Phillips de Pury & Company Announces Highlights From October Contemporary Art Auctions

. October 3, 2011 . 0 Comments

Phillips de Pury & Company announces the highlights from its London Contemporary Art auctions. The Evening auction will feature 36 lots with a low estimate of £10,060,000 /$15,938,000 and a high estimate of £14,600,000 /$22,111,000. The Day auction will comprise of 256 lots with a low estimate of £4,351,500/$6,273,300 and a high estimate of £6,191,500/$9,690,700.

“We are delighted to present our October Frieze Evening sale which includes major established artists such as Koons, Hirst, Prince, Warhol/Basquiat, Cattelan and Sherman integrated with some of the most fresh and exciting emerging talents.“ Peter Sumner, Head of Contemporary Sales, London.

“This October Phillips de Pury & Company is offering a very fresh and exciting selection of contemporary art from all over the world. We are thrilled to be opening our auction with four works to benefit the Bottletop Foundation.” George O’ Dell, Head of Contemporary Art Day Sale, London.

Highlights of the Contemporary Art Evening auction include: Jeff Koons, Seal Walrus Trashcans, 2003–09, estimated at £2,000,000 – 3,000,000 $ 3,160,000–4,740,000 € 2,300,000–3,450,000. Jeff Koons has an unrivalled ability to both visually amaze his audience while also combining humour with the philosophical. This has come to characterise his acclaimed multi-disciplinary and richly layered body of work over the past three decades. Seal Walrus Trashcans, from his series Popeye, is full of art historical references, cultural subversions and commentaries. Popeye features both paintings in which images from Koons’s own photos, sensual imagery and magazines are remixed into a playful composition, and sculptures in which inflatable pool toys are juxtaposed with found metal objects. As an integral part of the Popeye series, Seal Walrus Trashcans encapsulates Koons’ major themes such as the interplay between childhood innocence and adult sexuality, the bridging of low and high art, the representation of kitsch within the avant-garde and, most significantly, the fragility and ephemeral nature of life.

Damien Hirst, Observation – The Crown of Justice, 2006, estimated at £700,000–1,000,000 $1,110,000–1,580,000 €816,000–1,170,000. The work of Damien Hirst is known for its exploration of the territories of religion, science and death, and nowhere are these themes more clearly expressed than in the artist’s butterfly paintings, of which Observation – The Crown of Justice, is a superb example. The work featured in the critically acclaimed ‘Superstition’ exhibition at Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills in 2007. The exhibition was a spectacular display of Hirst’s butterfly paintings, and marked an extension of the artist’s so-called Kaleidoscope series begun in 2003. Drawing upon the shape, colour and design of stained glass windows of the great medieval cathedrals, these works exhibit a meticulously imposed patterning and symmetry that suggest the properties of fractal geometry. In doing so, Hirst confidently invites comparison between his work and the painstaking craftsmanship used to create stained glass windows.

Observation – The Crown of Justice strikes the viewer with a glorious burst and variety of colours, ranging from marine blues to pale yellows to reds and browns. The multifaceted composition is meticulously created solely out of butterfly wings. The rich variety of colours, shapes and sizes can be ascribed to the vast range of butterfly species used by Hirst’s studio to produce this astonishing work.

Warhol/Basquiat, Thin Lips 1984-85, estimated at £700,000–1,000,000 $ 1,110,000–1,580,000 € 816,000–1,170,000. No artistic collaboration of the post-war era has been as dynamic and telling as that between Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol. With each artist at different stages in their respective careers, their association turned out to be not only mutually beneficial but also resulted in a stunning body of work which is only now gaining the curatorial and commercial attention it deserves.

The present lot is a powerful example of this successful two year collaboration. In Thin Lips, Warhol painted on a mustard yellow background a haunting facial profile outline, complete with exaggerated bouffant hair, of the then American president Ronald Reagan. He then superimposed a commercial, stamp-like block of stencilled letters and numbers which reads “Outlays 695.3/Revenues 650.3/Deficit 45.0”, a subtractive mathematical equation referencing ‘Reaganomics’, President Reagan’s deficit reduction policy of the time. Basquiat’s subsequent contribution may be minimal but it is telling – his trademark capital lettering text to spell out ‘THIN LIPS’ next to Reagan’s mouth and highlighting in bright oil stick the haunting eyes of the President’s mask like face. Together, Basquiat and Warhol’s diverging artistic techniques and motifs in Thin Lips synthesize into a brilliant visual and thematic dialogue.

