By Carter B. Horsley
This evening sale of Contemporary Art at Christie's,
May 8, 2006 is highlighted by a very fine and painterly work painting
by Francis Bacon (1909-1992), an early "soup can" painting
by Andy Warhol (1928-1997) and an excellent work by Jean-Michel
Basquiat (1960-1988) - three works with a distinctly powerful,
existential and macabre sentiment. Other important works in the
auction are a fine work by Eva Hesse (1936-1970), and a large
group of sculptures by Donald Judd.
The Bacon is Lot 59 and is entitled "Man
Carrying a Child." An oil on canvas, it measures 77 3/4 by
55 1/2 inches and was executed in 1956.
The catalogue provides the following commentary on the Bacon:
"Enshrouded in darkness and framed by
the strange gossamer threads of an invisible or transparent cage,
this full-length portrait of a man in a jellaba stepping out across
a hexagonal patch of warm sun-drenched landscape, is both a rare
and unique work deriving from the time that Bacon spent in Tangiers.
It is one of only two works in the artist's oeuvre to overtly
refer to Morocco and to the important time that Bacon spent there
on frequent visits in the mid-1950s. The other work is Bacon's
1963 painting Landscape near Malabata in which he commemorated
his former lover Peter Lacy by painting a dark and enigmatic portrait
of the Moroccan landscape in which Lacy had chosen to be buried.
Situated just outside Tangiers where Bacon used to visit Lacy,
this richly colored landscape, had also made a brief appearance
in Bacon's 1957 painting Van Gogh in a Landscape. This
earlier painting was one of an important and memorable series
of 'Van Gogh' paintings depicting the lone figure of an artist
walking in a Mediterranean landscape which to some extent also
seems to have been born out of Bacon's experiences in Morocco.
Rooted in the harsh sunlight, brilliant color and rich textures
of Tangiers and (rarely for this time) depicting a lone figure
striding across a landscape, Man Carrying a Child is an
alternate and more ominous working of a similar theme. Painted
immediately after his return from Morocco in the previous year
to this series it is a work that clearly informed Bacon's Van
Gogh paintings and bears an especially close resemblance to the
1957 painting Study for Portrait of Van Gogh II.
According to Ronald Alley, the rare subject of
Man Carrying a child --a full-length walking figure--was inspired
by one of the Moroccans that Bacon had met in Tangiers. It was
apparently a subject that Bacon had, along with many others, first
attempted to paint while staying in Tangiers but had ultimately
found himself unable to complete satisfactorily. Man Carrying
a Child was painted entirely in his Battersea studio when
Bacon took up the subject again on his return to London in the
autumn of 1956. The summer of 1956 that
Bacon spent in Morocco was the first of several visits to Tangiers
that Bacon would make during the 1950s. Bacon was ostensibly travelling
there to visit his lover Peter Lacy. Lacy was Bacon's first great
love and his features haunt the figures of most of the artist's
paintings from these years. Indeed, even though the central figure
in Man Carrying a Child was clearly not based on Lacy but
on a Moroccan man Bacon knew in Tangier, aspects of Lacy's features
also dominate the face of the man carrying the child in this work
too. Older than Bacon and an ex-Spitfire
pilot from the war, Peter Lacy had seemingly sought some kind
of an 'escape' in Morocco that was to end with him seemingly becoming
set on drinking himself to death. Lacy was by all accounts an
excellent pianist and by 1956 had managed to tie himself down
to eking out a meagre existence...playing piano in a small-time
Tangier bar known as Dean's Bar. Heavily in debt to the bar's
owner, Lacy was obliged to 'tinkle the ivories' for the owner
on a near permanent basis in order to pay off an amount that never
seemed to decrease. Often playing eighteen-hour stints, Lacy would
play and drink himself into a stupor, his alcoholic consumption
often matching or exceeding any reduction in his debt that he
produced at the piano. Bacon's arrival in the summer of 1956 led
to the first of many volatile episodes between the two men that
would recur with increasing violence with each of Bacon's subsequent
visits to Tangiers. Tangiers at this time
was the home of a vibrant bohemian homosexual scene. The widespread
tolerance of the Moroccan authorities towards drugs, prostitution
and sexual promiscuity had led to the town becoming a magnet for
many artists and writers. Included among the more permanent residents
of the city were the beat poets Allen Ginsberg and his boyfriend
Peter Orlovsky, the resident English writer Paul Bowles and the
American Beat writer William Burroughs who was completing his
first infamous novel of heroin addiction, The Naked Lunch
in Tangiers. Set against this background of intoxication and of
Beats, boys and promiscuity, Bacon and Lacy's tempestuous relationship
grew dangerously explosive. In the summer
of 1956 Bacon had written back from Tangiers to his dealer Erica
Bronsen that his visit to Morocco had proved inspirational and
that his work was taking a new turn. Certainly, the light and
rich colors that he found in Morocco can be seen creeping into
several of Bacon's works from late 1956 and early 1957 not least
the series of Van Gogh paintings from the following year.
