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Sotheby's to exhibit contemporary works by Warhol, Richter, and Hockney in India for the first time
Painted in 1984, Gerhard Richter’s Untitled is a striking watercolour that echoes the vibrant colours and techniques that the artist was using for his large-scale abstract canvases during this period. Estimated at £60,000-80,000. Photo: Sotheby's.

NEW DELHI.- Sotheby’sannounced it will exhibit for the first time in India works by Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter and David Hockney. Open to the public on the 31st January 2014, the exhibition at the Imperial Hotel, New Delhi has been designed to allow Indian collectors to view selected highlights from Sotheby’s forthcoming London sale of Contemporary Art alongside highlights from its New York sale of Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art. The Contemporary highlights include a rare and only recently rediscovered early David Hockney portrait (Est. £150,000-200,000), an iconic Andy Warhol Dollar Sign from the collection of Jade Jagger (Est. £180,000-250,000), and a captivating work by leading Chinese artist Zao Wou-Ki (Est. £300,000-400,000). The highlights on view from the Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art sale are all fresh to the market and come from a number of distinguished American and European private collections. They include Buffalo Among Flower Bed, an important landscape by Bhupen Khakhar (Est. $150,000-200,000), Maqbool Fida Husain’s dynamic canvas Untitled (Three Horses) (Est. $100,000-150,000), and Ram Kumar’s early abstract Untitled (Est. $80-120,000).

Yamini Mehta, Senior Director, Sotheby’s International Head of Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art, London and New York said: “We are so thrilled to be bringing a variety of artworks to India which we feel will cause real excitement in the marketplace. We believe that there is a real hunger amongst Indian collectors to experience well-known international Contemporary artists and so we’re delighted to be showing important works by David Hockney, Andy Warhol and the Chinese master Zao Wou-Ki for the first time. Alongside these Contemporary pieces, we will be showcasing prime examples of Indian Modernism from an evocative landscape by Bhupen Khakhar to one of Ram Kumar’s early abstract works, both of which are recent discoveries sourced from private European and American collections and entirely fresh to the market.”

Completely fresh to the market, having remained in the same private collection for over half a century, David Hockney’s Self Portrait, estimated at £100,000-150,000, is a work of real art historical importance. Painted when the artist was only seventeen, this rare early self-portrait offers an amazing insight into his artistic development. The composition recalls Hockney’s later portraits, with a mastery of detail and perspective that displays his inherent talent even at this young age. Only recently discovered by scholars, the significance of this work was indicated by its inclusion as one of the highlights of the National Portrait Gallery’s travelling exhibition David Hockney Portraits in 2006.

From the collection of Jade Jagger, Andy Warhol’s 1981 Dollar Sign, estimated at £180,000-250,000, is a striking example of one of his most iconic images. Immediately recognisable, the Dollar Signs serve as a playful reminder that famous works of art are also valuable commodities – something of which Warhol was very aware. By 1981, Warhol had become as famous as many of the celebrities he painted. Mick and Bianca Jagger were regular guests at the Factory, and Warhol recalled Jade with great fondness; this work, dedicated to Jade on the reverse, is an affectionate gift from the father of pop art to the daughter of a pop star. Sotheby’s currently holds the record for an Andy Warhol work having achieved $105,445,000 for his Silver Car Crash in New York, November 2013.

Painted in 1984, Gerhard Richter’s Untitled is a striking watercolour that echoes the vibrant colours and techniques that the artist was using for his large-scale abstract canvases during this period. Estimated at £60,000-80,000, this work embodies many of the characteristics that define his distinctive experiments in the field of abstract art. Following the major retrospective at the Tate Modern, London in 2012 Richter has become established as one of the greatest living artists. Sotheby’s achieved a new auction record for his work with the sale of Domplatz, Mailand for $37,125,000 in New York in May 2013.

Combining the influence of both Eastern and Western artistic traditions, Zao Wou-Ki’s distinctive compositions have earned him a place among China’s most celebrated artists. Painted in 1988, 15.11.88, estimated at £300,000-400,000, achieves a beautifully delicate balance between abstraction and figuration. Zao Wou-Ki moved to France in 1948, where he became friends with some of the great artists of the time including Joan Miró, Alberto Giacometti and Pierre Soulages. They were to have a profound influence on his artistic style, but it was not until his return to China in the early 1980s that Zao Wou-Ki also began to incorporate the traditional Chinese techniques that he had learned as a student. Sotheby’s set a new auction record for the artist in Beijing in November 2013, achieving $14,718,771 for his 1958 work Abstraction.

Inspired by the artist’s fascination with linguistic and numeric systems, Alighiero Boetti’s work Senza Titulo (estimated at £170,000-200,000) is a vividly realised balance between order and disorder. Despite the seemingly random patterning of the colours, this rare sequence of fifteen canvases, is actually strictly ordered according to a clear syntactic formula. Embroidered in a workshop in Afghanistan this piece reflects Boetti’s belief in a collaborative process that removes the work beyond his artistic control, allowing for a further element of playful uncertainty.

Chris Ofili’s lavishly wrought Pramnian Odyssey I, estimated at £120,000-180,000, is part of a series that has occupied the artist since the late 1990s and was the inspiration for the large-scale installation he created for the Venice Biennale in 2003. Inspired by classical mythology, but realised in the symbolic black, red and green of the Pan-African flag, these works seek to unite the wide-ranging influences that characterise Ofili’s working practice. The Pramian wines were a celebrated wine of classical mythology, often associated with the island of Lesbos. In Pramnian Odyssey I Ofili reimagines this myth in his own distinctive artistic idiom, creating a work of rich and sensual beauty.

Bhupen Khakhar’s Buffalo Among Flower Bed, estimated at $150,000-200,000 recalls both the Indian folk paintings that were an enduring source of inspiration and the influence of the British artists with whom Khakhar was associated. Khakhar came to England in the late 1970s and it was there that he met a number of important British artists including David Hockney who became a significant influence both artistically and socially. Khakhar was honoured by a retrospective at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in 2002, making him among the first Indian artists to be recognized by a major international exhibition. He remains among the most sought-after Indian artists, with Sotheby’s New York’s recent sale of American survey officer in September 2013 achieving $401,000 from a high estimate of $220,000.

Untitled (Three Horses) is one of a very strong group of Maqbool Fida Husain works to be included in the sale. Estimated at $100,000-150,000, this dynamic work by India’s most popular artist comes fresh to the market. The horse is a recurring motif in Husain’s work and became for him a striking symbol of beauty, power and masculinity. Here it is brilliantly rendered in the artist’s immediately recognisable calligraphic style. Often described as the ‘Picasso of India’, Husain’s work remains highly sought-after and continues to influence a whole generation of Indian artists.

Painted in 1964, Ram Kumar’s Untitled, estimated at $80,000-120,000, is a very fine early example of the artist’s abstract experimentation. Born in India in 1924, Kumar moved to Paris in the 1950s, where he studied under the great masters Andre Lhote and Fernand Léger. While reflecting the influence of the Cubist painters he saw in Paris, Untitled also embraces his Indian heritage. The work is inspired by the holy City of Benares, a sacred site that Kumar first visited with fellow-artist Maqbool Fida Husain.

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January 31, 2014

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