technology, ONE took
place in consecutive sessions in Hong Kong, Paris,
London and New York, selling 94 per cent by lot and
97 per cent by value.
a July 8, 2020 article in The Wall Street Journal, Kelly Crow reported
that "heading into this postponed spring series, collectors wanted
reassurances that blue-chip art could still command predictable prices,
the pandemic and volatility in the broader financial markets."
"'Sotheby’s 'rose to the crisis,' said art adviser Beverly Schreiber Jacoby, when its June 29 trio of online sales of 74 pieces brought in $363 million, led by an $85 million Francis Bacon triptych.
"Now it is up to Christie’s to round out the series....The 82-lot auction...carries a $337 million low estimate. Collectors, Ms. Schreiber Jacoby said, are managing their expectations amid the pandemic and don’t need the house to break a slew of artists’ records. 'It’s not the level at which Christie’s pieces sell that matters now,' she said. 'It just matters if the art sells at all.' To minimize risk, the house has pledged to buy a dozen works and lined up investors to buy 18 more unless others outbid them during the sale. That means 37% of the lots, or 30 works, are essentially presold....
sale’s star is Barnett Newman’s 1952 'Onement V,' a
striped abstract estimated to sell for $30 million to $40 million.
ago, the seller paid $22.5 million for the painting.
"The wild card in Christie’s sale may be the experimental format. In the relay-style, live-streamed event, auctioneers in four cities plan to conduct back-to-back segments, each fielding real-time bids before passing the digital gavel. The sale will begin at 8:30 p.m. in Hong Kong (8:30 a.m. in New York) with the sale of several works including an estimated $10 million painting by Zao Wou-ki from 1963, “21.10.63.” Then an auctioneer in Paris will take over, followed by another in London, ultimately moving to the sale’s priciest offerings at Christie’s Rockefeller Center saleroom in New York.
"Christie’s said about 300 people previewed some of the works over the July 4 weekend at the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, N.Y. (The museum is otherwise temporarily closed because of the pandemic.)
house said it can’t let people bid in person at the New York sale, but
handful of bidders have been invited to attend in the other cities.
also created an online skybox where VIP bidders can log in and watch
together, with specialists offering real-time commentary.
“Nude with Joyous Painting,” from 1994,
was only expected to
sell for around $30 million, but it became the subject of a nine-minute
war and was won by an anonymous Asian collector. Bidders from Asia
proved to be a force throughout the sale, ultimately taking home more
quarter of the sale including examples by David Hockney, Nicolas Party
The Lichtenstein work eclipsed the sale’s
attraction, Barnett Newman’s blue zip painting “Onement V,” which drew
lighter-than-expected bidding and wound up selling for $31 million,
its low estimate.
After postponing its bellwether New York
impressionist, modern and contemporary art from its usual mid-May slot
of the coronavirus pandemic, the house reconceived its biggest sales
the year into an NFL draft-style event on Friday, with auctioneers in
cities conducting live-streamed portions of one sale back to back, each
fielding real-time bids online and by phone before passing on the
Christie’s Chief Executive Officer Guillaume Cerutti said the fact that all but five of the sale’s 79 offerings found buyers proved bidders were ready to embrace the experimental sale format....
Joining them online were more than 80,000
than expected. In the opening minutes of the sale, these digital
overwhelmed the Christie’s Live platform. The site was compelled to
thousands to alternative live-streams of the event, such as the house’s
channel. Christie’s said all registered bidders were allowed on the
The relay-style sale started late in Hong Kong and stretched for four hours, twice the length of a typical evening sale.
Nearly half the sale’s 79 offerings were
guaranteed to sell
no matter what, thanks to a series of risk-offsetting financial
the house had put in place ahead of time—helping the house best its own
million expectation for the sale. Potentially nine works wound up
these prearranged third-party guarantors, who had pledged to buy works
undisclosed sums unless rivals outbid them during the sale.
Still, a few works outperformed without
help including Rene
Magritte’s $22.4 million surrealist tree painting, “L’Arc de Triomphe,”
had only been expected to sell for up to $11.7 million. Joan Mitchell’s
Valley VII” also sold for $14.5 million, over its $10 million low
Other top works in the sale included Ed
which sold for $23 million, and Brice Marden’s ribbon abstract,
which sold for $31 million—establishing a new high for a Marden at
Records were also reset for six other artists including Takeo Yamaguchi
In his July 10, 2020 report for The New York Times, Scott
Reyburn noted that Unlike Sotheby’s “multicamera global livestream”
predecessor, which featured one auctioneer in an empty studio fluently fielding
telephone and online bids from screens, Christie’s sequence of live sales had a
lot of moving parts, some of which moved better than others.
“It seemed to be a great thing, but access was a little
complicated, and when the Hong Kong auction was not starting half an hour late,
I lost interest,” said Nikolaus Barta, a collector and art insurer, based in Vienna.
"The sale eventually started 56 minutes late....
"The sale was meant to have been kick-started in Hong Kong by
a large red “Hurricane Period” abstract from 1963 by Zao Wou-Ki, Asia’s most coveted postwar international artist.
Estimated to sell for at least $10 million, it failed to find a buyer.
“'I was surprised,' said Christian Ogier, a Paris-based
dealer who specializes in modern Asian art. “I thought someone in Asia would go for it. The size, color and date were good.
But it was incredibly expensive.”...
"Most remarkable of the seven new auction highs set in New York for individual artists was the $30.9 million given for 'Complements,' an admired 8-foot-wide, two-panel abstract of colorful intertwining threads painted by the in-vogue American Minimalist painter Brice Marden, the subject of a sold-out show at the Gagosian Gallery in New York last year. Painted between 2004 and 2007, and guaranteed to sell for a minimum of $30 million, 'Complements' more than tripled the artist’s previous auction high.
"L'Arc de Triomphe" by Magritte
"Over in London, Rene Magritte’s quintessentially enigmatic
1962 painting, 'L’Arc de Triomphe,' depicting a tree standing in front of a
wall of foliage, inspired serious competition, almost doubling its estimate to
sell to a telephone bidder in New York for 17.8 million pounds, or about $22.4
"It started in Hong Kong at 9:25 in the evening, moved back
eight time zones to Paris and London
in the afternoon, and then finished in New
York at 11:15 Friday morning. In just under four
hours, $420.9 million had been spent.
"This was the back-to-the-future format of Christie’s
live-streamed 'ONE' sale, the latest attempt by an international auction house
to demonstrate that, thanks to the latest technology, the multimillion-dollar
top end of the art market can still sparkle in the gloom of a pandemic.
"Christie’s four-venue 'global 20th century art sale'
replaced the company’s live evening auctions of contemporary, Impressionist and
modern art in New York in May and in London in June. It followed Sotheby’s
pioneering live-streamed $363.2 million “clicks and bricks” auction on June 29,
and an equivalent hybrid offering at Phillips on July 2 that raised $41 million.
"The Covid-induced shift from live to online-only sales has
severely dented turnover at the major auction houses. During the second quarter
of 2020, Christie’s auction revenues were down 60 percent from the same period
last year, according to the London
art analytics company Pi-eX. Christie’s, like Sotheby’s and Phillips, has had
to come up with compelling new auction formats to re-engage the 0.01 percent of
the population that buys and sells big-ticket art.
