By Carter B. Horsley
The day auctions of Post-War
and Contemporary Art at Christie's, May 12, are highlighted by
two very strong works by Hans Hofmann, some excellent sculptures
by John Chamberlain, a superb Richard Artschwanger, some fine
small abstract paintings by David Smith, a good Barbara Kruger,
fine abstractions by Conrad Marca-Relli and Gerhard Richter, and
a good sculpture by Nam June Paik. The two day sales were very
successful with a total of about $37 million.
Lot 210, "Pan," is
an excellent oil on canvas by Hans Hofmann (1880-1966). Executed
in 1958, it measures 60 by 52 inches. It has been consigned from
the estate of Oscar M. and Zelia P. Ruebhausen. Mr. Ruebhausen
was presiding partner from 1972 to 1981 of the New York law firm
of Debevoise & Plimpton and was a president of the Association
of the Bar of the City of New York and chairman of the board of
Bennington College and the Russell Sage Foundation. The Hofmann
has an estimate of $300,000 to $500,000. It sold for $374,400
including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this
Another good work from the
same collection is Lot 209, "Oriental," by William Baziotes
(1912-1916). An oil on canvas that once belonged to Nelson A.
Rockefeller, it measures 24 by 30 inches and was painted in 1952.
It has an estimate of $60,000 to $80,000. It sold for $132,000.
Another good Hofmann is Lot
214, "Figures in Ferment," an oil on panel that measures
40 by 55 inches. Executed in 1944, it has an estimate of $120,000
to $180,000. It sold for $262,400.
John Chamberlain (b. 1927)
is represented by three excellent painted and chromium-plated
steel works in this auction. Lot 245 is entitled "Spinster's
Dinner" and measures 21 1/2 by 39 1/2 by 29 inches. Executed
in 1996, it has an estimate of $150,000 to $200,000. It sold
Lot 318 is a 2003 work by Chamberlain
that has a great title, "Cole to Ray/Hot to Molly."
It measures 14 1/4 by 16 3/4 by 4 1/2 inches. It has an estimate
of $30,000 to $40,000. It sold for $54,000.
Another 2003 sculpture by Chamberlain is Lot
276, "Karankawas Falls." It measures 91 by 93 by 29
inches and has an estimate of $300,000 to $400,000. It failed
Lot 277 is an excellent abstract
oil on canvas by Gerhard Richter (b. 1932) (see The City Review article on a major Richter
exhibition). It measures
28 1/2 by 40 inches and was executed in 1989. It has an estimate
of $350,000 to $450,000. It sold for $755,200.
Lot 207 is a very lush abstract
oil on canvas by Ad Reinhardt (1913-1967). It measures 40 by 38
inches and was exected in 1948 and was exhibited at the Corcoran
Gallery of Art in Washington in 1949. It has an estimate of $100,000
to $150,000. It sold for $192,000.
David Smith (1906-1965), the
famous sculptor, has two fine untitled tempera on paper works,
Lot 205 and 206. The former measures 24 1/2 by 19 1/8 inches and
was executed in 1951. It has an estimate of $35,000 to $45,000.
It sold for $38,400. The latter is a tempera and egg ink
work on paper that measures 15 3/4 by 20 1/4. Executed in 1955,
it has an estimate of $25,000 to $35,000 and is the better composition.
It failed to sell.
Another fine, untitled abstract
painting by Smith is Lot 218. An oil on masonite, it measures
9 3/4 by 7 7/8 inches and was executed in 1957. It has an estimate
of $25,000 to $35,000. It sold for $57,600.
Sometimes a mark of a fine
work is that is good at any scale. Lot 204 is a very fine untitled
small work by Franz Kline (1910-1962) that is just such an example.
A gouache on paper, it measures only 9 by 9 1/2 inches. It comes
from the collection of Helen and David B. Pall and has a modest
estimate of $60,000 to $80,000. It sold for $210,000.
The cover illustration of the catalogue is
Lot 244, "Black Focal Point," by Adolph Gottlieb (1903-1974).
An oil and acrylic on canvas that mesaures 90 by 60 inches, it
was executed in 1973. It has an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000.
