On 25 June Christies
London evening auction of Post-War & Contemporary Art will feature masterpieces by Jean-Michel Basquiat (Untitled, 1982, estimate on request) and Peter Doig, whose works have recently fetched world records at Christies, as well as iconic works by international Post-War masters, including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Yves Klein and Nicolas de StaŽl. Many works have emerged from important private collections, including Warhols rare Colored Campells Soup Can from 1965, formerly in the collection of legendary gallerist and collector Ileana Sonnabend.
Francis Outred, Christie's Head of Post-War & Contemporary Art, Europe: Following the huge success of the New York auctions in May when Christies achieved the highest total for any auction in history, the London sales follow with a rich choice of material, presenting a fabulous opportunity to see pivotal paintings from the 1950s to today. Beyond the top lots masterpieces by Basquiat and Doig we have Pop paintings from key moments in the careers of Lichtenstein and Warhol, as well as rare conceptual and minimalist works by Blinky Palermo and Brice Marden. From Europe, two important works by de StaŽl, hidden for years, show how he changed painting in the 1950s.
Leading Christies evening sale is an epic large-scale double portrait by Jean-Michel Basquiat from 1982, a pivotal year in the artists career. Untitled forms part of the series of important double portraits, including Untitled (Two Heads on Gold) and Dustheads (which fetched a record price of $48.8m when it sold at Christies New York in May). The full-length double portraits of 1982 marked Basquiats coming of age in the art world. In 1982 he was 21, he had just met his idol, Andy Warhol, and the success of his gallery show at Annina Nosei that March gave him a new-found freedom, enabling him to earn a living from his paintings. The cartoonish figures in this work evoke the joyous spirit of this heady time when he had just broken through to art world super-star status. Towering above the viewer, this painting is striking for its monumental scale, the decisiveness of Basquiats line and the sheer brilliance of his signature colour palette of vibrant red, electric blue, and blaring yellow.
Boldly articulated in Basquiats confident scrawl, Untitled is a defiant assertion of artistic and individual independence, expressing a confidence to match his new-found fame. Its two figures, with their rhythmic movements and screaming features evoke the chaotic energy of the New York underground scene in which the artist was immersed. Basquiat painted impulsively, pouring out his creativity in a cathartic stream of pent-up emotion. Working quickly in oil stick and acrylic, he combined drawing and painting in a graffiti-like style to create a fresh medium he called extra large. Untitled exemplifies this explosive, extra large sensibility, with a raw and spontaneous painterly energy that echoes the urban hubbub of 1980s New York and hints at the inspiration Basquiat found in and around his downtown studio.
Francis Outred, Christie's Head of Post-War & Contemporary Art, Europe: Following the doubling of the world record for Basquiat in New York at $48.8m for Dustheads from 1982, Christies is thrilled to be offering another magnificent even larger scale double portrait from the same year. Featuring the same iconic double portrait motif, Untitled (1982) is a more raw and direct explosion of mark making in primary colours. Speaking of the influence of Picasso, Twombly, Dubuffet, the street and tribal art, not to mention the artists own response to his new-found fame and freedom, this painting pulsates with Basquiats creative energy.
Another star work in the sale is a masterpiece by Peter Doig, Jetty (1994), which dates from a pivotal moment in the artist's career and has remained in the same prestigious collection since the year of its creation (estimate: £4,000,000-6,000,000). Executed on a monumental scale, Jetty creates an idealised vision of a landscape, vast and all encompassing, the lake at its heart suffused with the blazing colours of an Indian summer sunset. Taking a scenic postcard as his point of departure, Jetty is a nostalgia-tinged rendering of Albertas Cameron Lake in Western Canada.
Although this is a figurative image, the composition veers into abstraction, with its fire-fly flecks of colour and skeins of paint weaving across the surface, taking the image in and out of focus and creating a painterly meditation on the way we see and remember. As the artist has said, I never really try to create real spaces only painted spaces. Thats all I am interested in. That may be why there is never really any specific time or place in my paintings.
Francis Outred, Christie's Head of Post-War & Contemporary Art, Europe: Peter Doig's 'Jetty' was painted in 1994 - a key moment in his career and has been in the same private collection ever since. It has only been seen in Britain once before at Doigs Tate retrospective in 2008. With its romantic vision of a lone figure on a jetty watching a canoe drifting in the midst of a vast, pointillist lake at twilight, this atmospheric work hovers on the edge of abstraction and exemplifies Doig's painterly vision. Last February a Doig painting from 1991 made a record price of £7.6m at Christies London and were truly excited to be offering another rare Doig masterpiece.
