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Contemporary Art

Sotheby's

7PM, May 10, 2006

Sale 8201

"Sinking Sun" by Lichtenstein

Lot 21, "Sinking Sun," by Roy Lichtenstein, oil and magna on canvas, 68 by 80 inches, 1964

By Carter B. Horsley

This evening auction of Contemporary Art at Sotheby's May 10, 2006 is highlighted by an early work by Roy Lichtenstein, a strong abstraction by Willem de Kooning (1904-1997), a great Franz Kline (1910-1962) and an enormous sculpture by Alexander Calder.

In a press release, Tobias Meyer, worldwide head of Contemporary Art for Sotheby's and the evening's auctioneer, declared that the "seductive, beautiful" painting by Lichtenstein, Lot 21, "Sinking Sun," is "one of the great icons of the 20th Century," adding that it "captivates the viewer in its image of hope and nostalgia, and embodies all of the qualities you want in a pristine Pop masterpiece." "With its immaculate, exquisite finish, Sinking Sun is the epitome of the artist's painstaking hand-paited process that insistently removed all expressionist gesture. The highlight of the 1964 Landscapes exhibition at Leo Castelli Gallery, Sinking Sun was acquired by Dennis and Brooke Hopper, and for many years graced the walls of their Los Angles home. For the past 30 years it has been part of a prominent New York collection of Pop and American Contemporary Art," the release continued.

The 1964 oil and magna on canvas that measures 68 by 80 inches has an "estimate on request" and sold for $15,696,000 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article. It tied for the highest price of the auction with Willem de Kooning's "Untitled XVI," a 1975 oil on canvas. The Lichtenstein was being sold, according to an article by Carol Vogel in The New York Times by Joseph Hellman, a New York dealer, who had been given a guarantee by Sotheby's "that experts say was about $17.5 million." Ms. Vogel identified the buyer as Dominique Levy, a partner in L & M Arts.

"Untitled XVI" by de Kooning" Robert Mnuchin

Lot 48, "Untitled XVI," by Willem de Kooning, oil on canvas, 70 by 80 inches, 1975, left; Robert Mnuchin, the dealer who bought it in the auction room, right

The de Kooning had an estimate of $6,500,000 to $8,500,000 and it was bought by L & M Arts, of which Robert Mnuchin, who was in the audience bidding while talking on a cell phone, is a principal.

The catalogue notes that 1975 was "the year when the artist ended a long period of abstinence from painting and produced twenty large-scale canvases of explosive, vibrant color executed in lush, sensuous paint strokes, all in the space of only six months....the physical immediacy of Untitled XVI is striking. De Kooning emphasizes texture, allowing a variety of planes of paint to coalesce in and out of each other across the canvas. Bold, jubilant brushstrokes of white, pink, yellow and red swell and pucker like undulating flesh, juxtaposed with quieter passages of blue, green, salmon and maroon that are scraped and flattened acros the surface with a lage palette knife...."

"Garden in Delft" by de Kooning

Lot 54, "Garden in Delft," by Willem de Kooning, oil on canvas, 80 by 70 inches, 1987

Another fine but later de Kooning is Lot 54, "Garden in Delft," an oil on canvas that measures 80 by 70 inches. Executed in 1987, it has an estimate of $2,500,000 to $3,500,000. It sold for $2,816,000. The catalogue describes it as "a joyously lyrical work."

Untitled double-sided drawing by de Kooning

Lot 25, "Untitled (Double sided drawing)," by Willem de Kooning, sapolin enamel on gridded paper, shown, and ink and oil on paper, 22 by 30 inches, 1949-50

Lot 25 is a strong double-sided drawing by de Kooning that measures 22 by 30 inches and was executed in 1949-50. It originally was a gift from the artist to Harold Rosenberg, the critic. The lot has an estimate of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. It sold for $1,024,000.

"Giselle" by Kline

Lot 23, "Giselle," by Franz Kline, oil on canvas, 59 1/4 by 49 inches, 1950

Lot 23 is a great oil on canvas by Franz Kline (1910-1962) entitled "Giselle." It measures 59 1/4 by 49 inches and was executed in 1950. It has an estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,000,000. It sold for $1,920,000.

