Warhol and Picasso, Hirst and Haring, Lichtenstein and Close, Ruscha and Dali, Banksy and Kaws. One visionary and one iconoclast after another after another runs throughout Heritage Auctions
' April 22 Prints & Multiples Signature Auction event. One highlight and one centerpiece after another after another.
So, where to begin? How about in 2008 New Orleans, site of the Banksy's original stencil featuring a seemingly confounded young girl holding an umbrella that doesn't shield her from the rain, but instead brings the storm to her. Three years after Hurricane Katrina, and shortly before the arrival of Hurricane Gustav, the artist spray-painted the so-called Umbrella Girl at the corner of Kerlerec and North Rampart streets in the Marigny neighborhood along the Mississippi River. She was emblematic of every New Orleanian who believed they would be protected by the levees when hurricane came, not drowned by them.
In time, some would try to steal the work painted beneath the former Drop-In Center's awning along Rampart across from The Orange liquor and convenience store; guards were posted at one point to protect the girl who's being drenched by the downpour. Recently, too, other graffiti has (again) appeared to keep the Umbrella Girl company. But always she pulls focus, whether on brick, canvas or, in this case, paper.
The year of her creation Banksy created a small run of prints featuring the girl being drenched by white rain; those 289 screenprints, along with smaller colored iterations, would in short order become among his most sought-after pieces. It's as potent as it is poignant, more so in person, this work of fury and sadness that first adorned an abandoned building on a forlorn street corner. Little surprise, then, that with weeks remaining before the auction's open, a signed and numbered NOLA (White Rain) has already surpassed the $40,000 mark.
Banksy has never been more coveted among collectors. Only weeks ago Heritage Auctions realized myriad Banksy records during a special event dedicated solely to the pseudonymous British hellraiser armed with a smirk and a spray can. Included in this auction, too, are several more significant signed and numbered pieces: Jack and Jill (Police Kids) from 2005 and 2008's Very Little Helps. Here, too, is a numbered edition of Morons, Banksy's infamous 2006 makeover of a photo documenting the earth-shattering $39-million sale in 1989 of Vincent van Gogh's Sunflowers.
And here, from 2005, is a piece that really ties the sale together: Soup Can (Violet/Orange/Mint), which is signed, numbered and dated. Like Very Little Helps, which features children pledging their allegiance to a flag made of a shopping bag from British grocery giant Tesco, Soup Can was yet another of Banksy's shots at the ubiquitous, faceless corporation that had consumed its consumers. But it was also homage, of course, to Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup Can paintings two of which, from 1969's Campbell's Soup II series, are included in this event. Both Old Fashioned Vegetableand Cheddar Cheese are signed and stamped.
Warhol is represented here, too, by other small-run signed-and-numbered screenprints, including the purple-pink-and-blue Turtle made in 1985 to coincide with the release of Harold Pinter's film Turtle Diary; 1972's iconic Mao, done to commemorate President Richard Nixon's trip to China to meet Chairman Mao Zedong; and his bicentennial Cow, perhaps the most inexplicable but somehow delightful offering in the artist's portfolio. Here, too, is The Shadow, a self-portrait of Warhol from the 1981 "Myths" series. Because it takes one to know one.
Which brings one to Pablo Picasso, represented in this event by etchings, lithographs, aquatints and ceramics an extraordinary range befitting the artist as experimenter. One extraordinary, oft-demanded highlight available in this auction is the partially glazed and engraved ceramic pitcher known as Taureau, or The Bull, one of 100 in a series executed in March 1955. This was but nine years into Picasso's pottery passion, which lasted the rest of his lifetime and, as his son Claude wrote, "established his importance in the development of 20th-century art pottery."
And from even earlier comes Diego Rivera's El Sueño (La Noche de los pobres), a signed, numbered and dated lithograph on woven paper from 1932. This piece also called Sleep (The Night of the Poor) was part of a series of lithographs published by New York's Weyhe Gallery. And as the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art notes, it "portrays a group of Mexican campesinos, or rural peasantry, sleeping huddled together for warmth and support. Following the Mexican Revolution, representations of the peasantry were often used as a nationalist symbol to promote the ideal of social equality.
Like many of Rivera's depictions of the Mexican people, this image is tinged with both realism and optimism."
What's most special about the April 22 Prints & Multiples event is how it time-travels from Rivera to the earliest days of Picasso's flirtation with ceramics to signed screenprints from one of the 21st Century's brightest names and biggest stars, the man called Kaws. The former graffiti artist's works have long been in demand at Heritage Auctions, and this auction is no different: Already bidders are heatedly competing for the seven signed, numbered and dated screenprints from 2020's What Party? from the career retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum; and the 10 signed, numbered and dated prints from the extremely limited-edition 2020 portfolio URGE.
And amid all the all-stars here is one offering almost too good to be true: 1997's Leo Castelli's 90th Birthday, a jam session of nine American artists so special and significant that portfolios reside in the National Gallery of Art and the Museum of Modern Art. Contained within are signed works by Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Ellsworth Kelly, Joseph Kosuth, Bruce Nauman, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, Ed Ruscha and Richard Serra.
"Browsing through our online catalog for this event is like taking a trip to a museum from your sofa," says Holly Sherratt, Director of Modern & Contemporary Art. "You'll find instantly recognizable works by the most famous and popular artists of all time. And with the click of a button, you might be one of the lucky bidders who gets to take the artwork home. From Cubism to Street Art, the entire contemporary art world is at your fingertips."