This October, Christies
Frieze Week auctions of Post-War and Contemporary Art will bring together over 200 of the foremost names in the contemporary art world today. The Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction focuses on artists who are the subjects of the most anticipated exhibitions this autumn, including Glenn Brown, David Hockney, Per Kirkeby, Gerald Laing, Thomas Schütte, Henry Taylor, Günther Uecker and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. Taking place 6 October 2016, The Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction is followed the same evening by the Italian Sale, together with The Leslie Waddington Collection on 4 October and Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Auction on 7 October, they are highlights in one of the most important weeks in the contemporary artworld calendar.
Cristian Albu, Specialist, Head of the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction: This October my aim was to put an emphasis on names that are fresh and relevant to the current art landscape and it is remarkable in the selection the number of artists who are currently the subject of major solo or participating in important group shows across the world. Alongside the Waddington Collection and the Italian Sale we are looking forward to seeing another season at Christies of the highest quality works alongside new talent that promises major results.
The Contemporary Female Form
The Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction features a key group of artists that explore the visual language of the contemporary female form, including: Gerald Laing, Lucy McKenzie, Albert Oehlen, Mel Ramos, Cindy Sherman and Thomas Schütte. Leading the group is Schüttes Bronzefrau Nr. 13 (2003; estimate: £1,200,000-1,800,000), from his iconic series of eighteen Frauen (Women), which recasts the towering figurative tradition of the female nude: taking cues from classical sculpture, the bronzes of Rodin and Maillol and the Modernist language of Moore and Picasso. For Schütte the female form provides a site of revisionism and transformation, a highly-charged zone of rich historical depth in which he probes the human condition in all its nuance and complexity.
As a counterpoint to Schüttes meditation on humanity Laings Beach Wear (1964; estimate: £1,000,0001,500,000) is one of the first images of the Pop Art movement and the largest work within Laings celebrated early series of ten beach girls created between 1964-5. First shown at Richard Feigen Gallery in New York in the year of its creation, it has remained unseen by the public for over fifty years. A monumentally-scaled icon of its time, the work captures the heady glamour of the Swinging Sixties, infused with the zeitgeist of sexual liberation, consumer culture and mass-media that spawned the rise of Pop Art. Painstakingly rendered by hand, its original pencil gridlines still visible, Laings innovative replication of commercial printing techniques, first developed in 1963, had a profound impact upon the international development of Pop, arguably predating Roy Lichtensteins Ben Day dots and Sigmar Polkes Rasterbilder.
The ultimate female icon is presented by Albert Oehlen in his Untitled (Statue of Liberty) (1989; estimate: £500,000-700,000) who pushes one of the worlds most recognisable visages to a point that verges on abstraction. Hovering between self-expression and commentary, Untitled (Statue of Liberty) bears witness to an extraordinary practice of meta-painting, confounding and compelling in a riotous implosion of aesthetics, conjuring paintings most turbulent existential dilemmas to the surface.
Spanning over two metres in width, Lucy McKenzies groundbreaking Olga Korbut (1998, estimate: £20,000-30,000) is spliced and splintered as if refracted through a prism. The work depicts the renowned Belarusian gymnast nicknamed the sparrow from Minsk who captured the hearts and minds of the public at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. Just seventeen years old at the time, Korbut was awarded one silver and three gold medals for her innovative, daring and charismatic performances. Executed in 1998, the work is among the most important early statements of her politically and socially engaged practice.
In contrast to these female figures David Hockney takes the male form as his point of inspiration for his early work Figure in a Flat Style (1961, estimate £300,000500,000) first shown at the Royal Society of British Artists exhibition Young Contemporaries in 1962. The figure is constructed of two canvases, which formally echo a head and torso, and a pair of easel legs. Works from the same series include Tea Painting with Figure in the Illusionistic Style (1961), now in the Tate collection, and Swiss Landscape in a Scenic Style (1961, retitled 1962 Flight into Italy Swiss Landscape), which is in the Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf. Figure in a Flat Style encapsulates this experimental period in Hockneys oeuvre, and in its innovative structure becomes something of a self-portrait.
Names to Watch Now
The Post-War and Contemporary Auctions in Frieze week give the best opportunity to see some of the most hotly pursued names in todays contemporary art landscape. Currently showing with a solo show at Los Angeles gallery Blum & Poe, Henry Taylor promises to be a major draw: Walking with Vito (2008; estimate: £40,00060,000), is a vivid evocation of downtown Los Angeles. Two African American men walk a mastiff across a sunbaked sidewalk, the Southern California heat clear in the saturated colours California-born Taylor paints friends, family and passers-by with a keen eye for detail and symbolism, his expressive work is often deceptive: despite a local and often urban focus, Taylors tight compositions, lyrical use of colour and smart incorporations of text reveal a deep awareness of art history, stirring up references from Goya to Matisse, German Expressionism to Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Following the stand out performance of Knave in October 2015, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye remains a name to watch, and is currently the subject of a solo exhibition at London gallery Corvi-Mora Gallery. She is represented in this seasons auction with Bound Over to Keep the Faith (2012, estimate: £80,000-120,000), which debuted as the centrepiece of Lynette Yiadom-Boakyes major 2013 exhibition Extracts and Verses at Chisenhale Gallery and was subsequently shown as part of that years Turner Prize exhibition. Looming from a vast two metre canvas, a huge, long-limbed man grins over his shoulder, hand poised at his chin. His eyes, teeth and shirt gleam bright in unadulterated white against a background of rich, Goya-esque darkness.
Adrian Ghenie is represented in the Post-War and Contemporary Evening Auction with the vast and cinematic vision that is Nickelodeon (2008; estimate: £1,000,000-1,500,000) which was the centrepiece of Darkness for an Hour, Ghenies first UK solo show in 2009. The work, executed on two panels that together span over four metres in width, presents eight figures amid a dark, cavernous interior. These characters tread the boards as if assembled on a spotlit stage, whose planks are dragged viscerally into being with paint pulled across the canvas.
Alongside these much celebrated contemporary figures The Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction also sees under-recognised names from the twentieth-century being brought to the fore, including Yun Hyong-keun who comes to the Evening Auction for the first time. Yuns Umber-Blue (1976-77, estimate: £200,000-300,000) is a glowing apparition from his definitive series of abstract paintings. Applied in multiple layers of paint thinned with turpentine, the artists signature burnt umber and ultramarine pigments saturate the fibres beneath, bleeding and darkening into deep, burnished stains.
Executed between 1976 and 1977, the work dates from a pivotal moment in the development of Korean Dansaekhwa, or monochrome painting: a movement in which Yun played a central role. Another figure in the same movement Park Seo-Bo is also a central presence and whose Ecriture No. 62-81 (1981; estimate: £200,000-300,000) is a mesmerizing calligraphic vision from his most highly acclaimed series of paintings. Working in pencil upon a thick layer of still-wet paint, the artist traces a sequence of rhythmic, graphic loops, ploughing grooves and furrows into his silent monochromatic field. Acknowledged by Park as one of the finest of its size, the work epitomizes the liberated, meditative aesthetic to which the series aspired. Begun in the late 1960s, the Ecritures or Writings were among the most iconic and influential works to emerge from the Dansaekhwa movement.