NEW YORK, NY.- On the evening of November 11th, Sothebys will offer the most significant work in Yves Kleins Relief Eponge series, Archisponge RE 11 (est. in the region of $25 million), as the cornerstone of the Evening Sale of Contemporary Art in New York. The sale will also be highlighted by masterpieces by Roy Lichtenstein, Half Face with Collar (est. $15/20 million), and Lucian Freud, Naked Portrait Standing (est. $9/12 million), as well as a rare and important abstract painting by Philip Guston, Beggars Joys (est. in the region of $15 million). Sothebys will offer examples from each of Tom Wesselmanns three hallmark series from in the 1960s and early 1970s, and a Distinguished Private Collection features works by prominent American artists including Richard Diebenkorn, Roy Lichtenstein, Agnes Martin, Richard Serra and Andy Warhol. Sculpture from all periods will include works by Alexander Calder, Louise Bourgeois, John Chamberlain, Donald Judd, Bruce Nauman and Rachel Whiteread. The pre-sale exhibition at Sothebys New York will open on the 7th of November in the 10th floor galleries. The Evening Sale will take place on November 11th at 7pm, followed by the Day Sale sessions on November 12th at 10am and 2pm.
Following the record prices achieved for Yves Klein in the Sothebys New York May 2008 Evening Sale of Contemporary Art1, Sothebys will offer an important work by the artist, Archisponge (RE 11) (est. in the region of $25 million) from 1960, measuring 78 ¾ x 65 in (200 x 165 cm). The synthesis of tactile organic mass and his signature IKB (International Klein Blue) pigment renders this, in both size and presence, the most significant work in the artists Relief Eponge series. Before Kleins death in 1962, the Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld held the only museum show of his work with the 1961 exhibition Monochrome und Feuer. Klein planned the selection of works and designed the layout of the rooms, installing Archisponge on the central wall in the entrance gallery. The artist rarely titled his works, so in christening this as his archisponge, he indicated his judgment of this work as the ultimate Relief Eponge. Klein first used natural sponges as instruments to apply his pigments, including his patented IKB, and was struck by the beauty of this natural material covered in his blue pigment. He spontaneously pressed it onto the surface of one of his Monochromes, creating Relief Eponges works which were the perfect vehicle for his pictoral and metaphysical explorations. Kleins Relief Eponges combine his keen sense of aesthetics with his quest to express the immaterial, chance, mysticism and not least the theatrical. A dramatic fusion of intellect and nature, Archisponge (RE 11) is influenced by Japanese stone gardening and the Zen philosophy of spiritual and physical harmony. Unlike the flatter planes of his Monochromes, the volume of his Relief Eponges allowed Klein to introduce composition into his art without abandoning the rigorous monochromatic unity.
Roy Lichtenstein is acknowledged as the master of graphic clarity and an innovator of image appropriation, who crafted Pop Art masterpieces that, through an ironic interplay of popular culture and fine art, redefined the boundaries between high and low art. In the process, Lichtenstein proved profoundly insightful about the nature of art and perception, as well as the power of images. The cover lot of the sale, Half Face with Collar (est. $15/20 million) from 1963, demonstrates Lichtenstein at his most refined and accomplished. Lichtenstein initially magnified and transferred his images to canvas by hand and stencil; this painstaking process heightened the stylization of his comic book source material. Any study of the artists copious books of source clippings reveals the extent to which he had a keen eye for composition. Half Face with Collar is an exemplary demonstration of the hallmark characteristic of a carefully considered and constructed composition: precise cropping. Lichtenstein demonstrates his sensitivity to use of a shallow foreground and background in achieving an emotional impact and powerful visual image. Small patches of yellow, black and blue provide a hint of spatial background, but the picture plane is ultimately overwhelmed by the extreme close-up of a man, tugging at his collar in the act of speaking to an unknown presence. In Half Face with Collar, the male who is often off-screen or in a secondary role in Lichtensteins art is now front and center, and the artists shrewd gift for perceiving the precise gesture and the most effective cropping is unmistakable. In his close-up studies of melodramatic behavior such as Half Face with Collar, the content is by definition out-of-the-picture or offstage in the presence of the person the man is addressing. The image is therefore not an autonomous world in itself, but requires the viewer to complete it. While Lichtenstein created this work 45 years ago, the gesture portrayed remains timely and evocative today.
From the Estate of Judith Riklis comes Lichtensteins Study for New York State Mural (Town and Country) (est. $4/6 million) from 1968. This work is part of the artists Modern Paintings series, which was partially inspired by Art Deco design and architecture, and was painted as a proposal for a large mural for The Empire State Plaza Art Collection in Albany, NY that was never realized. Each section juxtaposes abstract designs, a stylized city skyline and a shining sun with a rainbow and birds in flight. In this composition, Lichtenstein employs his highly distinctive comic-book-derived graphic clarity and iconography of the early 1960s, but the Modern Paintings now include stylistic references to artists such as the French Cubist artist Fernand Léger in their compartmentalization of space and geometry.
