Following on from the success of Christies
New York Post-War & Contemporary Art auctions in May when the highest total for a single auction in art market history was achieved, on 1st July Christies will present an outstanding selection of Post-War and Contemporary art works. The sale represents many of the most important artists and movements of the 20th and 21st centuries, including works by Andy Warhol, Francis Bacon, Tracey Emin and Peter Doig that challenged the notion of the traditional portrait and changed the face of contemporary art practice. Highlights also include major works from the Blum Collection and the Langen Collection, two exceptional European private collections built up over the past half century.
Francis Outred, Christies Head of Post-War & Contemporary Art, Europe, says: Following the record success of the Christies Post-War & Contemporary Art Auctions in London in February which was a record for Europe - and in New York in May, we are delighted to present a distinct set of works that form a mini-survey of the portrait from the second half of the twentieth century to today. Highlights include Francis Bacons luminous portrait head of Lucian Freud from the collection of the writer Roald Dahl; Andy Warhols haunting late great self-portrait; and the iconic My Bed by Tracey Emin, an artist who has turned her entire career into a self- portrait. It is also a privilege to present two legendary European private collections - the Collection of Rudolf and Leonore Blum from Switzerland, and the Collection of Viktor and Marianne Langen from Germany. Both collections bring a strong selection of Post-War art into our auction. From the Blum Collection we are selling a drip painting by Jackson Pollock - the first major painting by the artist to come to auction in London - and from the Langen Collection we find its reflection in European abstraction of the same period, including works by Burri, Tapies and Dubuffet.
Building on the success of the record-breaking sale of Francis Bacons triptych of Lucian Freud, which sold for $142 million in New York in November 2013, the London Post-War and Contemporary Evening Auction will offer one of only two single portrait heads of Lucian Freud, Study for Head of Lucian Freud, 1967 (estimate: in the region of £8million - 12million). Bacon uses his rapid, impulsive brush marks to create an intimate and animated portrait that has spent its entire life in the collection of the celebrated writer Roald Dahl and subsequently in the collection of his estate (please find a separate press release here). Where Bacon chose to transform the representation of a person through paint, Tracey Emin chose to present her self-portrait through her installation, My Bed (estimate: £800,000 - 1.2million). An iconic piece that encapsulates Emins work exploring the relationship between her life and her art, My Bed caused a furore when it was shortlisted for the Tates Turner Prize in 1999, prompting public debate about the nature of contemporary art.
Arguably no other artist in the twentieth century was as deeply engaged with the representation of his or her own likeness as Andy Warhol. Completed shortly before his sudden death in 1987, Andy Warhols Self- Portrait, 1986 (estimate: £6million - 9million) is rare in his series of late self-portraits, depicting the artist larger than life-size and in close-up. The sculpted - almost skull-like - tight crop of the artists face, heightened by the contrast between light and dark, and the vivid red, makes the picture appear to act as both self- examination and self-presentation. Indeed, more than any other artist of his generation, Warhols image, identity and cultural persona were inextricably bound to his art, and his self-portraits served as a means of extending each. In contrast to Warhols proliferation of self-portraits, Peter Doig in his extremely rare self- portrait, Gasthof, 2002-2004 (estimate: £3million - 5million), uses abstract processes and formal compositional devices to create the dreamy atmosphere of the figurative scene where two mysterious gatekeepers, costumed in nineteenth century regalia and modelled on a photograph of Doig and his friend, are standing guard to an unknown place as the silhouette of a single canoe drifts idly in the distant lake. The presence of the canoe a touchstone of sorts for the artist across his oeuvre appears as if to transport the artist to this realm of the imaginary. Considered to be a key transitional piece within the artists body of work and completed at a moment when the artist was in Trinidad and dreaming of Europe, it was unveiled at the critically acclaimed exhibition Peter Doig Metropolitan, at Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, in 2004. Gasthof was also featured in the artists major exhibition No Foreign Lands at the Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh. A related work is in the collection of The Art Institute of Chicago.
MASTERPIECES FROM TWO EUROPEAN PRIVATE COLLECTIONS
Another highlight of the sale includes works from the Swiss Collection of Rudolf and Leonore Blum. One of Jackson Pollocks most advanced and exploratory drip paintings, Silver & Black Square I, circa 1950 (estimate: £3million - 5million) was acquired by the Blums from the Sidney Janis Gallery, which held the 1958 Jackson Pollock exhibition, and it remained in their collection for nearly half a century. The first major Pollock painting to be sold at Christies London, this work makes full use of the artists command of his newly invented medium of the drip and is the product of a brief period when Pollock was at his most confident, ambitious and prolific. Other works from the Blum Collection include Howard Hodgkins Waterfall, 1991-1992 (estimate: £150,000 - 200,000) and Nicolas de Staels Paysage (Composition; Composition Rouge et Noir sur Fond Jaune or Paysage Rouge et Noir), 1951- 1952 (estimate: £1.2million - 1.5million).
