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New York

Phillips de Pury

12 PM, December 12, 2009

Sale 0309

Editions 1-88

Photographs 89-211

Design 212-248

Jewels 249-285

Contemporary Art 286-358

Ruckus Tugboat by Grooms

Lot 7, "Ruckus Tugboat," by Red Grooms, 2006, hand-cut 3D lithograph in colors, 21 by 24 1/4 by 17 inches

By Carter B. Horsley

Phillips de Pury has carved a nice niche for itself in recent years with its modestly priced Contemporary Art auctions and its Design auctions, all with large and lavish catalogues.

This season it has launched another series and it has struck on a very good and natural idea of "theme auctions."

On December 12, 2009, it will hold its first "New York" auction featuring editions, contemporary art, photographs and design that are related to New York City. Earlier in the season, it held a "music" theme auction in London and future themes include Sex next March in London, Africa next March in London, Film next April in New York, Italy next June in London, the 80s next June in New York, Latin America next October in New York, Japan next November in London, Music next November in New York, and Black & White next December in London.

Sotheby's and Christie's, the other major auction houses, have their glossies, but with Phillips de Pury the whole affairm, in this auction matte, is often considerably greater than the parts as it has "the knack," "a flair," and Simon de Pury's infectious enthusiasm.

In the catalogue, Simon de Pury, the chairman of Phillips de Pury & Company, recalls that when he arrived at JFK in the 1960s on his first visit to New York City, he was "mesmerized" by what he saw: Queuing for hours to get tickets to the musical 'Hair,' the beauty of Times Square at night, visiting artists in the slightly dangerous Greenwich Village, was all part of the experience. When I sit today at my Vito Acconci desk looking across 14th Street, now a chic fashion street rivaling Madison Avenue, watching the thousands of people strolling on the High Line, I am witness to the continous morphing of this unique city. The one thing that has never changed, however, is the shot of energy that you get when you arrive in New York and that feeling of slight melancholy you feel when heading back to JFK and leaving the metropolis behind you. It is this energy that has enticed greatness in every imaginable area, and in none so much as in the world of art. For artists from Duchamp to Warhol to Koons, New York has been unlimited source of energy and inspiration."

The New York catalogue is unusual in that it contains several major articles including lengthy and very good interviews with collector Agnes Gund and artist Alex Katz, a feature on "exciting new art spaces in town," and an essay by Philip Gefter on the city's history in photographs in which he observed that "Two cities may lay claim to the birth of photography - London and Paris - but throughout the Twentieth Century the world of New York was clearly photography's oyster."

In addition, the catalogue includes an "interview" with Gigi Gaston by Karen Wright. Gigi Gaston is a fictional character created by Josh Gosfield, formerly an art director for New York magazine, and was the subject of a recent exhibition at Steven Kasher Gallery in Chelsea. The subhead on the article declared that "Gigi Gaston was born in Bulgaria in 1943. Her mother was shot dead while Gigi was still a child, leaving her an orphan. At an early age, Gigi moved to Paris and rocketed to fame as a pop-star. In 1964, on his way to her concert at the Olympia, Paris, Gigi's lover died. She married Giorgio Fortuna in 1967, and later killed him in a 'crime of passion.' She has been hiding since." Mr. Gosfield meticulously created bogus magazine covers featured Gigi. Ms. Wright concludes her article on Gosfield and Gaston by admitting her part "in one of the most notorious art farces - Nat Tate, by British writer William Boyd." "I conspired with William to construct a character from photographs that he had found in a flea market. We launched the book with a reading by David Bowie at a party in Jeff Koons' studio in 1998."

Probably the most quintessential New York artist is Red Grooms (b. 1937) whose realistic but highly inebriated and full-tilt works are classic cartoons of this crazy city. Perhaps the most humorous and memorable art exhibit in the city in the past few decades was "Ruckus Manhattan" in which the Whitney Museum of American Art let Grooms's creations run riot with walk-through subway cars and towering bridges. Lot 7, "Ruckus Tugboat" captures much of that raucous and celebratory spirit very nicely. What is remarkable about his "constructions" is the complexity of their intricate and marvelous design. This work is dated 2006 and numbered 32/45. It as a modest estimate of $3,000 to $4,000. It sold for $4,375 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article.

