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Post-War & Contemporary Art

Christie's

7PM, November 15, 2006

Sale 1725

"1947-R-No. 1" by Still

Lot 44, "1947-R-No. 1," by Clyfford Still, oil on canvas, 69 by 65 inches, 1947

By Carter B. Horsley

After Christie's record-shattering evening sale last week of Impressionist & Modern Art (see The City Review article), everything seems rather anti-climatic, but somehow collectors of contemporary art will rouse themselves for this quite impressive evening auction of contemporary art at Christie's November 15, 2006.

It boasts great paintings by Clyfford Still and Anselm Kiefer, very good works by Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko and Roy Lichtenstein, two very fine works by Ad Reinhart, two excellent Robert Motherwell, two Jackson Pollocks, a superb Franz Kline, and four major paintings by Andy Warhol (see The City Review article by Michele Leight). Like the Impressionist evening sale, this auction is huge with 83 lots being offered.

Works by Clyfford Still (1904-1980) are very rare and this majestic and rich work is one his very best. In the past few years, a handful of Stills have come up at auction and done well, but not as well as they should given his importance and visual power. Lot 44, "1947-R-No. 1," is a spectacular and great masterpiece by the artist. The catalogue entry for the lot begins with a quotation from Jackson Pollock: "Still makes the rest of us look academic."

The oil on canvas measures 69 by 65 inches and was executed in 1947. It has a very conservative estimate of $5,000,000 to $7,000,000. It sold for $21,296,000 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article. The artist's previous auction record was $3,144,000.

"The forthcoming Clyfford Still Museum in Denver, which may open as early as 2009, will be a watershed event in the appreciation of the artist," the catalogue entry for this lot noted, adding thta "For the first time, viewers will be able to see the scope and breadth of his acievement. The artist's archieves, which are currently sealed, will eventually be released and provide valuable documents to help scholars understand the historical period during which he lived. Nonetheless, what will not change is the total number of works that Still sold without restriction, which is believed to be approximately 150."

The sale was very successful. Christopher Burge, the auctioneer, described it as "extraordinary" and "fast and furious," noting that its sale total of $239,704,000 was well above the pre-sale high estimate of $219,300,000 and "smashed" previous contemporary art auction records. The auction, which sold 89.9 percent of the offered lots, set 19 records for individual artists. Mr. Burge said that there was "bidding from all over the world and many new buyers" and many "mature bidders." He said that the market was "not out of control" and was a "measured market." He said that 64.8 percent of the buyers were from the United States, 15.5 were European, 9.9 Asian and 9.8 percent "other."

There were 83 lots in the catalogue and two lots were withdrawn prior to the start of the auction. In recent years, the major evening sales have usually had 50 to 60 lots and Mr. Burge said that "83 is about all this auctioneer can handle," adding that "there are more discretionary sellers and we're the beneficiary of that."

"Balder's Traume" by Kiefer

Lot 60, "Balder's Traume," by Anselm Kiefer, oil, acrylic, emulsion, straw and mistletoe, 108 by 144 inches, 1982

The second best painting at the auction was Lot 60, "Balder's Traume," by Anselm Kiefer (b. 1945). The oil, acrylic, emulsion, straw and mistletoe work measures 108 by 144 inches and was executed in 1982. It has a modest estimate of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. It sold for $1,360,000, slightly over the artist's previous auction record that was set at Sotheby's in London last June.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"In addressing Germany's fraught past, no other artist has navigated the difficult terrain between the possibility of transcendence and the necessity of remembrance as dramatically and as provocatively as Anselm Kiefer....Kiefer approaches the horrendous legacy of Nazi imperialism through the incorporation of myth, literature and art from the Nordic tradition as well as religion, philosophy, mysticism and the occult. The present work refers to the myth of Balder - the god of innocence, beauty, purity and peace - whose death unleashes the ultimate destruction of the Gods at Ragnorak. Upon dreaming of his own death, his mother tries to prevent it by making every object on earth vow never to hurt him. Her plan overlooks the mistletoe, on account of the weed's unthreatening insignificance, but this unfortunate misstep is later exploited by the demon Loki, who masterminds Balder's murder with a magic spear made from the weed. At the appeal of his grieving mother, Balder is promised release from the underworld to return to a new, joyful and better world that will rise upon the demise of Ragnorak, which must be destroyed in punishment for his death. In this Christ-like resurrection of a new world order eased of pain and born of the old, Kiefer wields an apt metaphor for overcoming hs country's burdened past and proceeding into the future."