“'Everyone was holding their breath before Sotheby’s sale,' said Abigail Asher, co-founder of Guggenheim Asher, an art advisory company in New York. 'There had been no public transactions of this value since February.' Sotheby’s had shown that there was 'absolute confidence in art as an asset class,' she added. 'This is a global buying market.'
"That was certainly the thinking behind Christie’s 'ONE'
sale, a relay of four auctioneers seamlessly 'passing the gavel' in real time,
“crossing borders to create one vision, one sale.” The live feed was prone to
freezing and breaking, and viewers were at times confused as to which
auctioneer was actually selling the work in question.
"Roy Lichtenstein’s iconic 1994 Pop canvas, 'Nude With Joyous
Painting,' valued at $30 million, proved to be more in tune with billionaires’
current collecting tastes. From the series of nudes that the artist painted
during the last five years of his life, and never seen at auction before, this
piece sparked a nine-minute battle between telephone bidders, before falling to
a client in Hong Kong for the sale’s top price of $46.2 million.....
“'Christie’s was trying to set a whole new load of records
for artists because they thought they had the whole world looking on,' said
Michael Short, an art adviser in Berlin,
who noticed the measured nature of the bidding on many of the lots. 'It didn’t
have the animal energy of a live auction.'
"But others were impressed. 'It was an incredible live
experiment, which allows one to feel and realize the width, and breadth of the
art market, as well as judge the depth of it on a specific artist or artwork,'
said Mr. Ogier, the Paris-based dealer.
Overall, Christie’s inaugural ONE sale raised $420.9 million from 79 offered lots. 'It’s a great result in the circumstances of the market,' said Guillaume Cerutti, Christie’s chief executive, at the post-sale Zoom news conference. 'As a global concept it worked very well.' He added that more than. 20,000 people followed the sale on various digital channels.
Lot 52 is one of 15 versions by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) of "Femme d'Alger," an oil on canvas that measures 21 3/8 by 25 5/8 inches. It is known as "Version F" and was painted January 17, 1955. It has an estimate on request. It sold for $29,217,500 including buyer's premium as did all results mentioned in this article.
Christie's website provided the following commentary about the lot:
"The fifteen versions of Les Femmes d’Alger were first exhibited in June-October 1955 at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, installed together as the most recent paintings in a major retrospective of Picasso’s work. The artist assumed that the individual canvases would end up with different collectors. Kahnweiler stipulated to prospective buyers, however, that the fifteen paintings must be purchased as a group, ostensibly on Picasso’s demand, which the artist denied. Victor and Sally Ganz of New York had, during the late 1940s and early 1950s, acquired some of Picasso’s most challenging pictures, including wartime works. They agreed to Kahnweiler’s condition and acquired the whole series in June 1956 for 80 million francs (nearly $213,000).
"Picasso and his friends were right: the Ganzes had spent more than they could afford. Working through the dealers Eleanore and Daniel Saidenberg, and Paul Rosenberg, they soon sold ten versions to various collectors and museums in America. They kept Versions C, H, K, M, and O—three color and two grisaille paintings. Version C was sold in 1988 following the death of Victor Ganz, and the remaining four were included in the highly successful sale of The Collection of Victor and Sally Ganz at Christie’s, New York on 10 November 1997; Version O was offered again at Christie’s, New York on 11 May 2015, where it achieved the world-record price for the artist of over $179 million. Version F was acquired by the present owner directly from the descendants of Eleanore and Daniel Saidenberg, who had kept it for their personal collection. Other works from the series are located in public institutions such as the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena; Museum Berggruen, Berlin and Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University, St. Louis.
"A further catalyst in the creation of the series was the presence of Picasso’s new companion Jacqueline Roque, with whom he had been living since autumn 1954. Françoise Gilot had left Picasso the previous year, taking their two children with her. The artist had noticed and delighted in Jacqueline’s resemblance to the right-hand figure, seen crouching and in profile, in the Louvre version of Delacroix’s Femmes d’Alger. With her classic Mediterranean appearance—jet-black hair, dark eyes, and a long, narrow nose—Jacqueline fully looked the part of the odalisques that Picasso now sat down to paint. “Françoise had not been the Delacroix type,” John Richardson has written. “Jacqueline, on the contrary, epitomized it—and not just in physiognomy.
"The painting has
been widely exhibited at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Munich, the
Haus der Kunst in Cologne and the Rheinisches Museum and
Kunsthalle-Altbau Hamburg. all in in 1955 and 1956, the Museum of
Modern Art in New York and the Art Institute of Chicago in in 1957, the
Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1958 and the National Centre de Arte
Reina Sofia in Madrid in 2001."
Lot 55, "Complements,"
by Brice Marden, oil on canvas in two parts, 72 by 96 inches overall,
Lot 55 is a large oil on canvas by Brice Marden entitled "Complements" that was painted in two parts betweeen 2004 and 2007.
The website provided the following
"Brice Marden’s Complements is a majestic painting filled with the artist’s signature winding loops and swirls of colorful pigment. Yet these seemingly simple ribbons of color belie the complex and conceptual nature of these canvases, paintings in which the artist examines both the nature of time and memory, and how this is might be expressed in painting, and also the of contemporary painting itself. Across two conjoined canvases the artist sets out a series of winding paths of rich vibrant color. Often described as ribbons, the artist chooses to refer to them as linear elements to avoid any contextual associations. Upon a glowing orange and rich deep blue ground, Marden’s brushwork traverses the entire surface of the large scale canvases. Each contains four differently colored linear elements, one laid on to top the other. On the left canvas, complementing the orange ground, Marden (b. 1938) begins by laying down the green element, followed by the blue, brown and finally red. Conversely, on the blue right-hand panel, the artist begins with the red, before laying down orange and green. The colored bands roam freely, their only constraints being the edges of the canvas, which are in turned defined by a boarder of painted color. Evidence of Marden’s technique lingers like ghostly apparitions. Going over and over, erasing and redrawing, using a palette knife to scrape down the multiple layers, Marden continually worked and re-worked Complement, until the painting was, as he described it, ‘resolved.’ The end result displays a mesmerizing contrast between a ethereal background and the graceful movements of the lines.
"The order in which [Marden] constructs his canvases is deliberate, part of—in the case of the present work—Marden’s investigations into the visual effects of complementary colors. By laying down intentionally chosen colors in this order, the artist investigates the eyes visual reactions to the effects of these color combinations. Complements continues the formal investigations that the artist began with Extremes, 2004-5, a painting which is now in the permanent collection of the Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’art modern, Paris. In this earlier work, Marden uses a similar systemic system—ground colors of red and violet, which are extremes of the color spectrum. The linear elements are then laid down in sequence, on top of one another (if red is the ground, then the ‘extreme’ violet is laid down on 'top') resulting in an active dialogue on the plane across the two surface.
"Gary Garrel’s, the curator of the artist’s 2006 retrospective organized by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, wrote 'Marden says he wants his painted planes to be ‘something like an insect caught in amber.’ It is evident that we should take that to mean infinite eons of time, transparent geological layers of time—stratigraphies at once wholly visible to the naked eye. Marden’s commitment to plane image has never wavered' (B. Richardson, 'Even a Stone Knows You,' in G. Garrells, Plane Image: A Brice Marden Retrospective, exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2006, p. 105).
