Contemporary Art Part 1
By Michele Leight
The stellar offerings in Phillips de Pury's Contemporary Art Part I evening sale on November 7 in New York encompass the full spectrum of Post War and Contemporary art, and continues the auction house's long-standing commitment to artists of this generation, whose work shares the limelight in the evening sale with Roy Lichtenstein, Willem de Kooning, Cy Twombly, Donald Judd, Alexander Calder, Ellsworth Kelly - and the one and only Andy Warhol (1928-1987), who is represented by several wonderful works in this sale, including Lot 8, "Nine Gold Marilyns (Reversal Series)," illustrated at the top of this review.The stunning monochromatic - black and gold - cover lot is Lot 8, "Nine Gold Marilyns (Reversal Series)," illustrated at the top of this review. The lot, a silkscreen and acrylic on canvas that measures 54 1/8 by 41 3/4 inches, has an estimate of $7,000,000 to $10,000,000. It sold for $7,992,500 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article.
"When Andy Warhol created 'Nine Gold Marilyn's (Reversal Series)," 1980, he had already been painting his famed silkscreens for nearly two decades. The first half of Warhol's legendary artistic career dealt with the reproduction of American iconography; indeed, his Jackies, Soup Cans, Lizes, self-portraits, and, of course, portraits of Marilyn, each responded to a specific phenomenon in American culture. In turn, his artwork helped to cement the monumentality of these figures and ubiquitous images in the American consciousness. Many of our mental projections of Pop Culture iconography are not pictures from 'Life' magazine or stills from a film, but rather Warhol's radical illustrative minipulations of the icon in question. This achievement alone - being able to shape our modes of recollection - would itself have been an unarguable feat of genius."
sale sold 37 of 44 offered lots for $71,292,500 including buyer's
premium, nicely within the pre-sale estimate of $66,160,000 to
Damien Hirst's painting, "20 Pills," is one of three important works by the artist included in this sale. The subject matter could not be more pertinent to our times as the high profile trial of Michael Jackson's doctor plays out in the media, and millions of people use medicinal drugs like anti-depressants, painkillers and sleeping pills that are often highly addictive. Many nameless, faceless people lose their lives in tragic overdoses, in addition to famous people we read about in the media. Western civilizations dependence on medicinal drugs is bolstered by a barrage of advertisements that push their benefits 24/7, and the profits they generate run into the billions. But, as Hirst's "20 Pills" suggests, it is we, the consumer, that drives the frenzied pill popping and those huge profits, even as we hypocritically revile the pharmaceutical industry. Damien Hirst's pills and medicine chests show us the irresistible allure of "pills" - because they offer us hope for the one thing we want most - immortality. One has only to witness the suffering of people with a deadly disease that cannot afford medications to understand the enormous power that medicinal drugs have to give - or take away - dignity and life. Brilliant Damien Hirst (b. 1965) presents this ironic, contemporary tableaux in paintings such as "20 Pills," superbly rendered in oil on canvas, and illustrated above. The lot has an estimate of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. It sold for $1,202,500.
Phillips de Pury's catalogue for this sale includes a quote by the artist:
"They were looking at shiny colors and bright shapes and nice white coats and cleanliness and they were going, right - this is going to be my savior. And it didn't ring true - it didn't seem believable." (Interview conducted by G. Burn, appeared in "Damien Hirst Pharmacy," Tate Online Project, London, 2001).
Lot 12, "Au-195m," circa 2008, by Damien Hirst alludes to the same subject matter as Lot 35, "20 Pills," and also highlights our quest for wealth, (symbolized by the gold background), in one of the artist's famous "spot" paintings. Once again, Hirst highlights contemporary civilizations most compelling issues, like the pursuit of riches - which is as old as time - and the disparities between the haves and the have nots. Lot 12 has an estimate of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. It failed to sell for $850,000.
A wonderful installation in one gallery combined Damien Hirst's "Au 195m" (Lot 12), featuring his famous dots on a gold ground, Andy Warhol's stunning and iconic "Nine Gold Marilyns (Reversal Series)," and George Condo's gilded bronze "Composite Figure No.1," (Lot 42), which looks like a super-sized, Greco-Roman "Oscar" (as in Academy Awards) until close inspection. Shockingly, the exquisitely modeled body of the ethereal "goddess" is topped by the head of a hag with a sly, withered face:
"Stripped of her divine serenity by an unbecoming face, Condo's "Composite Figure No.1, 2003," exhibits both sensual beauty and grotesque vulgarity" (Phillips de Pury's catalogue for this sale). Lot 42 has an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. It sold for $230,500.
Cy Twombly passed away this year, sadly, after a long and ilustrious career. A powerful, large-scale, late work by the artist, "Untitled, 2006," (Lot 20), with an estimate of $8,000,000 to $12,000,000, is illustrated above, with paintings by Warhol, Wool and Lichtenstein in this installation. Lot 20 sold for $9,042,500. There are several great Warhol's in this sale - and one collaboration between Basquiat and Warhol.
