By Carter B. Horsley
As usual, Philips de Pury publishes the most
impressive and largest catalogues in the auction business in New
York and while its offerings are generally small in number and
estimates in comparison with their uptown rivals very oten its
quality includes some of the choicest items on the market. Furthermore,
Philips de Pury is not static and it recently entered an agreement
to become a partner in the redevelopment of Pier 15 in the Hudson
River near Chelsea, which should give its a more prominent, if
not sensational, location.
Lot 4 is a wonderful and fabulous bronze sculpture
by George Condo (b. 1957) entitled "Trapped Priest."
It measures 29 by 22 by 19 1/2 inches and is from an edition of
six. It has a modest estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It sold
for $146,500 includng the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned
in his article.
The catalogue provides the following commentary:
"George Condo's oeuvre has been largely
based on the creation of cartoon-like characters, examining the
psychology of human canality and deformity through his dismantled
visions of realitiy. His works evoke humor, encouraging viewers
to revel in their own sardonic mirth. Condo's sculptures share
imagery with his paintings: imagery of characters that occupy
the artist's mind as archtypes of human conditions. Condo's dissatisfation
with this Catholic childhood has preoccupied much of his work,
driving him him to create imagery involving the vengeful mutilation
of priests. Condo's sculpture Trapped Priest is a golden
reliquary to Condo's experience with religion. A compressed, carcass-like
figure sits locked within an overtuned grocery cart with its wheels
in the air, the car itself a futile object that incapacitates
the damaged priest. This work this exagerates the futility Condo
sees in his childhood of religion."
It is, of course, much more than an examination
of the futility of his childhood of religion. It is a very potent
and very beautiful work that resonates with contemporary disgust
at sexual abuses by priests but also calls into question the extinction
of some of the earth's most wonderful species and a work that
turns the shopping-center mentality of America on its head and
substitutes the wheels of shopping carts for the winged ages of
Of the 34 offered lots in this auction,
22 sold for $2,192,850.
Lot 11, "Scab Noggin,"
is a very beautiful and large work by Steven Parrino (1958-2005).
An acrylic on canvas, it measures 72 inches square and was created
The catalogue provides the
"The present lot by Steven
Parrino is an exemplary highlight of the artist's fascination
with tools of contortion within the medium of painting resulting
in deconstructed artwork reminiscent of artists such as Lucio
Fontana and Piero Manzoni. In Scab Noggin, Parrino presents
a canvas which after painting, has been literally pulled and twisted
away from the figure of the stretcher and crumpled. Raw canvas
that ordinarly would be pinned behind the painting is suddenly
revealed, expressing an aggressive new foreground. The result
of this process yields a response niherent to Parrino's attitude
towads his art: autonomous, uncompromising and tough as nails."
All that, of course, is accurate
but the trouble with much "Postmodern" works is that
in the end they don't embody much aesthetics or beauty, whereas
this Parrino work is luscious and conjures numerous paintings
of voluptuous maidens hidding behind sheets and the kind of kinetic
beauty that Cy Twombly could never begin to dream of.
The lot has an estimate of
$400,000 to $600,000. It sold for $458,500.
Lot 12 is a steel and aluminum scupture by
Isa Genzken (b. 1948) that is entitled "Schwules Baby."
It measures 43 by 16 1/8 by 13 3/4 inches and was created in 1997
and is unique. It has an estimate of $30,000 to $40,000. It
failed to sell.
An essay by A. Wege on the artist in the October
2000 issue of Art Forum remarked that "What the 'traditional
sculpture label can't quite capture, however, is Genzken's remarkable
ruthlessness - the manner her work underlines the rejection of
traditional understandings of sculpture and space while reflecting
on disclosing the specific circumstances of their production and
reception. The integration of a range of references - personal,
social, and institutional - with the qeustion of the (im)possiblity
of exchange and communication constitutes the second pole of Genzken's
Lot 24 is a 98 1/2-inch square
work on canvas by Tal R (b. 1967) entitled "Fungusia. The
lot has an estimate of $70,000 to $90,000. It failed to sell.
Lot 25, "Hagen v. Tronje's
Privatarmee "Scweinchen Dick de Monokeltennonon Zuckerpuppe
am Madchen Kolibri," by Jonathan Meese (b. 1970) is a colorful
oil on canvas that measures 78 3/4 by 111 1/8 inches. It was painted
in 2004. The catalogue entry notes that "Meese's painting
depicts several disfigured and contorted forms held for an instant,
in an emotional gaze with the viewer. The viewer cannot focus
and therefore became part of the pendemonium, pulled into the
painting, eyes flinting from side to side. The disorder and deep
suffering are calmed by a sense of surrender and humanity in which
the ancient mythic creature Hagen overcomes a truly humbe hero.
It has an estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It failed to sell.
Lot 33 is a large, 12-part
composition in acrylic and paper collage on artists' metal frames
by Gilbert (b. 1943) & George (b. 1942). Entitled "Friend
Fear," it measures 71 1/4 by 79 1/2 inches and was created
in 1983. It has an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000. It failed