"The origins of this interest in ‘planer
painting’ can be
found in the 1980s when Brice Marden abandoned his highly-potent
paintings in favor of a more calligraphic, gestural style of painting
influenced by Chinese calligraphy. Beginning in 1984, Marden traveled
first to Thailand, then later to Suzhou,
China, where he became
particularly interested in the ‘Cold Mountain’ verses of the
eighth century poet Han Shan. Marden gained a new appreciation of the
nature of calligraphy, in that those Chinese forms could be beautiful
terms of their aesthetic appearance and in terms of their actual
of which is illustrated in the highly-acclaimed Cold Mountain
series of 1988-1991.
"Into the 1990s, Marden continued to create works in a literal calligraphic style, beginning in the top right-hand corner and working largely downwards, moving left column by column, but gradually a new, totally independent and self-contained series emerged. By the late ‘90s Marden had let go of the strictly calligraphic model: 'I didn’t start off with the characters in the upper right and then work down and over as I had before with the calligraphy paintings. There aren’t any columns anymore or things connecting columns. I just went into these [paintings] and started a line. It seemed much more intuitive at that point.' (B. Marden, quoted in http://www.carnegiemuseums.org/cmag/bk_issue/2000/mayjun/feat2.html).
"Now in his 80s, Marden still inspires
artists today as 'one of the most important abstract artists of his
his work…a touchstone for contemporary art' (G. Garrels, op. cit., p.
in 1938 in Bronxville, New York, Marden went on to receive traditional
arts training at the Boston University School of Fine and Applied Arts
by a MFA at Yale University’s
School of Art and Architecture. In 1966, he had
his breakout solo show at Bykert Gallery in Manhattan;
a retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim
Museum in New York followed soon after in 1975. In the
early 1970s, Marden first visited the Greek island
of Hydra; he was so enamored that the
eventually established a studio there in addition to his Manhattan
studio. Hydra brought a new energy
to his art and is notably the birthplace of the present work.
"From the mid-1980s through the early
1990s, Marden pursued
the inspired integration of calligraphic East Asian-inspired gestures
work. Later on, the curved lines became more ropelike and brightly
adopting a different rhythm. In the early 1990s, Marden was the subject
major traveling show of recent work, the 1991 Brice Marden—Cold
Mountain at the
Dia in New York, which traveled well into 1993 to the Walker Art
Menil Collection, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, and
Kunstmuseum. His work of the 1990s was also the subject of a 1999
that traveled from the Dallas Museum of Art to the Hirshhorn
Museum in Washington D.C.
In 2006, Marden was the subject of a major forty-year retrospective
traveled from the Museum of Modern Art in New York
to the San Francisco Museum of Art to the Hamburger Banhof in Berlin.
"Writing in the catalogue for the MoMA
exhibition, the curator
Gary Garrels surmised the artist’s practice thus, 'For Marden, art
of life an essence of experience and memory, though and feeling, that
its own autonomy. Human reason and emotion take their place in the
through the experience of the art, both as it is made and as it is
Marden’s work, like that of many artists, is deeply influenced by the
has lived and worked in , the people in his life, and the cultures in
has immersed himself, not the least of them the art of the past, both
and recent. From his sharp synthesis and distillations of his
experience an art
is made that in turn gives viewers an incisive means to reflect more
their own perceptions, knowledge, and experience' (G. Garrells,
Light and Experience: The Art of Brice Marden,' in op. cit. p. 11).
"When the artist himself was asked about why he painted, he replied 'I paint because it’s my work. And I paint because I believe it’s the best way that I can pass my time as a human being. I paint for myself. I paint for my wife. And I paint for anybody who’s willing to look at it. Really at heart for anybody who wants to see it. And when I say see it, I mean see it. I don’t just mean look at it. Well, I do everything I can in terms of what I put out for people to look at. I mean I supply them with all the information I possibly can. And they just have to take care of it from there on in. As in anything, you know, like the more responsive, the more open, the more imaginative you are when you deal with something, the much better experience it will be...It’s hard to look at paintings. It’s really difficult, a very strenuous kind of activity but very, very rewarding. I mean like it’s strenuous to listen to a great piece of music. Very complicated. You have to think a lot. You have to be able to bring all sorts of things together in your mind, your imagination, in your whole body. Really get off on it. It’s a very high experience. It’s something very deep and felt.' (B. Marden, op. cit. p. 17)."
58, "Nude with Joyous Painting," by Roy Lichtenstein, oil and magna on
canvas, 70 by 53 inches, 1994
"Shortly after it was painted, Nude with
Joyous Painting was
first exhibited to the public at Leo Castelli’s SoHo
gallery in November of 1994. There, it was included in a group of seven
large-scale nude paintings, of which at least two are now housed in
American public collections, including Nude at Vanity, 1994 (San
Museum of Modern Art, the Doris and Donald Fisher Collection) and Nude
Pyramid, 1994 (The Broad, Los Angeles).
"Bathed in a scrim of delicate Ben-Day dots, Lichtenstein’s leading lady exudes sensuality. Her bright red lips, perfectly coiffed hair and lithe nude body represent the classical ideal. Here, the Pop Art master’s instinctive gift for creating a melodramatic mise-en-scene is in full effect. He crops out details of the original comic and pulls us in in closer, capturing a fraught moment bristling with suspense that rivals any Hitchcock thriller. Scaled to epic proportions, Lichtenstein’s slender beauty has leapt from the comic’s pages to reach Amazonian heights. In the subtle curve of her breast and the delicate bend of her bare arms, Lichtenstein delights in her trim, pert form. He immerses her in an array of Ben-Day dots ranging in density from a tight matrix of closely-clustered dots to a looser, more scattered supply. The same dot-pattern blankets the area rug and ottoman nearby, and extends upward into the painting of musical notes hanging on the wall. These dots read as 'flesh' when overlaid upon the nude’s bare skin, and yet their placement does not always indicate roundness and depth. Instead, Lichtenstein (1923-1997) freely experiments with the dots, clustering them in wide vertical bands that often bear no relation to the contours and depth of the figure’s nude form. Meanwhile, the domestic trappings of a bourgeois lifestyle linger nearby—holdovers from Lichtenstein’s Interiors series—and Lichtenstein’s own painting of musical notes, Unchained Melody (1994), hangs upon the wall. Turmoil invades even such an ordinary domestic scene, though, as our heroine is broken from her placid reverie by an unknown intrusion. In an interesting pictorial conceit, she glances backward toward the source, with her vantage point much the same as the viewer’s. The mystery surrounding her crackles with a palpable tension.