It sold for $464,000. Lot 241 is a darker but more traditional
Gottlieb, entitled "Looping #2," a 24-by-20-inch oil
on canvas that was executed in 1964. It has an estimate of $80,000
to $120,000. It sold for $156,000.
Lot 216 is a large and impressive Abstract
Expressionist work by Conrad Marca-Relli (b. 1913). Consigned
from the John Raimondi Collection, it is an oil on fabric and
canvas collage that measures 68 by 100 inches. Entitled "L-1-58
(Summer Noon)," it was executed in 1958. "In the late
1950s," the catalogue entry for this lot noted, "Marca-Relli
embarked on a series of works that are ambitious in their scale,
complexity and color harmonies, and are among the best of his
oeuvre. Summer Noon...is a quintessential example in which
the biomorphic collage elements reference figuration and landscape
yet remains eluse to literal interpretation...What sets Summer
Noon...apart from other examples is its unabashed use of glorious
color, used with a confidence that would seldom be equaled in
his work." The lot has an estimate of $150,000 to $200,000.
It sold for $216,000.
Lot 317 is a very painterly
oil on canvas entitled "Guardian Angel" by Helen Frankenthaler
(b. 1928). It measures 47 3/4 by 65 1/2 inches and was executed
in 1982. It has a modest estimate of $50,000 to $70,000. It
sold for $180,000.
Lot 453 is a fine and large
photographic silkscreen on vinyl by Barbara Kruger (b.1945). Entitled
"Untitled (You Can't Drag Your Money Into The Grave With
Your)," it was executed in 1990 and measures 109 by 148 3/4
inches. It has a modest estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It
sold for $156,000.
Lot 571 is a very fine work
by Richard Artschwager (b. 1923) entitled "Desert Sunset
III." Unlike most of his grisaille-style works, this one
has some more color, the yellow sun." An acrylic on Celotex,
it measures 49 by 64 inches and was executed in 1989. It has a
modest estimate of $50,000 to $70,000. It sold for $102,000.
Lot 462 is a very nice group
of four poplar relief wood portraits by Stephan Balkenhol (b.
1957). Each is 47 by 38 1/4 by 4 3/4 inches. The work, which was
executed in 2000, has an estimate of $60,000 to $80,000. It
sold for $78,000.
Lot 538 is a wonderful wall
sculpture entitled "Les Bougies (Shadows from the Lesson
of Darkness)" in 14 parts by Christian Boltanski (b. 1944).
It consists of small figures in oxidized copper mounted on brackets
with candles. It was executed in 1987 and has an estimate of $25,000
to $35,000. It sold for $90,000.
Lot 522 is a superb sculpture
by Nam June Paik (b. 1932) entitled "Good Girl/Bad Girl."
It measures 55 by 55 by 21 inches and consists of nine televisions,
digital prints on fabric, a metal horn and other materials. It
was executed in 1991 and has a modest estimate of $70,000 to $90,000.
It sold for $108,000.
Lot 521 is an impressive large
work by John Baldessari (b. 1931), entitled "Two Stories."
Consisting of three panels that overall measure 96 by 50 1/2 inches,
it was executed in 1987. It has a modest estimate of $60,000 to
$80,000. It sold for $192,000.
Sandro Chia (b. 1946) is represented
in the auction by two good works. Lot 541 is entitled "Art
and Life (The Crocodile's Wisdom)." An oil on canvas, it
measures 113 1/4 by 97 1/2 inches and was executed in 1982. It
has an estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It sold for $114,000.
The other Chia is Lot 542,
which is entitled "Hard Game." A graphite, charcoal
and oil on paper, it measures 77 by 59 1/4 inches. Executed in
1981, it has an estimate of $30,000 to $40,000. It sold for
Lot 424, "Untitled
(Oriental Glasses," a 30-by-40-inch Ektacolor print mounted
on foamcore, number one of an edition of one, by Richard Prince
(b. 1949) had an estimate of $150,000 to $200,000 and sold for
Lot 458, "Sanitorium
Haus am see negativ, positiv, seitenverkehrt," by Martin
Kippenberger (1953-1997), a 59 1/4-inch square oil and silicon
gel on three attached canvases, had an estimate of $180,000 to
$220,000. Executed in 1985, it sold for $318,400.