Contemporary Art

Part 2


May 20, 1999

The Euphoria Continues


"Dein Aschenes Haar Sulamith" by Anselm Kiefer

Lot 134, "Dein Aschenes Haar Sulamith," by Anselm Kiefer, 1981,

oil on canvas, 51 by 67 inches

By Carter B. Horsley

The second part of Christie's Contemporary Art spring auction May 20, 1999 was not as wildly successful as the first part the previous night, but given the often controversial nature of much of the art offered as well as its rather recent creation it was not unsuccessful.

The first part of the sale was very strong and set records for 11 artists with very few buy-ins and most lots selling for more than their high estimates. (See The City Review article on that auction.)

In contrast, just more than a quarter of the 263 lots offered in this auction failed to sell, a rather high percentage but better than many of the auctions in the early and mid-90's when the art market endured a severe collapse. More encouraging, the amount sold was 85 percent of the sale's low pre-auction estimate.

"Christie's dedication to exhibiting and selling works by the most progressive young artists in the contemporary field continues to reap positive results," declared Andrew Massad, an assistant vice president of the auction house's Contemporary Art Department.

"In addition to a star performance by Jean-Michel Basquiat, many works from newer artists such as Marlene Dumas, Ellen Gallagher and Rineke Dijkstra fetched prices that far exceeded pre-sale high estimates. Our selection of photography performed exceptionally well, re-enforcing the legitimacy of the medium in the field of contemporary art. One of the standouts...was Nan Golden, whose Greer and Robert on the Bed, NYC fetched $39,100 (estimate $4,000-$6,000) and shattered the artist's previous world auction record of $14,500," Massad noted.

Lot 182, "Hammer and Sickle," by Basquiat (1960-1988), sold for $882,500, including buyer's premium as do all prices in this article), almost double its high estimate of $850,000. The large 1982 work is a diptch of acrylic and oilstick on canvas, each part 60 by 48 inches. Unlike many of his works, this one was quite uncluttered.

Another Basquiat, Lot 186, sold within its estimate for $244,500 and a third, Lot 190, a collaborative work with Andy Warhol that incorporated a GE logo, sold for $173,000, considerably below its low estimate of $200,000.

Among the works that did well were Lot 140, "Model for T.W.U.," a maquette for a larger work that was installed on West Broadway in SoHo in 1981-2 by Richard Serra (b. 1939), which sold for $123,500, more than twice its high estimate; Lot 181, an untitled 1984 work by Keith Haring (1958-1990) that sold for $101,500 and had had a high estimate of $70,000; Lots 119 and 120, both by Christopher Wool (b. 1955), that sold for $96,000 and $79,500, and which had both carried high estimates of $35,000; Lot 131, "Negativert," a large interesting 1983 work by Sigmar Polke (b. 1941) that sold for $96,000, a bit over its high estimate of $90,000; Lot 132, "Abstract Painting 816-3," a 22 by 20 1/8 oil on canvas that resembles a melted multi-colored metal red, white and blue flag by Gerhard Richter (b. 1932), that fetched $79,500 and had had a high estimate of $0,000; and Lot 134, "Dein Ashenes Haar Sulamith," a very fine 1981 work by Anselm Kiefer (b. 1945), shown at the top of the article, that sold for $79,500 and had a high estimate of $70,000.


See The City Review article on Sotheby's May 18, 1999 Contemporary Art auction

See The City Review article on the May 19, 1999 Sotheby's Contemporary Art Part 2 auction

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