Lot 21, "Self Portrait," by Andy Warhol, is a dramatic late self-portrait of the artist wearing his "fright" wig against an unsettling neon purple background, illustrated above. It has an estimate of $4,000,000 to $6,000,000. It was acquired by the present owner from The Andy Warhol Foundation of the Visual Arts. It sold for $4,002,500.
The catalogue for this sale includes a great quote in "The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, 'From A to B and Back Again,'" published in New York, in 1975:
"They always say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself."
Lot 45, "Untitled, 2010," a beautiful acrylic and silver deposit on canvas by Jacob Kassay (born 1986), keeps company with Ugo Rondidone's magnificent star-studded night, Lot 7, "Zweiterjunizweitalisendundneun (2 June 2009)." Kassay's work is acrylic and silver deposit on canvas and measures 48 by 36 inches. It has an estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It sold for $206,500. Rondidone's work is acrylic on canvas and plastic plaque and measures 102 3/8 by 78 3/4 inches. It has an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $182,500.
Those with a penchant for trolls - and who doesn't love trolls? - will be charmed by Jeff Koons adorable "Cape Codder Troll." Lot 11 is from an edition of three and one artist's proof. It is stainless steel and 21 inches high and has an estimate of $500,000 to 700,000. It sold for $578,500.
Lot 18, "Runaway Nurse," by Richard Nurse, an inkjet and acrylic on canvas, 80 by 52 inches, 2006
Lot 18, "Runaway Nurse, by Richard Prince, a 2006 oil on canvas, had an estimate of $5 million to $7 million. It sold for $6,802,500.
Lot 15, "Frank and Jamie," by Maurizio Cattalan (b. 1960) has an estimate of $2,000,000 to $3,000,000. It sold for $2,322,500.
An untitled work consisted of stuffed pigeons, Lot 11, by Maurizio Cattelan, had an estimate of $300,000 to $400,000 and sold for $580,000. Phillips de Pury took no commissions on the charity auction. The auction's pre-sale estimate of $1,560,000 to $2,200,000 and it realized $2,682,000.
The greatest architect in the world gave us The Guggenheim Museum. Frank Lloyd Wright was an artist as well. Who but an artist could have conceived such a design in the mid-fifties, and set it beside Central Park but a genius like Wright? I pass the beautifully contoured building regularly, doing errands, or just when I am out taking a break from often demanding work. I love its soothing curves. They calm me even in my most difficult times. As I sat at this beautiful gala auction and Philips de Pury's stellar Contemporary Art evening sale, I was grateful to be part of a community that cares about this beloved museum. An innovator from the outset, Simon de Pury - and Michael McGinniss - have not only championed emerging artists, they have also committed themselves to the New York community in ways like this, by combining an art auction with an auction that will help preserve one of our favorite buildings and museums. Simon de Pury said that the artists that donated works of art for the benefit auction were artists they had worked with for a long time. What goes around comes around. It was a great success. Thank you Simon, Michael, all the artists, and those that contributed to this event - thank you generous bidders! Your
At 6.30 pm on November 7, 2011, Phillips de Pury New York - Park Avenue - will offer a superb selection of works by American and international artists at the 2011 Guggenheim International Gala Contemporary Art Benefit Auction for The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.
Artists that donated pieces for this auction are Cai Guo-Quiang, Maurizio Cattelan, George Condo, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Subodh Gupta, Idris Khan, Bharti Kher, Anselm Kiefer, Lee Bul, Lee Ufan, Nate Lowman, Adam Mcewen, Richard Phillips, Rob Pruitt, Sterling Ruby, Doris Salcedo, Richard Serra, Francesco Vezzoli, Lawrence Weiner, Christopher Wool and Haegue Yang. Lot 11, "Untitled 2011," donated by Maurizio Cattelan (eleven taxidermied pigeons)" - are shown perched on a ledge in Phillips de Pury's galleries in New York. Their taxidermied brothers and sisters are included in the Maurizio Cattelan exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum, illustrated above.
Phillips de Pury has waived the buyer's premium for this benefit. Admission to this sale is by ticket only. Please call 212-940-1303. In sending in written bids or making enquiries please refer to this sale as NY010511. For more information please visit www.phillipsdepury.com. More highlights are included below.
Lot 2, "Untitled," by Adam McEwen, graphite on aluminum panel 64 by 48 inches, 2011
Lot 2 a stunning dark graphite on aluminum panel by Adam McEwen had an estimat of $40,000 to $60,000 and sold for $150,000.
Lot 15, "Alkahest," a 2011 work by Anselm Kiefer (b. 1945), had an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. It passed at $190,000. Lot 9, "Cascading Water," a brass and stainless steel sculpture by Subodh Gupt (b. 1964) had a presale estimate of $150,000 to $180,000 and sold for $150,000, and Lot 5, EXHM/DS34" by Sterling Ruby (b. 1972) had an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000 and sold for $50,000.
Rob Pruitt's, Lot 1, "Ladies and Gentlemen...(Art Awards Penguins)," 2009, illustrated above, are show stoppers. It has an estimate of $30,000 to $40,000 and sold for $55,000. The beautiful catalogue for this sale includes a quote by the artist:
--- Rob Pruitt ( Franco, James, "Rob Pruitt," Interview Magazine, 26 October 2009)