But what is not certain is how well Bacon was able to work in
Morocco itself. Notoriously reliant on his London studio throughout
his life, Bacon wrote to Erica Bronsen that in Tangiers, he had
already finished four paintings, exclaiming that, 'I think they
are the best things I have done. I am doing two series, one of
the Pope with Owls quite different from the others and
a serial portrait of a person in a room. I am very excited about
it. I hope to come back with about 20 or 25 paintings early in
October....I feel full of work and believe I may do a few really
good paintings now."....In spite of all his talk about how
well things were going in Tangiers, his letters to Erica Bronsen
also preceded other letters asking for more funds to prolong his
stay. Bacon is known to have begun several paintings in Tangiers
but only one - the aforementioned Pope with Owls - made
it back to London. In a fit of jealous rage one night, Peter Lacy
was said to have slashed and destroyed the rest of Bacon's Moroccan
paintings, much to the artist's amusement. Bacon too is known
to have destroyed several of his own works and to have left other
unfinished canvases permanently abandoned in Tangiers....With
its richly patterned and textured ground and, for Bacon, its surprisingly
vivid color, Man Carrying Child evidently owes something
to kind of orientalising influence that North Africa had provided
for earlier modern painters such as Paul Klee, August Macke and
Henri Matisse. But though Bacon's time in Tangiers evidently played
some part in determining the color and light of some of his paintings
over the next few years, it played another altogether more important
role. Despite all its apparent gaiety and decadence, Bacon's experiences
in Morocco and the painful split from Peter Lacy that his visits
there also signaled, reconfirmed in him his dark existential view
of life and his sense of the ultimate isolation of modern man.
The ambiguous setting of this work serves to further
enhance an uncanny sense of isolation and alienation. The scene
is only illuminated by a strange hexagonal patch of floor that
seems to extend into the distance as if reflecting the light from
a skylight or a floor from a carnivalesque hall of mirrors. A
similar shape to those used in Bacon's earlier paintings of a
Dog in 1952 and of the Sphinx in 1953, this richly
colored and patterned floor forms a strangely modern stage-like
pedestal for the standing figure above it. This sense of artifice
and disturbing unreality is further enforced by the wire-like
threads of a cage seeming to frame or encase the figure and his
shadow, imprisoning his life as if this deceptively free and nurturing
man too were merely an insect pinned in a case. The cage, a familiar
motif from Bacon's portraits of screaming Popes made throughout
this period, is here used as if to capture and frame the St Christopher
- like actions of a man that Bacon had perhaps seen crossing the
marketplace in Tangiers in just such a fashion. Trapped and frozen
in a state of motion like a fleeting snap shot-like image from
his memory or one of the Muybridge photographs that he so often
consulted, the painting shows a vivid, intimate and intensely
human aspect of life as but a fleeting shadow on an empty artificial
The painting has been requested for the exhibition "Francis
Bacon: Paintings from the 1950s-1960s," which will take place
in the Sainsbury Centre of Visual Arts (September-December 2006),
Milkwaukee Art Museum (January-April) and the Albright-Knox Art
Gallery (May-July 2007) and is being prepared by Michael Peppiatt.
The catalogue noted that this lot had a guaranteed
minium price for the consignor.