"Rather than work from the live model as his predecessors had done, Lichtenstein’s nudes were based upon fully-clothed illustrations. In Nude with Joyous Painting, the artist’s source was a vintage DC Comics series called Girls’ Romance from August 1963, where a beautiful blonde falls for a dashing male lifeguard. Titled My Rival’s Secret, the stunning protagonist, named Gloria, is saved from turmoil by Bob, a handsome, sun-kissed hunk of a man. She’s then forced to compete for his affections with a pretty brunette rival. In the panel that Lichtenstein selected for the present work, Gloria is about to drown her sorrows in the ocean, thinking: 'Although I tried to bury my sorrow...It doesn’t seem...that even the sea...is deep enough.' Gloria is saved at the last moment by the beefy Bob, who rushes toward her, yelling: 'Don’t go in -- There’s a tremendous undertow!' The following few panels illustrate Gloria and Bob dancing arm-in-arm. Keeping the melodrama at a fever pitch, though, Gloria’s rival soon approaches Bob, saying, 'How about your sister ‘cutting in,’ Gloria? It’s not fair to keep the ‘king of the sea’ all to yourself!'
"Together, as a series, the Nudes were the
first body of work
that Lichtenstein undertook following his exhaustive Solomon
Museum retrospective in New York in 1993. They have been
described as 'formally
groundbreaking' by the curator of Lichtenstein’s 2012 retrospective
by the Art Institute of Chicago and Tate Modern, Sheena Wagstaff, who
them as 'monumental celebrations of domesticated eroticism' (S.
Nudes,' Roy Lichtenstein: A
Retrospective, exh. cat., Art Institute of
2012, p. 97). Taken as a group, the Nudes comprise only about twenty
large-scale paintings, spanning the years 1993 to 1997. Each painting
upon a scantily-clad comic-book heroine, and often situated in domestic
interiors filled with the trappings of a simple, bourgeois life,
epic nudes are enlarged to monumental proportions, stripped bare, and
inventively remixed. They lie around, read books or gaze into
alone or in pairs. Their bodies sleek and trim, they’re always nude but
sometimes wear pearls, and their hair is always perfectly coiffed.
kind of amusing that you just paint them and leave the clothes off and
something different. It's more riveting,' Lichtenstein has observed (R.
Lichtenstein quoted in R. Enright, 'Pop Goes the Tradition,' Border
Crossings, Vol.13, No.3, August 1994, p.27).
"A painting fraught with melodrama, Nude
with Joyous Painting
rivals that of even the earlier 1960s comic-book paintings that
coming to stand at a crucial moment in Lichtenstein’s career. Its
structure, visual simplicity and zoomed-in, close-up cropping is very
aligned with the earlier ’60 Girl paintings. So, too, was
procedure for devising the composition, and he proceeded with the work
the same manner as he had done thirty-five years earlier. He searched
the stacks of comic books, magazines and newspaper illustrations to
compelling images that suited his purpose, before translating them on a
scale. 'He specifically picked images and cartoons that had a lot of
charge--the archetypal idea of the woman disappointed by love, the war
the heat of a battle. These are typically American; and this is a
American way of glorifying a subject' (D. Lichtenstein, Lichtenstein
cit., p 10).
"One important element differentiates the
later Nudes from
their ‘60s predecessors however. As the curator Avis Berman has
handsome leading man is notably absent. 'The 1990s nudes take pleasure
their own company, without the slightest hint of needing or missing a
Berman explained. 'In contrast to Lichtenstein's original romance-comic
this world flourishes exuberantly without men or engagement rings or
(A. Berman, 'Joy and Bravura and Irreverence: Roy Lichtenstein and
Images of Women,' in Roy Lichtenstein—Classic of the New, exh. cat.,
Kunsthaus Bregenz, Vienna, 2005, p. 143). Some scholars have even
that Lichtenstein himself was the off-screen leading man to the pert
nudes that came to dominate so much of his attention in those last few
'…the exclusion of any male presence in these scenes, as opposed to
more fully narrative paintings in which men and women interact, such as
Kiss...suggests that ‘the object of these figures’
than Lichtenstein himself' (H. Cooper, 'On The Dot,' Roy Lichtenstein:
Retrospective, op. cit., p. 32).
"In rendering the classic nude, Lichtenstein joins in the dialogue with the great Modernist masters of the twentieth century, who took as their subject the legendary motif of the female form. Of particular interest to Lichtenstein were Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Paul Cézanne. Lichtenstein famously owned over sixty books on Picasso and nearly twenty-five on Matisse. In countless paintings and drawings, he wrestled with the legacy of both artists, particularly in the 1970s when he devoted several series to the major 'isms' of Modern art ranging from Cubism, Purism, Surrealism and Expressionism. The lithe forms of Matisse’s Danse (I), 1909, which Lichtenstein would have undoubtedly seen at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, reflect both the formal and lyrical qualities that the American artist addressed in the present work. 'I’ve always been interested in Matisse but maybe a little more interested in Picasso. But they are both overwhelming influences on everyone, really. Whether one tries to be like them or tries not to be like them, they’re always there as presences to be dealt with. They’re just too formidable to have no interest. I think that somebody who pretends he’s not interested is not interested in art' (R. Lichtenstein, 'A Review of My Work Since 1961,' in G. Bader, Hall of Mirrors: Roy Lichtenstein and the Face of Painting in the 1960s, New York, 2009, p.55).
"Just months before Nude with Joyous
Painting was unveiled at
Leo Castelli Gallery, Lichtenstein went to see Picasso and the Weeping
The Years of Marie-Therese Walter and Dora Maar that premiered
Metropolitan Museum of Art. The exhibit featured over eighty
paintings and sculpture—all executed between 1920 and 1941. They
two divergent views of Picasso’s French lover, model and mother of his
Marie-Therese Walter, and Dora Maar, the photographer, painter and poet
Picasso met toward the end of 1935 and began a tumultuous, nine-year
affair. Of course, the two women were famously opposed to each other’s
existence, and in Picasso’s portraits Walter appears as blonde, sunny
bright, as in Le Rêve (1932),
in contrast to his darker portrayal of
whom Picasso painted as the tortured 'weeping woman.' The sheer variety
Picasso’s technique is staggering to behold, as he effortlessly
between modes—the Cubist-derived Weeping
Women with their striking,
palette is diametrically opposed to the more subdued, almost
portraits that time and again reveal Picasso’s unrivaled skill as a
Critics have recently speculated that these paintings played a
on Lichtenstein’s Nudes, which is tempting to consider.