Philip Gustons rare and important abstract expressionistic painting entitled Beggars Joys (est. in the region of $15 million) dates from 1954-55; most of the artists works from this period are in the collections of major museums such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the present work was exhibited extensively, including in several traveling retrospectives of the artists work. Beggars Joys is a masterpiece from Gustons first major innovative period in which he moved away from the figurative art of the 1930s toward his unique brand of abstraction in the early 1950s. The feathery brushstrokes, internal energy, compelling beauty, complex structure, and delicately shimmering color of Beggars Joys are all a testament to Gustons commitment to aesthetic explorations. The 1950s canvases are potent beyond their size, projecting an energy generated from the tension between deconstruction and gestural cohesion. Gustons painterly surfaces were in fact a laborious process of layer upon layer of strokes and erasures, painted wet on wet, building up a sculpted surface of atmospheric nuance. Gustons non-objective paintings of the 1950s, among which Beggars Joys is an important, rare and superb example, were created toward the later stages of the birth of the New York school in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The timing of his emergence as an abstractionist in the 1950s with solo exhibitions at such key venues as the Peridot Gallery, the Charles Egan Gallery and Sidney Janis Gallery emphasized his association with fellow artists such as Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline and Mark Rothko.
Lucian Freuds Naked Portrait Standing, painted in 1999-2000 (est. $9/12 million), is a tour de force in which he celebrates the expressive, sculptural properties of paint. The female nude is a subject through which Freud exposes the compelling originality and objective realism which underlie his vision. Spanning more than five decades of his artistic production, this most traditional of artistic tropes, the nude, constitutes his most important canon of works. More than any other, they define his commitment to capturing emotional as well as physical identity. In Naked Portrait Standing, the sharply deft accents of color manifest living flesh with gestural ease. With the sitters face looking down and slightly away from the painter and viewer, her character is conveyed to us by her stance and pigmentation just as much as the cast of her glance and expression of her mouth. In the present work, Freud uses the springy bristles of his hog-hair brush like a sculptor, emphasizing the three dimensionality and overt physicality of the pigment with his trademark style of vigorous, gutsy realism. Ironically, Freuds sensitivity to mood is given full display through some of the most muscular, tactile brushwork of the late 20th century.
American art is often heralded for its ability to capture the vitality of the countrys unique landscape and spirit. This tradition is celebrated in an impressive offering of Contemporary works from a Distinguished Private Collection. Hudson River School or Luminist landscapes of the 19th century find abstract counterparts in the work of Richard Diebenkorn, whose Ocean Park No. 44 from 1971 (est. $6/8 million) was inspired by the sunlight and warm ocean air of Santa Monica, California; and Agnes Martin, whose Untitled #7, from 1974 (est. $2.5/3.5 million) was inspired by the austere solitude of the deserts of New Mexico. The stark commentaries of the Social Realists of the early 20th century find ironic expression in the late-century Pop art of Roy Lichtenstein, as in his Interior with Red Wall from 1991 (est. $8/10 million). In this series, his sources were advertisements of an American scene of a different type the domestic interior. Presented in a highly stylized manner, the painting focuses on the myth of American domestic bliss, ironically defined by seductive possessions and uniformity.
Richard Diebenkorn's monumental Ocean Park series, of which the artists Ocean Park no. 44 is part, begun in 1967 and extending nearly 20 years, represents the signature core of his oeuvre. In 1966, Diebenkorn moved to the Ocean Park section of Santa Monica, California, and the artist evokes the lilting effects of sunlight and ocean air as well as the open expanses of beach and nearby streets with infinite variety throughout the series. Ocean Park no. 44, from 1971, is a luminous example from this important series of monumental, airy, geometric abstractions. It is Diebenkorn's attention to material process which undergirds the effect of the Ocean Park canvases, and No. 44, in particular. Like the planes and facets of color laid thinly and delicately, one on top of the other, colored lines of paint are drawn and redrawn. Washes of pinks, peaches, and yellows are defined by blue and red lines, banding and marking off geometric fields to emphasize verticality. Diebenkorn shifted them as he constructed the composition, leaving ghost marks, to make the canvas a trace record of its creation and arriving at a restful seemingly inevitable solution.
This Distinguished Private Collection takes the American spirit and sense of place to its ultimate expression with the inclusion of outdoor sculpture on a grand scale. Lichtensteins Five Brushstrokes from 1994 (est. $6/8 million) fuses the basic unit of painting the brushstroke with the concreteness of sculpture. Rising roughly 20 feet in the air, Five Brushstrokes expresses art in the landscape with almost a figural presence.
The Distinguished Private Collection also features Richard Serras 12-4-8 (est. $2/3 million), an outdoor installation of propped steel from 1983, which stamps mans presence in his environment with all the bold innovation and brash independence typical of this artist, bringing the industrial and the artificial out into the natural.