The lot has an estimate $8,000,000 to $12,000,000. It passed
at $7,500,000 and at a news conference after the auction Christopher
Burge, the auctioneer, described its failed to sell as a "disappointment,"
one of the few in an otherwise very successful auction. Twelve
auction records for artists were set and 91 percent of the 91
offered lots sold for a total $143,187,200. The pre-sale estimates
were $113,060,000 to $160,160,000. Almost two-thirds of the lots
sold above their high estimate and 40 lots sold for more than
$1,000,000. Mr. Burge said that the market was strong and "not
out of hand."
The cover illustration of the catalogue is
Lot 34, "Small Torn Campbell's Soup Can (Pepper Pot),"
by Andy Warhol, a casein, gold paint and graphite on linen. The
1962 work measures 20 by 16. It had an estimate of $10,000,000
to $15,000,000 and was bought by the Gagosian Gallery for $11,776,000
including the buyer's premium as so all results mentioned in this
article. It was the highest price at the auction.
The consignor was Irving Blum, the dealer, and Christie's had
given a guarantee on the lot.
"Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup Cans transformed him
into an overnight sensation when they were first exhibited at
the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles in 1962. It was his first one
person exhibition organized by Irving Blum, the legendary and
visionary, director of the Ferus Gallery. The exhibition featured
thirty-two "portraits" of soup cans, each identical
except for the flavor inscribed on their labels, these revolutionary
paintings were displayed on small white shelves that ran along
the perimeter of the gallery in a manner that suggested both a
gallery rail and display shelves in grocery stores. Warhol took
on the tradition of still-life painting, declaring a familiar
household brand of packaged food a legitimate subject in the age
of post-war economic recovery. The 32 Campbell's Soup Cans,
now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, were
the first of Warhol's works to be structured repetitively in a
series, and the individual examples, such as Small Torn Campbell's
Soup Can (Pepper Pot), consolidate the idea of Warholian repetition
within a single work. The Campbell's Soup Cans are a crucial moment
in art history when seriality, photography, monochromy and display
undermine the role of traditional easel painting. The serial breakdown
of the painterly object and its repetition was not just a mode
of exhibition, but an aesthetic strategy," the catalogue
entry for the lot maintained.
"Collaborating with Edward Wallowitch,
a professional photographer, who met Warhol through Nathan Gluck,
Warhol's first studio assistant," it continued, "Warhol
and Wallowitch worked on projects in which Wallowitch photographed,
Campbell's Soup Cans, Coca Cola Bottles and Dollar Bills. Warhol
then presented them, in paintings and drawings, either alone,
in groups, or manipulated, through tearing, folding or as the
as the Dollar Bills, rolled or crumpled. The Wallowitch photographs
were the source image for some of the most iconic of Warhol's
subjects, Campbell's Soup, Coca Cola bottles and money.
Warhol matched the implacable objectivity of his
Soup Cans with an equally impenetrable style. His unpainterly,
inexpressive technique mimicked the commercial art of the soup's
packaging and bore no evidence of the artist's hand in what comprised
a radical departure from his Abstract Expressionist predecessors.
He traced his images directly from photographs or used stencils
to facilitate the precise, mechanical mode to which he aspired,
hand-painting within his penciled delineations. His graphic style
and slick handling emphasized the surface of the image, allowing
no visual penetration and conforming to Warhol's life-long obsession
with superficiality. Small Torn Campbell's
Soup Can (Pepper Pot) shows a carefully
torn label, and exposed metal of the soup can. Warhol had not
yet discovered silk-screening; so he traced outlines from photographic
images and stencils and hand-painted within these delineations.
Leaving some pencil marks visible in Small Torn Campbell's
Soup Can (Pepper Pot). To achieve the appearance of the can's
exposed surfaces Warhol brushed diluted black casein emulsion
in washes that he allowed to puddle and bead. Compared to the
sign-like quality of his unsullied cans, those with torn labels
have an elegiac quality....Closely related in theme by way of
destruction are the disaster paintings that followed closely on
the heels of the crushed soup cans in early 1963."
Works by Warhol fared well at the auction.
Lot 41, "Brigitte Bardot," is a very
lovely portrait of the famous French film actress. Painted in
1974, it is a synthetic polymer paint and silkscreen inks on canvas
that measures 47 1/4 inches square.
