Art/Auctions logo

Post War and Contemporary Art

Christie's
10 AM, May 14, 2009

Sale 2168

2 PM, May 14, 2009

Sale 2169

Morning Sale

"Ripley Street Ridge" by Thiebaud

Lot 157, "Ripley Street Ridge," by Wayne Thiebaud, oil on canvas, 28 by 20 inches, 1976

By Carter B. Horsley

This morning auction of Contemporary Art at Christie's May 14, 2009 is highlighted by an extremely fine painting by Wayne Thiebaud (b. 1920) and very good works by Richard Pousette-Dart, Arshile Gorky, Helen Frankenthaler and Sigmar Polke.

The Thiebaud is Lot 157, "Ripley Street Ridge," an oil on canvas that measures 28 by 20 inches. It was executed in 1976.

The catalogue entry for this lot provides the following commentary:

"Ripley Street Ridge is a prime example of Thiebaud's distinctly dramatic depiction of the California urban landscape. This early landscape signifies a major development in the artist's oeuvre and his growing assurance in his own brand of modern realism. Thiebaud has lived along the California coast, from the areas spanning San Diego to San Francisco for almost his entire life, and witnessed first hand the profound changes in post-war California with its urban growth and expanding car culture. This native knowledge of the west coast combined with an uncanny ability to capture the unique characteristics of California light informs the complexity of Thiebaud's singular composition and design.

"Thiebaud began seriously observing the urban landscape as a subject in 1972 when he purchased a second home in the Potrero Hill section of San Francisco. Inspired by the dramatic vantage points and pitched perspectives of the city's topography, Thiebaud began his series that would continue well into the 90's. As the artist recalls, 'I was playing around with the abstract notions of edge - I was fascinated, living in San Francisco, by the way different streets just came in and then just vanished. So I sat out on a street corner and began to paint them.' It was the 'sense of edges appearing, things swooping around their own edges that I loved' (Wayne Thiebaud: A Paintings Retrospective, exh. cat., Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 2000, p. 58).

"From the hilly San Francisco streets, drawing pad in hand, Thiebaud makes a multitude of sketches (emulating the working method of his idol Edward Hopper), which he later reworks and compiles into larger paintings back in his studio. This composite technique allows Thiebaud to blend reality with his own vision. The artist explains his process, 'What happens is that you start off with certain feelings, certain attitudes, that you have about this city, you have certain indigenous forms that you know how to annotate, but, if you then pay too much attention to the specifics of this, it may interfere with what you might personally be able to add to the vision. The artist's work, it seems to me, combines three different worlds. There is our real world, which we all share and on which there is a consensus; the art world and its historical tradition; and one's apperceptive mass, a unique, individual world. These influences have to be of almost equal percentage in order to insure a full visual experience' (Wayne Thiebaud: Cityscapes, exh. cat., Campbell-Thiebaud Gallery, 1993, p. 3).

"Vividly venturing in the interval between abstraction and representation, Thiebaud's buildings face the viewer as flattened squares or rectangles of creamy light-struck color. Streets become vertical zips and diagonally slicing ribbons that sweep us from under our feet and send us tumbling through a vertiginous intersection of juxtaposing planes and angles. For Thiebaud, Ripley Street Ridge is foremost a study of form and composition. Here he exaggerates the steep terrain of the San Francisco topography by conscious manipulation of color and light to paint texture, to produce a painting that is firstly an artistic construction; its role as a descriptive depiction is only secondary. Ripley Street Ridge addresses the dichotomy of the energy of city life co-existing in a scene of extreme foreshortening and shifting perspectives. The intersections of San Francisco became the perfect forum within which to explore the opposing tensions between modern abstraction and classic representation."

The painting has an estimate of $650,000 to $850,000. It sold for $1,022,500 including the buyer's premium as do all results in this article.

"Composition Number 1" by Pousette-Dart

Lot 149, "Composition Number 1," by Richard Pousette-Dart, oil on canvas, 40 1/2 by 80 5/8 inches, 1943

Lot 149 is a large and excellent oil on canvas by Richard Pousette-Dart (1916-1992). Entitled "Composition Number 1," it measures 40 1/2 by 80 5/8 inches and was painted in 1943. It has a conservative estimate of $300,000 to $400,000. It sold for $698,500. It was illustrated in color in the 2005 book on the artist by S. Hunter and J. Kuebler and was exhibited in a retrospective on the artist at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Columbus Museum and the Phillips Collection in Washington from October, 1990 to April 1992. The artist was the subject of an exhibition in 2007 at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.

