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  Post-War and Contemporary Day Auction

Sotheby's New York

2 PM, November 15, 2019

Sale 10150


Thiebaud  109

Lot 109, "Ripley Street Bridge," by Wayne Thiebaud, oil on canvas, 28 by 20 inches, 1976 

By Carter B. Horsley

The November 15, 2019 day auction of Post-War and Contemporary Art at Sotheby's New York is highlighted by good works by Wayne Thiebaud, Fernand Botero, Sam Gilliam, Hans Hofmann, Sam Francis, David Smith, David Hockney, Isamu Noguchi, Robert Indiana, John Chamberlain and Alexander Calder in the morning session and Ai Weiwei, Gerhard Richter, Richard Hambleton and Manolo Valdes in the afternoon session.

Lot 109, "Ripley Street Bridge," is an excellent oil on canvas by Wayne Thiebaud (b. 1920) that measures 28 by 20 inches and was painted in 1976.  


The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"When Thiebaud wants to stretch for a big effect, he has no trouble with drama, expansiveness, or even a kind of sublimity...Steep precipices that overwhelm human presence and excite a sense of terribilita, danger, or fear are common...Integral with the grandeur of nature, or nature transformed by man, is the power of natural light to illuminate, even dazzle and inspire...The light is more than a matter of energy and science. It is an embodiment of emotion. For Thiebaud it surely is not religious or symbolic in a conventional sense, but is nevertheless celebratory and life affirming." Steven Nash, "Thiebaud's Many Realisms" in Exh. Cat., Palm Springs Art Museum (and traveling), Wayne Thiebaud, Seventy Years of Painting, 2007, pp. 19-20.

"In Ripley Street Ridge, executed in 1976, Wayne Thiebaud’s brilliant palette and luscious handling of rich oil paint create a layered dialogue between realism and abstraction, in which the intensity of light, the play of shadow, and the conversation between architecture, street, and sky capture the true essence of Thiebaud’s beloved San Francisco. Thiebaud has long been recognized as one of America’s most prominent and celebrated artists for his paintings of pies and cakes, delicatessen counters, figure studies, and cityscapes that restructure space and perspective. The improbable geometry of Thiebaud’s San Francisco streetscapes, with their steep hills and dramatic horizon lines, demonstrates the complexities of form and structure inherent in Thiebaud’s practice. The thick impasto and candy-colored accents of paint lend the work a kaleidoscopic luminosity that brings to mind the iconic compositions of edible goods painted throughout his impressive and storied career. In Ripley Street Ridge, Thiebaud’s acute sensibility for color and texture packs a powerful visual punch, inviting viewers to return, again and again, to examine the sensuous surface. The Whitney Museum of American Art’s recent acquisition of Ripley Ridge (1977), a slightly larger canvas painted the following year— which depicts the very same scene as the present work— further affirms the position of this painting among the most iconic and significant examples of the artist’s oeuvre from this period.

"Ripley Street Ridge captures the post-war landscape of San Francisco, marking a significant shift from the still-life and figurative subjects that primarily preoccupied the artist in the 1960s and early 1970s. Painted in 1976, just four years after Thiebaud’s move to the city, Ripley Street Ridge demonstrates the artist’s fascination with the contradictions of urban life coexisting in a scene of extreme foreshortening and shifting perspectives. The precise articulation of the buildings and California sky demonstrate the artist’s keen interest in representation, yet the focus on atmospheric color and light rather than line or ground reveals Thiebaud’s masterful technique and concern with abstraction as a device. The dynamic topography of San Francisco, with its steep hills and dramatic viewpoints, was the perfect inspiration and platform for exaggerating spatial dynamics and investigating the intricacies of composing a painting. Thiebaud recalls, 'I was playing around with the abstract notion of edge–I was fascinated, living in San Francisco, by the way different streets just came in and then just vanished' (The artist in Exh. Cat., Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Wayne Thiebaud: A Paintings Retrospective, 2000, p. 58). Beyond the vanishing streets, Thiebaud pushes the horizon line to the top of the canvas and envelops the left side of the painting in the suggestion of a seemingly endless blue sky that solidifies the earth-ground orientation. In his detailing of the windows and rooftops that populate the street in question, Thiebaud ensures the shapes and vivid colors of this scene are not perceived as merely abstract forms.

"Through his work, Thiebaud explores non-objective experimentation with form, color and composition. Upon closer inspection, Thiebaud’s mastery of the arrangement of color and form in Ripley Street Ridge echoes the condensed structural organization as several of Pierre Matisse’s paintings, such as Interior at Nice from 1919. Here, Matisse explores a range of rich colors both cool and warm to capture the lush textures and patterns adorning the sitter’s lavish home overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The hard edge of the large open door creates a dramatic perspective that similarly foreshortens the sea, allowing the artist to capture the expansive landscape beyond the interior space articulated on canvas through the interplay of vertical and horizontal lines. Interestingly, both Matisse and Thiebaud’s handling of rich oil paint translates into nearly identical palm trees that appear in both compositions despite the artists’ unique and divergent painting styles.

