RELEASE: Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction - 28 June 2011, London

Christie’s announces the Post War and Contemporary Art Evening auction on 28 June 2011, which will offer 67 works and is expected to realise a combined total of £55,870,000 to £77,620,000 (corresponding sale in June 2010 - £40,910,000 to £58,140,000).


Christie’s announces the Post War and Contemporary Art Evening auction on 28 June 2011, which will offer 67 works and is expected to realise a combined total of £55,870,000 to £77,620,000 (corresponding sale in June 2010 - £40,910,000 to £58,140,000). Highlights include Andy Warhol’s iconic, large-scale Mao (1973)  exhibited at the first exhibition of Mao paintings at Musée Galliera, Paris in 1974, Warhol’s vivid emerald green Little Electric Chair (1964), Miquel Barceló’s Faena de muleta (1990), the largest and most important example of the artist’s celebrated bullfight paintings ever to come to auction and Juan Muñoz’s Esquina positiva (1992), first unveiled to great acclaim at the landmark Documenta IV in Kassel in 1992, which launched the artist’s international career. The auction exhibition will be on public view in London from 25 to 28 June.

Francis Outred, European Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art, said: At a time when the global art world unites to celebrate the Venice Biennale, Christie’s is delighted to bring together works from 14 countries for this June's Post War and Contemporary Art auction. At the heart of the forthcoming season is one of the finest groups of British Art ever to be assembled at auction, spanning from the early 1940s to the present day. Looking across the generations, one begins to see continuities between the inky-blue washes of paint in Francis Bacon’s landmark Study for a Portrait (1953) and Peter Doig’s liquid application of the medium in Red Boat (Imaginary Boys) (2003-04), undoubtedly one of his best paintings this century. Indeed the drive to depict real, physical presence is equally apparent in Lucian Freud’s pivotal painting Woman Smiling (1958-59) as in Ron Mueck’s mesmerising, hyper-real Big Baby (1996). Assembled from a variety of collections including that of Kay Saatchi, we are delighted to have brought together such a cohesive group of masterworks.”

Christie’s is honoured to offer an exceptional grouping of early works on paper by Lucian Freud from the collection of Kay Saatchi (1943-44), Freud’s pivotal painting Woman Smiling (1958-59), estimated at £3.5 million to £4.5 million, Francis Bacon’s seminal Study for a Portrait (1953) (estimate on request), as well as Frank Auerbach’s Head of E.O.W. (1953), estimated at £350,000 to £450,000. United by their common faith in the possibilities of paint, Freud, Bacon and Auerbach came to define what was a unique golden age in Post-War London. It was in 1953 at the Royal College of Art, in a studio lent by his friend Rodrigo Moynihan that Bacon was to create some of the most hauntingly beautiful works of his career, including his definitive series of Popes and his first portrait triptych Three Studies for the Human Head. Study for a Portrait was the last painting to be realised at the Royal College of Art; it embodies the characteristics of all of Bacon’s great works from 1953, projecting them onto a new and impressive scale. The painting has a distinguished and exclusive heritage of artistic ownership. Rodrigo Moynihan was the first owner and it later belonged to Louis Le Brocquy, the renowned Irish painter, who was the last to keep it before its acquisition by the present owner in 1984. 1953 was the same year that Frank Auerbach created his deeply impassioned Head of E.O.W, a richly stippled almost sculptural portrait of his lover Estella, ‘Stella’ West. The second painting ever realised of E.O.W., it was bought by the artist’s life-long friend, the new British wave film director Clive Donner in the 1950s with his first big pay cheque. Having formed part of his prized collection, this is the first time this intense and intimate painting has been available to the public for over sixty years. Lucian Freud’s Woman Smiling is a majestic, larger-than-life size portrait of the artist’s young lover and prize-winning Slade School of Fine Art pupil, Suzy Boyt. Painted in 1958-59, it represents the only existing single portrait of the woman who was to mother four of Freud’s children from 1957-1969 and whose friendship with the artist was to last many decades. Once described by Robert Hughes as the ‘turning point in Freud’s work with the human clay’ it marks a pivotal moment in the artist’s oeuvre when he first began to employ the gestural and painterly mark making now considered his hallmark. 