The catalogue provides the following commentary:
"French actress Brigitte Bardot - the original sex kitten
and 1960s icon of liberated sexuality - announced her retirement
from making films in 1974. Aged 39 and still at the height of
her career, Bardot or 'BB' as she was known in her native France
was as beautiful and as famous as ever, her blond hair, heavy
eyeliner and pouting lips an instantly recognizable trademark
of her free-spirited energy and sexual allure. As he had done
with his two other portraits of 1960s screen goddesses, Marilyn
Monroe and Liz Taylor, Warhol chose this moment of Bardot's descent
from the glare of the spotlight to commemorate and idolize her
by painting her portrait. Warhol had painted his portraits of
Marilyn immediately after her suicide and even those he had made
of Liz Taylor were by his own admission painted at a time "when
she was so sick (that) everybody said she was going to die"....In
painting Bardot's portrait at the time of her retirement and what
many people thought would be a retreat from public life, Warhol
was perhaps unconsciously repeating this process. Certainly in
his portrait of Bardot he knowingly applied the same formal techniques
to her striking features as those he used in his 1964 and 1965
portraits of Marilyn and Liz, using a cropped frontal viewpoint
and highlighting the eyes hair and lips with garish cosmetic colors.
The fundamental difference between this portrait made in 1974
and his portraits of Marilyn and Liz made nearly ten years before
is that here, in this work, Bardot's image has not been transformed
into a cold, impersonal and possibly dead, Pop icon or commodity
of mass consumerist culture. Warhol appears to be celebrating
Bardot as a living and breathing icon - a healthy and active woman.
Warhol had known Bardot since the mid-1960s. According
to his assistant at the Factory, Gerard Malanga, Warhol's first
film Sleep had originated from a plan Warhol had had, long
before he ever owned a camera or knew Bardot, of making a film
of her sleeping. Warhol met Bardot for the first time in the spring
of 1967 at the Cannes Film Festival where he had been invited
to show his film Chelsea Girls during the Festival's 'Critic's
Week'. Warhol had left for France with a large entourage of Factory
friends and colleagues only to find on arrival that the festival
appeared to have censored the film and refused it a screening.
Bitterly disappointed Warhol decided to remain in Cannes where
he attempted to drum up support for Chelsea Girls enlisting
pleas from other celebrities and drawing up a petition. Bardot,
who was at this time married to photographer and Warhol collector
Gunter Sachs, was one of the foremost French celebrities to come
to his aid at this time, though Chelsea Girls remained
unscreened....The present work is one of only eight paintings
that Warhol made of her."
The lot has an estimate of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000.
It sold for $3,040,000.
Lot 37, "S&H Green Stamps (64 S&H
Green Stamps)," soared past its estimate of $1,000,000 to
$1,500,000 to sell for $5,168,000. An acrylic and pencil on linen
that measures 20 by 16 inches, it was painted in 1962.
Lot 63, "M," is a large and excellent
oil and acrylic on wood by Jean-Michel Basquiat. Painted in 1984,
it measures 95 1/2 by 73 1/4 inches.
"Race had always been a concern for Basquiat," the catalogue
observed, "one that was often forced upon him by the discrimination,
both deliberate and accidental, that surrounded him. Even among
his friends in the artistic elite, he was acutely aware of the
thin line between appreciation and exploitation. All too often
he felt that his success with them depended on token efforts,
on novelty, on subservience to the establishment that placed him
in the position of slave to his paymasters, and he explored this
in many of his paintings by creating a varied pantheon of black
characters, exploring their history and their heritage. Basquiat
was also doing his part to right an imbalance: 'I realized I never
saw any paintings with black people in them.'....In 1984 a new
figure became increasingly predominant within his work, that of
the dignified African, as in M. This is no longer Charlie
Parker or Joe Louis, no martyr to the Jim Crow laws or to other
forms of discrimination. Instead, Basquiat has found a new sort
of black hero, one that has inherent dignity. In M, the
anger and vitriol of some of Basquiat's other works has been replaced
by a celebration of his ancient heritage as an artist of African
The lot has an estimate of $2,500,000 to $3,500,000.
It sold for $2,928,000.
Lot 54 is an untitled oil on canvas by Willem
de Kooning (1904-1997). Painted in 1961, it measures 80 by 70
inches. It has an estimate of $8,000,000 to $12,000,000. It
was bought by the Richard Gray Gallery for $10,096,000. The
work is from a transitional period in de Kooning's career where
his palette and brushwork softened and he became more interested
in the pastoral.
