By Carter B. Horsley
The Contemporary Art evening
sale at Phillips de Pury November 16, 2006, is highlighted by
a major installation work by Mike Kelly, a very good painting
by Richard Prince, an excellent work by Julian Schnabel, a marvelous
work by Tom Friedman, a merry-go-round by Charles Ray, and a haunting
painting by Yang Shaobin.
Lot 43, "Boby's World,"
is a superb Julian Schnabel (b. 1961) that was once part of the
Saatchi Collection in London. An oil, wax, Bondo, ceramic plates
and horns on wood and canvas, it was executed in 1980 and measures
97 1/2 by 146 by 12 inches.
The catalogue provides the
"After decades when cool
minimalism and conceptual art had completely eclipsed painting,
Julian Schnabel's expressioistic and passionate artwork with its
often romantic and heroic content, created an enormous shift toward
the emotive and subjective in contemporary art, Schanbel's debut
exhibition at the Mary Boone Gallery in 19879 caused a sensation
that propelled him into the forefont of the contemporary art scene.
The interest his work provoked was so dramatic that he was given
a second solo exhibition in November of the same year, in which
he unveiled his infamous broken-plate paintings. these works,
as the present lot Bob's World demonstrates, are large
Neo-Expressionist landscapes made by painting over fractured plates
and crockery applied to canvases. Though he made many works that
did not employ this device, these unusual surfaces became his
signature style. Their physical rambunctiousness broke the ice
for American painters, while also laying claim to some of performance
art's theatricality. Schnabel's plate paintings do possess a sense
of happening, as if the actual crash is occurring in real time
in the viewer's mind. Visually, the works also recall Antoni Gaudi's
Parc Guell in Barcelona, which appear to be one of Schanbel's
immediate inspirations, while their implicit theatricality could
also relate to the artist's long years of employment in commercial
kitchens. According to the artist the idea came to him during
a reverie in Europe, when he 'had the funny idea' that he wanted
to make a painting the size of the oddly large closet in his cheap
hotel room covered with broken plates. The works he made upon
his return a sculptural and tactile vitality that catapulted Schanbel
into the limelight."
The lot has an estimate of
$400,000 to $600,000. It sold for $822,400 including the buyer's
premium as do all results mentioned in this article. The artist's
former auction record was $361,000. It was one of 19 artists'
records set at this auction which sold 88.23 percent of the 68
offered lots for a total of $29,694,800. The presale estimates
ranged from $24,490,000 to $34,050,000.
Lot 13, "Deodorized Central
Mass with Satellites," mixed-media installation by Mike Kelly
(1954) that the artist, who likes stuffed animals, worked on from
1991 to 1999. The lot has an ambitious estimate of $3,000,000
to $4,000,000. It sold for $2,704,000, almost quadrupling the
artist's previous auction record set last May at Phillips de Pury.
Kelly explains in a catalogue
essay that the stuffed animals face inwards and that there are
12 satellites in six pairs that are balanced by pulleys. "The
entire assembly is surrounded by 10 human-scale wall-mounted fiberglass
'deodorizers.' Each of these is a single bright color, and the
surfaces are slick and shiny like that of a new automobile. The
wall units were inspired by the small plastic deodorizers often
seen in public restrooms, the designs of which generally poor
evocations of hig-tech modernism. My wish was to come up with
something resembling a mix of Darth Vader's mask and futuristic
car design. Each one of my deodorizers contains an interior mechanism
that, on occasion, sprays into the air a subtle mist of pine-scented
For your child's room, we offer
Lot 22, "Revolution Counter-Revolution," a merry-go-round,
by Charles Ray (b. 1953) that measures 115 by 164 by 164 inches.
The turntable spins in the direction opposite to which the carousel
horses are facing, naturally. Executed in 1990, it has an ambitious
estimate of $1,150,000 to $2,000,000. It sold for $1,584,000,
but only after it was re-offered after having been bought in.
Mr. de Pury said after the auction that it was re-offered because
a bidder informed the auction house he had been "distracted."