"Holland Hotel" by Estes

Lot 20, "Holland Hotel," by Richard Estes, screenprint on colors on Rives paper, 44 5/8 by 71 3/8 inches, a proof apart from the numbered edition of 100 and 15 artist's proofs, 1984

If Grooms is the New York artist (closely followed of course by George Luks and Andy Warhol), Richard Estes (b. 1932) is its photorealist and Lot 20,
"Holland Hotel," is a fine example of his fabulous compositional skills and great sense of the real city as opposed to the glamorized fantasies of fashion and real estate. It is a screenprint in colors on Rives paper that measures 44 4/8 by 71 3/8 inches and was created in 1984. It is a proof apartt from the numbered edition of 100 and 15 artist's proofs. It has an estimate of $20,000 to $25,000. It failed to sell.

"Merce Cunningham" by Warhol

Lot 47, "Merce Cunningham," Screenpoint, on white paper,by Andy Warhol, 30 by 20 inches, aside from the edition of 100 and 30 artist's proofs on Japanese gift wrapping paper and 4 trial proofs on various colored Cockerell papers, 1974

Merce Cunningham, who died this year, was one of the world's great modern dancers and a collaborator with John Cage, one of the world's most influential musicians. Lot 47 is a 30-by-20-inch screenpoint on white paper of Cunningham by Andy Warhol (1928-1987). It was created in 1974 aside from the edition of 100 and 30 artist's proofs on Japanese gift wrapping paper and 4 trial proofs on various colored Cockerell papers and was published by Castelli Graphics of New York for the portfolio Cunningham 1 to raise runds for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, New York, with the Estate of Andy Warhol inkstamps and initiated in pencil by the estate on the reverse. It has an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000. It sold for $25,000. The portrait very nicely captures Cunningham's dance style of sudden snappiness and unexpected shifts that epitomized his collaborator's preoccupation and heavy emphasis on chance and Warhol, Cunningham and Cage are New York chance personified.

Untitled head after Jean-Michel Basquiat

Lot 53, "Untitled (Head)," after Jean-Michel Basquiat, screenprint in colors on Museum board, 40 inches square, numbered 13/85 in pencil with the estate stamp and signed and dated by the executor Gerard Basquiat on the reverse, published by DeSanctis Carr Fine Art, Los Angeles with the accompanying Basquiat Editions catalogue, 1983-2001

Lot 53 is a bold and very fine untitled head that the catalogue states is "after Jean-Michel Basquiat" (1960-1988). A screenpoint in colors on Museum board, it is 40 inches square and is numbered 13/85 in pencil with the estate stamp and signed and dated by the executor Gerard Basquiat on the reverse, published by DeSanctis Carr Fine Art, Los Angeles with the accompanying Basquiat Editions catalogue, 1983-2001. It has an estimate of $10,000 to $15,000. It sold for $22,500.

"Billboard Painter, Broadway NYC" by Haas

Lot 105, "Billboard Painter, Broadway, NYC," by Ernst Haas, dye transfer print, 1952, printed 1992, 17 5/8 by 26 5/8 inches, numbered 5/30 by Alexander Haas, the photographer's son, in pencil, and Ernst Haas copyright credit stamp on the verso

Lot 105 is a great dye transfer print by Ernst Haas (1921-1986) that is entitled "Billboard Painter, Broadway NYC." It was taken in 1952 and printed 1992. It measures 17 5/8 by 26 5/8 inches and is number 5/30 by Alexander Haas, the photographer's son, in pencil, and Ernst Haas copyright credit stamp on the verso. It has an estimate of $6,000 to $8,000. It failed to sell.

"El Train, Ninth Avenue" by Feininger

Lot 120, "El Train, Ninth Avenue," by Andreas Feininger, 1940, gelatin silver print, printed 1970s, 9 1/2 by 7 5/8 inches, signed in ink and credit stamp on verso

Lot 120 is a magnificent photograph of the Ninth Avenue El Train by Andreas Feininger (1906-1999). It was taken in 1940 and printed in the 1970s. It is a gelatin silver print that measures 9 1/2 by 7 5/8 inches and is signed in ink and credit stamp on verson. It has an estimate of $3,000 to $5,000. It failed to sell.

"Window Washers, 48th Street, New York" by Morath

Lot 136, "Window Washers, 48th Street, New York," by Inge Morath, 1958, gelatin silver print, printed later, 19 by 13 inches, signed in pencil on the verso

Lot 136 is a very great photograph by Inge Morath (1923-2002) entitled "Window Washers, 48th Street, New York." It was taken in 1958 and printed later. A gelatin silver print, it measures 19 by 13 inches and is signed in pencil on the verso. It has a modest estimate of $3,000 to $5,000. It failed to sell.