Lot 50, "Two Women (Study for Clamdigger,"
is a stronger and more vigorous work by de Kooning from the same
period. An oil on paper laid down on masonite, it measures 23
by 28 1/2 inches. It was once in the collection of Carter Burden.
It has an estimate of $3,500,000 to $4,500,000. It sold for
$5,729,000 to L & M. Fine Arts.
A very strong and striking early work by de
Kooning, Lot 58, "Asheville #1," has an estimate of
$600,000 to $800,000. An oil on graphite on paper, it measures
14 1/2 by 12 inches and was executed in 1948. It sold for $1,584,000.
Lot 57 is a good oil on canvas
by Clyfford Still (1904-1980) entitled "1955-K." An
oil on canvas, it measures 113 by 104 inches.
The catalogue provides the following commentary:
"During the defining years of Still's
career--and Abstract Expressionism in general - between 1944-1960,
Clyfford Still had only five one-person exhibitions at galleries.
Of the over 2,000 works the art the artist produced, he only released
about 150 works. He rarely allowed galleries to sell his work,
and among other restrictions, rarely participated in group exhibitions.
When he did show in group shows, he insisted that this work not
be co-mingled with other works, and instead be shown on their
own. Even museum curators rarely had much
input as to which works were shown. Still himself would choose
the works, selecting those representative paintings that he felt
best illustrated his oeuvre. As a result, it is notable that 1955-K
was chosen for not one, but three exhibitions in the artist's
lifetime, including a solo show at the Institute of Contemporary
Art in Los Angeles, as well as the landmark exhibition at the
Los Angeles County Museum in 1965. In a rare entrepreneurial turn,
in 1969 Clyfford Still sold a group of extraordinary paintings
on canvas and paper, spanning his entire career to date, to the
Marlborough-Gerson Gallery in New York. At the time, Marlborough
was the most important Post-War gallery in the world, representing
artists (or estates) of virtually every Abstract Expressionist
of significance - including Jackson Pollock, David Smith, Mark
Rothko, Philip Guston, Robert Motherwell, Adolph Gottlieb, to
name just a few. It would be the artist's last one person show
at a commercial gallery in his lifetime. Fortunately,
Still did sell some of the most glorious paintings of his career,
and one of them is 1955-K. In...[its] painterly quality,
mysterious space and rich color harmonies, Still has created a
masterpiece of Abstract Expressionism. The crag-like shapes and
mountain-face forms, combined with a sense of grandeur and awe-inspiring
scale put 1955-K squarely in the tradition of the sublime
landscape, a reading that he encouraged....Although the space
is ambiguous, the forms suggest a mountain side, with the land
rising up at the left edge, and a flash of sunlight in the upper
left corner. Thickly encrusted with paint, created with the artist's
signature use of a palette knife, the surface itself has a topographical
quality. By continually working the surface,
laying numerous layers of paint and then scraping them off to
show the colors underneath, Still creates a gorgeously rich surface.
The edges where the forms meet are always the high points of tension
in Still's work, with the jagged forms cutting into one another
in a "life or death struggle". He accentuates this drama
by...creating halos and white outlines around the forms - for
example, the white halo around the black form at the bottom makes
the brown form recede, while bringing forward the black."
The paintinghas an estimate of $2,500,000 to
$3,500,000. It sold for $2,704,000.
Lot 56 is a large work from one of the most
famous series painted by Robert Motherwell: "Elegy to the
Spanish Republic." He started the series in 1948 and this
work, numbered 130, was executed in 1974-5. It is an oil and acrylic
on canvas that measures 96 by 120 1/2 inches.
It has an estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,000,000.
It was passed at $900,000. The catalogue describes this
work as "a magisterial example" of this series and "an
Abstract Expressionist icon."