"Picasso and Matisse were Lichtenstein's
most venerated artistic
predecessors; he applied his comic style to ersatz versions of their
many occasions throughout his career. In Nude with Joyous Painting,
Lichtenstein manages to eke out two separate and wholly opposed
the same Ben-Day dot technique, an aspect that only benefits from his
and continuous dialogue with Picasso, Matisse and the great Modernist
His relentless experimentation and refinement in the thirty-five years
his comic-book heroines first appeared is staggering to consider. In
the female nude, he joins in a legion of artists stretching back two
that wrestled with rendering the complexities of the female form in all
"In what has typically been so highly-prized by artists of the Western canon—the realistic portrayal of the softness and roundness of the female form in all its sensuous detail—Lichtenstein instead employs an abstract design where the closely-clustered dots don’t provide fullness or depth. Several critics have noticed this important visual device, which they see as a sly commentary on the prototypical technique for three-dimensional modeling known as chiaroscuro. Indeed, the bands of Ben-Day dots that bathe the figure’s bare skin in Nude with Joyous Painting are put to a new purpose. Rather than cluster together in dense arrangements to connote three-dimensional modeling and shadow—as they had typically been used in the halftone printing process of comic-books and in his own 60s paintings—the artist freely experiments with the dots, arranging them in wide vertical bands that often bear no relation to the contours and depth of the figure’s body. In certain areas, the tightly-clustered dots seem to denote shadow, such as the side of the heroine’s face and beneath her chin, but elsewhere, they can be found in places that should be brightly-lit and therefore devoid of shadow, for instance along her lower arm. In this way, the illustration snaps back and forth between realistic, three-dimensional representation and an overall flat decorative pattern."Whereas the earlier ‘60s paintings employed only a select few potent primary colors—namely red, yellow and black—the later Nudes maintained a staggering array of nearly fifty colors that reveal Lichtenstein’s mastery as a brilliant colorist. In the present work, his selection went through a rigorous process that began with a simple pencil sketch based on the Girls’ Romance panel, where the music painting was initially given a bright yellow frame. The next step in the process was a larger collage, where he changed the frame to light blue and added a bright yellow strip of streaming sunlight along its right edge. In the final painting, Lichtenstein added three segments of pale yellow to highlight the figure’s skin, and added a single, green music note to the painting. He also added two sections of vertical crosshatching along the upper and lower registers.
"Lichtenstein’s paintings were always infused with irreverence and wit. In many instances, he even parodied his own paintings. Such is the case in Nude with a Joyous Painting, where the musical notes not only reference another painting of 1994, Unchained Melody, but also his own love of music. 'Roy loved music and the studio was always filled with the sounds he loved. Bach and bebop were his favorites. … And wouldn’t you know, those musical notes found their way into his paintings' (D Lichtenstein, Roy Lichtenstein: Interiors, New York, 2002, p. 21).
On the occasion of
Lichtenstein’s solo show at Leo Castelli
in late 1994—in what proved to be one of his last exhibits before his
death in 1997—the New York Daily News
declared, with tongue planted
cheek: 'The king of the blown-up comic-book frame had seemed to be
into a quiet, Old Masterly period of late—but he’s broken out with a
his new series of nudes. Yep, nudes—the least politically acceptable
could take up today.' Indeed, Lichtenstein’s last series of Nudes rank
his greatest, most fascinating body of work. As an artist who
innovated whilst staying true to his signature style, Lichtenstein’s
reveal ingenious new formal devices—especially his new form of Ben-Day
rich array of new color and “quoting” of previous work. More than just
erotic pin-up, they are rich with art historical references and
allusions to the act of looking itself."
Lot 63, "Four Pinball Machines, a 1962 oil on canvas helped to establish Wayne Thiebaud as one of the most innovative artists of his generation. It measures 68 by 71 inches and was painted in 1972.
Although the auction record for the artist had been $8.4 million set last November at Sotheby's for his "Encased Cakes," this lot set a new record when it sold for $19.1 milion, just above a low estimate of $18 million.
The website provided the following commentary:
formal training, he began his working life as a commercial
worked for a time at the Walt Disney studios), and eventually he
distinctive form of figurative realism that stood apart from what is
traditionally thought of as Pop Art. Like his contemporaries on the
Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, Thiebaud sought inspiration from
objects, but unlike his New York
counterparts, he rendered them with a tactile brushstroke and a keen
color. Thiebaud was as concerned with the challenge of how to convey
space and light as he was with the physical rendering of the forms
in this row of pinball machines he renders his subject matter with
of electric color portraying them in complex detail. From a seemingly
object, Thiebaud is able to tease out loaded meaning and hidden visual
center of this monumental canvas Thiebaud paints
a row of colorful pinball machines, lined up as if standing to
Rendered in the artist’s signature precisionist style, tall slender
support the body of the machines, with their kickers, slingshots,
flashing lights all poised to spring into action once the player pulls
pin to release the shiny stainless steel ball. We get a tantalizing
the maze through which these balls travel through the carefully angled
top that encases the body of the machines; a vibrant red flipper here,
blue bumper there. The machines are themselves painted in a visually
manner, decorated in a series of dramatic, vibrant red, yellow, and
and rows of jagged points all denote movement—the
frenetic energy of buttons pushed and levers pulled as players’ hands
blur once the game gets underway. Then, standing proud at the top of
machines are the ‘backglasses’—usually filled with a combination of
cartoon designs and flashing lights but here, in a sly departure from
Thiebaud mines not popular culture, but the art historical canon as he
what appears to be the painterly forms of Frank Stella’s Concentric
Jasper Johns’s Targets, and
Sol LeWitt’s early works. Thus, Four
Machines becomes much more than a nostalgic trip down memory
formal and conceptual investigation into the nature of painting
his distinctive painterly style, one of the most
striking aspects of Four Pinball
Machines is Thiebaud’s bold use of
perspective. With their foreshortened bodies and dramatic use of
machines in this painting are an early example of Thiebaud pressing his
forward against the picture plane. His repudiation of the accepted
rules of one-
and two-point perspective (note the low ‘horizon’ line and the bodies
pinball machines stopping short of the traditional vanishing point),
Thiebaud to assert a new form of modernity in his work. Critic David
writes “a realist to the core. . . . what rescues [Thiebaud’s
paintings] . . .
from sentimentality is the fact that he eliminates illusionistic,
perspectives. That representation risks both illusion and
sentimentality is at
the core of an anxiety, surfacing here with a reassurance that the
‘rescued’ himself from these presumed pitfalls” (D. Roth, quoted by M.
Panorama: Journal of the Association of Historians of American Art,
"As a painter, Thiebaud has been interested in realism and particularly admires the paintings of Johannes Vermeer and Jean-Siméon Chardin, artists who both worked in the realist tradition. He has acknowledged a particular debt to Vermeer, whom he credits with helping him to realize the value of what he terms 'protracted looking,' of looking at a painting for a long, long time. He considers Vermeer to be the master of capturing what he has termed frozen time.' 'It’s the difference between a glance and a stare,' he says, 'When you look at a Vermeer for example, you realize that it is a stared time, which has taken a long, long time—and keeps on layering—another five minutes, another hour…three hours, and she’s still pouring the milk!' (W. Thiebaud, quoted by A. Maréchal-Workman, 'Wayne Thiebaud: Beyond the Cityscapes'” Smithsonian Studies in American Art, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Autumn, 1987), p. 45)."In Four Pinball Machines, this practice of 'protracted looking' reveals a kaleidoscopic array of deliberate, colorful brushstrokes that combine to produce the finished Technicolor image. This can be seem most clearly in the dark shadows that fill the recesses on the underside of the pinball machines. What the eye would usually see as gloomy spaces devoid of light, through Thiebaud’s eyes we see a colorful array of blue, black, red, pink, orange and even green brushstrokes. The undulating edges and vibrant colors surrounding each form create an expressive energy, making the surface of the shapes feel real despite their stillness. Thiebaud claims that he developed his chromatic senses accidentally, having never been to art school. Instead, he took note of how painters such as Monet and van Gogh handled edges, using contrasting colors to highlight an object. Direct lighting techniques allowed Thiebaud to explore these halos: '…strong display lights have been developed which can do all kinds of goofey [sic] things … make an object cast colored shadows, change its local color before your eyes, glow and develop a halo' (W. Thiebaud, quoted in Wayne Thiebaud: 1958-1968, p. 28).
