RELEASE: PIVOTAL MOMENTS IN POST-WAR & CONTEMPORARY ART - London, 25 June

London

London - On 25 June Christie’s London evening auction of Post-War & Contemporary Art will feature masterpieces by Jean-Michel Basquiat (Untitled, 1982, estimate on request; illustrated above) and Peter Doig, whose works have recently fetched world records at Christie’s, as well as iconic works by international Post-War masters, including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Yves Klein and Nicolas de Staël. Many works have emerged from important private collections, including Warhol’s rare  Colored Campell’s Soup Can from 1965, formerly in the collection of legendary gallerist and collector Ileana Sonnabend.

Francis Outred, Christie's Head of Post-War & Contemporary Art, Europe: ‘Following the huge success of the New York auctions in May when Christies achieved the highest total for any auction in history, the London sales follow with a rich choice of material, presenting a fabulous opportunity to see pivotal paintings from the 1950s to today. Beyond the top lots – masterpieces by Basquiat and Doig – we have Pop paintings from key moments in the careers of Lichtenstein and Warhol, as well as rare conceptual and minimalist works by Blinky Palermo and Brice Marden. From Europe, two important works by de Staël, hidden for years, show how he changed painting in the 1950s.’

Leading Christie’s evening sale is an epic large-scale double portrait by Jean-Michel Basquiat from 1982, a pivotal year in the artist’s career (illustrated on page 1; estimate on request). Untitled forms part of the series of important double portraits, including Untitled (Two Heads on Gold) and Dustheads (which fetched a record price of $48.8m when it sold at Christie’s New York in May). The full-length double portraits of 1982 marked Basquiat’s coming of age in the art world. In 1982 he was 21, he had just met his idol, Andy Warhol, and the success of his gallery show at Annina Nosei that March gave him a new-found freedom, enabling him to earn a living from his paintings. The cartoonish figures in this work evoke the joyous spirit of this heady time when he had just broken through to art world super-star status. Towering above the viewer, this painting is striking for its monumental scale, the decisiveness of Basquiat’s line and the sheer brilliance of his signature colour palette of vibrant red, electric blue, and blaring yellow.

Boldly articulated in Basquiat’s confident scrawl, Untitled is a defiant assertion of artistic and individual independence, expressing a confidence to match his new-found fame. Its two figures, with their rhythmic movements and screaming features evoke the chaotic energy of the New York underground scene in which the artist was immersed. Basquiat painted impulsively, pouring out his creativity in a cathartic stream of pent-up emotion. Working quickly in oil stick and acrylic, he combined drawing and painting in a graffiti-like style to create a fresh medium he called ‘extra large’. Untitled exemplifies this explosive, ‘extra large’ sensibility, with a raw and spontaneous painterly energy that echoes the urban hubbub of 1980s New York and hints at the inspiration Basquiat found in and around his downtown studio.

Francis Outred, Christie's Head of Post-War & Contemporary Art, Europe: ‘Following the doubling of the world record for Basquiat in New York at $48.8m for ‘Dustheads’ from 1982, Christie’s is thrilled to be offering another magnificent even larger scale double portrait from the same year. Featuring the same iconic double portrait motif, Untitled (1982) is a more raw and direct explosion of mark making in primary colours. Speaking of the influence of Picasso, Twombly, Dubuffet, the street and tribal art, not to mention the artist’s own response to his new-found fame and freedom, this painting pulsates with Basquiat’s creative energy.’

Another star work in the sale is a masterpiece by Peter Doig, Jetty (1994), which dates from a pivotal moment in the artist's career and has remained in the same prestigious collection since the year of its creation (illustrated above; estimate: £4,000,000-6,000,000). Executed on a monumental scale, Jetty creates an idealised vision of a landscape, vast and all encompassing, the lake at its heart suffused with the blazing colours of an Indian summer sunset. Taking a scenic postcard as his point of departure, Jetty is a nostalgia-tinged rendering of Alberta’s Cameron Lake in Western Canada.

Although this is a figurative image, the composition veers into abstraction, with its fire-fly flecks of colour and skeins of paint weaving across the surface, taking the image in and out of focus and creating a painterly meditation on the way we see and remember. As the artist has said, ‘I never really try to create real spaces – only painted spaces. That’s all I am interested in. That may be why there is never really any specific time or place in my paintings.’

Francis Outred, Christie's Head of Post-War & Contemporary Art, Europe: ‘Peter Doig's 'Jetty' was painted in 1994 - a key moment in his career and has been in the same private collection ever since. It has only been seen in Britain once before at Doig’s Tate retrospective in 2008. With its romantic vision of a lone figure on a jetty watching a canoe drifting in the midst of a vast, pointillist lake at twilight, this atmospheric work hovers  on the edge of abstraction and exemplifies Doig's painterly vision. Last February a Doig painting from 1991 made a record price of £7.6m at Christie’s London and we’re truly excited to be offering another rare Doig masterpiece.

Jetty was painted in 1994, the same year the artist was nominated for the Turner Prize and won the first prize in the Prix Eliette von Karajan. Works from this year are now widely considered among the best of his career, with Jetty standing out as a formative work in his artistic practice.This painting was personally selected by Doig alongside Pine House (Rooms for Rent) to feature as centrepieces of his first solo exhibition at the New York gallery, Gavin Brown's enterprise in 1994, with the artist driving it himself from Ontario to Manhattan to ensure its inclusion. The present owner bought the work from that 1994 show.Several works from this important year are housed within international museum collections including Ski Jacket, 1994, Tate Modern, London, Boiler House, 1994, promised to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Corn Cob, 1994, Los Angeles County Museum of Art.Doig’s practice is one of displacement. He lived in Canada from 1966-1979 and 1986-1989, but it was not until he had moved to London to attend the Chelsea School of Art that he began revisiting and reliving the landscapes of his youth.

Based on an image found in a postcard, this painting, along with others that he has created throughout his peripatetic life, is the result of a desire to depict and represent in paint his memories, feelings and experiences.Also featured in the Christie's London evening auction of Post-War & Contemporary Art is another visionary painting by Peter Doig entitled White Out.Offered from the famed Collection of Marcel Brient, it was created in 1992 and will be presented with an estimate of £700,000-1,000,000.

In addition, the evening auction will include a work on paper by Doig, Canoe Lake created in 1999 with an estimate of £80,000-120,000 that is another example of Doig’s celebrated imagery of canoes.

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