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Ellie Goulding and Caspar Jopling annouced as curators for Sotheby's Contemporary Curated Auction
Wayne Thiebaud, Three Donuts, signed and dated 1994; signed on the reverse, oil on canvas, 11 by 14 in. 27.9 by 35.5 cm. Estimate $700,000/1,000,000. Courtesy Sotheby’s.

NEW YORK, NY.- Kicking-off our 2018 auctions of Contemporary Art, Sotheby’s announced the Contemporary Curated sale on 2 March, featuring works from Another Kind of Language: Drawings by Sculptors from the Betsy Witten Collection. This season, co-curators Ellie Goulding and Caspar Jopling have lent their distinct and tasteful eye to selecting 15 of their favorite works from across the sale’s 260+ lots. Among their top picks are works by Charline von Heyl, Ed Ruscha, Richard Serra, George Condo, Sherrie Levine and Andy Warhol.

Led by Jasper John’s brilliant Untitled from 1983 and George Condo’s magnetic Rainy Day Butler from 2012, the sale also features exceptional works by Sam Gilliam, Wayne Thiebaud, Julian Schnabel, Isa Genzken, Christopher Wool, Andreas Gursky, and Jonas Wood, among others. Reflecting a diverse ensemble of works hand-chosen by leading figures in the spheres of art, fashion and design, Contemporary Curated is the foremost destination for new and seasoned collectors to acquire accessibly priced works by visionary artists who have captured the imagination of the market.

The New York exhibition opens to the public on 23 February, alongside works from the 21 February - 6 March Contemporary Art Online auction.

Ellie Goulding & Caspar Jopling

Ellie Goulding is a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter and dedicated activist against climate change and homelessness. She is also an eager-eyed art aficionado and collector. Spending much of her time between recording studios in London and New York or performing concerts on the global stage, Ellie somehow still finds the time to visit museums and gallery shows most weekends. With her growing collection, Ellie continues to fine tune her curatorial eye, focusing primarily but not exclusively on female artists, while expanding her knowledge of the context and meaning of the art that inspires her by meeting with artists, curators and gallerists.

This past October, Ellie was awarded a Global Leadership Award by the United Nations Foundation and has subsequently been honored as a UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador. In the first week of December last year, Ellie traveled between three continents; starting in Kenya on an environmental mission for the UN Foundation, she then flew to Miami for Art Basel where she performed for an intimate party and spent the days walking the fair with Caspar. By the end of the week, the two-time Brit Award recipient was back in London hosting her annual Streets of London charity concert at the Royal Albert Hall, which raises money and awareness for the homeless in the UK’s capital. Ellie is currently finishing her fourth studio album which she plans to release later this year.

With an academic background in History of Art, Caspar spends his time between the Sotheby’s Contemporary Art department and the office of the CEO. Caspar has sold a number of important works of Contemporary and Modern art, both privately and through auction, to his clients spanning Europe and the United States. However, much of Caspar’s time is spent considering and strategizing how business, innovation and technology will have an impact on the art market. He has also been involved with a variety of museums and foundations since he moved to New York, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Dia Art Foundation, MoMA and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

A radiant example of Jasper Johns’ iconic crosshatching method, Untitled from 1983 (estimate $1.5/2 million) emanates from the artist’s rare series of eighteen unique monotypes created in West Islip, New York. It was not until this particular series that he employed the monotype on a monumental level and exercised an unprecedented sense of technical innovation within his printing technique. In the present work, the contrast between moments of pure and impure pattern evidenced in both the all-over composition and in the individual hatchmarks punctuates Johns’s ongoing negotiation between control and chance. As such, the work highlights his effort to merge the mechanical with the handmade. While the hatches are imperfect and hand drawn, once submitted to the rote printing press, the “human” elements amount to that of the predetermined framework. Together, the hand and the machine demonstrate a brilliantly-textured network of rearranged fragments, pointing to Johns’ preeminent creative genius in his relentless pursuit of the full expressive potential of process and material.

The work is on offer during a particularly popular time for the artist, following the publication of his catalogue raisonné in April 2017 and the comprehensive survey exhibition Jasper Johns: ‘Something Resembling Truth’ which is now on view at The Broad museum in Los Angeles, following the Royal Academy of Arts’ exhibition last Fall.

