PRESS RELEASE | LONDON
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 22 JANUARY 2015
SWISS LAKE BY RICHTER
AND NEW YORK BLACKBOARD BY TWOMBLY
LEAD POST-WAR & CONTEMPORARY ART
- Including exceptional works by Bacon, Hirst, Emin and Basquiat
- Day Sale includes YBA auction in support of
The Gallery at Goldsmiths, University of London
London – In February 2015, Christie’s will offer another outstanding week of auctions led by Gerhard Richter’s Vierwaldstätter See (Lake Lucerne), 1969, a sublime photo-painting of the famous Swiss Lake, held in the same private collection since 1973, which is presented during the Evening Auction in London on 11 February. Following the world record price of $69.6million achieved for Cy Twombly’s Untitled in November, the Evening Auction also includes Untitled (New York City), 1970, a mesmerising large-scale work from the same seminal series of ‘blackboard’ paintings. The week will also feature a selection of art donated by former students of Goldsmiths, University of London to benefit the building of a new gallery to be offered during our Day sale on 12 February.
Second highest pre-sale low estimate in Europe
This season offers the second highest, pre-sale low estimate for any Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Auction ever to take place in Europe at £95million (64 lots). The record Post War and Contemporary Art Evening auction in Europe was held by Christie’s in June 2012, and realised £132 million against a low pre-sale estimate of £102 million. Last year’s equivalent February season at Christies broke the record for any Post War and Contemporary Art week in Europe when it realised £176 million, including the benchmark sale of Arte Povera and Post-War Italian art, Eyes Wide Open: an Italian Vision, which realised a total of £38million.
GERHARD RICHTER’S SWISS LAKE
The Post-War and Contemporary Evening Auction is led by Gerhard Richter’s Vierwaldstätter See (Lake Lucerne) (estimate on request). The painting is the largest of a distinct series of four views of the famous Swiss lake painted by Richter in 1969. Purchased from the artist by the present owner in 1973 after its inclusion in the Grand Art Exhibition at the Haus der Kunst Munich, it stems from a landmark period in Richter’s early oeuvre. Three further works by Gerhard Richter are also included in the auction spanning three decades of his celebrated practice: Karmin (Carmine), 1994 (estimate: £9,000,000 – 14,000,000), Abstraktes Bild, 1986 (estimate: £1,000,000 – 1,500,000), Abstraktes Bild, 1990 (estimate: £3,500,000 – 4,500,000).
BACON REFLECTS ON POPE PIUS XII
A deeply human portrayal of Francis Bacon’s most enduring subject, Study for a Head, 1955 (estimate on request), is one of only a handful of works depicting Pope Pius XII: the current, living incumbent at the time of the painting. One of the last paintings of Pope Pius XII held in private hands, the others are housed in major museum collections including Pope II, 1951 (Kunsthalle Mannheim, Mannheim), Figure Sitting, 1955 (Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent) and Study (Imaginary Portrait of Pope Pius XII), 1955 (Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich). Fascinated by men of power and authority, Bacon was attracted to the fundamentally tragic combination of violence and vulnerability latent in their status, and sought to capture this paradox in his Papal portraits. Whereas previous works had presented the Pope as a screaming, agonised phantom, Study for a Head presents a figure submerged in existential contemplation, riddled with the same quiet dignity and introspective tension that was to define Bacon’s first self-portrait the following year. Exhibited at Tate, London, in 1962, Study for a Head remained unseen by the public for over 40 years, resurfacing in major retrospectives at the Institut Valencià d'Art Modern, Valencia, in 2003 and at the Fondation Beyeler, Basel, the following year. Christie’s is pleased to be one of the sponsors of the current exhibition, Francis Bacon and the Art of the Past at the State Hermitage Museum in Russia, which will which showcase paintings from the Sainsbury Centre of Visual Art alongside masterpieces from the Hermitage. This exhibition will travel to Sainsbury Centre for Visual Art in Norwich in April 2015.
TRACEY EMIN EXORCISM OF THE LAST PAINTING I EVER MADE
Following the success of Tracey Emin’s iconic My Bed, 1998, which achieved a world record price at auction quadrupling its pre-sale estimate to realise £2,546,500/ $4,351,969/ €3,178,032 (estimate: £800,000-1,200,000) in July 2014, Exorcism of the Last Painting I Ever Made, 1996 (estimate: £600,000 – 800,000), documents a seminal moment of breakthrough within the artist’s oeuvre, witnessing an impassioned re-engagement with her painting and drawing practice after a six-year hiatus. Over a three week period Emin barricaded herself into a room at the Galleri Andreas Brändström, Stockholm, where, working completely naked, she launched herself into a frenetic artistic outpouring. Comprising 105 paintings, body paintings, drawings and letters, Exorcism of the Last Painting I Ever Made lays bare Emin’s entire artistic make-up, paying homage to her influences including Edvard Munch, Egon Schiele and Yves Klein. Emin’s paintings and drawings have since come to represent one of the most significant strands of her oeuvre, culminating in her appointment as Professor of Drawing at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, in 2011, and will be celebrated in the exhibition Tracey Emin – Egon Schiele: Where I Want to Go at the Leopold Museum, Vienna, in April this year.