"Furthermore, Thiebaud’s experimentation and play between abstraction and realism calls to mind the
work of Richard Diebenkorn and his Ocean Park series, in particular Ocean Park #19, which is in the permanent collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Thiebaud’s geometrically complex cityscapes are networks of faceted, interlocking planes of light and color, which convincingly portray
the dramatic vantage points and pitched perspectives of San Francisco, while verging on pure abstraction through the collapse of spatial depth and sweeping swaths of color. Fellow Californians, Thiebaud and Diebenkorn share a love of light and each possesses an ineffable genius for capturing the fleeting qualities of light and shadow with his brush. On the surface, Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park series and Thiebaud’s landscapes and cityscapes strike us as being very different in their use of color and composition, but what they share is a concise pictoral vocabulary. Despite having a style and technique all his own, Thiebaud and his work pay homage to a long genealogy of artists, including Edward Hopper, Piet Mondrian and Giorgio Morandi, among others. Thiebaud himself remarked, 'I’m very influenced by the tradition of painting and not at all self-conscious about identifying my sources' (The artist in Exh. Cat., Wayne Thiebaud: A Paintings Retrospective, 2000, p. 11).

"In the spring of 1961, several years before the present work was painted, Thiebaud found himself in New York seeking gallery representation. Dealer Allan Stone encountered the discouraged artist outside his 82nd Street gallery following a long day of dealer visits. Stone, among the ranks of pre-eminent New York dealers, such as Leo Castelli and Sidney Janis, instinctively liked the artist and was intrigued by his works, which were far different than those of the Abstract Expressionist artists dominating the New York art scene. Thiebaud’s paintings are so serenely poised in their geometry, actively asserted in their space and haloed with punchy color that they seductively vibrate and resonate before the eye. Stone’s partnership and mentorship allowed Thiebaud to remain removed from the New York art world, geographically and creatively, while still experiencing national critical success. Thiebaud praised Stone following his first 1962 show at the Allan Stone Gallery saying, 'Allan really then became a friend. He was very, very careful with the work. He tried to ensure that it wouldn’t be collected by people who were just interested in the kind of dynamics of the art world' (Wayne Thiebaud in Oral history interview with Wayne Thiebaud, 2001 May 17-18, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution). Ripley Street Ridge, first sold through Allan Stone Gallery, caught the renowned dealer’s eye and was therefore destined to remain in the collections of true taste-making collectors.

"Thiebaud’s cityscapes such as Ripley Street Ridge provided the perfect forum through which he could explore the opposing tensions between modern abstraction and classic representation. As he observed, “There is an element of oriental art in them, that
kind of flattening out of planes–and a lot of playing around...San Francisco is a fantasy city. It’s easy to make it into a pretend city,
a kind of fairy tale” (The artist in Exh. Cat., Wayne Thiebaud: A Retrospective, 2000, p. 58).

"Thiebaud’s reference to ‘fantasy’ sheds light on the fact that his street scenes are not simply mere acts of observation, but also dynamic explorations of form and color. Thiebaud exercises any number of manipulations in the arrangement of elements, from color to light to texture of paint, to produce paintings that are, first and foremost, vibrant artistic constructions. Thiebaud’s distinctive painterly technique and kaleidoscopic use of color pay homage to his vibrant California lifestyle and landscape, telling the tale of the artist’s enduring romance with San Francisco. Thiebaud, celebrating his 99th birthday on the day of the Contemporary Art Day Auction, has long delighted in painting the impossible by celebrating the flatness
of his paintings’ surfaces while capturing
the nearly vertical hills of San Francisco. Ripley Street Ridge stands out as a museum-quality work in which Thiebaud pushes toward abstraction without ever crossing over in a way only he can master."


The lot has an estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,500,000.  It sold for $3,320,000.


Botero 148

Lot 148, "Rape of Europa (Abduction of Europa)," by Fernando Botero, bronze, 124 by 83 by 72 inches, number 2 of 3, 1992

Lot 148 is a large bronze by Fernando Botero (b. 1932) of the "Rape of Europa." It measures 124 by 83 by 72 inches and is number 2 of 3.  It was created in 1992.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"Fernando Botero's monumental sculpture is cherished worldwide. Globally exhibited for over four decades, Botero's astonishing bronzes have graced the public squares of Latin American towns, idyllic European boulevards, and the main avenues of large metropolises on every continent. From Bogotá to Paris, New York to Hong Kong, Botero’s voluptuous and instantly recognizable characters have become ingrained in the public memory. Inescapable, his monumental sculpture has transcended its stationary nature to become integral to our understanding of these spaces. 

"From the beginning of his artistic career over six decades ago, Botero has drawn inspiration from historical sources ranging from Roman and Greek classical sculpture to Renaissance and Baroque painting. Although historically grounded, his work can simultaneously portray everyday imagery; glimpses of human experience ranging from the intimate to the public, the personal to the political.

"Among his most celebrated sculptural series is his homage to Titian’s (Tiziano Vecillio) Rape of Europa. Painted by the Italian artist sometime during the period of 1559 to 1562 for the King of Spain Phillip II, the work depicts a demure and vulnerable Europa flailing her arms and legs as she is suddenly carried away on Jupiter’s back. Disguised as an ornamented white bull, Jupiter's massive strength seems to confront the viewer while two playful Cupids entertain themselves flying carelessly in a turbulent sky. While a clear reference to Titian’s masterpiece, Botero’s interpretation of this historical subject is a keen embodiment of his approach to contemporary sculpture. Distilled to its primary actors, Botero portrays Jupiter as an amiable bull whose tender nature is diametrically opposed to Titian’s fierce treatment. Likewise, our Europa appears placidly and comfortably seated on this larger than life bull; her long hair creating a beautiful cascade on her nude body. Feminine and coquettish, she crosses her legs and raises her right arm behind her head in a flirting pose more closely resembling the unabashed attitude of a contemporary model than that of a frightened mythological princess. Botero’s Rape of Europa is unequivocally unsentimental. 