We are also proud to present works from the Collection of Viktor and Marianne Langen, a German couple who began collecting modern art in the 1950s and commissioned Tadao Ando to design the Langen Foundation for them in 2004. These include Jean Dubuffets Paysage, 1953 made of butterfly wings (estimate: £150,000-200,000), Alberto Burris Bianco T, 1954 cellotex work (estimate: £650,000 - 850,000) and Antoni Tàpiess Large Ochre with Incisions, 1961 (estimate: £400,000 - 600,000)
THE ENDURING POWER OF PAINTING
Gerhard Richters Abstrakte Bilder, 1992 (estimate: £4million - 6million) is a rare four panel painting from the height of the artists abstract practice. Executed in 1992, the work was featured as the centrepiece of Richters landmark installation at Documenta IX in Kassel of the same year and was later exhibited at his travelling retrospective held at the Musée dArt Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris in 1993 and the Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Bonn. With its opulent visual surface, Abstrakte Bilder hails from the finest period in Richters abstraction, as the paintings created between 1989 and 1994 represent the purest articulation of the artists improvised technique. Another highlight is Richters Fünfzehn Farben (Fifteen Colours), 1966 - 1996 (estimate: £3,500,000 - 4,500,000), the fifth work from his very first series of colour charts in 1966. Executed on a monumental scale, this painting was previously in the Onnasch Collection, Berlin.
A further important painting in the auction is by Frank Auerbach who in 1986 was selected to exhibit in the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. There he displayed Primrose Hill, Autumn, 1931 (estimate: £1.2million - 1.8million) which reflects the artists profound connection with this pastoral North London park near his studio, along with Primrose Hill, Winter, which is now in the collection of the Israel Museum. The Venice Biennale awarded him the first ever Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement that year alongside Sigmar Polke.
The auction also includes three works from one of contemporary arts most iconoclastic figures, Albert Oehlen. Protégé of Sigmar Polke, comrade of Martin Kippenberger and enfant terrible of the 1980s, Oehlen, with his experimental impulse, was a trailblazing force of the Post-punk generation. His explosive dialogue with painting at a time when Minimalism and Conceptualism had declared it dead marked him out as a leading figure within the radical second wave of German Post-War art.
His Frühstück now (Self-Portrait), 1984 (estimate: £300,000 - 400,000) subverts the idea of the self-portrait, while his Ohne Titel (Untitled), 1988 (estimate: £220,000 - 280,000) moves away from the figurative canvases of his youth, ushering in the abstract idiom that defines some of his most captivating works.
With its giant bold stacked letters, Christopher Wools Untitled, 1990 (estimate: £5.5million - 7.5million) confuses the senses with its confrontational urban poetry. Both nihilistic and witty in its tone, the colossal HA AH gridded out over two rows nearly three metres high is at once the punch line of a joke, word play and a question. A friend of Oehlen and Kippenberger, Wool conceived this work at the end of a decade where paintings right to exist had been questioned by Douglas Crimps essay The Death of Painting in 1981. Untitled was exhibited at Wools first solo exhibition in Europe at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam in 1991, just before his showing at Documenta IX in 1992, and is at the origin of the artists important series.
ITALIAN POST-WAR MASTERPIECES
Following on the success of Christies Italian Sale in October 2013 a record total for an auction of Italian art - and of the single owner Eyes Wide Open Auction in February 2014 that made 14 artist records, we are proud to be the market leaders in Post-War Italian art and to offer more exceptional works from this period. The decades following the Second World War in Italy, gave rise to the countrys rapidly changing socio-political and economic culture of the 1950s and 1960s that led to a rich period for art in which many artists explored and deconstructed simple materials, looked afresh at their world and created a new art of the everyday. Lucio Fontana explored ideas about space, both that of the canvas, which he poked holes in and slashed, as well as the new Space Age of the 1960s. Fontanas Concetto spaziale, Attese, 1965 (estimate: £4million - 6million) is a lyrical example of his pioneering Spatialist aesthetic. One of the largest works to be made in pristine white, Concetto spaziale, Attese is the only work by the artist that includes ten perfected cuts (or tagli) on canvas within its original luminous lacquer frame. Each incision follows the intuitive rhythm and graceful, almost musical momentum of the artists hand as it scored the surface, making Concetto spaziale, Attese one of Fontanas finest slash paintings and the quintessential embodiment of Spazialismo, a movement which took time, energy, space and matter as its fundamental elements. Considered one of the greatest visionaries of the 20th century - and currently celebrated in a retrospective at Musée de lArt Moderne de la Ville de Paris - Fontana exercised a profound influence on generations of artists, from Yves Klein to the present.