"Curiously, the series which is associated
with mural-size paintings began with a modest drawing, little
more than a doodle, measuring 14 x 11 inches. Motherwell was co-editor
of the short-lived journal Possibilities and Harold Rosenberg
submitted a short, bleak poem for its next issue (which would
never be published). Motherwell illuminated the somewhat bleak
poem with a simple Elegy (which was named well after it was painted),
consisting of three staunch vertical shafts, divided by three
black ovoid forms. Given that the publication would be printed
in black and white, Motherwell restricted himself to black ink,
despite being a brilliant colorist in the majority of his works
up to that time. The international event that most affected Motherwell
was the Spanish Civil War....More than any other subject, it informed
Motherwell's work throughout the 1940s and 1950's in his Spanish
Prisoner and Elegy series. According to the artist, works like
Elegy to the Spanish Republic, 1974-1975 are both specifically
related to that conflict as well as a general meditation on tragedy.
Formally, the Elegy to the Spanish Republic series grew
out of the artist's earlier works that were dominated by the play
of geometric forms. In terms of subject mater, the Elegies have
often been seen in terms of power - politically, visually and
sexually. The forms have been alternatively been interpreted as
a male/female duality with the phallic verticals playing off the
female ovoid shapes, as well as a metaphor for the sexual organs
of a bull. Assertively frontal and flat, the ovoid are held up
(or crushed) by the verticals, and also suggest a kind of abstracted
architecture. They can also be viewed, as in his earlier works,
as a completely abstract rhythm of loose geometry."
One of the most beautiful and important works
in the auction is Lot 46, "An Ear in a Pond," by Eva
Hesse, a tempera paint, enamel paint, papier-maché, cotton-cord
and varnish on masonite. Executed in 1976, it measures 41 5/8
by 17 3/4 by 7 3/4 inches. It has an estimate of $1,000,000 to
$1,500,000. It sold for $2,256,000, breaking the artist's previous
auction record of $1,800,000 set at Sotheby's New York November
"In her brief and tragically curtailed
career, Hesse struggled to move beyond traditional notions of
painting and sculpture, creating extraordinary physical entities
that she termed "non-art". She achieved her unique vision
through an astonishing, daring and heightened sensitivity towards
diverse and often untraditional materials. Alternatively pushing
such media to their limits and allowing them to act according
to their internal dynamics, she nurtured art in the subliminal
spaces between control and freedom, knowledge and chance experimentation,
coherence and fragmentation. An early work,
A Ear in a Pond...was conceived on the cusp of Hesse's
mature breakthrough and contains the seeds of her iconic imagery
and obsessive processes that flowered in her subsequent efforts.
Negotiating between two- and three-dimensions via its painted
wall-mounted base and protruding pink cord, this hybrid construct
features the ongoing engagement between painting and sculpture
that recurs throughout Hesse's oeuvre. Germinating her now familiar
sexualized iconography, this semi-organic, semi-mechanical reproductive
crossbreed bears the visceral tactility and human vulnerability
of subsequent works including Study for Repetition Nineteen
II (1967). In merely five years between
1965 through her untimely death at age thirty-four in 1970, Hesse
succeeded in becoming a pioneering force in Post-War art. She
changed the course of sculpture through her unorthodox inclusiveness
of materials and fanatic interest in their physical manipulation.
Her amorphous, irrational, strangely beautiful, and yet unclassifiable
creations speak of her idiosyncratic genius; their fragility of
her quickly extinguished flame."
Lot 83 is an excellent construction by Joseph
Cornell (1903-1972) that is "Untitled (Celestial Navigation
Variant." It measures 17 by 12 by 4 inches and was executed
circa 1957. It has an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It
sold for $598,400.
Yves Klein (1928-1962) is best
known for his all-blue works that are not very fascinating, but
Lot 40, "Ant 127," is a bold, beautiful and very painterly
abstraction that resembles a curved exclamation point. Pigment
on paper laid on canvas, it measures 88 1/2 by 57 1/4 inches and
was executed in 1960, the year the artist started his "Anthropometrie,"
the process of dragging nude women smeared in deep blue paint
across a canvas on the floor.
The catalogue observes that
the artist saw blue as "infinity and the sublime, "the
color of the sky, which Klein had years ealier claimed as his
first work of art; it was the color of space and of boundlessness."
It has an ambitious estimate
of $4,500,000 to $6,500,000. It sold for $4,048,000.
Another Klein work from the same year is Lot
45, "RE 46 (SIII)," sponges, pebbles, and dry pigment
in synthetic resin on board, 57 by 45 1/4 inches. The monochromaic
deep blue work has the same estimate as Lot 40. This lot sold
Lot 44 is a quite lovely oil
on canvas entitled "Coupure" by Lucio Fontana (1899-1968).