Among the rich sculptural offerings, in addition to the aforementioned Lichtenstein and Serra outdoor sculptures, is John Chamberlains Ca- dOro (est. $1.8/2.2 million) from 1964, which exemplifies the artists crushed metal structures, long recognized for their significant contribution to sculpture in the twentieth century. Beginning in the early 1960s, Chamberlain manipulated derelict automobile parts into his own forms. By adding the dimension of grandiose volume and bolder colors to the urgent spontaneity and procedural clarity so crucial to the Abstract Expressionist painters, Chamberlain liberated sculpture from the tradition of cast metal or sculpted stone. The present work shares its name with the renowned Ca dOro palazzo, or golden house, on the Grand Canal in Venice, named for its once heavily ornate gilt and polychrome façade, and Ca- dOros strong noble colors and reflective surface brilliantly shimmer as if in the romantic afternoon light on the Grand Canal. Additional sculptural offerings include a 1953 wood sculpture by Louise Bourgeois and another from 1968 in marble, Clamart (est. $3.5/4.5 million); a Donald Judd brass wall progression from 1970; a Richard Serra 1969 indoor lead floor piece from the Collection of Helga and Walther Lauffs; an Untitled work by Alexander Calder from 1946 (est. $1/1.5 million), as well as a stack of Andy Warhol boxes from the 1960s and works by Bruce Nauman, Rachel Whiteread and Anish Kapoor.
Sothebys will offer examples from Tom Wesselmanns three hallmark series from in the 1960s and early 1970s: his Great American Nude, Still Life and Mouth series. A Great American Nude #21 (est. $6/8 million), oil and collage on board, executed in 1961, is replete with American iconic references: the American Flag in an embroidered fabric of Old Glory, a picture of JFK, Marilyn Monroe lips and a palette and overall composition keyed to the red, white and blue flag. This Pop masterpiece is aligned with others from the 1960s with iconic appeal: Warhols paintings of Marilyn, Jasper Johns Flag Paintings and Rauschenbergs colored silkscreen paintings that include images of JFK. Wesselmanns shaped canvas painting titled Still Life #58 (est. $3/4 million) features an assemblage of objects, including a rose and a cigarette. In the early 1960s, Wesselmann began a series of Still Life paintings, drawing upon Pop imagery and product advertising. Simultaneously, he developed his Great American Nude series of erotically charged paintings. These two series informed one another, and gradually, Wesselmann began to remove the human presence from the scene of his paintings, first by including only fragmented body parts, such as legs, lips or hands. In later works such as the present painting, created from 1969-1972, the human figure is completely absent, but her trace remains in the lit cigarette resting on its ash tray. Rounding out the Wesselmann offerings is Mouth from 1966 (est. $1.5/2 million).
Jeff Koons painting titled Cheeky from 2000 (est. $4/6 million) appeared on the back cover of the 2001 retrospective of the artists work at the Kunsthaus Bregenz. From the artists Easy Fun-Ethereal series, Cheeky collages brightly colored iconic images of food, bikinis and beaches into overlapping layers that celebrate childhood pleasures. The images in Cheeky are a metaphor for the bombarding stimuli of modern life. In this work Koons again renders everyday objects with the immediacy and gigantism of billboard advertising, yet thwarting their complete apprehension through fragmentation, shifts in scale and odd juxtapositions.
An artist renowned for his impeccably slick photographic appropriations of stock symbols of American consumer culture, Richard Prince is represented with his Everglade Nurse from 2003 (est. $4/6 million). The motif of the nurse, gleaned from the covers of the artists extensive collection of racy 1960s paperback pulp-fiction is first transferred onto canvas using an ink-jet print, a process that results in an anonymous facture that was the hallmark of the artists earlier oeuvre. In a creative process which is the reversal of Andy Warhols celebrated screen-printing technique, this surface is then worked on by smearing deep layers of drippy, acrylic paint onto the smooth, inkjet surfaces, so that layer upon layer of brilliant pastel hues simultaneously obscure and reveal the image that lies beneath, creating a hazy film of paint that consciously allows ghostlike traces of the background to emerge and recess into the mysterious depths of the composition.
Additional works include Cy Twombly, Untitled VI (est. $4/6 million) from 1986; Willem de Kooning, Untitled VI (est. $5/7 million) from 1985; John Currin, Nice n Easy from 1999 (est. $3.5/4.5 million); and Andy Warhol, Camouflage from 1986 (est. $3/5 million). Two works by Gerhard Richter separated by twenty years - Alfons Strawalski (est. $2/3 million) painted in 1966 and Abstraktes Bild (Blau) Abstract Painting (Blue) from 1986 (est. $4.5/6.5 million) - demonstrate Richters continuing engagement with stylistically diverse concepts of how an artist should approach reality.