Jetty was painted in 1994, the same year the artist was nominated for the Turner Prize and won the first prize in the Prix Eliette von Karajan. Works from this year are now widely considered among the best of his career, with Jetty standing out as a formative work in his artistic practice. This painting was personally selected by Doig alongside Pine House (Rooms for Rent) to feature as centrepieces of his first solo exhibition at the New York gallery, Gavin Brown's enterprise in 1994, with the artist driving it himself from Ontario to Manhattan to ensure its inclusion. The present owner bought the work from that 1994 show. Several works from this important year are housed within international museum collections including Ski Jacket, 1994, Tate Modern, London, Boiler House, 1994, promised to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Corn Cob, 1994, Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Doigs practice is one of displacement. He lived in Canada from 1966-1979 and 1986-1989, but it was not until he had moved to London to attend the Chelsea School of Art that he began revisiting and reliving the landscapes of his youth. Based on an image found in a postcard, this painting, along with others that he has created throughout his peripatetic life, is the result of a desire to depict and represent in paint his memories, feelings and experiences. Also featured in the Christie's London evening auction of Post-War & Contemporary Art is another visionary painting by Peter Doig entitled White Out. Offered from the famed Collection of Marcel Brient, it was created in 1992 and will be presented with an estimate of £700,000-1,000,000. In addition, the evening auction will include a work on paper by Doig, Canoe Lake created in 1999 with an estimate of £80,000-120,000 that is another example of Doigs celebrated imagery of canoes.
POST-WAR CLASSICS BY WARHOL, LICHTENSTEIN, KLEIN AND DE STAňL
An outstanding example from Andy Warhols celebrated series of Colored Campbells Soup Cans, the present work is one of four from the series remained in the renowned Sonnabend Collection until Ileana Sonnabends death in 2007 (estimate: £2,250,000-3,250,000). An icon of 1960s American culture, Andy Warhols Campbells Soup Can, first conceived in 1962, dramatically changed the landscape of Post-War art. Sonnabend, an influential New York gallerist of the period, acquired her Colored Campbells Soup Can from the art dealer Leo Castelli, her friend and former husband. Sonnabend was a pivotal figure in the careers and fortunes of numerous great American artists, becoming an early patron of Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns as well as Warhol, whose paintings she proudly owned and mounted on her walls at her New York and Venice homes, as well as exhibited in her gallery. Other examples of Colored Campbell's Soup Cans are now in major museums and private collections across the world including: the Menil Collection, Houston, Staatliche Museum Berlin, Sammlung Marx, Berlin, and the Milwaukee Art Museum.
With its graphic intensity and striking array of hand-stencilled indigo blue Benday dots, Cup of Coffee (estimate: £1,500,000-2,000,000) is one of the earliest examples of Roy Lichtensteins Pop imagery.
Executed in 1961, this work is a crucial marker of the advent of Pop Art in America and forms part of a series of single object paintings that represented quintessential American life and were sourced from mass-produced newsprint ads. This painting marks the first time the artist used the Benday dots that have come to be seen as his trademark. With the artists pencil-marks and corrections still visible, it is rare and remarkable for its raw, hand-crafted quality.
Drenched in the artists signature International Klein Blue, Yves Kleins SE 181 (estimate: £1,400,000-1,800,000), with its elegant oceanic sponge form is one of only three, extremely rare versions in the artists oeuvre in which the sponge and base are organically linked by Kleins trademark blue, creating a tree-like form. This sponge sculpture embodies the essence of the artists celebrated Sculptures ťponges that have recently made record prices at Christies (in June 2012, Kleins sponge relief Le Rose de bleu (RE 22), fetched a record £23.5m at Christies London). Made in 1960 at the height of the artists career, when the artist picked up a paint-drenched sponge and decided to turn it into a sculpture, this intricate, bulbous work has an otherworldly quality. Forming part of the same collection since 1986, this is the first time SE 181 has been seen by the public for over 25 years.
Painted in 1954, Marseille (estimate: £1,000,000-1,500,000) dates from the pinnacle of Nicolas de StaŽls career when nature and landscape became his preferred subjects through which to explore colour and form. Infused with the brilliant light and vibrant colour of the South of France, Marseille is one of de StaŽls Mediterranean paintings, which are among his most celebrated works. The painting has a strong exhibition history, first shown the year of it was made at Galerie Jacques Dubourg. It was subsequently first seen in London at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1956 and at the Venice Biennale in 1964. In 1966 Marseille was shown in America, touring to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, The Art Institute of Chicago and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Marseille was last publicly seen in the United Kingdom at Nicolas de StaŽl, Tate Gallery, London in 1981. Also featured in this section of the sale is an important still life painted by Nicolas de StaŽl in 1953, entitled Fleurs blanches et rouges dans un vase gris (estimate: £600,000-900,000).