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Christie's First Open Sale Kicks off Fall Season of Post-War & Contemporary Art
Leading the sale is Flowers by Andy Warhol, dated 1964 (estimate: $500,000-700,000). Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2009.

NEW YORK, NY.- Appealing to a variety of collecting portfolios, Christie’s First Open sale of Post-War and Contemporary Art will offer an array of exciting paintings, sculptures, and works on paper on September 23. Presenting the opportunity to enhance an existing collection or start one anew, First Open kicks off the category’s fall auction season with works by some of the most sought-after artists working today as well as a selection of works by Post-War masters. The sale will feature works by Andy Warhol, Richard Anuszkiewicz, Gerhard Richter, Ed Ruscha, Lawrence Weiner, Kiki Smith, and Gavin Turk, among others.

Leading the sale is Flowers by Andy Warhol, dated 1964 (estimate: $500,000-700,000), pictured above. The painting’s subject derives from a color photograph of hibiscus flower blossoms that was appropriated by Warhol, who transcribed the hibiscus flower heads into a more pattern-like square by cropping the original image and re-positioning the flowers. Here, Warhol clearly took on the tradition of still-life painting, but combines implacable objectivity with an impenetrable graphic style. Highly expressionistic, the work conveys a preoccupation with degradation, exuding destruction and frailty at the same time.

Among the contemporary works being offered is Kerry James Marshall’s Terra Incognita, 1991 (estimate: $300,000-400,000). Following the success of Marshall’s record-breaking work, Our Town, in Christie’s May 2009 Evening Sale, First Open will present another fascinating work by the artist. In Terra Incognita, Marshall combines childhood scrapbook memories with direct influences of African-American history. Seeping with historical and personal references the work depicts a waiter, floating in time and space, detached from his continent of origin, and culturally ship-wrecked in his new, imposed guise. Marshall’s waiter bears a halo, and could be interpreted as an angel or a martyr, like many of the crusaders for social causes and heroes of the Civil Rights movement to whom Marshall pays tribute with many of his works.

The sale has a strong selection of works by leading conceptual artists. Leading this group is a work on paper by Ed Ruscha entitled Stains from 1970 (estimate: $120,000-180,000). Well known for his text paintings, Ruscha has constantly experimented with visual idioms and linguistic symbols throughout his career. For Stains, he used gothic lettering against an ominous grey backdrop, imbuing the work with austere and disconcerting connotations.

The sale will offer a rare, early sculpture by Lawrence Weiner, Untitled, 1961 (estimate: $20,000-30,000). Eschewing conventional forms of artistic expression, Weiner experimented with different forms of medium and often repurposed ordinary objects. By isolating a simple window shutter and stripping it of its original function, Weiner created a bold and beautiful work that transcends the banality of the everyday.

The selection of sculpture also includes Kiki Smith’s Small Deer, 2001 (estimate: $12,000-18,000) and Brillo 5, 2003 by Gavin Turk (estimate: $20,000-30,000). Turk’s Brillo 5 is an ironic and ambiguous work that is essentially a copy of a cardboard box. Once again, an unassuming object associated with the every day is bestowed with an elevated status through the artist’s quixotic intervention and ingenious reinterpretation.

Additional highlights include a work on paper by Sam Francis, Untitled, 1974 (estimate: $10,000-15,000), a cibachrome print by Gerhard Richter Guildenstern, 1998 (estimate: $7,000-9,000) and a painting by Richard Anuszkiewicz, Soft Yellow, 1976 (estimate: $8,000-12,000). The First Open will also include works by Keith Haring, Mona Hatoum, Takashi Murakami, and Guyton Walker among others.

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August 20, 2009

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