Damien Hirst, 5-Aminourscil, 2007, estimated at £600,000–800,000 $950,000–1,270,000 €699,000–934,000. 5-Aminouracil belongs to Hirst’s spot painting series, a series he intended to continue throughout his career. His spot paintings have received vast commercial and critical success since their conception in the late 1980s. The production of spot paintings has diminished little, and arguably will reach their climax with the Gagosian Gallery show, Damien Hirst: The Complete Spot Paintings 1986–2011, planned to take place in all eleven worldwide Gagosian Gallery spaces in early 2012. Never before will an artist, let alone a specific series, have received such international attention as with this forthcoming show.

5-Aminouracil, with its spherical canvas, large broadly spaced dots and mechanical precision has all the subtle characteristics of a recent spot painting. Hirst created his first versions of the spot paintings directly onto the walls of the warehouse in his breakthrough exhibition, ‘Freeze’, in 1988. His hand-painted works on canvas soon followed in the early 1990s. Similar aesthetics and ideologies are applied to 5-Aminouracil as with his early spot paintings.

5-Aminouracil takes its title from a chemical compound found in prescription medication, as is the case with all paintings from this series. It exemplifies a fundamental shift in modern society, from religious faith to an almost vulnerable faith in science and medicine. Hirst has produced a series that apotheosizes medication, an image of worship for the present day cult of science. His iconic Spot paintings, of which 5-Aminouracil is a flawless archetype on a rare circular canvas, have come to denote not only the conception of the Young British Artists but a renaissance in contemporary art.

Richard Prince, My Life as a Weapon 2007, estimated at £500,000–700,000 $792,000–1,110,000 €583,000–816,000. Richard Prince has explored, examined and experimented with the world of appropriation through the various channels of photography, painting, sculpture, writing and graphic design. He is among the most highly regarded and influential artists working today.

Prince began making his Joke Paintings in 1985. The jokes themselves are banal, well-worn bad jokes abstracted from their original context, such as cartoons. The irony and humour have all but disappeared in the process of presenting them in the new context of painterly and conceptual art. The present work, My Life as a Weapon (2007) consists of a collage of softporn photographs depicting women in seductive poses and various states of undress. The initial crudeness is obscured by flecks and blocks of blue, pink and yellow acrylic paint. The text is laid boldly on top of this chaotic blanket of colour and imagery; the large utilitarian lettering brings a rather Spartan calm to the composition. The presentation of the text, in block capitals and repeated three times, removes any semblance of the spontaneity of the joke. Like most of Prince’s joke paintings, the text in My Life as a Weapon draws on traditional joke subjects such as family, lovers and spouses.

Anselm Kiefer, Die Argonauten, 2008, estimated at £500,000–700,000 $792,000 1,110,000 €583,000–816,000. Anselm Kiefer was born into a country overshadowed by guilt and underscored by suppressed memory. It was also a nation that had lost its identity and entire artistic and cultural heritage. The artistic world of post-Nazi Germany imposed upon itself the ‘unspoken law’ of having to break with the old, pre-war traditions as well as censorship of all iconography and imagery relating to the Third Reich. This had a catastrophic effect upon the arts and “plunged Federal Germany into a veritable crisis of representation.” This search for identity as expressed by a personal and national heritage is the driving force behind Kiefer’s work. He was drawn to German myths, literature, and music as well as to philosophy and alchemy. Over time, Kiefer expanded his quest for identity beyond Germany and began to draw upon the Old Testament and the myths of ancient Greece and Egypt.

