By Carter B. Horsley
This auction is highlighted
by several good works by such artists as Banksy, Maurizio Cattelan,
Frank Stella, Martin Kippenberger,
and Andy Warhol.
Lot 314 is a large and strong
work by Banksy (b. 1974) entitled "Sale Ends Today."
An oil on canvas, it measures 84 by 168 inches. It was executed
in 2006. It has an estimate oif $150,000 to $200,000. It sold
for $230,500 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned
in this article.
Lot 388 is a watercolor, ballpoint
pen and crayon on paper by Martin Kippenberger (1953-1997) that
shows the artist wearing the same underpants as in a much larger
work, an oil painting, that was the cover illustration of this
season's evening Contemporary Art auction at Sotheby's (see The City Review article). This work measures 29 by 21 1/2
inches and was created in 1989. It has an estimate of $300,000
to $400,000. It sold for $338,500 including the buyer's premium
as do all results mentioned in this article.
The catalogue entry for this
lot provides the following commentary:
Martin Kippenberger, whose presence was larger than life and whose
life was inextricably interconnected with his art, self-portraiture
was an indispensable cornerstone of his oeuvre and he toyed with
this artistic genre as no other artist before him. In typical
fashion, Kippenberger held nothing sacred, including himself,
so any interpretation of this indulgent trickster's work is elusive
yet rewarding a vein of modern self-presentation that borders
on performance art. Kippenberger was the foremost protagonist
in his paintings and he used his image deftly to confront the
art world of his day as well as his role in it.
"For the series painted
in the late 1980s, in which the present work, Untitled, 1989 exemplifies
his fascination with self portraiture famously rendered in reverse
for the eponymous painting dated from 1988. Kippenberger firmly
presents himself in the role of artist, and his figure, in its
high-rising white underwear, is in self-mocking contrast to his
hero Picasso. The artist was now in mid-life and his failure to
achieve the "triumph'' of painting becomes his apparent subject.
In 1985, Kippenberger had used the famous photograph by David
Douglas Duncan of a virile Picasso in his underwear as the invitation
for his exhibition at Galleria Leyendecker. In contrast to this
image of Picasso as a dominant male even late in life, Kippenberger
photographed himself (for use in a calendar he published in 1988)
contemplating and analyzing his image in a mirror, awkwardly impersonating
his hero). The muted hues and ethereal application of the watercolor
suggest that Kippenberger was perhaps cognizant the decadence
and self-destruction through excess that can cut short the creative
Lot 119 is an excellent untitled
ink on paper by Philip Guston (1913-1980). It measures 17 3/4
by 24 inches and is dated 1954. It has an estimate of $200,000
to $300,000. It sold for $410,500.
The catalogue entry for this
lot includes the following 1966 quotation from the artist:
I"t is the bareness of
drawing that I like. The act of drawing is what locates, suggests,
discovers. At times it seems enough to draw, without the distractions
of color and mass. Yet it is an old ambition to make drawing and
painting one. Usually I draw in relation to my painting, what
I am working on at the time. On a lucky day a surprising balance
of forms and spaces will appear and I feel the drawing making
itself, the image taking hold."
Lot 4 consists of two adult
and two child mannequins, all headless, attired in dutch wax printed
cotton textiles and leather shoes. The 2000 work is by Yink Shonibare
Mbe (b. 1962). It has an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000.
Lot 317 is a spay painted stencil
and mixed media on canvas entitled "Peace Goddess" by
Shepard Fairey (b. 1970). The woman depicted appears to be Claudette
Colbert in her movie role of Cleopatra. The work measures 118
1/4 by 140 1/8 inches and was created in 2007. It has an estimate
of $50,000 to $70,000.
Lot 312, "Untitled
(Shark 7)," is a charcoal on paper mounted on aluminum by
Robert London (b. 1953). It measures 96 by 70 incyhes and is dated
2008. It has an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. It sold for
The catalogue entry for this
lot includes the following quotation from the artist:
"I always imagine that
I want to make art that is going to kill you. Whether it's going
to do it visually or physically, I'll take either way. If it doesn't
kill you visually, it's going to fall off the wall and kill you
physically. A great deal of my work is a meditation on power.
