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Andy Warhol's 'Six Self Portraits' to lead Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction, London
Jackson Pollock, Number 21, 1950. Signed and dated 'J Pollock 50' (lower left), enamel and aluminium paint on Masonite, 22¼ x 22¼in. (56.5 x 56.5cm.). Painted in 1950. Estimate: £10,000,000-15,000,000. © Christie’s Images Limited 2018.

LONDON.- Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Auction, part of ‘20th/21st Century at Christie’s’, a season of sales that take place from 20 February to 7 March 2018, will present work by some of the greatest icons of the 20th Century alongside those artists at the forefront of contemporary art today. The season will be led by Andy Warhol’s Six Self Portraits (1986), a rare masterpiece completed just months before his sudden death in 1987. The present work stands among his last great artistic gestures, his self-image charged with a poignant sense of his own mortality. Jackson Pollock’s Number 21, 1950 (1950, estimate: £10,000,000-15,000,000), an opulent, splashed and spattered painting from the peak of his seminal ‘drip period’. New York was the creative backdrop for a group of dynamic artists working in the 1980s including Jean-Michel Basquiat whose Multiflavors (1982, estimate: £10,000,000-15,000,000) dating from the year of Basquiat’s meteoric rise to fame is presented alongside four iconic self-portraits by Robert Mapplethorpe in which he grapples with his own multi-faceted identity. Lucio Fontana’s Concetto Spaziale, Attese (1965, estimate: £8,000,000 -12,000,000), a masterpiece by the artist with 24 cuts on canvas enclosed in the artist’s unique black-lacquer frame, shows his quest for a fourth dimension at the apex of the space age. The Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction will be held on 6 March 2018 and is followed by the Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Sale on 7 March 2018. All works will be exhibited at King Street from 2 to 6 March 2018.

Andy Warhol
Taking on the grand tradition of self-depiction in a manner unprecedented within art history, Andy Warhol assembled six distinct variations of his iconic 1986 ‘fright wig’ self-portrait, creating a unique sequence that stands alone within his oeuvre, titled Six Self Portraits. His disembodied face emerges from darkness in six intimate 22 x 22-inch canvases, alternately pink, pale blue, lilac, orange, green and cobalt against a void of black. The ‘fright wigs’ are widely considered to represent Warhol’s most deeply personal revelations, stark, rarefied exposures of an artist who ultimately became a greater cultural icon than his most famous celebrity muses. Six Self Portraits was unveiled at Anthony d’Offay’s London gallery between July and August 1986 – the first and only self-portrait exhibition of Warhol’s career. Works from this exhibition now hang in the collections of Tate, London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh. Warhol’s red Birth of Venus (After Botticelli) (1984, estimate: £4,500,000-6,500,000), one of just six large-scale images of Botticelli’s iconic goddess from the Details of Renaissance Paintings (Sandro Botticelli, Birth of Venus, 1482) series, is also offered in the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction.

Francis Bacon, The Eye of the Architect
Francis Bacon’s Three Studies for a Portrait (1976, estimate: £10,000,000-15,000,000) is the artist’s penultimate ode to his great muse Henrietta Moraes, whose stark depiction of facial features and realist palette reveal the influence of Picasso on Bacon’s work. Unseen in public since its inclusion in Francis Bacon’s historic exhibition at Galerie Claude Bernard, Paris, in 1977, the work is spiked with abstract colour and texture across three cinematic panels. It is the last of only six portraits of her painted in his celebrated 14-by-12-inch format, the first of which now resides in the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Exhibited at Claude Bernard alongside the poignant ‘black triptychs’ and self-portraits painted in the wake of Dyer’s death, it represents a glimpse of light at the end of a long, dark tunnel: a wistful reflection on his golden Soho days.

Jackson Pollock
Number 21, 1950 (1950, estimate: £10,000,000-15,000,000) is a beautiful and important work from the peak of Jackson Pollock’s iconic ‘drip period’. It was included in the artist’s seminal third solo show at the Betty Parsons Gallery, New York, which opened on 28 November 1950. Now recognised as the crowning moment of Pollock’s career, this exhibition contained several of his greatest large-scale masterpieces, all of which were painted that year: Number One, 1950 (Lavender Mist) (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.); Number 27, 1950 (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York); Autumn Rhythm (Number 30) (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York); One: Number 31, 1950 (Museum of Modern Art, New York); and Number 32, 1950 (Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf). Number 21, 1950 was among thirteen square-format works in the exhibition.

Jean-Michel Basquiat
With its raw urban poetry, vivid colour and painterly pyrotechnics, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Multiflavors (1982, estimate: £10,000,000-15,000,000) presents the artist’s signature crown set against a background of royal blue shot through with broad swathes of dripping black paint, words and symbols are scrawled in white, yellow and red. Held in the same collection since 1990, and prominently exhibited during that time, the work belongs to a celebrated group of paintings characterised by exposed stretcher bars tied at the corners. Comparable works are held in museum collections worldwide, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, the Broad Art Foundation, the Menil Collection and the Montreal Museum of Fine Art.