"As with other historical imagery, Botero reveals a surprising alternative narrative: one where women have been purposely afforded control of their fates. No longer victimized, they reveal themselves as powerful participants rejoicing in their choices—whether situated in family kitchens, brothels or opera houses. Ultimately, Botero’s monumental sculptures are formal masterpieces of composed volume and mass. He has said of his sculpture, 'I never give particular traits to my figures. I don’t want them to have personality, but rather that they represent a type that I create… what matters for me is the form, the voluptuous surfaces which emphasize the sensuality of my work.'"


The lot has an estimate of $1,800,000 to $2,500,000.  It sold for $2,060,000.

Gilliam  112

Lot 112, "With Crimson," by Sam Gilliam, oil on canvas, acrylic on beveled edge canvas, 45 1/2 by 70 inches, 1970


Lot 112 is an good acrylic on beveled edge canvas by Sam Gilliam (b. 1933) that is entitled "With Crimson."  It measures 45 1/2 by 70 inches and was painted in 1970.  It is property from the collection of Arthur and Gigi Lazarus of Washington, D.C.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"Executed in 1970, amidst a time of intense experimentation and global artistic innovation, Sam Gilliam’s With Crimson is a prismatic example of the artist’s highly coveted beveled edge canvases. Gilliam pushed the genre of Color Field painting forward as an influential leader of the Washington Color School. With Crimson embodies the very best of Gilliam’s extraordinarily colorful abstractions created using his pioneering painting technique which upended centuries of conventional practices. The exploding rays of vibrant jewel tones are anchored by rich crimson, for which the painting is titled, and by force invites the viewer into the otherworldly cosmos of color. Overflowing with a kaleidoscopic frenzy of Day-Glo highlights and secondary shades of blue, where these colors coalesce, they form deep pools of gradient pigment that dissolve into one another producing a dynamic sense of painterly activity. Warm tones emanate from the heart of the canvas in a spread of sunset orange and ruby red crimson, while cooler tendrils of violet and shards of teal cut through the surface of the work, fanning out into a polychrome topography.

"With Crimson has remained in the prominent collection of Arthur and Gigi Lazarus for nearly 50 years. Indeed, the Lazarus family acquired With Crimson in 1971 from Jefferson Place Gallery in Washington, D.C., a cooperative gallery that promoted emerging artists of the Washington Color School, including Kenneth Noland, Gene Davis, Howard Mehring and, of course, Sam Gilliam. Nesta Dorrance, who ran the gallery from 1961 until its closing in 1974, was instrumental in launching Gilliam’s career on an international level. Just two years after the present work was painted, Gilliam would go on to represent the United States at the Venice Biennale, having the distinction of being the first African American artist to ever do so.

"Gilliam’s many contributions to the art historical canon include his innovative process. First, he soaked an unprimed canvas in a diluted mixture of acrylic paint which he would then fold and twist onto itself. Gilliam would then suspend the saturated canvas overnight, leaving the paint to soak, mingle, stain and spread under the natural gravitational pull. Returning to the canvas the following morning, Gilliam would then sponge, daub, splatter and further fold or roll the canvas in order to unearth unexpected geometries and combinations. This carefully calculated yet fortuitous choreography becomes recorded on the surface of the finished product, much in the same way Jackson Pollock’s dynamic drips and daubs traced his dance-like circumlocution around the studio.

"Measuring nearly six feet across, With Crimson is expansive and sculptural. Gilliam here has created an object overflowing with contradictions that wrestle on the surface: the canvas is both dense with architectural blocks of color yet appears airy and seemingly weightless. Interested in breaking down the traditional distinctions between painting, architecture and sculpture, Gilliam's final tool to blur these rigid distinctions was to implement the use of beveled edged stretchers, which give the impression that a painting is emerging three-dimensionally from the wall as an object of weight and substance. 

"Radiating an inner glow, Gilliam’s With Crimson elevates the sensory potential of color, depth and form. Through his groundbreaking process of creation, Gilliam makes paint luminous, combining a myriad of finishes and pigments with sophisticated color transitions on a sculptural surface, all of which mimic the qualities of light and shadow."


It has an estimate of $600,000 to $800,000.  It sold for $1,004,000.


Francis 106


Lot 106,"Domremy," by Sam Francis, watercolor and gouache on paper, 27 by 40 inches, 1958


Lot 106, "Domremy," is a great watercolor and gouache on paper by Sam Francis (1923-1994).  It measures 27 by 40 inches and was painted in 1958.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"Sam Francis’ lyrical Domrémy is a mystical example of the artist's output at the height of his career. The gouache’s reds and maroon, ochres, and deep black are tinged with subtleties of blue that brings one deeper and deeper into the work. Executed in 1958, after the artist had completed two trips around the world that brought him from California to Paris, New York to Japan and back again, Domrémy is a mastery of color and place. Indeed, it was during Francis’ first trip to Paris in 1950 that the artist became fascinated with light and its effect on color after seeing Monet’s Water Lilies and Bonnard's outdoor scenes firsthand. In fact, Francis painted the present work shortly after moving into a bigger studio in Paris' Arcueil district on the rue du Domrémy where he also painted monumental works like the Basel Mural triptych, now in the collections of the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. The present work combines this understanding of light and color with Francis' newfound appreciation for space and Eastern thought, bolstered from his time in Japan.