The catalogue entry for the lot provides the following commentary:

"It is in the 1940s that Pousette-Dart's role as a leading New York School artist began to take shape. Finding inspiration in Oceanic, Northwest Indian and African Art, the artist took refuge in the archetypal and elaborated in his many notebooks on the universal signifiers in his own work, "circle of spirit, square of matter, circle of G-d, square of man" (K. Hubner, 'Richard Pousette-Dart's Early Work and its Origins' in Richard Pousette-Dart, exh. cat., The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, 2007, p. 19). Pousette-Dart incorporated this self-prescribed symbolism into his work while concurrently applying his paints to the canvas in an urgent manner that paid respect to the composition in its entirety. It is with a keen interest in Eastern philosophy, the teachings of Taoism and Buddhism that Pousette-Dart approached his most critical works. The philosopher Henri Bergson, an early influence on Pousette-Dart, provided a literary model for the artist in his promotion of 'the creative role of intuition and it's primacy over analytical thinking.' (Ibid., p. 18). This sentiment resonates in the present lot, Composition Number 1 of 1943. The youngest of the founding members of the New York School it is generally granted that Pousette-Dart 'holds title as the first to 'Paint Heroically' on a monumental scale.' (L. Stokes Sims, 'Richard Pousette-Dart and Abstract Expressionism: Critical Perspectives' in Ibid., p. 29). This distinction elevates the artist's early works to a status of respectability that defies conventional criticism. Composition Number 1, 1943 is a powerful painting closely related aesthetically and structurally to the artist's masterpiece Symphony Number 1, The Transcendental, of 1941-1942 in the collection of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. Both works share an opaque surface of broken forms punctuated by bright colored passages. Alluding to the bejeweled face of gothic stained glass and the machinations of a new atomic reality; these two works are more than a synthesis of modern ideas, they are spiritual conquests for a new age-they are modern talismans of an aggressive spiritual pursuit."

Untitled by Gorky

Lot 226, untitled, by Arshile Gorky, oil on canvas, 6 1/2 by 8 1/4 inches, 1935

Lot 226 is an early and wonderfully strong though small abstraction by Arshile Gorky (1904-1948). The untitled work is an oil on canvas that measures 6 1/2 by 8 1/4 inches and it was painted in 1935. It has a modest estimate of $60,000 to $80,000. It sold for $96,100.

"Azure" by Frankenthaler

Lot 208, "Azure," by Helen Frankenthaler, acrylic on canvas, 32 by 103 3/4 inches, 1981

Lot 208 is a large and dramatic acrylic on canvas by Helen Frankenthaler (b. 1928). Entitled "Azure," it measures 32 by 103 3/4 inchyes and was painted in 1981. It has an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000. It sold for $314,500.

"Der Zug" by Polke

Lot 201, "Der Zug," by Sigmar Polke, acrylic on printed fabric, 38 3/4 by 53 inches, 1994

Lot 201 is a large acrylic on printed fabric by Sigmar Polke (b. 1941). Entitled "Der Zug," it measures 38 3/4 by 53 inches and was executed in 1994. It has an estimate of $180,000 to 4250,000. It sold for $194,500.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"The found fabrics that make up the canvas of Der Zug recall Sigmar Polke's Rheierbild pictures of the 1960s, and his chosen fabrics are reminiscent of a another era - a scarf of a old English hunt scene, horses running endlessly and a cartoon pattern of goofy characters enjoying pints of beir and pils, a working class German pastime. By incorporating elements of transmutability, illusion, deception, double-meaning and multiple perspectives into his work, Polke denies the validity of any single viewpoint, offering a vision of reality as a multifaceted phenomenon that exists in a constant state of flux. As illustrated in Der Zug, the use of each and all of these elements reflects a deliberate attempt by the artist to conjure surprising pictorial impossibilities that express a strong sense of the vast imperceptible mystery of both life and the universe.

"Taking his cue from the kind of questioning of rationalism and scientific certainty posed by Heisenberg and Wittgenstein and combining their disruptive theories with a unique personal mysticism which, he provocatively claims, operates according to the commands of 'higher beings', Polke's work presents a picture of reality as an unstable veil of Maya. Reality is a phenomenon, Polke's paintings argue, that can only ever be understood partially or in a fragmentary way and is best expressed within the pictorial frame of bizarre or surprising relationships that suggest meaning. Even if, by definition, it is a meaning that will forever remain undecipherable. Transcending linear and conventional understandings of time, space, reason, and always and above all, the mundaneness of a commonsensical view of the world, it is these chance-driven relationships that give Polke's pictures their mystery, life and ability to captivate and enchant the imagination."