"Giselle," the catalogue observed, "was one of the eleven landmark paintings included in Franz Kline's first solo exhibition at the Charles Egan Gallery in New York City in 1950....Kline's work sprang forth at the turnof the decade ideendent of the influence of Cubism or Surrealism. He quickly established a signature style marked by bold black and white brushstrokes, applied with vigor and apparent spontaneity,....Kline here focused his energy on the meditated use of line versus negative space. The sharp angles, varying intensity of his brushstrokes and areas of voided space created a dramatic effect that is at once striking yet lyrical."

The sale was very successful with 95.4 percent of the 66 offered lots selling for a total of $128,752,000, nicely above its pre-sale high estimate of $123,000,000. The sale set numerous auction records for individual artists and was the highest total for an evening sale of Contemporary Art at Sotheby's.

The evening's most spectacular price, however, was for Lot 31, an untitled and quite beautiful work by Robert Ryman (b. 1930). The oil and charcoal on canvas measured 69 1/2 by 68 3/4 inches and was executed in 1962. It had an estimate of $4,000,000 to $6,000,000. It sold for $9,500,000, an auction record for the artist. Ryman's previous record was $2,310,000.

The catalogue provided the following commentary:

"In the paintings of the late 1950s and early 1960s such as Untitled, Ryman reveals his affection for the impastoed and shimmering abstract expressionist paintings by Philip Guston of the 1950s. In both artists' work, the subtlety of color balance is enhanced by the carefully structured and textured paint application, constructed of short strokes applied with supple ease and fluidity. Ryman also chooses the material on which he paints for the properties of the surface - the smoothness, absorbency, hardness or texture - whether the support is canvas, wood, cardboard, fiberglass or metal. Often the exposure of the support and the absense of paint on one or more edge was in Untitled, served to unify the whole, by emphasizing its construction...."

"The White Angel" by Pollock

Lot 26, "The White Angel," by Jackson Pollock, oil, enamel and sand on canvas, 43 1/2 by 29 5/8 inches, 1946

Lot 26 is a strong, early oil, enamel and sand on canvas by Jackson Pollock (1912-1956). Entitled "The White Angel," it measures 43 1/2 by 29 5/8 inches. Executed in 1946, it has an estimate of $2,500,000 to $3,500,000. It sold for $2,144,000.

"Red Cut by Black" by Mothewell

Lot 58, "Red Cut by Black," by Robert Motherwell, acrylic on canvas, 82 by 114 inches, 1966-7

Lot 58 is a strong and unusually colorful work by Robert Motherwell (1915-1991), entitled "Red Cut by Black." An acrylic on canvas, it measures 82 by 114 inches. Executed in 1966-7, it has a modest estimate of $600,000 to $800,000. It sold for $1,024,000.

Nelson Rockefeller by Warhol

Lot 38, "Portrait of Nelson Rockefeller #1," by Andy Warhol, acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas, 75 by 56 inches, 1967

Lot 38 is a strong portrait of Nelson Rockefeller, who once owned the work, by Andy Warhol (1928-1987). An acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas, it measures 75 by 56 inches. It was executed in 1967 and has an estimate of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. It sold $1,136,000.

"$" by Warhol

Lot 42, "$," by Andy Warhol, acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas, 90 by 70 inches, 1981

Another good Warhol, Lot 41, "$," executed in 1981 has an estimate of $3,000,000 to $4,000,000. An acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas, it measures 90 by 70 inches. It was passed at $2,400,000.

"Le Tissu Social" by Dubuffet

Lot 35, "Le Tissu Social," by Jean Dubuffet, acrylic and paper collage mounted on canvas in two parts, 59 by 204 1/2 inches, 1977

Lot 35 is a delightful and fine large work by Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985) entitled "Le Tissu Social." An acrylic and paper collage mounted on canvas in two parts, it measures 59 by 204 1/2 inches. Executed in 1977, it has a modest estimate of $1,200,000 to $1,800,000. It sold for $2,480,000.