'halation'—as Thiebaud termed it—can also be seen in
the artist’s renderings of contemporary paintings that act as the
the machines. These appropriations would have contemporary when the
painted " (Stella’s first
concentric squares first
1962, the same year that the present work was painted). Although living
working primarily in California,
Thiebaud would have been acutely aware of the artistic developments
on the opposite side of the country. The paintings of Jasper Johns,
Stella and Sol LeWitt would have been in stark contrast to the
artistic ideologies of their time. This new form of abstraction was
removed from the gestural abstractions of Willem de Kooning, Jackson
and Franz Kline, heavily infused as they were with angst and emotion.
sense, although Thiebaud’s work is often linked with stark formalism of
(an association with which the artist is never entirely happy), on many
levels—such as his interest in the depiction of color, light, and
could be argued that his work is more about abstraction than anything
his rows of cakes, racks of ties, and delicatessen
counters, Thiebaud’s pinball machines are an important part of the
early body of work. He first started depicting the arcade games in
Pinball Machine, a highly
abstracted mixed media painting that depicts
machine alongside a gumball dispenser and a stool with a Coca-Cola
Penny Machines followed in
1961, along with Star Pinball,
Jackpots, also from 1962. Of all his arcade game paintings
Machines is by far the largest and most advanced composition in
something so seemingly innocuous and American, the
pinball machine has a long and checkered history. They came of age
Depression with the production of the first coin-operated machines, but
the first ‘flippers’ were added in 1947, pinball was a very different
with players at the mercy of the random bounce of the ball. Soon
started gambling on the outcomes of games and operators would often
them by handing out prizes ranging from gum to jewelry to the winners.
began to draw the attention of religious groups and civic authorities
claimed that the machines were encouraging young people to steal coins,
school and go hungry as they wasted their money during countless hours
the arcades. In Four Pinball Machines,
Thiebaud uses this checkered
draws a parallel between the contemporary and controversial
associations of the
machines with the contemporary (and some might say) controversial
nature of the
paintings his contemporaries, which he astutely uses to form the
the machines themselves.
the critical success of his New York exhibition, later in the year he
was invited to take part in
a group show—New Realists—at the Sidney
His unique paintings garnered the interest of critics and the artist
receive favorable reviews in a number of influential publications
New York Times, Artforum,
Time, Newsweek, and ARTnews. Many of the
paintings that Thiebaud completed during this important year are now in
museum collections including Delicatessen Counter (Menil Collection,
Candy Counter (Anderson Collection at Stanford University); Jackpot
(Smithsonian American Art Museum); and Around the Cake (Spencer Museum
University of Kansas).
Lot 66, "Onement V" is an oil on canvas by Barnett Newman (1905-1970) that measures 59 5/8 by 3 3/4 inches and was painted in 1952.
It sold for $31 million,
its low estimate.
Christie's website provides the following commentary:
example is one of only two in the series that
remain in private hands, the remaining canvases are in the collections
Museum of Modern Art, New York (Onement
1948 & Onement III,
1949), Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art,
Hartford (Onement II, 1948)
and the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin
(Onement IV, 1949). Previously
part of the artist’s own personal
and later acquired by the artist’s wife Annalee Newman, Onement V was
the legendary collection of David Pincus from 1988 until 2012. It dates
pivotal moment in the artist’s career when he was first exhibiting at
Parsons Gallery, gaining traction with the public and recognition
peers for his radical approach to painting.
"In contrast to the wild gestural abstraction of Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, and Franz Kline, Newman (along with Rothko and Clifford Still) gained his potent pictorial force by producing large, expansive fields of pure pigment. These large-scale canvases were intended to subdue the spectator’s ego and create a tranquil sense of awe. Yet Newman wanted to add a further dimension to his paintings by adding a single zip (or several, in the case of works such as Vir Heroicus Sublimis, 1950-51, Museum of Modern Art, New York), a vertical line of contrasting color that interrupting the purity of the painted surface. Intensely visible, yet in danger of being subsumed by the surrounding color, these thin passages sought to produce a retinal reaction in which the color reverberates back an forth with a quiet energy. 'For Newman, the zips serve to ‘cut’ the greater plane of saturated hues and shock it into waves of visual energy that roll back and forth between bands and edges, thereby making dynamic what otherwise might seem a totally static image' (S. Hunter, et al., ibid).
"In January 1948, Newman created Onement I, rendering his blank canvas in pure Indian red oil paint. Along the central axis of the painting, the artist affixed a long slice of masking tape, slathering it in a thick layer of burnt orange oil paint to neatly bisect the composition. Elegant and vertiginous, it has been suggested that the resulting ‘zip’ or stripe of color in paintings such as Onement I and Onement V, recall Alberto Giacometti's beautifully modulated yet haunting human sculptures. Instead of removing the masking tape from the canvas in Onement I, Newman decided to leave the traces of his method visible in an explicit rebuke or deconstruction of Mondrian’s almost scientific geometry. In the majority of Newman’s works including Onement V, he removed the tape allowing the ‘zip’ itself to bear witness to his working method.
been a consistent pioneer of new approaches in
art since the mid-1940s, emerging as one of the most fervent advocates
American art. Together with his colleagues he hoped to establish a new
aesthetic of the sublime that would revive the fortunes of painting. In
landmark essay, 'The Sublime is Now,' Newman argued that the United
could now determine a radically new direction in art, distinct from
European aesthetics: 'I believe that here in America” he explained,
“some of us
free from the weight of European culture, are finding the answer, by
denying that art has any concern with the problem of beauty and where
Newman’s disaffection with contemporary art can be
understood in the context of the Second World War and what he perceived
inability of surrealism and geometric abstraction to respond to its
reality. He concluded that the art created during this period offered
more than decorative distraction and as such, needed to be urgently
His ambitious claims for American painting become clear in the
Newman shared with his friend and neighbor Willem de Kooning in the
mid-1940s:'“Bill said, ‘Art history is a bowl of alphabet soup; the
spoons out what letters he wants; which letters do you want Barney? And
didn’t know what to answer; I mean it wouldn’t have been polite to say
I’ve nothing to do with a bowl of soup' (B. Newman quoted in A. Temkin,
cit., p. 32).
"During the 1930s and 1940s, New York was the foremost location for European contemporary art, holding major retrospectives for figures such as Picasso, Joan Miró, Paul Klee and Piet Mondrian. Newman was particularly interested in the contributions of Miró, and Mondrian, describing them in a 1947 letter to Clement Greenberg as “the most original of the abstract European painters” (ibid.). Certainly Newman had them both in mind when he nominated abstraction as the fertile route for his new American art. Notwithstanding, he criticized his forebears for their reliance on nature and reality as a source of inspiration for their work. Newman was particularly scathing about Mondrian’s method, which he considered to be directly derived from “the seen landscape, the vertical trees on a horizon,” his perpendicular angles constituting “known natural images” (B. Newman quoted in R. Shiff, Barnett Newman: A Catalogue Raisonné, R. Shiff et al., (eds.), New York, 2004, p. 25). In 1945, the artist wrote his text 'The Plasmic Image,' in which he went even further to criticize Mondrian, the subversive title offering a play on words and mocking the Dutchman’s signature plastic art. In the conclusion to his text, Newman noted venomously that Mondrian’s art had been “founded on bad philosophy and on faulty logic” (B. Newman quoted in A. Temkin (ibid.).