DAMIEN HIRST LULLABY WINTER
Damien Hirst’s iconic pill cabinet Lullaby Winter, 2002 is to be offered at Christie’s in February (estimate: £2.5-4million). Another from the series of four cabinets named after the four seasons, Lullaby Spring, sold at auction in 2007 for £9.65million, breaking the record for a work by a European living artist at the time of sale. Just as Monet painted the four seasons, Hirst captures the winter atmosphere with his assembly of thousands of beautifully hand-crafted pills. Precisely positioned on razor-sharp shelving and enshrined within a perfect, mirrored surgical steel cabinet, these pills number the amount a single human might expect to consume in a lifetime.
HOWARD HODGKIN IN THE GREEN ROOM
Painted over a three year period of unprecedented success for Howard Hodgkin, during which he represented Britain at the XLI Venice Biennale in 1984 and was awarded the Turner Prize in 1985, In the Green Room, 1984-1986, (estimate: £550,000 – 750,000) is one of the largest paintings made by the artist in the first thirty-five years of his career. Fully expected to break the world-record for the artist at auction, In the Green Room is an outstanding expression of Hodgkin’s unique artistic language that treads the boundary between abstraction and representation. Referring to the pistachio green paint with which he decorated the walls of his partner Antony Peattie’s sitting room in Cornwall shortly after they first met, the work evokes the personal and professional happiness enjoyed by Hodgkin at this time. It was featured in the Royal Academy’s landmark exhibition British Art in the 20th Century: The Modern Movement in 1987.
TWOMBLY, DUBUFFET AND BASQUIAT
Following the world record price achieved for Cy Twombly’s blackboard painting in New York last November, Christie’s is delighted to offer a further outstanding example from the same year. A large, nearly two-metre-long expanse of painterly handwriting, Untitled (New York City), 1970 (estimate on request) is one of the last of Twombly’s final series of black board paintings. The work evolves from the distinctive ‘lasso-loop’ pictures that define the series, extending the artist’s free-flowing lines into a scrawl that borders on written notation. It is joined by Death of Pompey (Rome), 1962 (estimate: £4,000,000 – 6,000,000), one of the finest works from Twombly’s major series of paintings based on epoch-changing assassinations. As Twombly immersed himself in the ancient streets of Rome, his contemporary Jean Dubuffet sought to capture the joie de vivre of the 1960s Parisian heyday. Part of the artist’s landmark Paris Circus series, L’heure de la hâte (The Hour of Anticipation) (estimate: £1,800,000 – 2,500,000), captures the euphoria of New Year’s Eve. Painted on 28 December 1961, during the seminal year that Dubuffet returned to the city from the countryside, its rich painterly surface heralds the dawn of contemporary street art. In July 2014, Dubuffet’s Le gai savoir, 1963, a work from the same period, sold at Christie’s for £4,002,500, setting a new world record for the artist.
The critic Rene Ricard famously asserted that ‘If Cy Twombly and Jean Dubuffet had a baby and gave it up for adoption, it would be Jean-Michel. The elegance of Twombly is there ... and so is the brut of the young Dubuffet’. Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Three Delegates, 1982 (estimate: £5,000,000 – 7,000,000), is a superb demonstration of this lineage, painted during the critical year that cemented his rise from itinerant street artist to art-world superstar. Inspired by a childhood visit to the United Nations, it is one of only a handful of canvases featuring three of the artist’s dramatic skull-like heads. Rare for its deliberate rejection of text and slogans, the work showcases Basquiat’s raw painterly style at the height of its development.
MAJOR HIGHLIGHTS ALSO INCLUDE WORKS BY BASELITZ, CHILLIDA, RAUCH, WARREN
Neo Rauch Reaktionäre Situation (Reactionary Situation) (estimate: £600,000 – 800,000). Works by Georg Baselitz include Malermund (Painter’s Mouth), 1966 (estimate: £1,000,000 – 1,500,000), Kuh (Cow) (estimate: £500,000-700,000) and Elke 1965, 1996 (estimate: £350,000 – 450,000). Rebecca Warren 00, 2006 (estimate: £80,000 – 120,000, illustrated right), included in the artist’s Turner Prize exhibition.
Eduardo Chillida Buscando la luz III (Looking for the Light III), 2000 (estimate: £2,000,000 – 3,000,000), available to view in St James’s Square, SW1. This follows Christie’s record-breaking sale of Buscando La Luz IV for £4,093,875 in June 2013, now placed at Qatar University, Doha, as part of Qatar Museums’ Public Art project.