Another fine and colorful Dubuffet is Lot 14, "Trinité-Champs-Elysées," an oil on canvas that measures 45 3/4 by 35 inches. Dated 1961, it has an estimate of $3,000,000 to $4,000,000, it sold for $5,168,000.

"99 Cent" by Andreas Gursky

Lot 8, "99Cent," by Andreas Gursky, chromogenic color print, 81 1/2 by 132 inches, numbered 6/6, 1999

Andreas Gursky takes large photographs of landscapes and museum interiors and, in Lot 8, 99 cents stores. Entitled "99 Cent," this chromogenic color print, numbered 6 of 6, measures 81 1/2 by 132 inches. Executed in 1999, it has an estimate of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. It is one of his most successful works. It sold for $2,256,000, surpassing the artist's previous auction record of $632,000 and establishing a new auction record for a contemporary photograph.

"Flying Dragon" by Calder

Lot 15, "Flying Dragon," by Alexander Calder, sheet metal, bolts and paint, 360 by 672 by 258 inches, 1975

Lot 15 is a monumental sheet metal sculpture by Alexander Calder (1898-1976). Created in 1975, it measures 360 by 672 by 258 inches. It was consigned by Exxon Mobil Foundation and has an estimate of $6,000,000 to $8,000,000. It sold for $5,616,000.

"A classic example of Calder's greatest stabiles," the catalogue entry notes, "Flying Dragon possesses a graceful, curving silhouette that believes the weight of the material and sheer size of the elements. Similar to the Flamingo (1873, Federal Center Plaza, Chicago) and Eagle (1971, Seattle Art Musem), this stabile is semmingly captured just as the 'dragon' lifts from the ground and reaches for the sky. The curving planes extend outward and upward, swelling and undulating in a sweeping gestural form. With all three stabiles, the electric red paint adds an element of vitality and expectation as the mythical beast or bird-like forms soar into the air. The bent forms, pierced wing and dynamic rhythm of steel arcs and projections in Flying Dragon imply the organic strain in Calder's work that alludes to nature, but is not overtly literal."

"Vagrant' by Salle

Lot 62, "Vagrant," by David Salle," acrylic and oilon canvas, 94 by 136 inches, 1989

Lot 62 is a very good acrylic and oil on canvas entitled "Vagrant" by David Salle (b. 1952). It measures 94 by 136 inches and was painted in 1989. It has a modest estimate of $250,000 to $350,000. It sold $576,000, beating the artist's previous auction record of $550,000.

"Stop-Pied (Anagrams [A Pun])" by Rauschenberg

Lot 56, "Stop-Pied (Anagrams [A Pun])," by Robert Rauschenberg, vegetable dye transfer on polylaminate, 61 by 59 1/2 inches, 1998

Lot 56 is a very good work by Robert Rauschenberg (b. 1925) entitled "Stop-Pied (Anagrams [A Pun])." A vegetable dye transfer on polylaminate, it measures 61 by 59 1/2 inches. Executed in 1998, it has an estimate of $350,000 to $450,000. It sold for $598,400.

"Untitled (Ocean Park)"  by Diebenkorn

Lot 28, "Untitled (Ocean Park)," by Richard Diebenkorn, oil, acrylic, ink, watercolor, gouache and charcoal on paper, 30 by 22 inches, 1978

Lot 28 is a superb work from his "Ocean Park" series by Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993). An oil, acrylic, ink, watercolor, gouache and charcoal on paper, it mesures 30 by 22 inches. Executed in 1978, it has an estimate of $900,000 to $1,200,000. It sold for $889,600.

Lot 10, "New Hoover Convertibles, Green, Red, Brown, New Hoover Deluxe Shampoo Polishers Yellow, Brown Doubledecker," by Jeff Koons (b. 1955), has an estimate of $2,500,000 to $3,500,000. The work consistes of three vacuum cleaners, two shampoo polishers, Plexiglas, and fluorescent lights and was executed in 1981-7. It sold for $5,280,000.

Lot 36, "Bojangles," by Mark Di Suvero (b. 1933), sold for $968,000, more than doubling the artist's former auction record.

Lot 44, "Komposition Blau-Rot Auf Weiss," by Blinky Palermo (1943-1977), sold for $800,000, nicely over the artist's previous auction record of $669,500.