"Distinctly against Mondrian’s Euclidian geometry, Newman became captivated by the primitive abstraction he had encountered in Kwaikiutl (Northwest Coast Indian art). In these works, he perceived a unique metaphysical understanding: 'to [the Kwaikiutl] a shape was a living thing, a vehicle for an abstract thought-complex, a carrier of the awesome feelings he felt before the terror of the unknowable' (B. Newman quoted in R. Shiff, op. cit., p. 29). It was this sublime, transcendental possibility that Newman hoped to translate into his own body of work. In paintings such as Onement V, Newman himself became deeply moved by the stunning velocity of his ‘zip’ careering through the center of the canvas. As the artist later proclaimed: 'suddenly I realized that I had been emptying space instead of filling it, and that now my line made the whole area come to life' (B. Newman quoted in T. Hess, op. cit., p. 31).In her review at thecityreview.com of the May 12, 2012 auction at Christie's, Michele Leight noted that Lot 24, Onement V, is "a real beauty, widely exhibited and written about."
"Newman belonged to a generation of American painters including Mark Rothko, Alfred Gottlieb, Jackson Pollock, Clyfford Still and others who had witnessed the very darkest moments of the twentieth century, amongst them the Great Depression, the atom bomb and the Holocaust. Rather than recoil however, they sought a new, emancipating vernacular and the title of the present work embodies this artistic ambition. As Newman once explained, 'I tried to make the title a metaphor that describes my feelings when I did the painting...[It] is a celebration of harmony, wholeness, the archaic sense of atonement that was 'at onement'" (B. Newman quoted in T. Hess, Barnett Newman, New York, 1969, p.54).
"The beauty of Newman is his searing simplicity that disarms the receptive viewer, allowing them to enter a place they never expect to be - a gentle space where even the worst things are banished, if only temporarily. The onement paintings are healing, hope filled. Newman's 'zips'" get to the heart of you:
"At first glance, works such as Onement V appear to be centered on color and form, but for Newman these concerns were only secondary. Instead he sought to instill in his compositions a fundamental spiritual and transcendental power" (Christie's catalogue for this sale
"The 'onement' series seems so 'present generation' it is hard to believe this series dates to the 50s. Newman was way ahead of the game, but for him this series was a deliberate rebuttal of the art that surrounded him at the time:
contemporary art can be understood in the context of the Second
World War and what he perceived as the inability of surrealism
and geometric abstraction to respond to its devastating reality.
He concluded that the art created during this period offered little
more than decorative distraction and as such, needed to be urgently
superseded. His ambitious claims for American painting become
clear in the conversations Newman shared with his friend and neighbor
Willem de Kooning in the mid-1940s: Bill said, 'Art history is
a bowl of alphabet soup; the artist reaches in and spoons out
what letters he wants, which letters do you want Barney?' And
I didn't know what to answer; I mean it wouldn't have been polite
to say that I've nothing to do with a bowl of soup" (B. Newman quoted
in A. Temkin (ed.), Barnett
exh. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia 2002, p. 32)."
6, "Untitled (Non-Indian #5 Face 45.60,)" by Mark Grotjahn, oil on
cardboard mounted on linen, 50 1/2 by 40 1/2 inches, 2015
Lot 6 is a
very sumptuous and strong oil on cardboard mounted on linen by Mark
Grotjahn (b. 1968). It is "Untitled (Non-Indian #5 Face 45.60),"
and measures 50 1/2 by 40 1/2 inches.
It has an
estimate of $25,000,000 to $35,000,000. It sold for $22,925,000.
provides the following commentary:
lot was first exhibited the year it was made as
part of the artist’s seventh solo exhibition, titled simply Fifteen Paintings,
at Blum & Poe, Los Angeles.
The works, comprised of uniformly-scaled 50 x 40 inch Face paintings, are
sorted in two specific, if still somewhat cryptic, groups: Indian and
Non-Indian. Reviewing the fifteen paintings in the exhibition, the most
perhaps only) obvious distinction between the two groups is their
palettes. The Indian Faces
tend to be rich and earthy, with browns like soil,
bloody reds and mustard yellows. The Non-Indian
Faces are psychedelic,
with purple, teal and highlighter pink. Assuming Grotjahn is invoking
with a Wild West nuance, Non-Indian conjures an ominous, extraordinary
otherworldliness. If the Indians are the natives, then the Non-Indians
aliens, fantastically vibrant paintings crash-landed from outer space.
of opposing forces is a reliable signature of
Grotjahn’s work, and is echoed in the way the artist fuses abstraction
objective imagery. Discussing the origin and general aesthetic
work in the Face paintings,
Grotjahn muses, 'When you first declare
avant-garde artist, you know, like in your teens or when you get to art
Picasso is sort of the first stop. You draw a face with multiple eyes
weird angle and that’s your avant-garde statement. But to do that as an
adult—knowing the cliché that it can be—to take that language and try
good work is something I find challenging and worth pursuing' (the
quoted in Muse Magazine). The almond-shaped eyes of Picasso’s early
period are peppered throughout Grotjahn’s Face paintings, usually
placed in a
slightly asymmetrical composition around a central vertical axis. In
of the present lot, this axis is painted white and bristling like the
of a fir tree, a connotation reinforced by the bright green behind it.
darker foliage cut across the foreground of the image, giving a shallow
to the composition and imbuing the profusion of eyes with animal
if they belong to jungle cats peering through the leaves in a Henri
painting. But the echo of Picasso endures.
"In a 2011
review of the artist’s exhibition at Anton Kern
Gallery in New York, the Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Jerry Saltz
the Face paintings to no
less than the greatest masterpiece of Modern
'What Grotjahn paints doesn’t stay put on these variegated surfaces;
it shifts around the involuting centerless space. You can discern the
which this work is made, yet no formal system appears. (I surmise that
artist himself is sometimes caught off guard by what he’s produced.)
strangely shamanic art gives me a remnant of the pow I get from those
eternal faces in Picasso’s Les
Demoiselles d’Avignon' (J. Saltz, New York
Lot 68, "Annie," by Ed Ruscha (b. 1937), is an oil and graphite on canvas that measures 71 1/2 by 66 3/4 inches and was painted in 1962.
It has an estimate of $20,000,000 to $30,000,000. It sold for $22,975,000.
notes that "this early 'text' painting epitomizes the genre that
established the LA-based artist as one of the most innovative of the
"Annie is a groundbreaking, early
painting by Ed Ruscha.