"Layering nearly translucent areas of color with more thickly applied gouache, the color in Domrémy jumps from itself to the starkness of the untouched white sheet. The expanses of deliberate, vivid color are exacerbated by the vastness of the negative space on either side of the cascading color—areas that are highly intentional. While in Tokyo in 1957, Francis lived and worked in a temple, observing the lessons of traditional Japanese haboku, or flung-ink painting, as well as ikebana, the art of flower arrangement. Both studies are evident in Domrémy, where the gestural color freely falls down the vertical expanse of the work, into a world unknown. The notion of the void—central to East Asian culture—is expressed clearly here. Francis’ establishing a permanent studio in Japan stands as a further testament to the importance of Japanese traditions as a paramount influence on the artist. In fusing both Eastern and Western cultures in Francis' magnificent body of work, Peter Selz explains: 'He reflects on the symbolism of white as the imperial color of magnificence and nobility, as the color of Great Jove, the albatross, and the veil of Christianity's deity, but he also notes that it is the color of evil, transcendent horror, and great panic, the shroud of death and the fog of ghosts' (Peter Seltz, Sam Francis, New York 1982, p. 62)."

The lot has an estimate of 250,000 to  $350,000.  It sold for $400,000.

Hockney 132

Lot 132
David Hockney
B. 1937
GREGORY IN THE POOL (PAPER POOL 4)
signed with the artist's initials and dated 78; signed and numbered 4-B on the reverse
colored and pressed paper pulp
32 3/4 by 50 in


"In Gregory in the Pool (Paper Pool 4), David Hockney captures an endearing view of  his friend and lover, Gregory Evans, during a forty-five day stay with master printmaker Kenneth Tyler at Tyler's Mt. Kisco home. Hockney’s various explorations of the Paper Pool series from this period remain a celebration of the artist’s highly-coveted and deeply personal theme in which painting and paper-making are fused. Both serendipity and chance intervened in the late summer of 1978, as Hockney found himself temporarily stranded in New York while attempting to return to California following a trip to London. Having misplaced his driver’s license, Hockney was forced to stay in New York and called Kenneth Tyler in order to help fill the time. It was during this visit to Mt. Kisco that Tyler introduced Hockney to a new technique for unique paper works that involved wet paper pulp impregnated with carefully mixed rich, saturated colored dyes resulting in painterly pressed paper pulp works including Gregory in the Pool (Paper Pool 4).

"While many of the works from the Paper Pools series are devoid of a figurative subject, instead focusing on the unique qualities of light, Gregory in the Pool (Paper Pool 4) is one of three variations to include a human subject. Hockney explained the present work saying, 'I didn’t like doing everything without figures, so I added Gregory in the pool...I drew the figure out very simply, then I made the mold, and used two pink colors which I put together and then I kneaded them with my fingers, which I thought was nice because it’s nice to do that to flesh. It was a good contrast to the effect of water and the effect of shadow” (David Hockney in Nikos Stangos, Ed., David Hockney: Paper Pools, New York 1980, p. 36). The subject, Gregory Evans, Hockney’s longtime companion and curator, has been a consistent model, inspiration and support system for Hockney throughout his life. The two met in 1974 and Hockney began making portraits of him almost immediately. When asked in a 2015 interview who the love of his life is Hockney replied, 'Maybe Gregory,' which further cements the significance of the present work. Pinpoints of bright white peek through the cool blue paper pulp, giving the effect of sparkling light as it glistens across the surface of the pool water enveloping Gregory. Bathed in the aura the work emanates, the viewer becomes acutely aware of the sense of camaraderie between Hockney outside of the pool and Gregory soaking in the cool water as the afternoon sunshine draws long shadows across the pool deck.

"This new process Tyler shared with Hockney involved the pouring of dyed liquid paper pulp into molds constructed from galvanized metal strips soldered together, almost like cookie cutters, onto a wet paper surface. Alongside Tyler, Hockney applied the colored paper pulp using several everyday tools including soup ladles, turkey basters, spoons and brushes further allowing for additional colored pulp and liquid dyes to be applied freehand. The result was then pressed between felts in a high-pressure hydraulic press and left to dry, ultimately creating a final piece where the color of the paper pulp vividly permeates the paper surface, giving it an intensity of hue that is inseparable from the sheet itself. After experimenting with various colors and techniques, Hockney made his first images including Sunflower, Steps with Shadow, Green Pool with Diving Board and Shadow and Gregory in the Pool. Hockney found this wet, messy process to be naturally suited to capturing the liquid nature of the swimming pools within the confines of the sheet. Spurred on by Tyler’s excitement for the physicality of this new medium, Hockney became energized and worked for forty-five days straight mastering this new technique, learning its limitations and transcending them to create vibrant works such as the present work, Gregory in the Pool (Paper Pool 4). Inspired by Tyler’s swimming pool, this dazzling series reprises one of Hockney’s most iconic motifs. Here, Hockney recorded the effects of sunlight as it reflected upon the water at various time of the day, creating a series of unique works on paper, in which dye-infused paper pulp was pressed into stunning, color-soaked sheets.