 

 

"Le Frigant" by Dubuffet

Lot 170, "Le Frigant," by Jean Dubuffet, 71 3/4 inches high, 1971

1901-85

600 to 800

bought in

 

"Guitar" by Lichtenstein

Lot 169,"Guitar," by Roy Lichtenstein, oil and magna on canvas, 36 by 48 inches, 1974

Lot 169 is a strong oil and magna on canvas by Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997). Entitled "Guitar," it measures 36 by 48 inches and was painted in 1974. It has an estimate of $600,000 to $800,000. It failed to sell.

The sale total was $18,053,575.

Afternoon Sale

"Onkel Bonbon" by Kippenberger

Lot 345, "Onkel Bonbon," by Martin Kippenberger, oil, metallic spray enamel and metallic glitter on canvas, 47 1/4 by 39 1/3 inches, 1983

Martin Kippenberger (1953-1997) was recently honored with a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and was the artist whose work was the catalogue cover illustration at Sotheby's evening auction this season of Contemporary Art. Lot 345, "Onkel Bonbon," is an oil, metallic spray enamel and metallic glitter on canvas that measures 47 1/4 by 39 1/3 inches. It was created in 1983 and has an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $122,500.

"Supplementary Proposal..." by Kippenberger

Lot 333, "Supplementary Proposal for the Improvement of a Backstroke in Rio I," by Martin Kippenberger, acrylic, silicone, sand and plaster on linen canvas and printed fabric, 70 9/10 by 59 1/10 by 2 1/2 inches, 1986

Another work by Kippenberger in this auction is Lot 333, "Supplementary Proposal for the Improvement of a Backstroke in Rio I." An acrylic, silicone, sand and plaster on linen canvas and printed fabric, it measures 70 9/10 by 59 1/10 by 2 1/2 inches. It was created in 1986. It has an estimate of $350,000 to $450,000. It failed to sell.

Untitled by Kippenberger

Lot 342, untitled, by Martin Kippenberger, latex and pigment on canvas, 71 by 59 inches, 1991

A third Kippenberger is an untitled work, Lot 342, that measures 71 by 59 inches. A latex and pigment on canvas, it was created in 1991 and is quite striking. It has an estimate of $180,000 to $220,000. It failed to sell.

"Buddha never down with feathers" by Zhang Huan
Lot 407, "Buddha never down with feathers," by Zhang Huan, center, 78 7/10 inches in diameter, 2004

Lot 407 is a 78 7/10-inch diameter sculpture by Zhang Huan (b. 1965). The painted aluminum, stainless steel and feathers work is entitled "Buddha never down with feathers." It was created in 2004. It is the artist's proof numberone from an edition of six plus two artist's proofs. IUt has an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000. It failed to sell.

"Great Criticism Series: NYSE" by Wang Guangyi

Lot 402, "Great Criticism Series: NYSE," by Wang Guangyi, oil on canvas, 20 by 16 inches, 2003

Lot 402 is an oil on canvas by Wang Guangyi (b. 1956). Entitled "Great Criticism Series: NYSE," it measures 20 by 16 inches and was executed in 2003. It has an estimate of $15,000 to $20,000. It sold for $32,500.


"Rat king" by Fritsch

Lot 367, "Rattenkonig (Rat King)," by Katharina Fritsch, 23 1/4 inches in diameter, 1998

Lot 367 is a polyester and paint sculpture of 17 rats by Katharina Fritsch (b. 1956). It is 23 1/4 inches in diameter. It is from an edition of eight. It has an estimate of $60,000 to $80,000. It sold for $62,500.

See The City Review article on the Spring 2009 evening Contemporary Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2009 evening Contemporary Art auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2008 Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2008 Contemporary Art evening auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2008 Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2008 Contemporary Art evening auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2007 Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2007 Contemporary Art evening auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2006 Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's

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

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

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

Use the Search Box below to quickly look up articles at this site on specific artists, architects, authors, buildings and other subjects

 

Home Page of The City Review 

©The City Review Inc 2009. Written permission to use any part of this article must be obtained in writing from The City Review