Bonhams Contemporary and Post-War Art Auction

. November 2, 2008

Following its successful inaugural sale of Contemporary art at Bonhams’ recently opened and spectacular Madison Avenue showrooms, the international fine art auctioneers will mount another highly-anticipated auction of Contemporary and post-war art on November 11.

contemporary-art.jpgThe sale should attract strong collector interest for its quality and diversity. Some highlights of the well rounded selection are: a desirable canvas by Mel Ramos, an important group of photographs by Zhang Huan, an excellent Vik Muniz photograph, two early and endearing works by Andy Warhol, a study by David Hockney, and a key New York themed canvas by Urban artist Nick Walker.

Estimated at $400/600,000, Miss Grape Festival is a classic Mel Ramos work from 1964 which clearly speaks to the artist’s interest in the intersection of good-looking women, art, advertising, and commodities. A typically beautiful and voluptuous brunette is depicted against a vibrant orange background seductively holding a bunch of grapes. The work is signed, titled, dated and inscribed by the artist. The provenance is described by specialists as “top notch.” The oil on canvas has been sold only once, purchased in 1965 by Dr. and Mrs. David Kirschner through the Museum of Modern Art Lending Service.

Also generating much excitement, especially in light of the current political climate, is a collection featuring each of the limited edition Obama prints produced by Shepard Fairey and Ron English. With estimates between $1,000 and $3,000, the prints were originally sold for a few hundred dollars to benefit Obama’s campaign. Along with the candidate’s celebrity, the prints have greatly increased in value with the greater acknowledgment of the historical significance of his campaign. Their value is further increased as the pieces gain iconic status through their widespread exposure. Rock the Vote, 2008 and Vote! 2008 are from editions of 350, while Hope, 2008, which features Obama’s portrait, is numbered 325/600. Hope will be offered to bidders just days after the election results are in – perhaps changing classification: from the portrait of a presidential candidate to – potentially – a portrait of the President.

A canvas with a New York City theme by Urban artist Nick Walker is expected to draw strong interest. From Walker’s “The Morning After” series, the 2007 acrylic, stencil and spray paint work depicts a bowler-hatted vandal rowing away from an all-night graffiti binge on the skyline of Manhattan. Bonhams is particularly pleased to offer this work as none of the canvases from this series has ever been shown in the US. Estimated at $40/60,000, the signed canvas comes to market greatly anticipated, as Bonhams effectively established the auction market for Walker’s works during its debut sale of Contemporary Art earlier this year, at which each of the artist’s pieces sold dramatically above their high estimates.

Bonhams is delighted to offer an excellent and cohesive collection of Chinese contemporary photography from a private New York collection. Works by Zhang Huan, Zhang Dali, Hai Bo and Cang Xin are expected to touch off excited bidding as these artists continue to garner international accolades. In particular, a set of six C-prints titled Chicken Pox from Zhang Huan is cause for much enthusiasm. Estimated at $25/35,000, this lot of 16×20-inch prints is a perfect example of the artist’s unique “performance-based concept photographs”. Conveying a sense of lost legibility, the works focus on the human face as a mask to be covered and screened. According to the auctioneers, this concept is much more easily understood in light of Zhang Huan ‘s exile from China that began in 1999 – just one year prior to creating the piece. Additionally, Hai Bo’s Four Seasons (Winter) is estimated at $15/20,000 while Bo’s Wooden Horse could bring $5/7,000.

Another stand out piece is by Whitney Biennial 2008 artist Rachel Harrison, from the Perth Amboy series that was exhibited in the 2004 Carnegie International. Similarly noteworthy pieces are a 2001 photograph by Vik Munoz from his “Pictures of Dust” series and a David Hockney drawing from the early 1970s. Two delightful early Warhol pieces will also be offered: Sam, an alluring gold leafed cat created by the artist around 1954 (est. $50/70,000) and a whimsical portfolio on the theme of success — consisting of five drawings of cherubs and birds designed for House Beautiful magazine around the same time (est. $15/20,000).

As Contemporary Art Dept. Director Tate Dougherty states, “This is a great sale. The variety and quality of works we will be offering are very exciting. Some pieces are whimsical and fun, while others are museum-quality. The selection of photographs in the sale is impressive. We have signature works by many great artists working in photography, including Zhang Huan, Rachel Harrison and Vik Muniz. The Mel Ramos Miss Grape Festival is as good as they come. It would be extremely difficult to find a better example of his work that has been so long off the market. For the last 45 years she has hung happily in the Kirschners’ living room.”

Auction info http://www.bonhams.com/uscontemporary/

Category: Auction News

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