morning sale of Post-War and Contemporary Art at Christie's is
highlighted by several works by Gerhard Richter (b. 1932) and
Andy Warhol (1928-1987) and good works by Ed Ruscha (b. 1937)
and James Rosenquist (b. 1933).
Lot 170, "Untitled (4.5.86)," is a very bright and strong
abstract oil and pencil on paper laid down on canvas, 79 ½
by 72 ¼ inches by Gerhard Richter. It has a conservative
estimate of $250,000 to $350,000 and the catalogue notes that
it "is an important painting on paper from a series of six,
created on six consecutive days, from 1 May through 6 May 1986."
"In terms of scale and execution," the catalogue continued,
"these works are the most ambitious works on paper in Richter's
oeuvre, possessing an energy and impasto that the artist generally
reserves for his major canvases.Untitled (4.5.86) shows
the artist's relationship to Abstract Expressionism and his willingness
to indulge in sensuous painterly gesture." The painting is
the back-cover illustration of the catalogue. It sold for $449,500
including the buyer's premium as do all prices mentioned in this
Lot 108, "Flowers," is a 22-inch-square synthetic polymer
and silkscreen inks on canvas painted by Andy Warhol in 1964.
It features two red flowers over two pink flowers with a black
and white background and has an estimate of $350,000 to $450,000.
It sold for $378,000.
Lot 139, "Four Multicolored Self-Portraits (Reversal Series),"
is a 47-by-36-inch synthetic polymer and silkscreen inks on canvas
by Andy Warhol that was painted in 1979. This quite striking lot
is the cover illustration of the catalogue and has a modest estimate
of $250,000 to $350,000. It sold for $273,500.
A squiggle painting by Cy Twombly (b. 1928) that was formerly
in the Andy Warhol Collection is Lot 129. The 27 1/8-by-34 ¼-inch
oil and colored crayon on paper was drawn circa 1970. It has nice
dark blue crayon markings and an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000.
It sold for $207,500.
Lot 119 is a very nice gouache and watercolor on paper by Sam
Francis (1924-1997). The 26-by-40-inch work, executed in 1957,
somewhat resembles a tree-trunk and has an estimate of $90,000
to $120,000. It sold for $119,500.
Lot 118 is a very strong oil on paper, 12 by 9 ½ inches,
entitled "Composition," by Franz Kline (1910-1962).
Painted in 1954, it has an estimate of $50,000 to $70,000. It
sold for $69,310.
Lot 115, "Composition," is a 32-by-22-inch oil on canvas
by Lee Krasner (1912-1984). The catalogue notes that the work,
executed circa 1948, "is from a series of paintings that
Krasner referred to as "Little Images." "Modestly-sized,
each consists of all-over fields of exquisite detail and nuances
of color that bear the influence of Mark Tobey's `white writing'
style and the innovative working methods of her husband, Jackson
Pollock. To Krasner's horror, Bertha Schaefer, a gallery owner
who began her career as an interior designer, put the painting
behind glass and converted it into a table. The artist was additionally
chagrined by the extensive publicity it garnered in its unintended
role as a functional object. It remained in this stae until 1980,
when it was rescued from its fate as a horizontal support and
returned to its status as an seminal Abstract Expressionist Krasner
painting from the heroic years of the movement," the catalogue
noted. The lot has an estimate of $70,000 to $90,000. It sold
"Bamboo Pole," is a 20-by-158 ¾-inch oil on canvas
by Edward Ruscha that was executed in 1980. It has been widely
exhibited and has a conservative estimate of $180,000 to $220,000.
It sold for $394,500.
