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15 February 2011  |  Contemporary Art   |  Article

One Moment to the Next: A Look at Significant Milestones in Artists’ Careers

Art is a continuum. Discovering how one movement influences the next is a constant source of fascination for scholars and connoisseurs alike, but one innovative way to build a wel -rounded collection is by taking a look at significant moments within artists’ careers. Sara Friedlander, Head of First Open, details what collectors should look for at each milestone.

The Moment: Early Works by Established Artists
“These early works by established artists are often very interesting and incredibly informative in terms of tracking the origins of an artist’s style or visual vocabulary. Works by established artists tend to retain their value, so they can be important investment pieces as well. For a collector who’s looking to include works by legendary artists, but without the million dollar price tag, this is a fantastic way to find well-priced additions,” says Friedlander.

An unmistakable style, a facility with bright, vivacious colors—these are just a few of the attributes that have made Katz’s work so beautifully memorable. Though his reductive style is usually embodied in a fresh take on faces or figures, he has found inspiration in a variety of subjects. Lacking the angularity found in his mature portraiture, the style employed in this landscape is reminiscent of Milton Avery’s work.

Known for his Color Field paintings that were an important aspect of his mature work, Rothko’s early production included representational works as well, including this stunning portrait of Leah Farber. In the background, overlapping and intersecting tones hint at his nascent interest in color and the interaction between closely related shades.

The Moment: Important Mid-Career Artists
Friedlander notes, “These artists are still working and still making art. They’ve really hit their stride in terms of their artistic development, and are creating outstanding pieces. And they’re gaining a lot of recognition for their incredible work—Christian Boltanski, for instance, will be representing France at the Venice Biennale this Summer. Their works are represented in major collections and public institutions. For a collector, it would be interesting to track their development as they continue to grow throughout their careers.”

Parisian born Boltanski is best known for his sprawling, haunting installations of photographs of children, which are often displayed in dimly lit rooms and sometimes interpreted as explorations of memory and loss. Monument to Odessa is an iconic example of the artist’s most well-known and exhibited body of work referencing the Holocaust.

Hernan Bas draws inspiration from a variety of sources—the narrative regalia of medieval wall hangings, fashion layouts and the Hardy Boys series—to create contemporary and timeless portrayals of mythological scenes in bright acid hues. This work, which illustrates the tale of the Midas touch, exemplifies Bas’ use of electrifying color.

The Moment: The Ones to Watch
“Every great collector has purchased emerging art. This is a unique opportunity to acquire works by artists who are represented by galleries and are, in some cases, beginning to exhibit their work in museums. When you think of it, every notable artist was, at some point, in this category—it’s an excellent way to build a cutting-edge collection of great depth and become knowledgeable about the category,” says Friedlander.

Best known for his erotically-charged drawings, Birch is a skilled draughtsman who employs a playful approach to scale to emphasize details within his compositions. In Impossible Love, he demonstrates his mastery of another medium, while still maintaining a style reminiscent of his work in graphite.

Influenced by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Anselm Kiefer, Donovan’s paintings, which often reference graffiti art and urban life, chronicle the idea of mark-making in a personal but often temporary manner. In this work, she depicts a wall covered by vivid graffiti, and in the process, poses questions about this generation’s relationships with idealism and civil responsibility.

Related Sale
Sale 2421
First Open Post-War and Contemporary Art
10 Mar 2011
New York, Rockefeller Plaza

Related Departments
Post-War & Contemporary Art

Related Artists
Hernan Bas
Christian Boltanski
Alex Katz
Mark Rothko

Sculptures, Statues & Figures
Hernan Bas
Christian Boltanski
Alex Katz
Mark Rothko
21st Century
United States of America
Post War

Lot 80, Sale 2421
Alex Katz (b. 1927)
Price Realized: $74,500

Lot , Sale 2421

Lot 106, Sale 2421
Christian Boltanski (b. 1944)
Odessa Monument
Price Realized: $50,000

Lot , Sale 2421

Lot 246, Sale 2421
Ion Birch (b. 1971)
Impossible Love
Price Realized: $10,000

Lot , Sale 2421