"Hockney expressed his satisfaction with the series saying, 'They are like paintings, which is why I stayed; if they hadn’t been like paintings, I think I would have left after doing the first two or three small ones, I would have thought that was enough. And they also helped me in another way: painting in England before, I kept saying I thought the paintings were getting too gray, too tight and I kept getting finicky and I wanted to be bolder. Another thing that was nice about Paper Pools was that you were forced to do it that way, you were forced to think of things in another way, you couldn’t work in the way you have been doing before' (David Hockney in Nikos Stangos, Ed., David Hockney: Paper Pools, New York 1980, p. 100).

The lot has an estimate of $600,000 to $800,000.  It failed to sell.


Indiana 133

Lot 133,  "One Through Zero (The Ten Numbers)," by Robert Indiana, polychrome aluminum on painted aluminum base. conceived 1978 and executed 2003, number 1 from an edition of three plus 2 artist's proofs

Lot 133, "One Through Zero (The Ten Numbers)," is an polycrome aluminum on painted aluminum base, 33 1/4  inches high, conceived 1978 and executed 2003 by Robert Indiana (1928-2018).  It is number 1 from an edition of 3 plus 2 artists proofs.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"For Robert Indiana, beloved American painter of signs and symbols, numbers had a deeply personal significance. Beside their self-referential numeric definitions, each Arabic numeral represented a moment or memory in Indiana’s life, and the artist took great interest in a system whose symbols never changed but could be endlessly rearranged to create new meanings. One Through Zero (The Ten Numbers) is immediately recognizable as pure Indiana: simultaneously biographical and universal, the monumental sculptural forms are carefully fabricated in his characteristic typography and bright colors.

"Numbers began appearing as a standalone motif in Indiana’s oeuvre in the 1960s, but never on such a large scale as the One Through Zero (The Ten Numbers) series. He was fascinated by their easy legibility and their ability to shapeshift between a semi-mystical significance and pure form without ever changing shape. 'My work is almost entirely autobiographical. Everything I’ve done has something to do with my life' (the artist in Barbaralee Diamonstein, Inside New York’s Art World, New York 1979, p. 153). Numbers defined the artist's childhood. Growing up in Indiana, the state from which he adapted his 'nom de brush,'during the Great Depression, he had lived in 21 houses by the age of 17. A red and green Philips 66 gas station sign loomed over the route his father took to work each day; inspiring him to later assign those colors to the sculptural Six. He called the ten-story, neon sign 'the one most fascinating visual object in [his] entire youth;' the sign, combined with commercial stencils he found in his studio in New York, would lead to the creation of the hard-edged, colorful visual language that made him so famous (the artist in “Oral History Interview with Robert Indiana,” Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, September 12 – November 7 1963, n.p.).

"Robert Indiana’s polychromed numbers sculptures are, beyond their plump, sinuous forms and vibrant color combinations, a monument to the life-cycle of mankind.  With his cycle of numbers from One Through Zero, a theme Indiana first essayed in a series of paintings in 1964-65, the artist conceived the cardinal numbers as marking the stages of life from birth (One) to death (Zero).  Indiana deployed numbers frequently in his sculptures and paintings prior to that time, but with this painting series of the mid-sixties, he assigned specific color combinations to each number. These same combinations would subsequently be used in the polychromed numbers sculptures that Indiana conceived in 1978 and executed decades later, such as this set completed in 2003.

"In Indiana’s imagination, each color combination has significance. For example, Four, representing adolescence, is assigned the 'most raucous and unruly color combination' of red and yellow.  The red and green of Six are the colors of the Phillips 66 sign of Indiana’s childhood; Indiana’s father, who was born in June (the sixth month), worked for the company and habitually travelled Route 66.  Eight features the rich colors of fall season; the black and yellow caution stripes of Nine signify ‘caution, death is near’; and the ashen grisaille of Zero represents death.  One needn’t understand the rich web of biographical and symbolic associations of the sculptural series or its numbered parts to appreciate Indiana’s playfully straightforward but meticulously crafted aesthetic, but, as with much of Indiana’s art, there is much more than initially meets the eye in this deceptively simple Pop masterpiece. 

"The curving surface of each number shifts and changes as one moves around the sculpture, giving the numerals expressive loops and waves that give life to the heavy aluminum. The two-color combinations pop when viewed from the side, emphasizing 'the graphic essence of his forms while giving his sculptures vibrant three-dimensional life' (Ibid.). The aesthetic success of the Number series can be seen in the 'Indiana style' typography popular today in contemporary design and advertising and used in the fields of fashion, technology, finance and beyond.

"Indiana valued double-association in his work, frequently exploring verbal-visual themes such as the number 66, which he liked both for its visual pattern and its connection to his childhood. A self-proclaimed painter of signs, he followed Pop Art’s embrace of fabrication and commercialization while rejecting the academicism of Abstract Expressionism. Along with the signs of his youth, Indiana combined the geometric, colorful flatness of Ellsworth Kelly’s works with the themes of Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns to create his own unique style. One Through Zero (The Ten Numbers) monumentalizes one of the most important motifs of Indiana’s oeuvre. Their playful color and appealingly commercial typography are intriguingly complicated by their potential for recreation; by arranging and rearranging their order, one may place oneself in dialogue with Indiana and form new meanings from symbols hundreds of years old."

