announced the first highlight of the London leg of One: a Global Auction of the 20th Century: Georg Baselitzs Gebeugter Trinker, 1982 (estimate:GBP£4.5-6.5 million/ USD$6-8 million). Rendered in vibrant orange, Gebeugter Trinker is one of the largest examples from Baselitzs iconic Drinkers series, and a prime example of the artists shift during a period of reexamination within his practice. The '80s helped me to rearrange everything, he noted, I was able to set up a whole range of ideas and experiences anew, which meant I was able to break everything down so I could make something out of it again. Already at odds with their orientation, the works that Baselitz executed up until the 1980s were tangentially related to both his Expressionist forebears and Abstract Expressionism. However, as he hit his stride, works like Gebeugter Trinker exhibit a wholehearted urge to seemingly disregard any former meticulousness in favor of a bold, radical approach to representation mixed with increasingly painterly strokes.
Katharine Arnold, Co-Head of Post-War & Contemporary Art, Europe, remarked: Hailing from one of the artists greatest periods and held within the same private collection since 1983, Georg Baselitzs Gebeugter Trinker is a radical painting which showcases the artists special facility with paint and powerful use of colour. At once abstract and figurative, it resists simple definition. It is laden with the psychological tension of Art Brut and is at the same time a paean to the artists German Expressionist forebears, Die Brücke and the American school of Abstract Expressionism. One of the largest examples from his iconic series of Drinkers and Orange Eaters, Gebeugter Trinker is truly one of Baselitzs great masterpieces.
Gebeugter Trinker depicts a man hunched over a white table, rotated in Baselitzs customary fashion. The figure appears to hang from the ceiling as his wide face, with pale blue eyes staring at the black bottle clutched in his hands. Part of a number of striking works realized in the early 1980s, which were deemed either Drinkers or Orange Eaters depending on the commonplace activity being featured. Gebeugter Trinker falls into the former camp but is more an interrogation of Baselitzs adept paint handling and eye for jarring composition than a treatise on routine actions.
Shown the following year, and translated as bent drinker, Gebeugter Trinker continues to evolve within this notion of the everyday with a figure that takes up nearly one third of the canvas as it fuses with the white table. At the same time, the legs of both the man and support dissolve into pure brushwork at the top of the frame, allowing for a transition between identifiable themes and pure painting.
Many of Baselitzs works follow a serial progression, and the Drinkers are no different. Using a generalized subject, the artist is able to work in the figurative mode without becoming too specific, and thus subtracting from his inquiry into painting itself. By using these motifs, Baselitz occupies a transitional space that is within the confines of figurative painting while also reaching beyond just representative work. Alongside his contemporaries like Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter, Baselitz continuously reasserted himself as a painter evolving out of the long lineage of German Expressionists. Choosing to eschew pure abstraction (and later conceptual notions), he instead worked exhaustively to examine figural idioms within the realm of painting.
ONE: a Global Sale of the 20th Century: This July, Christies will launch a revolutionary relay-style auction concept. Entitled ONE: A Global Sale of the 20th Century, this sale will present masterpiece-level works of 20th Century Art together in a curated live-online hybrid sale, blurring category boundaries and bringing clients together in an unprecedented way.
Launching in Hong Kong, the sale will then transition to auctioneers in Paris and London, concluding in New York. Each city will host a pre-sale public exhibition staged in line with the appropriate regional health advice at the time, complemented by a ground-breaking virtual exhibition and digital marketing campaign to connect with global audiences and support the auction event. Bidders will be able to participate both online, via Christies LIVE online bidding channel, and where regional, government advice allows, clients and phone bidders will be welcomed in each saleroom location.
Public viewing: All ONE sale highlights will be available for online viewing from anywhere in the world. For London sale highlights, Christies will begin welcoming clients into its King Street galleries on an appointment-only basis from 15 June, in adherence with current local public health guidelines and with all necessary measures to protect our visitors and our staff in place.