But the thing about power is that you can't play with it without
understanding its consequences. Ultimately, it's about not closing
your eyes to power but actually being able to enjoy it."
Lot 184 is a very fine portrait
of Kimiko Powers by Andy Warhol (1928-1987). A synthetic polymer
paint and silkscreen inks on canvas, the work measures 40 inches
square and is dated 1984. It has an estimate of $350,000 to $450,000.
It sold for $506,500.
The catalogue provides the
"Spurred by the dynamism
of the 1970's, Andy Warhol turned to a more fluid and painterly
style. During this time, he left behind the faded newsprint portraits
of the 1960's, and his palette exploded across the canvas, as
evinced in the extraordinary yellow and green hue of the present
Portrait of Kimiko Powers. Warhol's new work proved to
be an exploration into the theatricality of life, and each subject
more magnetic and imaginative than the next. He was exhibited
at the acclaimed and highly critiqued 1979 Whitney exposition,
Andy Warhol: Portraits of the 70's, a show which exhibited
not only a new aesthetic but a glittering social circle the king
of pop appearing to be trying on. Warhol had discovered the allure
of high society, of back rooms and the rooms behind those and
glory in seeing for himself the faces most mortals only see in
"As Robert Rosenblum notes
in his essay Andy Warhol: Court Painter to the 70's, Warhol
had moved beyond the old masters, the quasi- religious icons of
Brando and Marilyn to resurrect the grand tradition 19th century
society portraiture. Like Giovanni Boldini and John Singer Sargent,
Warhol painted "the beautiful people" of his time; those
statesmen, actors or wealthy patrons he felt were important enough
to leave their traces on the history of painting. Indeed, celebrities
among celebrities, both Andy Warhol and John Singer Sargent walked
in the same stardust as their elite clientele. As such, Kimiko
Powers is a heroine not unlike Sargent's Madame X. Both women
purse their lips, tilt their heads and throw one shoulder back
seductively. Cast beneath a veil of chilled aristocracy, both
sitters seem to hold a secret. It could be the flair of Madame's
nostrils, the strain in her neck or mysterious look in Kimiko's
eyes but somehow we are lead to believe these women know things
we don't, have keys to doors that we don't even know exist. Like
Madame X and the famed Whitney Show, Kimiko Powers speaks for
her decade, for a distinct moment in both our artistic and national
"Importantly, at the time
this portrait was rendered, Kimiko and her husband John, had already
amassed one of the most impressive collections of pop art. Living
in New York City, they frequented the galleries and began collecting
in the early 1960's and became close friends of many of the artists
they collected. A dear friend of Warhol, this portrait is not
merely an attempt to infuse one's image with an aura of celebrity,
as many of Warhol's society portraits were, rather she is conveyed
as a woman with grace, elegance and flair but there is a mystery
in her eyes that the viewer can not penetrate. Though we are given
the illusion of intimacy, it is merely a lesson in the art of
performance, seduction and high society."
Lot 175 is a stunning abstraction
by Frank Stella (b. 1936) entitled "Sacramento Proposal #
3." An acrylic on canvas, it is 103 1/4 inches square and
is dated 1978. It has an estimate of $600,000 to $800,000.
The catalogue entry provides
the following commentary:
"Frank Stella's Sacramento
Proposal #3, 1978 vividly engages the established standard
of the artist's iconic concentric squares. More than a mere systemic
approach, Stella's works share a deliberate concern of color and
their independent value with regard to space as well as the relationship
that the colors have to one another. Stella conceptualized colors
from the hues of the color wheel, while employing the gray tonal
scale in order to correspond to these colors in numerical order.