Nearly six feet high, it’s an example of the unique approach that would
the LA-based artist one of the most celebrated of his generation....Annie
conceptually complex image that belies its visual simplicity. The
split in two, the lower half offering a sea of rich blue. In the upper
the word ‘Annie’ is rendered in bright, red pigment against a
background. The contoured lettering, like the black silhouette encasing
lifted directly from the comic-strip source.
located firmly within the Pop art tradition. But
unlike his New York
peer, Roy Lichtenstein — whose early paintings of cartoon characters
Popeye and Look Mickey) were inspired by the
cultural ubiquity of those
characters — Ruscha’s interest in Annie herself is all but
girl is absent from his composition. Ruscha’s focus is on the formal
of the typography used to render her name.
spent his whole career investigating the semantic
and semiotic properties of words, but Annie
marks the first time he used text copied directly from a pop-cultural
source. To extract a word from its usual or original context is to
it’s read and what it might mean. For Ruscha, letters become
overcame the rigid dichotomy that was widely
felt to exist between the figurative and the abstract — and presented a
radical, new way of looking at art.
cited Jasper Johns as an influence in this
regard. Working in the mid-1950s, the latter painted versions of
signs and signifiers (such as the US flag in Flag), thereby removing
a chunk of their symbolic meaning. Johns said he liked depicting
mind already knows’, as that allowed him ‘to work on other levels’.
is one of a set
of Ruscha works from the early-1960s that count among the most
important in the
post-war American canon. Others include Actual Size (now in the Los
County Museum of Art); OOF
(in the Museum of Modern Art, New York),
and Hurting the Word Radio #1 (in
the Menil Collection, Houston).
conceptual considerations, Ruscha’s ‘word paintings’
function on purely aesthetic grounds, too. Annie is harmonious in
both colour and composition.
more, unlike Lichtenstein — who in his aforementioned
paintings sought to mimic the commercial printing process of comic
Ruscha didn’t hide the medium of Annie’s production. The painterly
revealed on immediate inspection of the word ‘Annie’, which exhibits
swirls of thick red impasto worthy of the Abstract Expressionists.
was part of Ruscha’s debut show, at dealer Irving
Blum’s Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles
in 1963 — and has been reproduced in countless books and catalogues
"It was the first — and most important — of more than a dozen works by the artist over the decades featuring the name ‘Annie’. What he finds so fascinating about that combination of five letters even he has never been able to explain."
this text, this lot is not great art.
7, "Yellow Quadrangle," by Takeo
Yamaguchi, oil on board, 72 inches square, 1959
Lot 7 is extremely strong work by Takeo Yamaguchi (1902-1983). Entitled "Yellow Quadrangle," it is an oil on board that measures 72 inches square and was painted in 1959.
It has an
estimate of $2,000,000 to $3,000,000 HK. It sold for $15,125,000 HK. The
artist's previous auction record was set three years ago when Sotheby's
sold a smaller yellow-on-block work for $948,500, three times its
provides the following commentary:
Japanese-occupied Korea in
1902, Yamaguchi enrolled in the Western Painting Department at the
Art School where he developed
an interest in Cubism, Constructivism and the European avant-garde.
progressive proclivity drew him to Paris
after graduation, where he began to experiment with abstraction. Upon
return to Japan
in 1931, Yamaguchi was an active participant in the Nika-Kai Group, one
most innovative movements in the history of modern Japanese painting.
drafted to the Pacific War, however, Yamaguchi returned to find that he
lost most of his early works. Caught at an artistic crossroads, he
opportunity for a creative clean slate.
mid-1950s, Yamaguchi had combined two major post-war
Western painterly trends – the thick impasto of Art Informel and the
purity of Color Field Painting – to
achieve his mature style. With their highly simplistic abstract forms
in thick paint over plywood, these works demonstrate an acute
color, texture and materiality, focusing on the interplay between
depth as well as the balance of shapes. Such innovations would play a
role in the evolution of Japanese and Korean avant-garde practices,
way for artists such as Lee Ufan and Kim Whanki.T
the geometric yellow form is tilted to one side,
creating an apparent imbalance, the small black window seemingly
from the pictorial center creates a fragile tension that imbues the
with a harmonious sense of poise. In addition, the textured surface –
subtle chromatic variations – generates the illusion of movement within
austere delimited space. Suffused with life, Yellow Quadrangle captures
exquisite formal poetry that brought Yamaguchi to international acclaim
this period, and which would come to define his legacy."
8, "Frost 1," by Gerhard Richter, oil on canvas, 55 1/8 by 39 3/8
Lot 8 is a spectacular abstract oil on canvas by Gerhard Richter (b. 1938) entitled "Frost 1." It measures 55 1/8 by 39 3/8 inches and was painted in 1989.
was offered at Christie's May 16, 2007 when it had an estimate of
$1,500,000 to $2,000,000 and sold for $2,840,000.
At this auction, it has an estimate of $48,000,000 to $68,000,000 HK. It sold for $79,255,000 HK.
the finest period of Gerhard Richter’s
ground-breaking abstract work, Frost
(1) is a dazzling example of the
Abstraktes Bild paintings. In
these career-defining canvases, Richter examined
the fundamental nature of abstract painting, questioning the very
the postwar art historical canon, and in the process creating some of
celebrated works of the last fifty years. The present work is one of a
of paintings the artist completed in 1989 whose title evokes the theme
winter. First shown at a major exhibition at the Museum Boymans-van
Beuningen, Rotterdam, in 1989, the
painting exemplifies Richter’s practice of continually laying down and
subsequently scraping off layers of paint with a squeegee, resulting in
fractured surface which evokes the alluring effect of light reflecting
heavily frosted or snowy surface. A suite of four similar canvases,
Eis (Ice), and painted the
same year as the present work, is now in the
permanent collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.
of Frost (1) is full of the
activity that has distinguished the latter part of Richter’s career. By
down multiple layers of pigment and—just as they begin to dry—dragging
plastic hard-edged squeegee across the surface, Richter disrupts the
composition, opening up the surface to reveal traces of previous
light to dark, and from high-keyed primary colors through to delicate
variations of more subtle combinations, the painting becomes a
combination of both color and energy. Frost
(1) is particularly notable in this
regard as it encompasses the entire color spectrum; from the depth of
recesses to the brightness of the whites, and the bursts of fiery reds
sapphire blues, the infinitely subtle shifts of color are remarkable
richness and complexity.
particular canvas was painted in 1989, during a period
when Richter’s Abstraktes Bild
became more complex, and therefore more
beautiful. Prior to this date the gestures in his abstract canvases
were more rudimentary,
and the interventions on the painted surface more straightforward, but
beginning in 1987 the artist began to introduce more complex, delicate,
all-over movements into his work. This resulted in canvas like Frost (1) in
which the broad swathes and large passages of color have been replaced
myriad bursts of pigment mimicking the dazzling effect of looking at
reflected off a frosted surface.
paintings,' Richter argued, 'visualize a reality,
which we can neither see nor describe but which we may nevertheless
exists. We attach negative names to this reality; the unknown, the
the infinite, and for thousands of years we have depicted in terms of
substitute images like heaven and hell, gods and devils. With abstract
we create a better means of approaching what can neither be seen nor
because abstract painting illustrates with the greatest clarity, that
say, with all the means at the disposal of art, 'nothing'... [in
paintings] we allow ourselves to see the un-seeable, that which has
before been seen and indeed is not visible' (G. Richter quoted in J.
Art Since 1940: Strategies of Being,
London, 2000, p. 374).
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
See The City Review article on the Spring 2010 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Christie's
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
See The City Review article on the Spring 2009 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Christie's
See The City Review article on the Fall 2008 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Christie's
See The City Review article on the Fall 2008 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's