Key contemporary British highlights include Peter Doig’s Red Boat (Imaginary Boys) (2003-04), estimated at £1.4 million to £1.8 million, arguably the finest painting made by the artist this century, and Paula Rego's highly emotive Looking Back (1987), estimated at £600,000 to £800,000, exhibited to great acclaim at her pivotal retrospective at the Serpentine Gallery in 1988. In addition the auction includes a number of definitive works from the Young British Art movement: Big Baby (1996), the first artwork in Ron Mueck’s catalogue raisonné, estimated at £600,000 to £800,000,  Damien Hirst’s Untitled (1996), estimated at £350,000 to £450,000, his very first heart-shaped butterfly painting, which was previously owned by Charles Saatchi, Jenny Saville's painterly and deeply personal Interfacing (1992) estimated at £400,000 to £600,000, and Chris Ofili’s Afro Red Web (2002-03), estimated at £900,000 to £1.2 million and exhibited in the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale, 2003.

Dina Amin, Director and Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction, said: “In a fitting tribute to the present Venice Biennale 2011, five of the works to be featured in our forthcoming auction have previously graced their respective national pavilions. These include Germaine Richier’s L’Ogre (1949) in 1952, estimated at £100,000 to £150,000, Lucian Freud’s Rabbit on a Chair (1944) in 1954, estimated at £300,000 to £400,000, which was part of a group show alongside fellow British artists Francis Bacon and Ben Nicholson, Lucio Fontana’s Concetto Spaziale, Attese (1966) estimated at £2million - 3million, which was exhibited as part of the artist’s grand installation at the Venice Biennale in 1966. Fontana received the coveted International Grand Prize for painting for his contribution - received only two years before the artist’s death this accolade paid tribute to Fontana’s tireless and continuing ambition to shape the contemporary artistic landscape. Finally, Illya Kabakov’s The New Accordeon, (2001) estimated at £400,000 to £600,000, was presented in Venice in 2001 as part of an installation entitled Not Everyone Will be Taken in the Future, and Chris Ofili’s Afro Red Web (2002-03), was realised as the monumental centerpiece for the artist’s acclaimed exhibition Within Reach at the British Pavilion for the Venice Biennale in 2003”

Following Andy Warhol’s great success in the Post-War and Contemporary Art Auction in New York in May, where 25 works by the art world’s King of Pop, realised a combined total of $96,729,850, Christie’s London is also delighted to offer two exceptional masterworks by the artist, including his notorious Little Electric Chair (1964), estimated at £1.8 million to £2.2 million (illustrated right), marking the pinnacle of Warhol’s famed Death and Disaster series and his brilliant, large-scale Mao (1973), estimated at £6 million to £8 million. Realised in a vibrant, painterly palette of violet and magenta, it was exhibited at the artist’s landmark exhibition of Mao paintings at Musée Galliera in 1974 and ranks amongst the most powerful and enduring of all the artist’s images.

A number of exceptional works by the celebrated Spanish artists Miquel Barceló and Juan Muñoz will also feature at auction. Representing a key highlight of the season, Barceló’s dramatic Faena de muleta (1990), estimated at £1.5 million to £2 million, (illustrated left) is by far the largest and most important example of the artist’s celebrated bullfight paintings ever to come to auction. The work swirls with a dizzying, centrifugal energy across its expansive surface. It escalates from the dusty floor of the arena to the upper echelons of the seated crowd, ascending in height with an abundance of richly impastoed paint and mixed media on canvas. Juan Muñoz’s seminal work, Esquina positiva (1992) estimated at £3 million to £5 million, is a timeless masterpiece created at the height of the artist’s tragically short career. An early and exceptional example of the artist’s celebrated Conversation Pieces, it was unveiled to great acclaim at the landmark Documenta IV in Kassel in 1992. This pivotal exhibition launched the artist to international prominence, showcasing his magical, sculptural vernacular to a broad global audience.

These works are joined by a suite of four outstanding paintings by Gerhard Richter spanning his career to date and capturing his artistic trajectory from photo-realism to abstraction. A number of major photographs are also featured in the auction, including two iconic works by Andreas Gursky, Cindy Sherman’s unique, large-scale Untitled (1983), estimated at £1 million to £1.5 million, originally commissioned by collector Charles Saatchi and an outstanding example of Thomas Struth’s celebrated Museum Photographs, entitled Art Institute of Chicago I, estimated at £250,000 to £350,000.


Jun 25   11am - 5pm 


Jun 26   12pm – 5pm 


Jun 27   8am - 5:30pm


Jun 28   8am - 3:30pm




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*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium. Sales totals are hammer price plus buyer’s premium and do not reflect costs, financing fees or application of buyer’s or seller’s credits.

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