Lucio Fontana, Alberto Burri and Thomas Schütte
A collection of artists who radicalised traditional methods for making art by pushing the boundaries of the pictorial plane, using revolutionary materials, and dismantling visual history will be led by Lucio Fontana’s masterpiece Concetto Spaziale, Attese (1965, estimate: £8,000,000-12,000,000), a two-metre long white canvas cut with 24 of Fontana’s iconic vertical slashes, the greatest number he ever committed to a large-scale work, enshrouded in a highly reflective black lacquer frame. The artwork is a totally unique object by Fontana. Additional highlights include Alberto Burri’s Ferro T (1959, estimate: £3,000,000-5,000,000), an imposing and beautiful patchwork forged from jagged panes of soldered metal, weathered using fire and the process of oxidation, from Burri’s celebrated series of 12 Ferri (‘Irons’), nine of which are housed in museum collections internationally. Thomas Schütte’s Bronzefrau Nr. 7 (2002, estimate: £2,000,000-3,000,000) offers a powerful critique of monumental sculpture: created from bronze and Cor-Ten steel, it both mines and undermines Classical and Renaissance traditions. Dan Flavin’s untitled (monument for V. Tatlin) (1968 / 89, estimate: £250,000-350,000), Anselm Kiefer’s Am Anfang (In the Beginning) (1998, estimate: £400,000-600,000) and Gerhard Richter’s Abstraktes Bild (755-4) (1992, estimate: £400,000-600,000) are also presented.

German Masters: Gerhard Richter, Georg Baselitz and Andreas Gursky
Coinciding with the recently opened landmark retrospectives of Georg Baselitz at the Beyeler Foundation in Basel and Andreas Gursky at the Hayward Gallery, London, Christie’s will be offering works by these key German artists. Die Geisselung (The Flagellation) (1983, estimate: £2,200,000-2,800,000) is one of an important series of paintings made in 1983 in which Baselitz turned to religious iconography, reworking familiar scenes from Christian art history in a startling and radically new way. Spanning five metres in width, Andreas Gursky’s Cocoon II (2008, estimate: £350,000-450,000) offers an immersive spectacle. Included in the artist’s major retrospective at the Kunstmuseum Krefeld that year, the work belongs to a small series of photographs depicting the former Cocoon Club in Frankfurt, owned and designed by the artist’s friend, DJ Sven Väth. Also included in the auction is Gerhard Richter’s Venedig (Insel) (Venice (Island)) (1985, estimate: £4,000,000-6,000,000), completing the group. Reproduced on the cover of Gerhard Richter’s first Catalogue Raisonné, Richter’s work is a sublime eulogy to the shining, sun-kissed waters that form a shimmering gateway to Venice

Robert Mapplethorpe and François-Xavier Lalanne
Following the success of the curated auction Masterpieces of Design and Photography, four standout self-portraits by Robert Mapplethorpe will be presented alongside a desk by François-Xavier Lalanne, the latter from the collection of American photographer, filmmaker and producer Steven Sebring. Adorned with make-up in SelfPortrait [lot 3] (1980, estimate £60,000-80,000), Mapplethorpe explores a theme central to his work: his own sexuality. In another Self-Portrait [lot 1] (1980, estimate: £80,000-120,000), by contrast, he presents himself as an archetypal 1950s bad boy, channelling James Dean and Marlon Brando with his coiffed hair, black leather jacket and cigarette dangling from his mouth. Wearing horns in Self-Portrait [lot 2] (1985, estimate £100,000-150,000), he casts himself as the devil, dramatically illuminated from below. Created the year before his diagnosis with HIV, Self-Portrait [lot 4] (1985, estimate: £40,000-60,000) is already infused with a sense of his own transience. Here his head is captured in motion, leaving behind a ghostly after-image. For Lalanne, animal sculpture is central in his oeuvre, finding inexhaustible inspiration in forms present in nature. His work manages to combine the secular approach of animal bronzes with the modernity and singularity of a simple line.

Peter Doig – Two works sold to benefit the Donald R. Sobey Foundation
An icon of Peter Doig’s early practice, Charley’s Space (1991, estimate: £6,000,000-8,000,000) is the first of the celebrated ‘snow’ paintings that would come to define the artist’s output of the 1990s. Begun during his final year at Chelsea School of Art in London, the work coincides with Doig receiving the prestigious Whitechapel Artist Award, an accolade that propelled him into the public eye. The proceeds of the sale of Charley’s Space and Snowballed Boy (1995, estimate, £400,000–600,000) will support an ambitious multi-year programme by The Donald R. Sobey Foundation in conjunction with the Sobey Art Foundation to strengthen international exhibition opportunities for contemporary Canadian artists.

Mark Bradford and Louise Bourgeois
Spanning almost three metres in width, Bear Running from the Shotgun, (2014, estimate: £2,200,000-2,800,000) is a monumental example of the Mark Bradford’s ground-breaking ‘social abstraction’. In the present work, 41 lengths of striped, brightly coloured cord run at equal intervals horizontally through a vast, textural black and white surface, using a similar technique to his site-specific installation Pickett’s Charge, which is on show at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C., until November 2018. Louise Bourgeois’, Spider III (1995, estimate: £4,000,000-6,000,000) is a rare and unique steel example of her iconic arachnid motif. Bourgeois produced a single version in steel before each subsequent bronze edition, intended either for the artist herself or for acquisition by museums or close personal friends.

Alighiero Boetti and Lucio Fontana: Thinking Italian
Building on the October season Thinking Italian a further selection of work by Italian Post-War artists is led by Alighiero Boetti’s acclaimed Mappa (1984, estimate: £900,000-1,300,000) held in the same private collection for almost thirty years. Concetto spaziale, Teatrino (1965, estimate: £200,000-300,000) is a striking example of the Teatrini (‘Little theatres’) that captivated Lucio Fontana between 1964 and 1966. The painting has rarely been seen in the last 50 years. Completing the group is Lucio Fontana’s Concetto Spaziale, its vivid scarlet surface perforated by an ovular arrangement of holes, the work’s central formation echoes the egg-shaped canvases of the artist’s iconic cycle Fine di Dio (‘The End of God’), created just three years prior.

Today's News

February 15, 2018

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Andy Warhol's 'Six Self Portraits' to lead Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction, London

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