This day auction
of Post-War and Contemporary Art at Christie's May 12, 2004, offers
a broad selection of good works by many famous artists.
It is highlighted by a strong and colorful painting by Lee Krsasner
(1908-1984), several nice mobiles by Alexander Calder (1898- 1976),
an interesting work by David Smith (1906-1965), an early and intriguing
work by Sam Francis (1923-1994), a good Adolph Gottlieb (1903-1974),
a striking still life by David Hockney (b. 1927), a classic painting
and a good sculpture by Frank Stella, (b. 1936), a nice study
by Arshile Gorky (1904-1948), a very good painting by Philip Guston
(1913-1980), a good sculpture by Mark di Suvero (b. 1933), a good
painting by Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997), and a good sculpture
by George Rickey (1907-2002).
Lot 105 is a very painterly oil on canvas by Lee Krasner (see
The City Review article). Entitled
"Image Surfacing," it measures 27 by 27 ¼ inches
and was executed circa 1945. It has a very strong palette of whites,
blues, and reds and is an excellent abstraction. It has a modest
estimate of $90,000 to $120,000. It sold for $153,100 including
the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article.
Another Krasner is Lot 179.
Entitled "Peacock," it is an oil on canvas that is 82
inches square. Executed in 1973, it has an estimate of $200,000
to $300,000. It sold for $175,500.
There are several good mobiles by Alexander Calder.
Lot 109, "Escutcheon,"
is a painted sheet metal and wire wall sculpture that measures
44 by 40 by 35 inches. Executed in 1954, it has an estimate of
$200,000 to $300,000. It sold for $365,900.
Lot 177, "National
Gallery II (Maquette)," is a standing mobile of painted sheet
metal, wire, bolts and wingnuts that measures 14 by 43 by 22 inches.
Executed in 1972, it is a study for a commission for the National
Gallery of Art's East Wing in Washington, D.C. Eventually, I.
M. Pei, the architect of the wing, desired a hanging mobile for
the wing's large atrium, and Calder changed his design. This lot
has an estimate of $220,000 to $280,000. It sold for $343,500.
Lot 178, "Yellow Counterweight,"
is a standing mobile of painted sheet metal and wire by Calder.
It measures 51 by 24 inches and was executed in 1972. It has an
estimate of $250,000 to $350,000. It sold for $321,100.
One of the auction's most
interesting works is Lot 111, "Open Window," a spray
enamel on canvas by David Smith, the sculptor. It measures 96
by 13 inches and was executed in 1959. It has an estimate of $100,000
to $150,000. It sold for $147,500.
The catalogue provides the following commentary:
"Open Window is a dynamic and original work that draws
affinities to the artist's sculptures but remains wholly faithful
to its medium. In its compositional scheme, the painting Open
Window relates to sculptures like Circles and Angles. Both
of these works depend upon a tight-knit relationship of sharp
angled geometric forms. They portray an easy ebb and flow of movement
that has neither a compositional beginning nor end. While Smith
sought to make drawings in space with his sculptures, his paintings
are heavily dependent upon the exploration of negative space and
the absence of implied mass. Although Smith certainly created
some paintings as studies for sculptures, most of his paintings
like Open Window are meant to stand alone. Smith's paintings
are some of his purest expressions. Smith was quick to admit that
sculpture was a difficult medium with which to purse his Abstract
Expressionist goals. The laborious process of assembling metal
parts through welding and casting could easily squash the spontaneity
and dynamism Smith sought.He did not rely on 'action' painting
like his peers Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline, but instead created
dynamic and spontaneous compositions on par with the best Abstract
Expressionists canvases using metal parts and studio detritus
The Prudential Foundation
Art Collection has consigned an early and good abstraction by
Sam Francis. Entitled "Composition," it is a 36-by-40
¼-inch oil on canvas that was executed in 1948. It has
a modest estimate of $50,000 to $70,000. It sold for $101,575.
Lot 154 is a very bold and colorful and atypical abstraction by
Adolph Gottlieb, entitled "Centipede." Executed in 1955,
it is an oil on masonite that measures 20 by 24 inches. It has
a modest estimate of $35,000 to $45,000. It sold for $69,310.
The catalogue's frontispiece
is Lot 191, "Antheriums," a lovely floral still life
by David Hockney. The oil on canvas in a handpainted artist's
frame measures 41 ¼ by 53 ¼ inches and was executed
in 1995. It has an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It sold
Lot 161 is a classic and
excellent "concentric squares" painting by Frank Stella.
An acrylic on linen, it measures 103 inches square and was executed
in 1978. It has an estimate of $280,000 to $320,000. It sold
Lot 175 is a large oil and
enamel on cast aluminum sculpture by Frank Stella. Entitled "The
Spouter Inn," it measures 78 ¾ by 93 ¼ by 46
½ inches and was executed in 1987. It has a modest estimate
of $70,000 to $90,000. It was withdrawn.
Lot 101 is a strong ink
on paper drawing by Arshile Gorky. It measures 10 by 14 7/8 inches
and was executed circa 1932. It has an estimate of $30,000 to
$40,000. It sold for $45,410.
Lot 180 is a good oil on
canvas by Philip Guston that is entitled "Painting on Floor."
It measures 60 7/8 by 52 ¼ inches and was painted in 1978.
It has an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. It sold for $522,700.
Lot 183 is an interesting
untitled kinetic sculpture by Mark di Suvero. Executed in 1964-7,
it is stainless steel, steel, aluminum, stone, wire and string
and measures 22 by 39 by 24 inches. It has an estimate of $35,000
to $45,000. It sold for $53,775.
kinetic sculpture is Lot 210, "Eight Lines," by George
Rickey. The brushed aluminum work measures 62 ½ by 55 by
6 inches. It was conceived in 1963 and executed in 1987. It has
an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It sold for $57,360.
is an excellent 1992 work by Roy Lichtenstein entitled "Water
Lily Pond with Reflections. It is screenprinted enamel on processed
and swirled stainless steel with a painted wood frame. It measures
58 by 84 ½ inches. According to the catalogue, it is "the
second presentation proof from an edition of twenty-three plus
seven artist's proofs." It has an estimate of $40,000 to
$60,000. It sold for $107,550.
is a good abstract study by Willem de Kooning (1904-1997). Entitled
"Oil Painting on Paper VI," it was executed in 1958.
It is an oil on paper laid down on canvas that measures 21 1/4
by 28 inches. It has an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. It
sold for $231,500.
is a fine oil on canvas by James Rosenquist (b. 1928). Executed
in 1975, it measures 48 by 112 inches and is entitled "Hot
Lake." It has a modest estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It
sold for $65,725.
is an strong untitled gouache on paper by Hans Hofmann (1880-1966).
It measures 17 1/2 by 23 1/4 inches and was executed in 1943.
It has a modest estimate of $25,000 to $35,000. It sold for