Following on from the success of Eyes Wide Open: An Italian Vision in February 2014, which realised a total of £38,427,400 and established 13 artist records, the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction features an exceptional array of works by the foremost masters of the period. As the market leader in Post-War Italian art, Christie’s holds records for Michelangelo Pistoletto, Domenico Gnoli, Lucio Fontana and Alighiero Boetti and is delighted to offer works by these artists. This season important Italian works include: Michelangelo Pistoletto’s Donna nuda che avvita una lampadina (Nude Women Affixing a Light Bulb) (estimate: £800,000 - £1,200,000), Gnoli’s Inside of Lady’s Shoe, 1969 (estimate: £1,500,000 – 2,000,000), Lucio Fontana’s Concetto spaziale, Attese (il sole), 1959 (estimate: £1,000,000 – 1,500,000), Alighiero Boetti’s Mappa del mundo – L’insensata corsa della vita (Map of the World – The Nonsensical Course of Life), 1988 (estimate: 800,000 – 1,200,000) and Lucio Fontana’s Concetto spaziale, Attese, 1965 (estimate: £1,000,000 – 1,500,000).
AFRO RED WEB: CHRIS OFILI IN VENICE
Initially realised as a monumental centrepiece for Chris Ofili’s acclaimed exhibition Within Reach at the British Pavilion for the Venice Biennale 2003, Afro Red Web, 2002-2003 (estimate: £500,000 – 700,000) is an intricately-rendered expression of Ofili’s most iconic image: the Afro couple. Clenched in a passionate embrace under the heady haze of an African paradise, Afro Red Web invokes the biblical Garden of Eden. One of only five large-scale canvases created for the Biennale, Afro Red Web was showcased to great effect within its own monochrome green room, adjacent to its partner work Afro Jezebel. Recently the subject of a highly acclaimed retrospective at the New Museum, New York, Ofili’s works assert his own cultural nomadism, presenting his African roots whilst projecting his own sense of hybrid British culture.
DAY SALE HIGHLIGHTS
During the Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Auction on 12th February 2015, Christie’s will offer works in support of Goldsmiths, University of London £2.8 million project to build a new gallery, an extraordinary platform for art students to exhibit and engage with curators and artists from all over the world. Generous donations by some of the college’s most renowned alumni include works by Sarah Lucas, the next artist to represent Britain at the 56th Venice International Art Biennale has donated Nahuiolin (estimate: £120,000 - £180,000) and other illustrious alumni including Antony Gormley (Another Time XX, estimate: £120,000 - £180,000), Damien Hirst (Ipratropium Bromide, estimate: £250,000 - £350,000), Julian Opie, Sam Taylor-Johnson and Steve McQueen. A highlight of the Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Auction is Golden Shoe (Julie Andrews Shoe) by Andy Warhol (estimate: £200,000 - £300,000). Dedicated to Hollywood star Julie Andrews, best known for her role as Maria in the Sound of Music, the work is one from a series of forty golden shoes created by Warhol in honour of the most famous celebrities of the time, including Zsa Zsa Gabor, Elvis Presley and James Dean that were exhibited all together at the Bodley Gallery in December 1956 and featured in a spread by LIFE magazine one month later. Golden Shoe (Julie Andrews Shoe) was first owned by TV production designer and Warhol’s confidant, Charles Lisanby, who incidentally also knew Julie Andrews through My Fair Lady.
FIRST OPEN/LDN - SOUTH KENSINGTON
Christie’s and ArtStack are pleased to announce a new and unique initiative this season: the first crowd-sourced auction initiative. The aim is to give emerging artists chosen by the public the opportunity to be included in an auction, using new technologies and influenced by the current trend for crowd sourcing. From Tuesday 20 January - Sunday 1 February, artists can submit their work via https://theartstack.com/exhibition/Christie'sFirstOpen/LDN for an online competition and the public can vote for their favourite artists. The most popular works of art will be reviewed for submission by a high-profile panel of art world, fashion and media figures who will select works for inclusion in the forthcoming First Open/LDN auction on Thursday 26 March at Christie’s South Kensington, with 25% of the proceeds to be donated to the Whitechapel Gallery in London. For more information, please click here for the full press release.
Christie's Education is hosting a two-day course centred on the London Post-War & Contemporary Art February sales where Christie's Education academics and Christie's specialists will guide students through the exclusive sale preview exploring and discussing works of art presented for auction. For more information, please click here.
30 January – 10 February 2015, Christie’s King Street
Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction, 7pm, 11 February 2014, Christie’s King Street
Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Auction, 1pm, 12 February 2014, Christie’s King Street
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Images available on request
To view the E-catalogue, please click here.
 R. Ricard, ‘The Radiant Child’, in Artforum, December 1981, p. 35