Saturday 31 January 2015

London Calling | An extensive Cabinet of Curiosities under the Christie's hammer

"My Bed" by Tracey Emin

Saturday, January 31st, 2015 - This February Christie’s is offering an auction week 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 in the Day sale on 12 February.  

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), the never  ever absent 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.

Gerhard Richter
The Post-War and Contemporary Evening Auction is led by Gerhard Richter’s Vierwaldstätter See (Lake Lucerne). 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).

Francis Bacon
Quite famous this one too, "Study for a Head", 1955 work, is one of only a handful of works depicting Pope Pius XII. The fuss about this work which it is one of the last paintings of Pope Pius XII held in private hands, while 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). 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 
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.

The usual suspect: Damien Hirst
Damien Hirst’s 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. The Auction's house curator claims "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". No comment there.

Howard Hodgkin
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.

Cy Twombly, Dubuffet & Basquiat
A 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.

Viewing dates:
30 January – 10 February 2015, Christie’s King Street

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