It was bought by Jeffrey Deitch and some people speculated that
having it "reopened" and sold was preferable to buying
it after the auction and having it listed as a "buy-in."
Lot 24 is "LaNona Ora,"
a cast plaster and silver cast of a Pope felled by a rock by Maurizio
Cattelan (b. 1960). It is part of an edition of ten sculptures
and measures 6 3/4 by 24 3/4 by 8 5/8 inches and was executed
in 2003. It has an estimate of $150,000 to $200,000. It sold
Lot 41 is a steel, lead, plaster, fabric and
pigment work by Anselm Kiefer (b. 1945) that is entitled "Nossis."
It measures 59 by 45 1/.2 by 50 inches and was executed in 1999.
It has a modest estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. "The female
form," the catalogue observes, "is truncated - headless
but subservient, we view the body more as a spirit from the past.
Melancholic and even poetic, Kiefer's sculpture captures a mythological
spirit. The powerful stance of the woman indoctrinates the work
with a divine aura." It sold for $408,000.
Lot 63, "2002-10, No.
3," is a powerful monochrome oil on canvas by Yang Shaobin
(b. 1963) that has much of the painterliness and horror of the
work of Francis Bacon. An oil on canvas, it measures 46 3/8 by
66 3/8 inches and was painted in 2002. It has a conservative estimate
of $80,000 to $120,000. It sold for $180,000.
"Yang Shaobin is widely
lauded for his painterly characterization of violence, but his
incisive commentary on international affairs has largely gone
overlooked. Among major contemporary Chinese artists, Yang is
one of a select handful whose mature work shuns overt references
to popular Chinese iconography. Instead, his paintings draw on
images of Edward Said, military helicopters and urban explosions
that squarely ground his concerns in global realpolitik. In this
context, Yang's referene is to theuniversal and more insidious
scope of violence wrought by our international geopolitical structure.
Yang was born in the coal-mining Chinese city of Tangshan in 1963
and began his artistic career in Beijing in 1991. At the 1999
Venice Biennale he received international acclaim for his Red
Paintings that elicited comparisons to Bacon's portraits.
Yang's portraits, which depict faces and bodies erupting in expressionist
clouds of fear and aggression, are all the more unsettling for
the artist's exquisite technqiue that invites the viewer to linger
over the nebulous figures....The unspecified agenda of these men
in suits - nominal instruments of power exuding a stench of violence
perhaps cognizable only to the viewer - hints at a refined institutionalized
program of domination inflicted by the global hierarchy of media
One of the most spectacular
works in the auction is Lot 8, "Untitled," by Tom Friedman
(b. 1965), a representation of the artist violently torn apart.
Made of construction paper, it measures 12 by 114 by 120 inches
and was executed in 2000. It has an ambitious estimate of $800,000
to $1,200,000. It sold for $856,000, more than double the artist's
previous auction record of $352,000 set at Sotheby's in May, 2005.
Lot 64 is an impressive 2001
work by Francesco Vezzoli (b. 1971) that is entitled "Four
Fabulous Faces: Joan and Gloria" and consists of nine framed
black and white laseer prints on canvas with metallic embroidery.
The lot has a modest estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It sold
Lot 38 consists of two very
similar chromogenic color prints of the interiors of 99 Cent stores
by Andreas Gursky (b. 1955). Each print measures 81 by 134 inches
and the pair are from an edition of six. The lot has an ambitious
estimate of $2,500,000 to $3,500,000. It sold for $2,480,000,
a bit over the artist's previous auction record of $2,256,000
set at Sotheby's last May.
"The artist captures in
a daunting manner the seemingly antiseptic public space of late
capitalism," the catalogue entry maintains. "The rows
in the store appear close, too close for the norm. The entire
atmosphere is consumed with row upon row of consumer products.
The spaces are removed between the aisles, dislocating our focal
point as we are presented with an unusual representation of the
all too ordinary. It's clear what's for sale, but unclear exactly
how things physically exist within the store, a distrubing yet
intriguing image of a typical scene....Like Warhol, Gursky has
succeed inseducing his viewers with his product."