The lot has an estimate of $1.500,000 to $2,000,000.  It sold for $2,060,000.

 
Smith 191

Lot 191, "Untitled," by David Smith, egg ink and tempera on paper, 20 1/4 by 15 5/8 inches, 1952

Lot 191 is an impressive egg ink and tempera on paper by David Smith (1906-1965) that is 20 1/4 by 15 5/8 inches.  It was created in 1952 and has estimate of $20,000 to $30,000.  It was sold for $45,000.

Hofmann 192

Lot 192, "Untitled," by Hans Hofmann, oil and ink on paper, 24 by 19 inches, circa 1945

Lot 192 is a very fine and colorful oil and ink on paper by Hans Hofmann (1880-1966) that measures 24 by 19 inches and was created circa 1945.  It has an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000.  It sold for $106,250.

Hofmann  225

Lot 225, "Untitled," by Hans Hofmann, gouache and crayon on paper, 17 by 14 inches, 1944

Lot 225 is an very fine, untitled gouache and crayon on paper by Hofmann that measures 17 by 14 inches and was created in 1944,  It has an estimate of $12,000 to $18,000.  It sold for $37,500.

Calder 145

Lot 145, "Perforated Black Boomerang on Red," by Alexander Calder, sheet metal, wire and paint, 18 3/4 by 20 1/2 by 7 1/2 inches, circa 1947

The connection between Calder and his close friend Joan Miró is inescapable in the present work: the elegant sweeping line of the mobile element is transmuted by cutout biomorphic shapes. The mobile element floats through space, resting on a wire that extends from the red three-legged base. Calder’s use of red and organic Surrealist imagery illuminates a connection between the artist and Miró, whom Calder had first met decades earlier in Paris; their works went on to develop along entirely separate, although visually resonant, trajectories as both elevated line and color to new heights. As Calder proclaimed, “Disparity in form, color, size, weight, motion, is what makes a composition…It is the apparent accident to regularity which the artist actually controls by which he makes or mars a work” (the artist quoted in Exh. Cat.,
Whitney Museum of American Art, Calder’s Universe, New York 1976, p. 33). 
It has an estimate of $500,000 to $700,000.  It sold for $560,000.


Afternoon Session

Weiwei Zodiac full  441


Lot 441, "Circle of Animals (Zodiac)," by Ai Weiwei, gold-plated bronze sculptures, number 6 from an edition of 8, 2010

Lot 441 is a group of 12 gold-plated bronze sculptures representing the circle of animals from the Zodiac by Ai Weiwei (b. 1957).  It is number 6 from an edition of 8 in 2010.

The catalogue has the following commentary:

"Ai Weiwei’s iconic series of sculptures, the Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads, is a significant international project that simultaneously signals his position as China’s most pervasive artist whilst exploring themes of globalization and identity that inform his work. The series recreates the twelve traditional Chinese zodiac sculptures that once adorned the Yuanming Yuan fountain clock, an artistic and architectural centerpiece of the imperial gardens outside of Beijing enjoyed by several Qing dynasty rulers in the 18th and 19th centuries.

"The original zodiac head sculptures were subsequently looted from the fountain by French and British soldiers during the Opium Wars. This devastating plundering was one of a series of episodes that are now collectively known as the 'century of humiliation,' spanning approximately 1840 to 1945. In 1976 following the death of Chairman Mao, the demise of the Cultural Revolution which sought to destroy cultural artifacts, and the subsequent reopening of China’s economy towards the end of the 20th century, there was a renewed interest in the zodiac heads both in China and abroad. Only seven of the original heads still exist and the whereabouts of five remain unknown. As a result of the increased fervor for the ancient Chinese zodiac heads over the past several decades, their monetary value on the international art market has soared and they have since become touchstones of an ardent—and at times contentious—sense of nationalism.

"By creating his contemporary interpretation of the original imperial zodiac heads with the Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads sculptures, Ai Weiwei effectively reunites the twelve animals once again, thus completing the full set by re-envisioning the five that are still missing. He conceived the Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads body of work in two distinct versions: a monumental Bronze size to be displayed outdoors as public art; and a collector size Gold set for museum display and closer in size to the originals.

"Through this significant body of work, Ai Weiwei explores notions of authenticity and patrimony by encouraging a provocation of what is 'real' and what is 'fake' in relation to cultural artifacts and contemporary artwork. His vision to recreate the legendary sculptures in a gleaming gold patina elevates the objects to the status of sacred relics, further emphasizing the melodrama surrounding the looting of the originals and the mystery of the missing five heads. In the present work Ai Weiwei both engages and tinkers with a revisionist history aesthetic, prodding viewers to consider the ways in which a historical narrative can be refabricated and thus live on through artistic icons.

Weiwei detail

Detail of Lot 441

"Widely known as an outspoken critic of the Chinese authorities, Ai Weiwei’s project gained attention in 2011 when the launch of this body of work coincided with his arrest in Beijing, after which he was held for 81 days without official charges and denied exit from the country until 2015. Out of these circumstances, the wide-reaching scope of the Zodiac Heads/Circle of Animals series has bolstered the artist's global presence and acclaim. Having toured the world during the last decade, today this sculptural series exists as one of the most famous and widely exhibited contemporary sculptures in the history of global contemporary art.

