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Exceptional Range of Post-War and Contemporary Art Offered at Christie's Day Sales
Sam Francis’s Blue in Motion III, 1960-1962. Estimate: $400,000-600,000. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd. 2009.

NEW YORK, NY.- On May 14, following the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale, Christie’s New York will hold the morning and afternoon sessions of the Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Sales. Offering over 330 lots over the course of the day, both sales are comprised of exceptional works by foremost Post-War and Contemporary artists including Sam Francis, Alexander Calder, Dan Flavin, Claes Oldenburg, Willem de Kooning, Josef Albers, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Zhang Xiaogang, Ellen Gallagher, Christopher Wool, and Tim Noble & Sue Webster. With works ranging from $1,500 to $900,000, the sales present an exciting opportunity for those looking to either begin or expand collections.

Morning Session – This auction will include a selection of 34 lots from the Collection of Betty Freeman. A much-admired, generous supporter of avant-garde contemporary music, Betty Freeman was also drawn to the work of the contemporary visual artists of her day who challenged the boundaries of painting and sculpture. She began collecting art in the 1950’s gathering works by Abstract Expressionist artists. As with the composers she supported such as John Adams, Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Freeman went on to forge friendships with artists David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein, Dan Flavin, Clyfford Still, and Sam Francis, and followed the development of their careers throughout her lifetime. Freeman was also an accomplished photographer, who published and exhibited portraits of musicians and composers.

Leading this section is Sam Francis’s Blue in Motion III, 1960-1962 (estimate: $400,000-600,000), a work which captures the spiritual approach and innovative style of Francis’s painting. By concentrating the brushwork along the perimeter of the canvas and leaving the central area relatively devoid of paint, Francis successfully challenges the boundaries of painting, resulting in a powerful and luminous work.

Also from the Betty Freeman Collection is work by Joseph Cornell, (Untitled) Sunbox (estimate: $140,000-180,000), two radiant works by Dan Flavin, Untitled, (estimate: $250,000-250,000), and Untitled (In Honor of Harold Joachim) 2, (estimate: $150,000-250,000), and a dynamic and painterly work entitled Face, by Roy Lichtenstein (estimate: $600,000-800,000).

Additional notable highlights include works by Willem de Kooning such as Untitled, 1967-1974 (estimate: $700,000-900,000) and Figure in Water, 1967 (estimate: $500,000-700,000). In Figure in Water, De Kooning melds the human body and landscape with explosive colors and commanding brushstrokes.

From the Collection of Maximilian Schell are three exceptional works by Josef Albers that are representative of the artist and Schell’s friendship. The group is led by a meditative Homage to the Square, 1965 (estimate: $200,000-300,000) composed of subtle and sublime geometric gradations of grey.

The Morning Session will also include important works by Alexander Calder, Robert Indiana, Ed Ruscha, Gerhard Richter, James Rosenquist, Wayne Thiebaud, Andy Warhol, and Tom Wesselmann.

Afternoon Session – The afternoon session is comprised of a selection of contemporary works by some of the most coveted contemporary artists in today’s market. Among the highlights is the sale’s cover lot - Keith Haring’s Untitled, 1981 (estimate: $600,000-800,000). It was during this time that Haring began to take the New York art scene by storm, transitioning from a New York City subway artist to a gallery artist. The present work is one of Haring’s earliest ‘tarp paintings’ and was exhibited at his pivotal one-man show at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery in Soho the year after its creation.

The sale offers Christopher Wool’s text painting, Untitled, 1990 (estimate: $250,000-350,000), a work that engages the viewer through a dynamic composition of the text, which reads visually as well as conceptually.

Ellen Gallagher’s, DeLuxe, 2004-2005 (estimate: $300,000-400,000) is comprised of a suite of 60 printed objects composed of multiple media joined together to create an intricate and large-scale ensemble. This work explores issues of race and identity through the readaptation of archival material from past issues of magazines Our World, Sepia, and Ebony. By using technically sophisticated printing techniques, Gallagher pushes the limits of contemporary printing.

The British duo Tim Noble & Sue Webster is represented by the bombastic visual eye-candy, Toxic Schizophrenia, 1997 (estimate: $250,000-350,000). This monumental and extravagant light sculpture takes the classic tattoo motif of a heart pierced by a dagger, and cleverly blurs the confines of high and lowbrow art.

One of the pivotal artists of the Chinese avant-garde, Zhang Xiaogang is featured in the sale with the work The Sisters (The Grand Family no.7), 1996 (estimate: $500,000-700,000). Known for his haunting and poignant family portraits, Zhang's paintings highlight the emotional conflicts of his generation under the Cultural Revolution, where individual expression and traditional family ties were at explicit odds with the pressure to fit into the collectivist ideal.

Additional sale highlights include important works by Damien Hirst, Richard Prince, Martin Kippenberger, Robert Gober, Bruce Nauman, Donald Judd, Rudolf Stingel, Bill Viola and Jack Pierson, and Fred Tomaselli.

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