"Untitled XXV" by de Kooning

Lot 29, "Untitled XXV," by Willem de Kooning, oil on canvas, 77 by 88 inches, 1977

Lot 29 is a strong oil on canvas by Willem de Kooning (1904-1997) that is entitled "Untitled XXV." It was executed in 1977 and measures 77 by 88 inches. The catalogue notes that after a period when he primarily did sculptures, de Kooning returned to painting with great intensity in the late 1970s and maintained that those works "form the culmination of much that de Kooning had attempted in the past but never resolved," adding that "When he first moved to the Springs on Long Island de Kooning had enjoyed the unique landscape of the area and this in many ways entered and informed his work. Now in the mid-70s he became increasingly preoccupied with his immediate environment, its light and topography as well as, in particular, the wateriness of the landscape around Louse Pont out to which he would often cycle....He became captivated by the shimmering surface of water and its ability to reflect and merge the imagery of the land, sky, figures and itself in a constantly shifting abstract surface of color and form."

The painting, which had an "estimate of request," sold for $27,120,000, a record for the artist and for any post-war painting.

"Untitled XXIX" by de Kooning

Lot 24, "Untitled XXIX," by Willem de Kooning, oil on canvas, 54 3/4 by 59 inches, 1977

Lot 24, "Untitled XXIX," is a smaller and less successful de Kooning from the same year as Lot 29. It measures 54 3/4 by 59 inches. While it is certainly slap-dash, it does not have the cohesive energy and power of his best abstractions. It has an estimate of $5,000,000 to $7,000,000. It sold for $8,080,000.

"Untitled XVII" by de Kooning

Lot 67, "Untitled XVII," by Willem de Kooning, oil on canvas, 70 by 80 inches, 1986

Lot 67, "Untitled XVII," is one of de Kooning's late linear abstractions against white backgrounds. While it is not as good as many in this series, it is still an interesting and good work. An oil on canvas, it measures 70 by 80 inches and was executed in 1986. It has a modest estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,000,000. It sold for $3,376,000.

Lot 31, "Woman (Seated Woman)," is an excellent charcoal, oil and graphite drawing on paper by de Kooning. It measures 11 1/8 by 7 5/8 inches and was drawn in 1952. It has an estimate of $3,500,000 to $4,500,000. It sold for $9,648,000!

"Tisch" by Richter

Lot 58, "Tisch," by Gerhard Richter, oil on canvas, 88 1/2 by 115 3/4 inches, 1982

Lot 58, "Tisch," is a very beautiful 1982 abstraction by Gerhard Richter (b. 1932) (see The City Review article on a retrospective on the artist at the Museum of Modern Art). An oil on canvas, it measures 88 1/2 by 115 3/4 inches and was painted in 1982. It has an estimate of $2,800,000 to $3,500,000. It sold for $3,376,000. At the November 9, 2004 auction at Sotheby's New York, it sold for $2,136,000.

"Untitled" by Rothko

Lot 26, "Untitled," by Mark Rothko, acrylic on paper mounted on panel, 33 1/2 by 25 3/4 inches, 1968

Lot 26, "Untitled," by Mark Rothko, is a quite strong and luminous acrylic on paper mounted on panel by Mark Rothko (1903-1970). It measures 33 1/2 by 25 3/4 inches and was painted in 1968. It has a modest estimate of $2,000,000 to $3,000,000. It failed to sell and was passed at $1,700,000.

"Untitled" by Rothko

Lot 47, "Untitled," by Mark Rothko, acrylic on paper laid down on panel, 39 3/8 by 25 3/4 inches, 1968

Lot 47 is a dark, but subtle and lovely untitled acrylic on paper laid down on panel by Mark Rothko. It measures 39 3/8 by 25 3/4 inches and was executed in 1968. It has an estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,000,000. It sold for $1,808,000.

"Red and Blue" by Pollock

Lot 28, "Red and Blue," by Jackson Pollock, gouache on masonite, 19 1/8 by 24 inches, 1946

Lot 28 is an excellent 1946 gouache on masonite by Jackson Pollock (1912-1956). It measures 19 1/8 by 24 inches and has an conservative estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,000,000. It failed to sell and was passed at $950,000.

Number 21 by Pollock

Lot 40, "Number 21," by Jackson Pollock, oil and enamel on masonite, 22 1/4 inches square, 1950

Lot 40, "Number 21," is a drip painting by Pollock that was executed in 1950. An oil and enamel on masonite, it has an estimate of $7,000,000 to $9,000,000. It failed to sell and was passed at $5,800,000.