Lot 169, "The Target," is a 1959 oil on canvas, 60 by
40 inches, by Richard Lindner (1901-1978) that is one of the artist's
classic full-length figures of a dominatrix. It has an estimate
of $180,000 to $220,000. It failed to sell.
is a 60-inch square oil on canvas by James Rosenquist that depicts
a doll wrapped in clear plastic. Executed in 1992, it has a $40,000
to $50,000. It sold for $65,725.
and back covers of this sale's catalogue are illustrated with
front and rear views of Lot 316, "Hiropon," a 88-inch-high
statue by Takashi Murakami (b. 1962) of a woman with pink hair
and a bikini top who is holding her nipples and squirting milk
that forms a loop, like a jump-rope, around her. The woman, who
is wearing pigtails tied with yellow pigtails, has very large
breasts and is standing/prancing on one leg and has a joyful expression
and enormous eyes. The work was executed in 1997 and is from an
edition of three, each version having a different hair color and
The lot has a conservative estimate of $80,000 to $120,000 and
has been widely exhibited. It sold for $427,500!
The catalogue entry for this lot includes a color reproduction
of Jeff Koons's Pink Panther of 1988 and notes that like
the Pink Panther, "Hiropon raises popular culture
to the level of fine art." "Both artists," it continued,
"are similar in their approach as they view no distinction
between fine art and merchandise, their art communicates to a
widespread audience. Both sculptures too incorporate similar elements:
they depict essentially naked, larger-than-life women with bright
lips, wavy hair, and more-than-generous breasts, the standard
male fantasy. In Koons' Pink Panther, the clearly sexualized
woman, (a blond bombshell) is juxtaposed with the cute, bright
pink and highly popular cartoon character the `Pink Panther'.
Similarly, Hiropon is both sexy and cute, a highly erotic
figure with ribbons in her pigtails. Where as normally the connection
between toys and high art is suppressed, here the relationship
is celebrated. Hiropon is a mixture of the infantile and
the sexual; a hybrid mix of womanly characteristics and girlish
charm, both a woman and a girl, a perfect combination of aesthetics
and mass appeal. Hiropon announces the birth of a new form
of female deity that recalls art-historical references from the
Nike of Samothrace or Winged Victory to the countless
tributes to the figure of the Madonna, from Venus to the milk
maidens of the visual arts."
The catalogue notes that the artist has written that the inspiration
for the work came from "a large-breasted girl game that was
on a software fan magazine that I picked up at the1992 summer
Comike," adding that "With these abnormal swollen
nipples and breasts, I could illustrate the depth of Japan's subculture,
and the excesses of its art, the psycho-sexual complexes of he
Japanese, and the increasingly malformed otaku culture!"
"Much of Murakami's work," the catalogue noted, "derives
from the Japanese otaku or `geek' culture, typified by males obsessed
with the world of comic books, video games and animation, a Japanese
pop cultural phenomenon. The artist works out of what he calls
the Hiropon Factory, which is in the spirit of Andy Warhol's Factory
of the 1960s. `Hiropon' is slang for heroin, a possible allusion
to Warhol's involvement in 60's drug culture. In this factory,
Murakami was challenged by the idea of converting a two dimensional
anime figure into a three dimensional figure. The result
of that challenge is Hiropon. Hiropon is a deliciously
Unlike Koons's "Pink Panther," which was very charming
and rather tame, Murakami's "Hiropon" is aggressively
sexual but its exaggeration is so blatant as to by pass the prurient,
especially in an age when much of contemporary art is focused
on sex. To compare it to "Winged Victory" is quite a
push. "Hiropon" is extremely crass, but not without
humor and certainly more entertaining than many photographs that
has as "contemporary art." To a certain degree, Murakami
is appropriating the cheerful outlandishness of Koons's "Pink
Panther," but he is pushing that envelope rather literally
to the bursting points. One wonders what Koons, who is not shy,
will follow up with.
Lot 320, "Pharmaceutic Wall Painting, Five Blacks,"
is a white painted wooden box containing 150 tins of enamel paint
(145 different colors and 5 blacks, 150 brushes, and compass.