"Since the inaugural installation of Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: Bronze in New York at the historic Pulitzer Fountain in 2011, editions from the Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: Gold series have been exhibited in international public collections across the world. Subsequent venues have included: Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (May - September 2012); Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (February - July 2012); LongHouse Reserve, East Hampton (August - October 2013); Garage Center for Contemporary Art, Moscow (February - March 2014); The Crow Collection of Asian Art, Dallas (September 2013 - March 2014); Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin (April - July 2014); Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire (October 2014 - April 2015); Palm Springs Museum of Art (December 2014 - May 2015); Portland Art Museum (May - September 2015); Phoenix Art Museum (October - January 2016); National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (December 2015 - August 2016); Tucson Museum of Art (February - June 2016); Nevada Museum of Art, Reno (July - October 2016); Museum fur kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg (November - March 2018); The Mucern, Marseille (June - November 2018); Farnsworth Museum, Rockland (March - December 2018); Kunstsammlung-Nordhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf (May - September 2019); Vero Beach Museum of Art (June - December 2019); and the Arken Museum of Modern Art, Skovvej, Denmark, where an edition of the piece has remained on long-term loan since 2013. Commenting on this work, Ai Weiwei has stated: 'It is pointing to many different issues—of course to China, to myself, to all the people who would question whether the work is valuable or not valuable, real or not real, or better than real, or not as good as real. And how it’s going to be shown, why it’s being shown, how it’s being sold, and why people are paying for it.'

"The Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads series embodies the diversity of Ai Weiwei’s practice and boldly reflects his unrelenting scrutiny of power structures and his advocacy of independent thought and free expression, stimulating dialogues regarding the relationship between history and value. Ai Weiwei’s art relates to significant themes within Chinese history, yet the artistic vocabularies through which these are explored resonate strongly with his time spent in the United States. Feeling suffocated by the social climate of his home country, the artist moved to New York in 1981 and lived there for over a decade. During that time, Ai was influenced by the works of Western masters of modern art, including Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns. Deeply shaped by Duchamp’s artistic philosophy, Ai Weiwei inherited a kind of radical daring: a willingness to challenge and demystify the notionally unquestionable. This quality can also be traced back to his father Ai Qing, a prolific Chinese poet and member of the League of Left-Wing Writers. During the Cultural Revolution Ai Qing was labeled a rightist and marginalized by the government.

"Upon his return to China in 1993, Ai Weiwei began to use the creative devices of subversion, misappropriation, readymade objects, juxtaposition, and irony to address issues regarding a country that had visibly gone through drastic social and economic transformations and was now faced with intense socio-political concerns. Inspired by symbolically rich Chinese objects, the artist adopts critical perspectives on cultural authority that address the different kinds of significance that objects accrue—whether cultural, historical, or monetary—to initiate a dialogue wherein these issues are not only animated but questioned. By bringing the creative techniques of Duchamp and Dadaism into contact with Chinese history and culture, Ai raises important questions regarding the notions of authenticity and value in art. Along these themes, the present work corresponds with the socio-political realities of China today, raising questions about authenticity, authorship, and re-engagement with the past through artifactual relics.

"As reflected in the power and beauty of his Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads, Ai Weiwei’s intention is to examine the efficacy of looking back into history and mining value from the past. It is not simply China’s yesteryear, but also China’s ongoing relationship to its past that engages Ai Weiwei. In his oeuvre, excavating the many historical references can invest even the most unassuming objects with layers of meaning, bringing expanded depth, richness and dimensionality to the work."


The lot has an estimate of $2,500,000 to $3,500,000.  It sold for 2,840,000.


Ricjtter 535

Lot 535, "Aladdin," by Gerhard Richter, lacquer behind glass, mounted on Alu-DiBond, 19 3/4 by 14 5/8 inches, 2010

Lot 535, "Aladdin," is an excellent lacquer behind glass mounted on Alu-DiBond by Gerhard Richter (b. 1932) that measures 19 3/4 by 14 5/8 inches.  It was created in 2010 and is from the collection of Henry H. Arnold and is sold for benefit the Arnhold Foundation.  It has an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000.  It sold for $262,500.


Hambletwon 513
Lot 513, "Four Jumping Shadows," by Richard Hambleton, acrylic on canvas, 62 5/8 by 132 1/4 inches, 2002

The auction's most joyful work is Lot 513, "Four Jumping Shadows," an acrylic on canvas by Richard Hambleton (1962-2017).  It measures 62 5/8 by 132 1/3 inches and was painted in 2002.  It has an estimate of $150,000 to $200,000.  It sold for $437,500.


Valdez\

Lots 529, 527 and 528, by Manolo Valdes: Lot 529, "Felipe IV (8)," oil on burlap, 78 by 57 7/8 inches, 1985; Lot 527, "La Reina Mariana II," 7, bronze, 22 inches high, number 3 from an edition of 8 plus 3 artist's proofs, 1999; Lot 528, "La Reina Mariana," oil on burlap, 78 by 57 7/8 inches, 1985

The auction has several works by Manolo Valdes (b. 1942), Lots 529, 527 and 528.

Lot 529 is an oil on burlap entitled "Felipe IV (8)."  It measures 78 by 57 7/8 inches and was painted in 1985. It has an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000.  It failed to sell.