Lot 67, "Wall of Light Mountain," by Sean Scully, the subject of a current major retrospective traveling exhibition, sold for $912,000, well over the artist's previous auction record of $689,051.

Lot 11, "In Memory of Camelot," by Mike Kelley (b. 1954), sold for $464,000, beating his previous auction record for a sculpture of $408,000.

Lot 27, "Untitled (Fear)," by Clyfford Still (1904-1980), sold for $1,080,000, more than tripling the artist's previous auction record for a work on paper.

Lot 30, "White, Orange and Yellow," by Mark Rothko (1903-1970), sold for $4,160,000, considerably over his previous auction record for a painting on paper mounted of $2,536,000.

Lot 40, "Gringo Pilot (Anola Gay)," by Jean-Michel Basquiat (1966-1988), sold for $688,000, well over the artist's previous auction record for a work on paper mounted of $363,503.

Lot 1, "Stunde," by Neo Rauch (b. 1969), sold for $531,200. His previous auction record was $452,800.

Lot 3, "High Society," by Cecily Brown (b. 1969), sold for $968,000, many notches above her previous auction record of $110,500.

Lot 4, "Honeymoon," by Lisa Yuskavage (b. 1962), sold for $1,024,000, almost five times her previous auction record of $228,000.

Lot 5, "Untitled (P80) Helter Skelter," by Christopher Wool (b. 1955), sold for $1,416,000. His previous auction record was $1,248,000.

Lot 16, "Laro," by John Chamberlain (b. 1927), sold for $1,024,000, almost double his previous auction record.

 

See The City Review article on the Spring 2006 Contemporary Art evening auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2005 Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2005 Post-War and Contemporary Art evening auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2005 Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2005 Contemporary Art evening auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2004 Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2004 Contemporary Art evening auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2004 Contemporary Art evening auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the May 12, 2004 morning session Contemporary Art auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the May 12 Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the May 13 Contemporary Art morning auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2003 Contemporary Art evening auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's Fall 2003

See The City Review article on the Contemporary Art evening auction at Christie's Spring 2003

See The City Review article on the Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's Spring 2003

See The City Review article on the Contemporary Art evening auction at Christie's Fall 2002

See The City Review article on the Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's Fall 2002

See The City Review article on the Contemporary Art day auction at Christie's in Spring 2002

See The City Review article on the Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's May 15, 2002

See The City Review article on the Contemporary Art day auction at Sotheby's May 16, 2002

See The City Review article on the Contemporary Art evening auction in the fall of 2001 at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's that follows this auction November 14, 2001

See The City Review article on the Post-War Art evening auction at Christie's November 13, 2001

See The City Review article on Contemporary Art evening auction at Phillips de Pury & Luxembourgh November 12, 2001

See The City Review article on the Contemporary Art evening auction in the Spring of 2001

See The City Review article on the Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's May 15, 2001

See The City Review article on the Christie's Post-War Art evening auction May 16, 2001

See The City Review article on the Post-War art day auction at Christie's May 17, 2001

See The City Review article on Post War Art evening auction at Christie's, Nov. 15, 2000

See The City Review article on the Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's, Nov. 14, 2000

See The City Review article on the Contemporary Art evening auction at Phillips, Nov. 13, 2000

See The City Review article on Contemporary Art Part II auction at Phillips, Nov. 14, 2000

See The City Review Article on the May 18-9 Contemporary Art auctions at Phillips

See The City Review article on the May 16, 2000 evening auction of Contemporary Art at Christie's

See The City Review article on the May 17, 2000 Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall, 1999 auction of Contemporary Art at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Sotheby's Nov. 17, 1999 auction of Contemporary Art

See The City Review article on the auctions of Contemporary Art from a European Private Collection and Contemporary Art, Part 2, at Sotheby's Nov. 18, 1999

See The City Review article on the May 18, 1999 Contemporary Art Auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on Contemporary Art Part 2 auction at Sotheby's May 19, 1999

See The City Review article on the Christie's, May 19, 1999 Contemporary Art auction

See The City Review article on the Christie's, May 20, 1999 Contemporary Art Part 2 auction

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