This "work" by Damien Hirst (b. 1961) was conceived
in 1993 and published by Edition Schellmann and is from an edition
of ten plus two artist's proofs. The catalogue reproduces a color
photograph of the "spots" applied above a modern fireplace
and the catalogue notes that "The spots are to be placed
in 10 rows, 15 spots wide," the diameter of the spots to
be determined by the owner and the color of each spot to be chosen
at random. This kit has an estimate of $50,000 to $70,000. It
sold for $53,775. Perhaps some conceptual artist will offer
a sheet of paper and a few pencils of different "widths"
with simple instructions. Do I hear $100,000?
For the visually impaired, Lot 321 may help a bit. It is a gloss
household paint on canvas by Damien Hirst, 9 inches square with
a red dot, a yellow dot, half a green dot, half a black dot, half
an orange dot, a quarter of another red dot, half a beige dot,
about 95 percent of a blue dot and about 95 percent of a blue-green
dot. Executed in 1996, it has an estimate of $35,000 to $45,000.
It failed to sell. The dots, by the way, are not placed
symmetrically on the canvas although they are in three rows vertically
is Lot 328, "Empire State with Bowler, Mirrored," by
Barry Flanagan (b. 1941), which consists of two bronze "elements,"
each of which is sculpted in the shape of the Empire State Building
with large rabbits prancing atop the towers. Perhaps this is the
model for a replacement for the World Trade Center: two new Empire
State Buildings. The "elements" are 90 ½ inches
high and this work is number 5 of an edition of 8. Tthe lot has
an estimate of $160,000 to $200,000. It sold for $185,500.
Even more abstract and minimalist is Lot 355, "Triangle within
Two Rectangles #5," an acrylic and colored crayon on two
paper sheets, 39 ¼ by 55 ½ inches, by Robert Mangold
(b. 1937). This quite subtle work was drawn in 1977 and has an
estimate of $12,000 to $18,000. It sold for $21,500.
is a interesting work by Anselm Kiefer (b. 1945). Entitled "Sieben
Hiummelspälaste (Seven Places of Heaven)," it is a photograph
and lead in artist's glazed steel frame and it measures 67 ¾
by 95 ½ inches. Executed in 1991, it has a modest estimate
of $70,000 to $90,000. It sold for $107,500.
"Santo #1," is a strong work by Jean-Michel Basquiat
(1960-1988). An oil, acrylic, colored crayons on paper mounted
on canvas and exposed wooden support, it is 36 inches square and
was executed in 1982. It has an estimate of $180,000 to $220,000.
It sold for $339,500.
several works by Keith Haring (1958-1990) in the auction of which
Lot 387, "A Chorus Line Untitled #3" is perhaps the
nicest. An acrylic on canvas, it measures 60 inches square and
was painted in 1988. It has an estimate of $150,000 to $200,000.
It failed to sell.
Sugimoto (b. 1948) has two nice 1997 photographs of New York City
landmarks. Lot 426 is the "World Trade Towers," a 28
¾-by-19 ½-inch gelatin silver print that is number
7 of an edition of 25. The lot has an estimate of $18,000 to $25,000.
It sold for $41,825. Lot 427, "Seagram Building Ludwig
Mies van der Rohe," is a 23 5/8-by-19 3/8-inch gelatin silver
print mounted on paper and is number 4 from an edition of 25.
It has an estimate of $10,000 to $15,000. It sold for $35,850.
(b. 1967) is a photographer who deals with super-panoramic photographic
stories. Lot 418, "Five Revolutionary Seconds II," is
a good example of his work. It measures 28 by 298 inches and was
executed in 1995. It has an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It
failed to sell.
(b. 1967) is one of the more interesting contemporary artists
who works with very high-tech photographic techniques. Lot 419,
"Beginning of the End, Shanghai, China," is a curved
laminated color Crystal print, aluminum and wood, 39 1/4 by 148
by 26 1/2 inches that she executed in 1997. It is from an edition
of three and one artist's proof and one printer's proof. It has
an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It sold for $50,190.