This October, Christie’s Frieze Week auctions of Post-War and Contemporary Art will bring together a selection of works by more than 200 of the most exciting artists in the contemporary art world. The sales are set to be highlights of one of the most important weeks in the art-world calendar.
On 4 October, The Collection of Leslie Waddington will present works from the personal collection of one of the most influential art dealers of modern times. The sale is to be followed by the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction on 6 October, focusing on artists who are the subject of some of this autumn’s most anticipated exhibitions, including Glenn Brown, David Hockney, Per Kirkeby, Gerald Laing, Thomas Schütte, Henry Taylor, Günther Uecker and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. The Italian Sale is to be held the same evening, while the Post-War and Contemporary Day Auction takes place on 7 October.
Cristian Albu, Head of the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction comments: ‘This October my aim was to put an emphasis on names that are fresh and relevant to the current art landscape, and the selection includes a remarkable number of artists who are either currently the subject of major solo shows or participating in important group shows across the world.’
The contemporary female form
Highlights of the Post-War and Contemporary Art Auction include a number of works that explore the female form. Leading the group is Thomas Schütte’s Bronzefrau Nr.13 from the iconic Frauen series — 18 large sculptures which reimagine the classical female nude. For Schütte, the reinterpretation of the female body through history offers an insight into the human condition.
Unseen in public for more than 50 years, Gerald Laing’s Beach Wear is the largest of the artist’s celebrated series of 10 beach girls, created between 1964 and 1965. Capturing the heady glamour of the Swinging Sixties, the work is infused with the influence of sexual liberation, consumer culture and the growth of mass media. Laing’s replication of commercial printing techniques, painstakingly rendered by hand, had a profound impact on the development of Pop art.
In Untitled (Statue of Liberty) (1989), Albert Oehlen takes one of the world’s iconic representations of the female form as his subject, pushing the features of a monument recognised across the globe to the point of abstraction. The work is an extraordinary example of meta-painting, its riotous surface confronting the medium’s greatest existential dilemmas.
Spanning more than two metres, Lucy McKenzie’s portrait of Olga Korbut shows the celebrated Belarusian gymnast spliced and splintered as though viewed through a prism. Nicknamed the ‘sparrow from Minsk’, Korbut captured public attention at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games with the daring performances that earned her one silver and three gold medals at just 17 years of age. The painting, which was executed in 1998, is one of the most important early statements of McKenzie’s politically and socially engaged practice.
In contrast, it is the male form that forms the point of departure for David Hockney’s Figure in a Flat Style (1961), first shown at the Royal Society of British Artists Young Contemporaries exhibition in 1962. The figure is constructed of two canvases, which formally echo a head and a torso, and a pair of easel legs. The work is representative of an experimental period of Hockney’s career, and its innovative structure can be seen as something of a self-portrait. Works from the same series are held in major collections internationally, including the Tate and the Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf.
Names to watch now
Frieze Week’s Post-War and Contemporary auctions provide the best opportunity to see some of the most hotly pursued names of the moment. Vividly evoking downtown Los Angeles, Henry Taylor’s Walking with Vito promises to be a major draw, capturing the California heat in saturated colour. Though often local in focus, Taylor’s tight compositions reveal a deep awareness of art history, drawing inspiration from greats including Goya, Matisse and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Following a standout performance in last year’s October auction, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye remains a name to watch. This season, the artist is represented with Bound Over to Keep the Faith, which debuted as the centrepiece of Yiadom-Boakye’s major 2013 exhibition Extracts and Verses — and saw her nominated for that year’s Turner Prize. Looming from a vast 2m canvas, a huge, long-limbed man grins over his shoulder, hand poised at his chin. His eyes, teeth and shirt gleam white against a background of rich, Goya-esque darkness.
Adrian Ghenie is represented in the Post-War and Contemporary Evening Auction with the vast and cinematic vision that is Nickelodeon, which was the centrepiece of Darkness for an Hour, Ghenie’s first UK solo show in 2009. The work — executed on two panels that, together, span more than four metres — presents eight figures amid a dark, cavernous interior. Each treads boards as though assembled on a spotlit stage, its wooden floor dragged viscerally into being through paint pulled across Ghenie’s canvas.
As well as these celebrated figures, The Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction will also bring under-recognised names from the 20th century to the fore. Realised in 1981, Park Seo-Bo’s Ecriture No. 62-81 is taken from the artist’s most acclaimed series. Working in pencil upon a thick layer of still-wet paint, the artist traces a sequence of rhythmic, graphic loops, ploughing grooves and furrows into a monochromatic field. Begun in the late 1960s, the Ecritures — or Writings — were among the most iconic and influential works to emerge from the pioneering Dansaekhwa movement.