Her entry at wikipedia.com provides the following commentary:

"Her first assignments for Magnum were stories that were of no interest to "the big boys." One of her earliest assignments took her to London for a story about the inhabitants Soho and Mayfair. Morath's portrait of Mrs. Evelyn Nash, from that assignment, is among her best known photographs. In 1953-54, at Capa's suggestion, Morath worked with Cartier-Bresson as a researcher and assistant, and in 1955 she was invited to become a full member of Magnum Photos. During the late 1950s Morath traveled widely, covering stories in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the United States, and South America for such publications as Holiday, Paris Match, and Vogue. She published Guerre à la Tristesse, photographs of Spain, with Robert Delpire in 1955, followed by De la Perse à l'Iran, photographs of Iran, in 1958. Morath published more than thirty monographs during her lifetime.

Like many Magnum members, Morath worked as a still photographer on numerous motion picture sets. Having met director John Huston while she was living in London, Morath worked on several of his films. Huston's Moulin Rouge (1952) was one of Morath's earliest assignments as a photographer, and her first time working in a film studio. When Morath confessed to Huston that she had only one roll of color film to work with and asked for his help, Huston obtained three more rolls for her, and occasionally waved to her to indicate the right moments to step in with her camera....Huston later wrote of Morath that she "is a high priestess of photography. She has the rare ability to penetrate beyond surfaces and reveal what makes her subject tick."...

In 1960, while photographing the making of The Unforgiven, starring Audrey Hepburn, Burt Lancaster, and Audie Murphy, Morath accompanied Huston and his friends duck hunting on a mountain lake outside Durango, Mexico. Photographing the excursion, Morath saw through her telephoto lens that Murphy and his companion had capsized their boat 350 feet from shore, and that Murphy, stunned, was near to drowning. A skilled swimmer, Morath stripped to her underwear and hauled the two men ashore by her bra strap while the hunt continued uninterrupted....

Marilyn Monroe, dancing with Eli Wallach, and Clark Gable, rehearsing a scene during the filming of The Misfits, 1960. Morath worked again with Huston in 1960 on the set of The Misfits, a blockbuster film featuring Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, and Montgomery Clift, with a screenplay by Arthur Miller. Magnum Photos had been given exclusive rights to photograph the making of the movie, and Morath and Cartier-Bresson were the first of nine photographers to work on location, outside Reno, Nevada, during its filming....Morath met Miller while working on The Misfits, and - following Miller's divorce from Monroe - they were married on February 17, 1962."

"Argente" by Evans

Lot 235, "Argente" sideboard, by Paul Evans, 1968, welded, painted, sculpted and polished aluminum, slate, painted wood, welded and patinated steel, 32 1/4 by 84 1/4 by 21 inches

Lot 235 is an impressive sideboard known as "Argente" by Paul Evans (1931-1987). It was created in 1968 and is made of welded, painted, sculpted and polished aluminum, slate, painted wood, welded and patinated steel. It measures 32 1/4 by 84 1/4 by 21 inches. It has an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. It sold for $37,500.

Diamond pendants in form of Chrsyler Building

Lot 249, "Chrsyler Building" pendant necklace, disamonds, pendant 4 1/2 inches long

Lot 249 is a marvelous diamond pendant necklace in the form of the top of the Chrysler Building. The pendant is 4 1/2 inches long and the chain length is 20 inches. It has an estimate of $10,000 to $12,000. It sold for $12,500.

"Guggenheim (Melting)" by Wurm

Lot 307, "Guggenheim (Melting)," by Erwin Wurm, cast resin, 18 by 33 3/4 by 54 3/8 inches, 2005

Lot 207 is a large and excellent work in cast resin by Erwin Wurm (b. 1954) that is entitled "Guggenheim (Melting). It was created in 2005 and measures 18 by 33 3/4 by 54 3/8 inches. It is from an edition of 12. It has an estimate of $35,000 to $40,000. It failed to sell.


See The City Review article on the Fall 2009 evening Contemporary Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2009 evening Contemporary Art auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2009 evening Contemporary Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2009 evening Contemporary Art auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2008 Contemporary Art evening auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2008 Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2008 Contemporary Art evening auction at Christie's

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See The City Review article on the Spring 2007 Contemporary Art evening auction at Christie's

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

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

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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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