It measures 45 1/2 by 35 inches and was executed in 1961. It has
an estimateof $1,200,000 to $1,800,000. It sold for $2,704,000,
breaking the artist's previous auction record of $2,303,679 set
at Sotheby's in London June 25, 2003.
Lot 52 is an extremely nice
mobile by Alexander Calder (1898-1976). "Untitled (Carousel)"
measures 28 1/4 by 32 by 32 inches and was executed in 1942. It
has an estimate of $600,000 to $800,000. It sold for $1,248,000.
Lot 55 is a extremely strong
and painterly abstraction by Joan Mitchell (1925-1992). An oil
on canvas, it measures 102 by 78 1/2 inches and was executed in
1969. It has an estimate of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. It sold
Lot 42, "A Neat Lawn,"
is a pleasant but not very impressive oil and acrylic on canvas
by David Hockney (b. 1937). It measures 96 inches square and was
executed in 1967. It has an ambitious estimate of $3,500,000 to
$4,500,000. It sold for $3,600,000, a new auction record for
More impressive but gut-wrenching is Lot 62,
"Away from the Flock, Divided," a lamb cut in half with
each half suspended in formaldehyde cabinets, by Damien Hirst
(b. 1965). It has an estimate of $3,000,000 to $3,500,000. The
work was "executed" in 1995. It sold for $3,376,000,
breaking the artist's former auction record of $2,225,899 set
at Sotheby's in London October 18, 2004.
"At the helm of the Young British Artists movement,"
the catalogue entry maintains, "Damien Hirst has risen to
prominence through his notorious fascination with the inevitability
of death, the fragility of life and the human desire for immortality.
Famously encasing a dead shark in formaldehyde, suspending sliced
cows, sheep, pigs and decapitated bulls' heads in the same solution,
placing dead butterflies onto oil paintings and constructing medicine
cabinets filled with colorful life-extending pills, Hirst has
approached death throughout his macabre oeuvre. He is a Romantic
artist dealing with the grandest themes of life and death through
the grittiest details. Away from the Flock, Divided is
one of only a handful of split animal formaldenhyde works done
by the artist in the mid-1990s when these works shocked and fascinated
the art world and the culture at large."
The first 26 lots of the auction were selected
works by Donald Judd from the Judd foundation and all but one
were sold for a total of $24,468,800. The pre-sale estimates
for these works were $15,200,000 to $21,700,000.
Lot 28, "Ahh...Youth," a 1991 work by Mike Kelly
(b. 1954) sold for $688,000, breaking the artist's former auction
record of $452,800 set at Phillips de Pury & Company November
Lot 30, "Untitled (Good News, Bad News),"
a 1989 work by Richard Prince (b. 1949), sold for $1,360,000,
breaking the artist's former auction record of $1,024,000 set
at Phillips de Pury & Company May 12, 2005.
Lot 43, "Achrome," a 1959 work
by Piero Manzoni (1933-1963) sold for $1,920,000, breaking the
artist's former auction record of $1,800,000 set at Sotheby's
New York November 9, 2004.
Lot 53, "Floral V," a 1959-60
work by Morris Louis (1912-1962) sold for $1,808,000, breaking
the artist's former auction record of $1,659,000 set at Christies
New York November 13, 2002.
Lot 71, "Elements V," a 1984 work
by Brice Marden (b. 1938) sold for $2,984,000, breaking the artist's
former auction record of $2,472,000 set at Sotheby's New York,
November 12, 2003.
Lot 73, "Cage (Combie Drawing),"
a 1958 work by Robert Rauschenberg (b. 1928) sold for $1,360,000,
breaking the artist's former auction record for a work on paper
of $473,250 set at Sotheby's New York May 18, 2000.
Lot 74, "Femme Debout (recto); Groupe
de Personnages (verso), a 1947 work by Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966)
sold for $1,584,000, breaking the artist's former auction record
for a work on paper of $543,322 set at Sotheby's in London February
Lot 94, "Gelb Lok (Yellow Locomotive),"
a 1999 work by Dirk Skreber (b. 1961) sold for 497,600, breaking
the artist's former auction record of $396,800 set at Christie's
New York March 15, 2005.