Sotheby's announces highlights of the Modern & Contemporary Auction

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Sotheby's announces highlights of the Modern & Contemporary Auction
Lesser Ury, Berliner Straßenszene (Street Scene in Berlin) pastel on cardboard, 35.5 by 50.8 cm. Executed in 1927. Estimate: €70.000 – 100.000. Courtesy Sotheby’s.

COLOGNE.- The Palais Oppenheim in Cologne is Sotheby's new headquarters in Germany. The beautiful new premises that Sotheby's has moved to - a former palace with a number of magnificent rooms offering expansive views over the Rhine through a generously designed terrace - provide the perfect backdrop for exhibitions of works of art and luxury items and encompass the full spectrum of Sotheby's auction and private sale offerings.

The season in Cologne kicks off in April with the Modern & Contemporary Auction, featuring 90 lots comprising a range of paintings, works on paper and sculptures by well-known national and international artists from modern to contemporary art, with estimates ranging from €1,000 to €200. 000, including a painting by German contemporary artist André Butzer's Ohne Titel (Mädchen) (Untitled (Girl)), a portrait, Liegender Akt, by Christian Schad, representative of the Neue Sachlichkeit, and a double-sided watercolor by Lyonel Feininger from 1945 with his typical boat theme, Vier Segler (rector)/Dreimastbarke (verso). The offer is complemented by works of further contemporary artists such as Christo, Gerhard Richter, and by the sculptures of some sculptors such as Renée Sintenis and George Kolbe.

The auction, which will run online from April 1-7, is multi-faceted and likely to attract some interest among collectors; please find below a snapshot of the offering:

Top Lots

Standing out as a highlight for Modern Art, this atmospheric painting by German Expressionist Erich Heckel Segelschiffe (Auf der Flensburger Förde) from 1922 has an estimate of €200,000-300,000 and comes from an important European collection. It is an outstanding example of Erich Heckel's deep connection with nature, reflected in a poetic expression of bright colors, windy energy and light-filled mood. The painting depicts a scene on the Flensburg Fjord on the western Baltic Sea, where Heckel had set up his summer studio after the war.

Among the highlights of Contemporary Art in the auction is Katharina Grosse's 2015 painting Untitled (2015_1043M), estimated at €140,000-240,000, along with Günther Uecker's White Nail Painting (see below), Gerhard Richter's Abstract Sketches of 1991 (see below) and Christo's Wrapped Reichstag. Katharina Grosse is one of the important living German artists and renowned painters of contemporary abstraction, as well as a master of monumental painting. In the present work, Grosse uses her unique technique of applying paint with an industrial spray gun over fabric stencils on primed canvases tacked to the walls of her studio.

In particular, three small-format oil paintings from 1991 by the Cologne-based artist Gerhard Richter could be in the focus of collectors: The three works are from a series in which Richter's impressive process of processing a motif towards abstraction can be followed. Beginning with Bühler Höhe Skizze, a realistic landscape depiction showing a blurry, dreamlike view of a hillside behind trees in the direction of a village, Gerhard Richter focuses more on the actual brushwork and the impasto texture of the paint in the ongoing works of this series. His attention is increasingly focused on the reality of the paint as opposed on what is thought to be seen, revealing how all that remains of an actual impression of reality is that created by paint and abstract shaping. The first four works, which form the beginning of this series, are now in the Museum Frieder Burda in Baden-Baden. Coming from a private collection, the three works formerly owned by Isa Genzken are offered for the first time on the market and are each estimated at € 100.000-150.000, respectively 80.000-120.000.

Market freshness

Along with the works of Gerhard Richter, this exciting discovery in the auction is fresh to the market: the expressive and elegant sculpture of the Großen Daphne by the German artist Renée Sintenis who worked in Berlin. With this work, the artist - known among other things for the sculpture of the Berlin Bear - has created one of your rare large-scale sculptures, which also has self-portrait features. The bronze was created during the lifetime of the artist and was since your acquisition in the 1930s in the same private family collection, in which it was admired for generations (estimate: € 150.000 - 200.000).

The Berlin artist Lesser Ury is represented in the auction with two works: Highlighting the pastel Tiergartenstraße in Berlin from 1927, the work is a beautiful example of Ury's channelling play of colors, creating fascinating light situations and atmospheres for which the artist became internationally known with his pastels. The work had been in the same American family collection for over 80 years and comes to the market for the first time (estimate: €70.000 - 100.000).

An early work by the Dusseldorf artist Günther Uecker dates from the late 1950s, when he used the nail as his most important compositional element. The work is striking for its clarity in the arrangement of the white-painted nails, which are punctuated by a vertical line of irregularly offset nails in the center of the field (estimate: €120,000 - 180,000).

Willi Baumeister's Flächenspannung from 1925 is a fine execution of his Constructivist paintings from the period, in which the artist turns away from the traditional conception and design of forms and colors and places his focus on reduced abstraction through geometric forms, which in Baumeister's view represents the primal form (estimate: €80,000 - 120,000).

Both works by Uecker & Baumeister are part of a group of 16 works from the collection of the late art lover Manfred Wandel (Stiftung für konkrete Kunst, Reutlingen), and a large number of the works in this group have not been on the market for more than 20 years and were regularly shown in themed exhibitions of the foundation.

Female artists

In addition to the colorful work by Katharina Grosse and the eclectic sculpture by Renée Sintenis,, the auction includes a monotype by Shara Hughes: Get it Right 2 is a striking example of this remarkable artist's grand vision of landscape (estimate: €14,000-18,000). A work that reflects the central theme in the artist's oeuvre, the depiction of contemporary landscapes through flowers and gardens in a bold and vibrant color palette, which in turn creates a surreal and imaginary reality in a fascinating combination of nature, abstraction and a psychedelic rendering.*

One of the most influential artists of her generation, Laura Owens has uniquely redefined classical painting by challenging traditional approaches. Not only the fusion of the different fields of art history, but also the appearance of the work and itself in space is one of her most important experimental thoughts. The present work, Untitled from 2013, is one of these integral works, behind the painted sheet hides a clockwork, transforming it, so to speak, into a functional painting (estimate: €40.000 - 60.000)

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