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Phillips announces highlights from its 20th Century & Contemporary Art June auctions
Martin Kippenberger (1953-1997), Ohne Titel (aus der Serie Das Floß der Medusa), 1996. Estimate upon request. Image courtesy Phillips.

LONDON.- Phillips’ upcoming Evening Sale of 20th Century & Contemporary Art is anchored by an outstanding group of Modern and Contemporary artists. With 31 works of art spanning nine decades, highlights include an important late Martin Kippenberger from the Collection of Marcel Brient, Paris, to an early Francis Bacon from the beginning of the artist’s career. Expected to realise in excess of £27 million, the 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale will take place at 7pm on 27 June, after the Day Sale on 26 June, which will feature 215 lots.

The top lot of the sale is one of Martin Kippenberger’s final masterworks, Ohne Titel (aus der Serie Das Floß der Medusa), painted in 1996. Coming directly from the Collection of Marcel Brient, Paris, where it has been for over 20 years, the work is a seminal canvas from Kippenberger’s epic homage to Théodore Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa. This eponymous body of works, created in the penultimate year of Kippenberger’s life, encompasses 26 paintings in addition to photographs, sketches, lithographs and a woven rug. Amongst the largest of Kippenberger’s self-portraits from this corpus of works, the present work was exhibited at the Akademie der Künste in Berlin, honouring the artist’s receipt of the Käthe Kollwitz Prize in 1996. Other works from this series are included in prominent international collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York and The Friedrich Christian Flick Collection. Kippenberger’s Raft of The Medusa portraits leave behind the artist’s cheekily sly and imaginative post-war intervention and confronts the viewer with a psychological depiction of mortality.

Lynne Chadwick’s life-size Teddy Boy and Girl II is a rare masterpiece of Post-War British art (estimate: £800,000 - 1,200,000). The work is the first of an edition of four, commissioned by Venezuelan writer, journalist and politician Miguel Otero Silva, after viewing a smaller variation of the subject at the exhibition Ten Young British Sculptors at Sao Paolo’s IV Biennial of the Museum of Museum Art. This exhibition began in 1957, where Chadwick received the hors concours and was the first British artist to be awarded this accolade only one year after winning the International Sculpture Prize over Alberto Giacometti at the Venice Biennale in 1956.

Painted circa 1935, Interior of a Room by Francis Bacon richly captures a number of key themes that Bacon explored throughout his prolific career (£3,000,000 - 5,000,000). First owned by Diana V. Watson, the artist’s cousin, and later by James Kirkman, Interior of a Room was notably included in the Bacon’s self-titled exhibition in 1996 at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. It was one of only three works from pre-1944 works selected, the other two being Figures in a Garden, circa 1936, now housed in the Tate collection, London, and Crucifixion from 1933.

Concetto spaziale, Natura is an early and rare life time cast of one of Lucio Fontana’s so-called ‘balls’, dating from 1959-60 (estimate: £700,000 - 1,000,000). The Nature were initially created in clay in Albisola, where Fontana spent time each year, and which had a thriving ceramics industry. The present lifetime bronze cast was acquired directly from the artist by Paolo Marinotti, a textiles magnate and philanthropist. It was he who converted the Palazzo Grassi in Venice into an exhibition venue, a status it still enjoys to this day. The present work was lent from Marinotti’s collection to several exhibitions in Paris, Turin and Milan in the years shortly after Fontana’s death in 1967. Concetto spaziale, Natura and its sister-sculptures form a small yet highly significant series within Fontana’s work, created in a brief window, adding to their rarity and is all the more true of the casts created during Fontana’s life, and under his guidance.

A number of women painters are represented in the sale, including Joan Mitchell with Champs, 1990 (estimate £2,500,000 - 3,500,000). Painted in the final years of Mitchell’s remarkable career, Champs is a vibrant celebration of the physical act of painting. First exhibited at Mitchell’s acclaimed and final show in 1990 at Galerie Jean Fournier, it was subsequently kept by Jean Fournier where it remained in his private collection. Though the gestural style of her American contemporaries such as Franz Kline and Willem de Kooning shaped her abstract painterly idiom, Mitchell’s profound appreciation for the beauty of the natural world fostered in her a strong connection to the French Impressionists and European Post-Impressionists, whose luminous landscapes were equally influential to her work.

Following our record-setting sale of Pat Steir’s Elective Affinity Waterfall in May 2018, Phillips will offer Calming Waterfall, a large-scale painting that immerses the viewer in a torrent of cleansing pastel blues and lush greens (estimate: £250,000 - 350,000). The present work was painted in 1989, a seminal point in Steir’s oeuvre as she began to adopt the dripped and poured technique of her iconic waterfall paintings. Steir often gestures towards the influence of Asian art on her work and is particularly inspired by Chinese landscape painting.

Painted in 2000, Hurvin Anderson’s Untitled (Park Scene) was created during the early stages of the Turner Prize nominee’s career (estimate: £500,000 - 700,000). A scene from his youth, the landscape in Untitled (Park Scene) is inspired by Handsworth Park in the artist’s native Birmingham. Internationally celebrated for his insightful portrayal of British and Caribbean culture, Anderson’s canvases expertly test the constraints of art history and the present work draws the viewer in to the artist’s wistful realm of perception and altered perspective.

Another highlight of the sale is George Condo’s Collision Course. Condo’s characteristic play on the notions of perception is tangible in this work (estimate: £1,500,000 - 2,000,000). Executed in 2009, Collision Course is a fragmented puzzle of imagery, exemplary of Condo’s self-termed style of ‘psychological cubism’. Contrary to traditional practice, Condo often portrays imaginary characters, microcosms of society featuring a broad range of personalities and physical figures. In this composition multiple figures collide, including his recurrent imaginary butler Jean-Louis, visible on the far left. This extraordinary arrangement of overlapping delineated figures, colour blocks and cloudy washes result in an eccentric and visually absorbing work. Through the assorted mediums of charcoal, acrylic, linen and wax crayon Condo’s work evokes depth and texture whilst expertly giving life to his disjointed and uniquely fabricated figures.

Jesús Rafael Soto’s 36 Cuadrados con banda amarilla, 1969 has been widely exhibited and comes from the Private Collection of Oscar Ascanio, who was 20 years old when he acquired the work directly from the artist, and they subsequently forged a 40 year friendship (estimate: £350,000 - 450,000. The year of 1969 marked a crucial moment within Soto’s oeuvre because such works as 36 Cuadrados con banda amarilla anticipated his Penetrables, a series that marked a transcendental moment in art history in which a spectator first physically entered a work of art.

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