"Bruho" by Kline
Lot 43, "Bruho," by Franz Kline, oil on canvas, 37 1/2 by 51 1/2 inches, 1961

Lot 43 is a large and strong oil on canvas by Franz Kline (1910-1962). Entitled "Bruho," it measures 47 1/2 by 51 1/2 inches and was executed in 1961. It has a modest estimate of $1,200,000 to $1,800,000. It sold for $1,920,000.

The Edelstone Views 1 and 2 by Motherwell

Lot 50, "The Edelstone View #1," left, "The Edelstone View #2," right, both by Robert Motherwell, acrylic on canvas, 74 1/4 by 55 1/4, inches, left, and 75 1/4 by 56 1/4 inches, right, 1971

Lot 50 consists of two quite abstract compositions painted for Sigmund E. Edelstone in 1971 by Robert Motherwell (1915-1991). "The Edelstone View #1," left, "The Edelstone View #2," right, are acrylic on canvas. The red painting measures 74 1/4 by 55 1/4 inches, and the blue painting measures 75 1/4 by 56 1/4 inches. The lot has a modest estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It sold for $1,024,000.

"Airplane" by Lichtenstein

Lot 17, "Airplane," by Roy Lichtenstein, painted and patinated bronze, 108 inches high, 1990, number six from an edition of six

The late sculptures of Roy Lichtenstein are some of the finest works in his oeuvre as Lot 17, "Airplane" exemplifies. A painted and patinated bronze, it is 108 inches high and was executed in 1990. It is number six from an edition of six. It has a modest estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,000,000. It sold for $2,592,000.

"Yellow and White Brushstrokes" by Lichtenstein

Lot 25, "Yellow and White Brushstrokes," by Roy Lichtenstein, oil and magna on canvas, 48 by 65 inches, 1965

Lot 25 is one of Lichtenstein's early and strong "brushstroke" pictures. Entitled "Yellow and White Brushstrokes," it is an oil and magna on canvas that measures 48 by 65 inches. It was painted in 1965 and has an estimate of $7,000,000 to $9,000,000. It sold for $9,536,000.

"Abstraction with Guitar" by Lichtenstein

Lot 68, "Abstraction with Guitar," by Roy Lichtenstein, oil and magna on canvas, 68 by 90 inches, 1975

Lot 68, "Abstraction with guitar," is a classic Mondrianesque work by Lichtenstein. Executed in 1975, it is an oil and magna on canvas that measures 68 by 90 inches. It has a modest estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000. It sold for $1,808,000.

Lot 38, "Drawing 9/11/53," is a very good steel with brown patina sculpture by David Smith (1906-1965). It measures 27 by 39 by 5 3/4 inches and was executed in 1953. It has an estimate of $2,000,000 to $3,000,000. It sold for $4,944,000.

Mont Sainte-Victoire," by Tansey

Lot 54, "Mont Sainte-Victoire," by Mark Tansey (b. 1949), oil on canvas, 100 by 155 inches, 1987

Lot 54, "Mont Sainte-Victoire," by Mark Tansey (b. 1949), is an oil on canvas that measures 100 by 155 inches and was executed in 1987. It has an estimate of $2,000,000 to $3,000,000. The painting combines interpretations of two famous series of paintings by Cézanne, "The Bathers" and "Mont Sainte-Victoire and renders them in a monochromatic orange hue that the catalogue states "is a constant reminder of the essential falsehood of all painting." The catalogue notes that "among the bathers we are able to identify philosophers Jean Baudrilliard, Roland Barthes and Jacques Derrida," and it observes that in the reflection of the water the men are women, leading the catalogue to suggest that Tansey's world is "transformed into an abyssal Platonic cave, which questions the validity of all representation impossibly challenging us to discern the object from its double." It sold for $3,040,000, almost three times the artist's previous auction record set at Sotheby's New York in November, 2004.

"Serial Project (set B)," by Lewitt

Lot 9, "Serial Project (set B), by Sol Lewitt, painted wood, 14 1/2 by 63 3/4 by 63 3/4 inches, 1966

Lot 9, "Serial Project (set B)," is a 1966 painted wood sculpture by Sol Lewitt (b. 1928) that is one of his more interesting works because it has an urbanistic rather than purely geometric massing. It measures 14 1/2 by 63 3/4 by 63 3/4 inches. It has an estimate of $300,000 to $400,000. It sold for $374,400.

Cherubs by Koons

Lot 80, "Cherubs," by Jeff Koons, polychromed wood, 48 by 43 1/2 by 19 inches overall, 1991, number three from an edition of three and one artist's proof

Lot 80 is a pleasant pair of polychromed wood cherubs, a 1991 work by Jeff Koons (b. 1955). The work measures 48 by 43 1/2 by 19 inches overall and is number three from an edition of three and one artist's proof. It has an estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000. It sold for $856,000.

