
engages and tinkers with a revisionist history aesthetic, prodding
consider the ways in which a historical narrative can be refabricated
live on through artistic icons.
Detail of Lot 441
known as an outspoken critic of the Chinese
authorities, Ai Weiwei’s project gained attention in 2011 when the
this body of work coincided with his arrest in Beijing, after which he
was held for 81 days
without official charges and denied exit from the country until 2015.
these circumstances, the wide-reaching scope of the Zodiac Heads/Circle of
Animals series has bolstered the artist's global presence and
toured the world during the last decade, today this sculptural series
one of the most famous and widely exhibited contemporary sculptures in
history of global contemporary art.
the inaugural installation of Circle
Heads: Bronze in New York
at the historic Pulitzer Fountain in 2011, editions from the Circle of
Animals/Zodiac Heads: Gold series have been exhibited in
collections across the world. Subsequent venues have included: Musée
contemporain de Montréal (May - September 2012); Museum of Contemporary
Diego (February - July 2012); LongHouse Reserve, East Hampton (August -
2013); Garage Center for Contemporary Art, Moscow (February - March
Crow Collection of Asian Art, Dallas (September 2013 - March 2014);
Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin (April - July 2014); Blenheim Palace,
(October 2014 - April 2015); Palm Springs Museum of Art (December 2014
2015); Portland Art Museum (May - September 2015); Phoenix Art Museum
- January 2016); National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (December 2015
August 2016); Tucson Museum of Art (February - June 2016); Nevada
Art, Reno (July - October 2016); Museum fur kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg
(November - March 2018); The Mucern, Marseille (June - November 2018);
Farnsworth Museum, Rockland (March - December 2018);
Kunstsammlung-Nordhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf (May - September 2019);
Museum of Art (June - December 2019); and the Arken Museum of Modern
Skovvej, Denmark, where an edition of the piece has remained on
since 2013. Commenting on this work, Ai Weiwei has stated: 'It is
many different issues—of course to China, to myself, to all the people
who would question whether the work is valuable or not valuable, real
real, or better than real, or not as good as real. And how it’s going
shown, why it’s being shown, how it’s being sold, and why people are
Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads
series embodies the
diversity of Ai Weiwei’s practice and boldly reflects his unrelenting
of power structures and his advocacy of independent thought and free
expression, stimulating dialogues regarding the relationship between
and value. Ai Weiwei’s art relates to significant themes within Chinese
history, yet the artistic vocabularies through which these are explored
resonate strongly with his time spent in the United States. Feeling
by the social climate of his home country, the artist moved to New York
in 1981 and
lived there for over a decade. During that time, Ai was influenced by
of Western masters of modern art, including Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol
Jasper Johns. Deeply shaped by Duchamp’s artistic philosophy, Ai Weiwei
inherited a kind of radical daring: a willingness to challenge and
the notionally unquestionable. This quality can also be traced back to
father Ai Qing, a prolific Chinese poet and member of the League of
Writers. During the Cultural Revolution Ai Qing was labeled a rightist
marginalized by the government.
his return to China in 1993, Ai Weiwei began to
use the creative devices of subversion, misappropriation, readymade
and irony to address issues regarding a country that had visibly gone
drastic social and economic transformations and was now faced with
socio-political concerns. Inspired by symbolically rich Chinese
artist adopts critical perspectives on cultural authority that address
different kinds of significance that objects accrue—whether cultural,
historical, or monetary—to initiate a dialogue wherein these issues are
only animated but questioned. By bringing the creative techniques of
and Dadaism into contact with Chinese history and culture, Ai raises
questions regarding the notions of authenticity and value in art. Along
themes, the present work corresponds with the socio-political realities
of China today,
raising questions about authenticity, authorship, and re-engagement
past through artifactual relics.
"As reflected in the power and beauty of his Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads, Ai Weiwei’s intention is to examine the efficacy of looking back into history and mining value from the past. It is not simply China’s yesteryear, but also China’s ongoing relationship to its past that engages Ai Weiwei. In his oeuvre, excavating the many historical references can invest even the most unassuming objects with layers of meaning, bringing expanded depth, richness and dimensionality to the work."
The lot has an estimate of $2,500,000 to $3,500,000. It sold for 2,840,000.
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