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20 Pink Mao's lead Phillips Auctions of 20th Century & Contemporary Art
Mark Grotjahn (b. 1968), Untitled (White Butterfly Hawaiian Lapis), 2001. Estimate: 1,000,000 - 1,500,000.

LONDON.- Phillips will bring together a selection of international names in the 20th Century & Contemporary Art Auctions on 5 and 6 October. This season’s auctions are led by Pop icon Andy Warhol’s 20 Pink Mao's (estimate: 4,000,000 - 6,000,000, illustrated above), alongside important works by Mark Bradford, Sean Scully and Rudolf Stingel. Featuring 30 lots, the 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale will take place on 5 October and is estimated to total over 15 million. The 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale comprises 158 lots and will take place on 6 October.

Peter Sumner, Head of Contemporary Art, Phillips London: “Our international team assembled a carefully selected group of highly desirable work that is fresh to the market, and we look forward to presenting an Evening sale filled with high quality art. The leading highlight is Warhol’s portrait of Chairman Mao, a truly exceptional example from the artist’s ‘Reversal’ series, and we are also thrilled to build upon recent strong results at Phillips in both London and New York by offering great works by Mark Bradford, Anselm Kiefer, Rudolf Stingel and Sean Scully, as well as many others."

20 Pink Mao’s by Andy Warhol was executed in 1979 and is offered at auction for the first time having been in the collection of the current owner for over a decade. Thought to be the rarest of Warhol’s ‘Reversal series', and arguably the most significant, these portrayals of Chairman Mao demonstrate a shrewd recalculation of one of the world’s most ubiquitous portraits. Warhol first began creating paintings of Mao in 1972 using a widely circulated photograph from the Little Red Book, a pocket-sized index of quotations, thoughts and citations from Chairman Mao. The late 1970s and early 80s was a pivotal time for Warhol, forming a period of self-reflection that pushed him in critically rigorous and aesthetically potent new directions. It was then that he turned to his own oeuvre as a resource for new creative output; amalgamating earlier series’ into single Retrospective canvases, revisiting the themes of his formative Dollar Bill works with an entirely fresh iconography, and creating his ominous series of Shadows that engaged with the subtle traces that all things leave behind. In the Reversal series, Warhol made his most direct and profound interventions using the most significant icons from his corpus such as Marilyn Monroe, the Mona Lisa, the Electric Chair and Chairman Mao. This self-appropriation casted a new perspective on the images that seemed most familiar of all.

In recent years, Mark Bradford has emerged as one of the foremost contemporary artists of his generation. Following the strong prices achieved for three of his pictures at Phillips New York in May 2016, the present work is among the top lots of the Evening Sale. Rat Catcher of Hamelin III presents an abstract vision of life in Los Angeles as Bradford has experienced it; a disjointed urban chaos steeped in memories, conflicts and social injustice. Bradford has repurposed images posted on billboards, creating a densely layered piece frequently associated with his iconic works.

Rudolf Stingel’s mesmeric work, Untitled, is an example of his series of wallpaper paintings. Galvanised by opulent, gleaming surfaces, the complex designs are derived from damask patterns of the late Baroque period, a time when painting and sculpture became enmeshed in the very architecture that was intended to contain it. Produced using a calculated application of stencils, swirling imprints and lively vines dominate the ornate textile relief, pierced by small and unique deviations, leaving room for a sense of painterly accident.

Mark Grotjahn’s Untitled (White Butterfly Hawaiian Lapis) radiates bands of creamy hues, each creating a deception of space in a captivating play of optical effects. The present work hails from Grotjahn’s renowned Butterfly Paintings series, which often incorporate two vanishing points in close proximity as the explosion of diagonal lines resemble a buttery’s wings.

Grey Red by Sean Scully is a striking, large-scale composition by an artist recognised as a giant of contemporary abstract painting. Measuring over two meters in height, the picture is composed with the artist’s favoured motifs of vertical stripes, applied in thick paint, resulting in a thick, textured surface. Executed in 2012, this work was selected by the artist to be shown that year at the 244th Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition.

Anselm Kiefer’s Odi Navali is an exceptional example of the artist’s sculpture-come-painting which is offered at auction for the first time having been in private collections since its execution in 1997. Engaging with twisted ideas and bitter motifs of the Second World War, the artist encapsulates in these works wild, uninhibited expression, implementing the demoniac tenets of war in order to best portray its grief. The present example is offered following the recent success of the artist’s Fr Velimir Khlebnikov: Die Lehre vom Krieg: Seeschlachten (2004-2010) which sold at Phillips London on 27 June 2016 for 2,389,000 ($3,153,480 / €2,866,800) against an estimate of 400,000 to 600,000.

Painted in 1992, Gerhard Richter’s Abstraktes Bild is filled with colour and movement. While greens and greys appear to dominate the composition, smouldering flickers of warm yellow and red peek through. These elements demonstrate the alacrity with which Richter had perfected the use of the ‘squeegee’ as a tool for painting: adapted from the wipers used by window cleaners, it was in the mid-1980s that the artist began to apply paint with them. They have become an almost iconic aspect of his work.

The 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale on 6 October will be led by Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Nets (OHWNT) (estimate: 100,000 - 150,000, illustrated right), Marlene Dumas’s Couple (estimate: 120,000 - 180,000), and Mark Bradford’s Soccer Ball Bag I (estimate: 80,000 - 120,000, illustrated left). Alongside these important works the sale will offer a diverse selection of highly sought after contemporary figures including Sascha Braunig, Kadar Brock, Aaron Garber-Maikovska, Adrian Ghenie, Yoshitomo Nara and Wolfgang Tillmans. The Day Sale also features Anselm Reyle’s Untitled, 2013, which has been kindly donated by the artist (estimate: 20,000 - 30,000). All proceeds raised from the sale of the Reyle will directly benefit The Andrea Bocelli Foundation.

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