"How Do You Really Feel" by Hirst

Lot 64, "Yes, But How Do You Really Feel?" by Damien Hirst, stainless steel, glass mirrors and six plastic skeletons," 79 by 168 by 18 1/4 inches, 1996

Lot 64 is an amusing work by Damien Hirst (b. 1965), entitled "Yes, But How Do You Really Feel?," a group of six plastic skeletons, each encased in its own vitrine and all lined up. The 1996 work measurees 79 by 168 by 18 1/4 inches. It has an estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,000,000. It sold for $1,472,000.

Lot 6, "Font," an acrylic on gelatin silver prints, 72 1/4 by 47 3/4 inches, 1987, by John Baldessari (b. 1931), sold for $800,000, breaking the previous auction record for the artist of $744,000 set at Christie's in New York last May. The lot had an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000.

Lot 12, "V Series central diagonal 1 (green)," by Robert Mangold (b. 1937), acrylic and graphite on masonite, 48 by 72 inches, 1968, sold for $2,032,000, shattering the artist's previous auction record of $234,000 set at Phillips de Pury & Company in November, 2005. It had an estimate of $250,000 to $350,000.

Lot 13, "Aluminum steel plain," by Carl Andre (b. 1935), aluminum and steel plates, each 3/8 by 12 by 12 inches, 1969, sold for $2,032,000, soaring above the artist's previous auction record of $903,500 set at Christie's in New York in November, 2004. It had an estimate of $900,000 to $1,200,000.

Lot 41, "Berkeley 53," by Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993), oil on canvas, 49 1/2 by 47 1/2 inches, 1955, sold for $6,176,000, way over the artist's previous auction record of $3,962,500 set at Sotheby's New York November 17, 1998. It had an estimate of $2,500,000 to $3,500,000.

Lot 46, "Homage to the square: Autumn Climax," by Josef Albers (1888-1976), oil on masonite, 48 1/2 inches square, 1963, sold for $1,136,000, well above the artist's previous auction record of $822,400 set at Christie's New York a year ago. It had an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000.

Lot 49, "Study for the Betrothal," by Arshile Gorky (1904-1948), pencil, charcoal, pastel and wax crayon on burlap paper, 49 3/4 by 40 1/8 inches, 1947, sold for $2,816,000, a little over the artist's previous auction record set at Christie's New York in May, 2005. It had an estimate of $1,800,000 to $2,500,000.

Lot 57, "Untitled (interior)," by Matthias Weischer (b. 1973), oil on canvas, 41 1/8 by 47 inches, 2002, sold for $441,600, nicely over the artist's previous auction record set at Christie's London last October. It had an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000.

Lot 59, "Daddy's Girl," by Eric Fischl (b. 1948), oil on canvas, 78 by 108 inches, 1984, sold for $1,920,000, double the artist's previous auction record set at Christie's New York in May, 2000. It had an estimate of $600,000 to $800,000.

Lot 63, "Spider," by Louise Bourgeois," bronze, 94 by 96 by 84 inches, 1999, sold for $4,048,000, breaking the artist's previous auction record of $3,040,000 set at Sotheby's New York, November 9, 2005. It had an estimate of $2,500,000 to $3,500,000.

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

See The City Review article on the Contemporary Art day auction at Christie's in Spring 2002

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

See The City Review article on the Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's that follows this auction November 14, 2001

See The City Review article on the Post-War Art evening auction at Christie's November 13, 2001

See The City Review article on Contemporary Art evening auction at Phillips de Pury & Luxembourgh November 12, 2001

See The City Review article on the Contemporary Art evening auction in the Spring of 2001

See The City Review article on the Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's May 15, 2001

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

See The City Review article on the Post-War art day auction at Christie's May 17, 2001

See The City Review article on Post War Art evening auction at Christie's, Nov. 15, 2000

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

See The City Review article on the Contemporary Art evening auction at Phillips, Nov. 13, 2000

See The City Review article on Contemporary Art Part II auction at Phillips, Nov. 14, 2000

See The City Review Article on the May 18-9 Contemporary Art auctions at Phillips

See The City Review article on the May 16, 2000 evening auction of Contemporary Art at Christie's

See The City Review article on the May 17, 2000 Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall, 1999 auction of Contemporary Art at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Sotheby's Nov. 17, 1999 auction of Contemporary Art

See The City Review article on the auctions of Contemporary Art from a European Private Collection and Contemporary Art, Part 2, at Sotheby's Nov. 18, 1999

See The City Review article on the May 18, 1999 Contemporary Art Auction at Sotheby's

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

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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