Lot 31 is the only work in
the auction with hemp leaves and pills including Aspirin and Tums
tablets. It is a very striking oil and resin on board and is by
Fred Tomaselli (b. 1956). Entitled "Colorado River,"
it measures 72 by 54 by 2 3/8 inches and was executed in 1993.
It has an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $192,000
breaking the artist's previous auction record of $100,173 set
at Sotheby's last February.
Lot 2, "Green Door,"
by Jim Lambie (b. 1964) is a simple but very striking sculpture
of green folding doors that was executed in 2004. It measures
78 1/2 by 79 1/2 by 12 3/4 inches and has an estimate of $60,000
to $80,000. It sold for $144,000, ten times the artist's previous
auction record set last month.
Lot 15, "Pro Street,"
is a very handsome Rothkoesque abstraction by Richard Prince (b.
1949) that is a fiberglass hood in two parts with Bondo, acrylic,
flake paint and enamel mounted on wooded frame. It measures 66
5/8 by 56 1/8 by 6 1/4 inches, and was executed between 1992 and
2002. It has an ambitious estimate of $700,000 to $900,000. It
sold for $744,000. The catalogue notes that this work was
"molded form a 1968 Camaro SS. The catalogue provides the
following quotation from the artist from an interview entitled
"In the Picture: Jeff Rian in conversation with Richard Prince,"
in Richard Prince, London, 2003: "It was the perfect
thing to paint. Great size. Great subtext. Great reality. Great
thing that actually got painted out there, out there in real life....It
got 'teen-aged;' Primed. Flaked. Stripped. Bondo-ed. Lacquered.
Nine coats. Sprayed. Numbered. Advertised on. Raced....Steven
Lot 30 is another Prince, which
was placed behind auctioneer Simon de Pury's rostrum at the auction.
Entitled "Tender Nurse," it is an inkjet print and acrylic
on canvas that measures 75 by 103 inches. Executed in 2003, it
has an ambitious estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,000,000. It was
placed behind auctioneer's Simon de Pury's rostrum at the auction
and sold for $2,256,000, breaking the artist's previous auction
record of $1,360,000 set last May. The work is part of his
19-painting series known as "The Nurse Paintings" that
the artist executed between 2002 and 2003 that the catalogue entry
maintains "offer us a clever pastiche of mass-media, painterly
adroitness, female obsession, and even autobiographical intent."
"Prince," the entry
continued, "pioneered the technique of modern rephotography
in the 1970s and this series continues his original methods, furthering
some of his previous developments. He creates layers upon layer
of analogue and digital memory and information, casting an original
art work - the book cover - into an inkjet digital reproduction,
and transposing his own painting on top, thereby commencing a
new expression of art work by obscuring the complete image of
the past leaving remnants for us to interpret at will. In some
cases, he follows the composition of the original book cover;
in others he uses it only as a starting point from which he deviates....In
describing his choice of subjects, the artist has said 'I'm painting
nurses. I like their hats. Their aprons. Their shoes. Mymother
was a nurse. My sister was a nurse. My ganmother and two cousins
were nurses...I'm recovering.'"
Lot 6, "Untitled (Cowboy),"
by Richard Prince, is a stunning Ektacolor print that measures
49 1/4 by 74 5/8 inches. It is numbered 2 from an edition of 2
and one artist's proof, and was executed in 1997. It has an ambitious
estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000. It sold for $744,000. An
appropriation of a Marlboro cigarette advertisement, this is one
of Prince's series on cowboys. "Playing the role of director,
Prince has cretaed visual worlds that play out like epic films
- keeping his audience on the edge of their seat. The artist captures
the idolatrize Cowboy in scenes of grand, sweeping landscapes,"
the catalogue entry notes.
Lot 16 is a large enamel on
aluminum by Christopher Wool (b. 1955) that was executed in 1992.
It measures 108 by 72 inches and has an estimate of $1,500,000
to $2,000,000. Simon de Pury elicited a lot of laughter when he
read the title of the work when it was offered with much gusto,
explaining that he was just reading the title. It sold for
$1,696,000, well over the artist's previous auction record of
$1,116,000 set at Sotheby's last May.