This morning auction
of Contemporary Art at Sotheby's May 13, 2004 is highlighted by
strong works by Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993), Adolph Gottlieb
(1903-1974), Robert Indiana (b. 1928), Robert Motherwell, (1915-1991),
Jean-Paul Riopelle (1923-2002), and Andy Warhol (1928-1987), and
nice sculptures by John Chamberlain (b. 1927), Dan Flavin (1933-1996),
George Rickey (1907-2003) and Mark di Suvero (b. 1933).
Lot 148 is a muted but very vibrant charcoal, gouache and watercolor
on paper by Richard Diebenkorn. Untitled, it measures 23 ¼
by 18 ¾ inches. Executed in 1970, it has a modest estimate
of $80,000 to $100,000. It sold for $176,000 including the
buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article.
Lot 109 is an excellent
abstraction by Adolph Gottlieb with his inevitable sunburst but
an unusually subtle and lovely palette and many painterly flourishes.
Entitled "Rising," it is an oil and canvas that measures
69 by 40 ¼ inches. Executed in 1958, it has a modest estimate
of $150,000 to $200,000. It sold for $321,600.
Lot 160 is a modest-sized
but bold oil on canvas by Robert Indiana. It measures 24 by 22
inches and was executed in 1969. It has a modest estimate of $80,000
to $120,000. It sold for $176,000. "While coming to
prominence during the 1960s as a Pop Artist, his concerns have
always differed from those of his contemporaries. Where Warhol
and Lichtenstein observed the dynamic of the mass media and the
trappings of consumer culture, Indiana held more interest in national
and cultural identity.His work revolves around a number of polarities:
between personal and national identity; between socio-political
upheaval and stasis.Chief is an outstanding example of Indiana's
voice at the end of the 1960's. Displaying a highly graphic composition,
together with a palette of rich, saturated color, the present
work is typical of Indiana's production. The word 'Chief' anchors
what appears to a sunset or sunrise.The word 'chief' refers to
an Indian chief and, by extension, he asks us to debate the Indians'
place within the contemporary American demographic. The sun rises
and sets on a country thatis now very different for that section
of the American populus."
In 1947, I crossed much of the Southwest on a Santa Fe "SuperChief"
train whose engine was painted in yellow and red, like the colors
in "Chief." This is a very strong image.
Another oil painting by Indiana, entitled "Love," Lot
154, is in the auction. The 12 1/8-inch-square work is dated 1965
and has an estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It sold for $288,000.
Lot 195 is a strong acrylic
on canvas by Robert Motherwell that is entitled "Bete Noire."
It measures 80 b6y 49 ¾ inches and was executed in 1973.
It has a modest estimate of $120,000 to $180,000. It sold for
Lot 108 is a fine and dynamic
oil on canvas by Jean-Paul Riopelle. Entitled "Echo d'Horizon,"
it measures 38 by 51 inches and was executed in 1954. It has a
modest estimate of $150,000 to $200,000. It sold for $411,200.
The work, according to the catalogue entry, "conveys
all the intensity of Jean-Paul Riopelle's spectacular abstract
vision. Displaying his landmark style characterized by a technique
of angular strokes of paint applied with a small spatula, Riopelle
has built the dynamic and vibrant surface through a carefully
balanced combination of intuitive impulse and refined control.
His extensive palette of vivid primary tones scintillates with
an unrivalled energy of color. The painting's bold astral strokes
fracture and echo across the picture plane, resembling a reverie
of energetic chaosIn Echo d'Horizon, Riopelle achieves
a delicate balance between the wild frenzy of abstraction and
the underlying harmony of an abstract landscape, creating a work
of both extraordinary depth and delicate intricacy."
The cover illustration of
the catalogue is Lot 146, "S & H Green Stamps,"
by AndyWarhol. The synthetic polymer paint, rubber stamped on
paper measures 16 by 22 ½ inches and is dated 1962. It
has an estimate of $150,000 to $200,000. It sold for $601,600.
A relatively modest and
horizontal sculpture by John Chamberlain has the amusing title
of "Potato Telegram." The very colorful painted and
chrominium plated steel work measures 13 ½ by 43 by 16
inches. It was executed in 1990 and has a modest estimate of $55,000
to $65,000. It sold for $84,000.
Lot 127 is a fine steel,
stainless steel and wood sculpture by Mark di Suvero. It measures
51 by 65 by 48 inches. Executed in 1969 it has an estimate of
$150,000 to $200,000. It failed to sell.
Many of Dan Flavin's fluorescent
tube sculptures as quite minimal but Lot 176 is one of his best
works. Untitled, it consists of 5 pink fluorescent tubes placed
horizontally across the back of five yellow fluorescent tubes
that cast their light in the other direction and the spacing of
the tubes resembles a gigantic and complex tic-tac-toe. The work
has an estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It sold for $209,600.
George Rickey's stainless
steel mobiles are some of the most lyrical kinetic sculptures
of the 20th Century. Rickey was born in Indiana, attended Oxford
University and studied with Fernand Léger and Amedée
Ozenfant in Paris. He returned to the United States and initially
was a painter but eventually influenced by Alexander Calder and
Russian Constructivism developed his sculpture style using axles,
counterweights, gears and bearings with long forms that pivoted
in, and with, the wind. The lot has an estimate of $200,000 to
$300,000. It sold for $299,200.