Following on the world record price Christies made for Michelangelo Pistoletto in February 2014 (where his double portrait Lui e Lei sold for £1,986,500 in Christies Eyes Wide Open auction, February 2014), we are delighted to offer the artists painted tissue-paper on stainless steel double portrait, Amanti, 1962-66 (estimate: £1million - 1.5million). Both romantic and enigmatic, this work invites the viewer into a voyeuristic interaction with two unidentified young lovers locked in a passionate embrace against a reflective stainless steel background. Created at a time when Pistoletto was expanding his artistic activities into an ever more interactive, open and communal direction, Amanti is both a charmingly complex mirror painting and a potent symbol of its time, bringing the viewer into the work as both a subject and a performer. Other Post-War Italian works in the sale include Piero Manzonis Achrome, 1958-1959 (estimate: £1million - 1.5million), Enrico Castellanis Superficie Bianca, 1963 (estimate: £300,000 - 500,000) and Jannis Kounellis Untitled, 1961 (estimate: £300,000 - 500,000).
THE ORIGINS OF STREET ART
Vast, exuberant and electrifying, Jean Dubuffets Le gai savoir, 1963 (estimate: £2.2million - 2.8million) is an outburst of pure joy that captures the intoxicating furore of the 1960s Parisian heyday. With its two romantic lovers engaging in flirtatious dance, the work represents the birth of one of the first purely urban aesthetics, heralding the dawn of contemporary street art. Like Twomblys deliberate un-training of his hand, Le gai savoir instigates a new artistic handwriting, equipped to translate sensory experience of the city. In this sense, Dubuffet operates as the leading urban artist of his time, and the influence of his work can be seen in the raw energy and graphic impulse of Basquiat. Jean-Michel Basquiats Toxic, 1984 (estimate: £1.2million - 1.8million) is a dynamic portrait of fellow Hollywood African, the South Bronx graffiti artist, known as Toxic. A complex, multi-layered expression of creativity, Toxic was inspired by the bustling energy of the downtown Manhattan street scene that the two artists were part of. Bursting forth with an animation unique to the artist, Toxic exemplifies his visceral artistic energy and power to express the urban, everyday reality found around him.
YOUNG BRITISH ARTISTS
The Evening Auction will offer an exceptional group of contemporary British Art from the established 1980s YBA artists. Building on Christies recent success with Sensation generation artists, including record prices for works by Jenny Saville and Gary Hume in the February 2014 Evening Auction (Gary Humes Vicious, 1994, sold for £410,500 and Jenny Savilles Plan, 1993, sold for £2,098,500) and for a more recent work by Tracey Emin (To Meet My Past, 2002, which achieved a record price of £481,875) in Christies October 2013 Thinking Big auction of sculpture from the Saatchi Gallery Collection, Christies will offer works including Rachel Whitereads Untitled, 1992 (Concave and Convex Beds) (estimate: £250,000 - 350,000), Jenny Savilles Shadow Study, 2006-2007 (estimate: £350,000 - 550,000), Glenn Browns Led Zeppelin, 2005 (estimate: £1million - 1.5million) and Damien Hirsts Calcium Gluconate Injection, 1992 (estimate: £350,000 - 550,000). Executed in 1995, Martin Creeds Work No. 127: The lights going on and off, 1995 (estimate: £50,000 - 70,000) is the precursor to Work No. 227: The lights going on and off, 2000, for which the artist was awarded the Turner Prize 2001.
A student of Peter Doig, Hurvin Anderson transforms the familiar fragments of the everyday into the colourful dissonance of a surreally illusory space in Afrosheen, 2009 (estimate: £300,000 - 400,000) which deconstructs the time-honoured Black barbershop of his Jamaican-British roots, and in doing so exposes it as a social and culturally charged site. Indeed, Andersons envisioning of the barbershop is considered to be the artists most celebrated series, with another work from the Barbershop series, Jersey, 2008, in the collection of Tate, London. It is being sold in benefit of the Saatchi Gallery Foundation.