RELEASE: “If I live I’ll see you Tuesday…” Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York

Monday 12th May 2014 @ 6 pm

New York – Christie’s is pleased to announce a special Contemporary Art evening auction one day prior to the traditional Post-War and Contemporary Art auction. Carefully assembled by International Specialist, Loïc Gouzer, the sale brings together some of the most influential artists of the past 30 years. The auction draws its title from one of the highlights of the auction, Richard Prince’s monochrome joke painting If I die…, as a tribute to the artist whose visual vocabulary was transformative for an entire generation.

If I Live I’ll See You Tuesday… encapsulates the gritty and underbelly-esq side of Contemporary Art. Tough, controversial, and beautiful, this sale will bring together established names along with a  new generation of artists. Built around a mood and an atmosphere, Loïc Gouzer sought to convey the darker side of what art can be. “There’s very often some kind of flashy and instant gratification factor to art, and then there’s the other side; almost like matter and anti-matter. There’s a constant tension in art between happiness and sadness, life and death – this sale was about trying to explore this ‘anti’ part of art creation. It’s like music in the 1960s – you had the Beatles and the Rolling Stones , the Marilyn and the Electric Chair – this sale explores the legacy of the Electric Chair.

We all have memories of a song or a melody that was so strong and perfect that it became ingrained in our minds and somehow formed the backdrop of our youth. The same can be said about art, and with this auction I have sought to bring together these special works that have left a lasting  imprint on the visual hard drive of our generation. Jeff Koons’s Equilibrium series, Richard Prince’s Cowboys, Andy Warhol’s Electric Chairs, and Dan Colen’s Candle paintings all have this wow-factor that made them immediate modern day icons.  If I Live I’ll See You Tuesday… will be a rare opportunity to see these radical works activating each other,” declared Loïc Gouzer , International Senior Specialist. 

The selection of works conveys Loïc Gouzer’s decisive vision of Contemporary Art today and his instinct for great objects. Tight and very edited, If I Live I’ll See You Tuesday… will provide a great platform to appreciate these defining works of Contemporary Art. Everything in this sale is of the highest caliber and it will probably be the last chance to acquire some of these more recent masterpieces before they too move on to the $20 million + price bracket. added Brett Gorvy, Chairman and International Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art.

If I Die is one of seven known large monochrome joke paintings and was formerly in the collection of Peter Brant. Very few works of this size have come up at auction and this work should achieve a world record for a monochrome joke.  The radical appropriation of the joke series echoes Warhol’s Campbell Soup Can paintings and the monochrome jokes are archetypical of Richard Prince’s creation as they define the dry, dead-pan aesthetic of the artist.

Richard Prince's Nurse of Greenmeadow is the artist’s most famous Nurse and was originally illustrated on the cover of the catalogue of the renowned Nurses show at the Barbara Gladstone Gallery in 2003. The Nurse series was appropriated from the covers of old romance novels and they are the ultimate monuments to the underworld and the visual legacy of popular visual culture. The success of the nurses, the Nurse of Greenmeadow especially, is due to the celebration of vernacular culture combined with a heightened awareness of art history, Abstract Expressionism in particular, and the artist’s understanding of color composition and atmosphere.

Warhol has always explored the opposition between life and death, celebration and mourning, happiness and fear, absence and presence. On the one hand you have the Marilyn and the other you have the Electric Chair. This outstanding Electric Chair exacerbates this “other hand” of the artist’s output.

Formerly in the collection of Kimiko and John Powers, this Andy Warhol Little Electric Chair is one of the best works from the series to come to auction in the last two decades. The quality of the screen with the punchiness of its yellow color creates this incredible sense of absence, anguish, and mortality. Although 28 inches wide, this work is so powerful, it completely transforms each room it hangs in. You feel the absence and the shadows. Our eyes are drawn to it like people attracted to the void.  This work is the cornerstone of the auction since the electric chairs created a new departure in art history and many of the works in this auction descend from the lineage started from this series.

Martin Kippenberger’s Untitled (Self Portrait) is one of the six unique portraits based on the photo by David Douglas Duncan showing the triumphant Picasso as some kind of masculine hero painter at the top of this game. Kippenberger turned this idea on its head by staging himself in the same style underwear but as some kind of pathetic, alcoholic loser.  The whole series constitutes some kind of monument to what Kippenberger considered his own failure as a man and as a painter, somehow  anticipating his death by alcoholism ten years later.

Only two works from this series have come to auction in the last 20 years and each time they established a new record for the artist and a new benchmark for European art. Most of the other works from the series are in museums or promised to museums and it is very likely this will be the last chance to get a work from this series. This work was displayed in every major Kippenberger show including his 2009 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Executed in 2005, Dan Colen’s Boo Fuckn’ Hoo is an exquisitely-rendered painting based on a timeless animation still from Walt Disney’s beloved 1940 feature film Pinocchio. In his perfect reproduction of a scene from Geppetto’s workshop, Colen has added his own laconic twist, manipulating the curling wisps of smoke from the extinguished candle to form the barely-visible words of his provocative title.

David Hammons is the ultimate anti-establishment, underworld artist.  With his unique perspective , Hammons fuses the power of street vernacular with African American culture. He is a complete outsider and this incredible early work, whose sister work is hanging in the Walker Art Center, is made out of the artist’s hair and vinyl discs, is completely modern and at the same time timeless. Hammons is very much the Brancusi of our time and one day he will be acknowledged as one of the greatest masters of American Art.

Along with the Jim Beam J.B. Turner Train and the Rabbit, Aqualung is widely perceived as one of the artist’s first masterpieces. Aqualung from the Equilibrium series firmly entrenched Jeff Koons in the pantheon of great artists the first time it was seen by the public at the International with Monument Gallery in 1985.

This perfectly executed bronze cast of a life vest  heralds the famous Celebration series. It is playful, witty, and at the same time conveys a sense of suffocation. In some way, we can see this tank as the one that inflated all of his balloon works.

Two Ball Total Equilibrium Tank (Spalding Dr. J Silver Series) was also exhibited at Koons‘s first show at the International with Monument Gallery in 1985, as a part of Equilibrium, a series of works about the futile impossibility of balance in life and the inevitability of death. The two basketballs appear suspended in the middle of a glass, water-filled tank and look like they are defying gravity. Seen collectively, Equilibrium sardonically reminds us that dead free fall is the only eternal state, and all flotation or upward movement is but a tragic detour on the way down.

An ebullient spectacle of line, color, pattern and texture, Mark Grotjahn’s Untitled (In and Out of the Darkness Face 43.01) is a powerful work from his acclaimed series of Face Paintings. As one of the most significant cycles of works within the artist’s recent oeuvre, the Face Paintings vividly exemplify Grotjahn’s exquisite pictorial surfaces and his celebrated mastery of optical effect. This abstract anatomy, evocative of tribal masks and almost sculptural in its execution, subsumes the viewer in a hypnotic fervor and induces a primal heightening of the senses. It is in their ability to navigate between the abstract and the figurative, the technical and the totemic, that these works take their place among the twenty-first century’s most captivating painterly projects.

Peter Doig’s Road House depicts an isolated house with blacked out windows sitting amid silvered, willowy birches. No hint is given as to what or indeed who is inside. There is something mysterious, almost haunting, about the scene and the viewer is made at once curious. This sense of voyeuristic trespassing is a common thread in Doig's work and instills a powerful sense of intrigue. The artist has often spoken of his search for 'atmosphere' within a painting and here in this wintry constructed landscape the unspoken narrative is palpable.


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