Lot 527 is a 22-inch-high bronze of "La Reina Mariana II," number 3 from an edition of 8 plus 3 artist's proofs from 1999.  It has an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000.  It sold for $150,000.

Lot 528 is an oil on burlap entitled "La Reina Mariana" that measures 78 by 57 7/8 inches.  It was painted in 1985. It has an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000.  It sold for $300,000.


Botero 531

Lot 531, "Bodegon," by Fernand Botero, oil, pastel and charcoal on canvas, 36 1/4 by 42 1/8 inches, 1994

Lot 531 is an oil, pastel and charcoal by Fernand Botero (1932) that is entitled "Bodegon."  It measures 36 1/4 by 42 1/8 inches and was painted in 1994.  It has an estimate of $300,000 to $400,000.  It sold for $312,500.


See The City Review article on the Fall 2018 Contemporary Art evening auction at Christie's New York
See The City Review article on the Fall 2018 Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's New York
See The City Review article on the Spring 2018 Contemporary Art evening auction at Christie's New York
See The City Review article on the Spring 2018 Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's New York
See The City Review article on the Fall 2017 Contemporary Art evening auction at Christie's New York
See The City Review article on the Spring 2017 Contemporary Art evening auction at Christie's New York
See The City Review article on the Spring 2017 Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's New York
See The City Review article on the Fall 2016 Contemporary Art evening auction at Christie's New York
See The City Review article on the Spring 2016 Contemporary Art evening auction at Christie's New York

See The City Review article on the Spring 2016 Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's New York
See The City Review article on the Fall 2015 Contemporary Art evening auction at Christie's New York

See The City Review article on the Fall 2015 Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby's New York
See The City Review article on the Spring 2015 Contemporary Art evening auction at Christie's New York
See The City Review article on the Spring 2015 Looking Forward to The Past auction at Christie's New York
See The City Review article on the Spring 2015 Impressionist and Modern Art auction at Sotheby's New York
See The City Review article on the Looking Forward to the Past auction May 11, 2015 at Christie's New York
See The City Review article on the Fall 2014 Impressionist & Modern Art auction at Christie's New York
See The City Review article on the Spring 2014 Impressionist & Modern Art auction at Sotheby's New York

See The City Review article on the Spring 2014 Impressionist & Modern Art auction at Christie's New York
See The City Review article on the Fall 2013 Impressionist & Modern Art auction at Sotheby's New York
See The City Review article on the Spring 2013 Impressionist & Modern Art auction at Christie's New York
See The City Review article on the Spring 2013 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's New York

See The City Review article on the Fall 2012 Impressionist & Modern Art auction at Sotheby's New York
See The City Review article on the Fall 2012 Impressionist & Modern Art day auction at Sotheby's New York
See The City Review article on the Spring 2012 Impressionist & Modern Art auction at Sotheby's
See The City Review article on the Spring 2012 Impressionist & Modern Art auction at Christie's
See The City Review article on the Fall 2011 Impressionist & Modern Art auction at Sotheby's
See The City Review article on the Fall 2011 Impressionist & Modern Art auction at Christie's
See The City Review article on the Spring 2011 Impressionist & Modern Art auction at Sotheby's
See The City Review article on the Spring 2011 Impressionist & Modern Art auction at Christie's
See The City Review article on the Fall 2010 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's
See The City Review article on the Fall 2010 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Christie's
See The City Review article on the Spring 2010 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's
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See The City Review article on the Fall 2009 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's
See The City Review article on the Fall 2009 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2009 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's
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See The City Review article on the Fall 2008 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Christie's
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See The City Review article on the Spring 2008 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Christie's
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See The City Review article on the Fall 2007 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's
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See The City Review article on the Fall 2006 Impressionist & Modern Art auction at Sotheby's
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See The City Review article on the Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's November 2, 2005
See The City Review article on the Impressionist & Modern evening sale at Sotheby's in the Spring, 2005
See The City Review article on the Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction in the Fall, November, 2005
See The City Review article on the Impressionist & Modern Art day auction at Sotheby's November 5, 2004
See The City Review article on the Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Christie's May 4, 2004
See The City Review article on the Impressionist & Modern Art day auction at Christie's May 5, 2004
See The City Review article on the May 5, 2004 evening auction at Sotheby's of Property of the Greentree Foundation from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John Hay Whitney
See The City Review article on the Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's May 6, 2004
See The City Review article on the Spring 2004 Impressionist & Modern Art day auction at Sotheby's
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See The City Review article on the Fall 2002 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's
See The City Review article on the Fall 2002 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg
See The City Review article on the Spring 2002 Impressionist & Modern Art day auction at Christie's
See The City Review article on the Spring 2002 Impressionist Art evening auction at Sotheby's
See The City Review article on the Spring 2002 Impressionist Art Part Two day auction at Sotheby's
See The City Review article on the Nov. 5, 2001 auction of the Smooke Collection at Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg
See The City Review article on the Nov. 5, 2001 auction of the Hoener Collection at Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg
See The City Review article on Phillips May 7, 2001 Impressionist & Modern Art auction
See The City Review article on the November 9, 2001 Impressionist & Modern Art auction at Sotheby's
See The City Review article on Phillips Fall 2000 Impressionist & Modern Art auction
See The City Review article on the Christie's evening sale of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Art May 8, 2000
See The City Review article on the Christie's evening sale of Twentieth Century Art May 9, 2000


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