George Condo’s Rainy Day Butler (estimate $800/1.2 million) from 2012 is a searing expression of frenzied charcoal lines, lusciously textured neons and delicate washes of gray that stream down the surface of the picture plane. Deriving its atmospheric title from the striking pewter overtones that dominate the composition, the work discloses Condo’s ability to effortlessly employ line, form, and color to conjure a climate that is simultaneously turbulent and calm. Within this densely layered compositional web, Condo’s iconic figurative motifs begin to emerge, forming a lyrical narrative starring the fumbling butler, Jean-Louis. Also present is the waiter-valet Roderigo who is identified by his cadmium red jacket sleeve. Signaling an unprecedented creative fervor of frenetically spontaneous mark-making, the present work departs from Condo’s more carefully planned portrait paintings toward a reckless embrace of the sketchy grit inherent in the mediums of charcoal and pastel carved into wet acrylic. Belonging to the artist’s celebrated series of Drawing Paintings, the present work synergizes the traditionally disparate processes of drawing and painting into one fluid gestural expression.

Sotheby’s established a new auction record for the artist, when it sold Compression IV for $4,066,600 (estimate $800,000/1.2 million) during the Contemporary Art Day Sale in November 2017.

A frank celebration of the everyday things that make life sweet, Wayne Thiebaud’s Three Donuts focuses extraordinary attention on the seemingly ordinary, forgoing the irony typical of Pop Art in order to imbue a sense of honor and dignity (estimate $700,000/1 million). The namesake donuts are illuminated as if by a theatrical spotlight, with a dramatic chiaroscuro defining the border between dark and light. Thiebaud brings together unexpected and electrifying color combinations in his underpainting, such as hints of cornflower blue and deep violet with strokes of orange and aquamarine, then paints over these passages with an opaque glaze, giving his donuts an eye-catching liveliness. His paint application also conjures much of the work’s visual punch. Each heavily loaded brush stroke projects from the surface of the painting, making each donut inviting and tangible.

The demand for works by Thiebaud has increased in recent years, while his delicate renderings of desserts are among the artist’s more desirable works. In November 2017 Sotheby’s established a new auction record for a work form in the 1960s for a painting of Nine Candy Apples, which achieved $4,518,200 (estimate $1/1.5 million) during our Contemporary Art Day Auction.

Radiating with an inner glow, Sam Gilliam’s Untitled (estimate $200/300,000) elevates the sensory potential of color, texture and form. Executed circa 1968-1969, it is a stunning and early example of the artist’s experimental floor paintings where he employs a beveled-edge stretcher and “soak stain” technique. Warmer tones rise from the bottom of the composition in a spread of red and orange, while cooler tendrils of teal and violet drip down the surface of the work. The optical dimensionality of the surface of the work mirrors that of its physical shape, which with its beveled edges, projects forward from the wall, transcending the border between painting and sculpture.

Gilliam was exhibited at the central pavilion of the Venice Biennial and had an exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum this past year. A travelling retrospective starting at the Kunstmuseum Basel in Switzerland is scheduled for the artist in June 2018. Sotheby’s established a new auction record for the artist during our Contemporary Curated sale in September 2017 when it sold Rays for $684,500 (estimate $100/150,000).

Mel Ramos’s Lola Cola from 1967 playfully demonstrates a singularly tantalizing object of desire and consumption (estimate $400/600,000). The nude female heroine oozes a confident air of sexuality by casually resting her elbows above a Coca-Cola sign that serves a dual purpose of obscuring her lower torso while also acting as a prop for her to clasp her hands together inquisitively at her shoulders, directly engaging the viewer. This undeniable mixture of humor and eroticism found across the work’s sweeping canvas indicates the maturity of Ramos' most prized subject: the erotic female heroine. By exposing the material desires of post-war consumerism through the humanization of products, Ramos thoughtfully examines the nature of eroticism on a highly personal as well as a universal level.

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February 21, 2018

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Frye Art Museum opens exhibition of works by Seattle-based artist Ko Kirk Yamahira

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