He did not simply increase the width of the bands to fill the
larger canvases; rather, he increased the number of bands in order
to emphasize the scale of the work itself. As seen in Sacramento
Proposal #3, Stella's unprimed square canvas visually hints
at a planar illusion with the outer band of color leading inwards
through distinctive different shades of blue decreasing from light
to dark. Each band is divided inwards through thinner stripes
of bold hues of red, orange, yellow, green and blue. The application
of the paint is undeniably even, although Stella, unlike many
of his contemporaries, was not concerned with faultless application
of the paint, and yet he was arguably among the most successful.
Through his calculated technique, Stella works within the bounds
of the utilitarian stripes in order to endow them with new and
rich aesthetic end result."
Lot 319, "La Nona Ora,"
is a cast plaster sculpture of a pope lying on the floor with
his silver staff by Maurizio Cattalan (b. 1960). The work measures
6 3/4 by 24 3/4 by 8 5/8 inches and was executed in 2003 in an
edition of 10 plus 2 artist's proofs. It has an estimate of $250,000
"For the artist who professed,
'I want religion and blasphemy to collide, as they do in our daily
life. Just think of any day of your week: you wake up, you might
pray and think about some metaphysical truth. And then two minutes
later you are stuck in traffic cursing and swearing and getting
mad and anxious. Our life is based on contradiction,' Maurizio
Cattelan is an artist who clearly seeks to provoke and challenge
his audiences. In La Nona Ora, one of the artist's most
seminal works, Catellan brazenly commits aesthetic epistemological
heresy by dropping a meteor on the holiest man in the Roman Catholic
tradition, at the ninth hour, the moment that Jesus Christ was
"La Nona Ora is a dialogue, an invitation to imbue
an empty shell with meaning. Cattelan invites us to question whether
the work is a serious assault on the Catholic Church or simply
an investigation into that which is sacred. Pope John Paul II
is rendered in effigy and appears clutching his staff, his body
still tense from the meteor's impact. The work may simply be an
exercise in satire for the work itself never asserts any veracity.
The looney-toon-esque anvil-like meteor and the lack of blood
following its impact add a measure of absurdity to the scene leading
us to question the artist's intentions.
"While the original work
La Nona Ora, 1999, depicts the fallen icon amidst a mosaic
of shattered glass, his frail white frame contrasting dramatically
with the deep red carpet he lies upon, the present eponymous work
is from an edition of 10 rendered in plaster and executed in 2003.
In the vein of Andy Warhol and the banality that results from
serial multiplicity, Cattelan dares to replicate this controversial
image in a manner even more removed than the original. Gone are
the bombastic colors and shards of glass and we are left with
a plaster simulacra of Pope John Paul II with a staff in his hand
and a meteor on his behind leaving us to wonder if anything is
Lot 364 is a very strong work
by Makota Saito (b. 1952). Entitled "Portrait of Laurence
(Recognition)," it is an acrylic and oil ink on canvas mounted
on wood. It is dated 2005 and has an estimate of $150,000 to $200,000.
It sold for $338,500.
Lot 170 is a red slate sculpture
by Richard Long (b. 1940) that is 78 inches in diameter and consists
of 42 stone parts. It has an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000.
Lot 136 is a large, untitled
diptych oil on canvas by Joan Mitchell (*1925-1992). Each part
measures 45 5/8 by 35 1/4 inches.It was executed circa 1977. The
lot has an estimate of $400,000 to $500,000. It sold for $584,500.
Lot 257 is a polystyrene, plaster
and aluminum sculpture by Banks Violette (b. 1973). Entitled "Burnout,"
it measures 72 by 48 by 48 inches and was created in 2000. It
has an estimate of $70,000 to $90,000. It sold for $50,000.
The catalogue entry includes
the following quotation from the artist:
"That form [stalagmites/stalactites]
seems a great way to reference a whole series of things simultaneously
- as a geographical formation, it instantly implies the idea of
a site, or a 'real' space. In addition, that dripping cave kind
of things is such a hack, repeating motif from album cover art,
especially post-psychedlia Heavy Metal albums. Also, there was
always a kind of implied violence for me in using that form: wherever
they have been used in my sculptures, they are effacing or defacing