The current lot, entitled Die Argonauten [The Argonauts] from 2008, draws on the ancient Greek legend of sailors led by Jason who set out on their ship the Argo to regain the Fleece of the Golden Ram from Colchis in order to reclaim the throne from King Pelias. Once in Colchis, King Aietes agrees to return the fleece upon completion of several tasks. Amongst others Jason has to tame fire-breathing bulls, plough and sow a field with dragons’ teeth, and overcome the warriors that are born from these teeth. Die Argonauten is an ambitious three-dimensional work made with a characteristic combination of unlikely materials, such as branches, lead, gold paint fabric, ashes, sand, ceramic teeth, and plaster. Although the dress, the gold and teeth, together with the handwritten title, explicitly refer to the Greek myth, these symbols are also inevitably associated with the Holocaust. Such multilayering of meaning is typical of Kiefer’s work.

Paula Rego, The Servant, 1993 – 1994, estimated at £500,000–700,000 $ 792,000–1,110,000 € 583,000–816,000. Recognized as one of the leading figurative painters of her generation, the British-based, Portuguese-born Paula Rego has dedicated her artistic career spanning over a half century to the representation of the human predicament.

The Servant is Paula Rego’s first large-scale pastel on canvas. It precedes and anticipates her most famous series, Dog Women of 1994–95, also created in pastel. The Servant is a pivotal work that ushered in Rego’s mature style – it was a ground-breaking painting combining her previous psychologically charged imagery with a physical painting style that pastel, on such a large scale, demands. Set at night in a dark room with light from a hallway peering through the slightly ajar door, The Servant is a costume drama depicting a butler engaging with a vomiting maid. Filled with ambiguity and unease, the butler’s intentions are debatable. Two elements in the background of the painting would suggest a sinister reading of the scene: the children’s rocking pony and the proud stag reflected in the mirror. Metaphorically, the rocking pony is a feminine reference of childhood innocence whereas the stag, positioned above/on top of the pony represents the virile male dominating his female counterpart.

Cecily Brown, Park 2004, estimated at £400,000–600,000 $633,000–950,000 €466,000–699,000. Cecily Brown is now one of the most critically acclaimed of the young artists who revived interest in painting at the end of the 1990s. The current lot, entitled Park, is a particularly strong example of her highly characteristic style that uses loaded vigorous brush strokes, wide-ranging colours, smooth transitions and dense layers of paints. For Brown, it is impossible, and would make it irrelevant, to put her work in a vacuum and discuss it independent from the history of painting.

In the early 90s, Brown’s work was mainly figurative and overtly sexual but turned to fully abstract all-over compositions by the end of the decade. She began a series of abstract landscapes, of which the present lot is one, with vague horizons, hints of blue sky and subtle green and earthy tones. Nevertheless, the overarching thematic core which informs her work is ‘the sexual’.

Brown’s work is driven by bodies, intertwined figures, flesh, lust and emotions, always trying to tempt some sort of tension, contradiction and intensity – be it through colours, forms or the blatant portrayal of a sexual image which is subtly disguised in abstraction. This delicate play of the vague form and explicit content avoids the predictable in her work, turning it into a complex experience of sensations leading to further associations and allusions which forms an integral part of her work. Brown wants to make the viewer stop, look and discover and keep them in until one’s mind and senses are entirely encompassed and get lost in colour and form.

Phillips de Pury & Company to offer four lots benefiting the Bottletop Foundation: Ernesto Neto, All My Tenderness to You, 2011,eestimated at £30,000–50,000 $47,500–79,200 €35,000–58,300; Maria Nepomuceno, Untitled, 2011,estimated at £18,000–25,000 $28,500–39,600 €21,000–29,100; Vik Muniz Rolleiflex from the series Pictures of Junk, 2010 estimated at £20,000–30,000 $31,700–47,500 €23,300–35,000; Jake and Dinos Chapman, Nite At The Studio, 2011, estimated at £40,000-60,000 $63,300-95,000 €46,600-69,900. The artists featured here represent some of the most creative, internationally recognized and forward thinking artists working today. The diverse nature and new spirit of these works embody the ethos of the Bottletop Foundation’s mission and its idea that creativity comes in many forms and reaches everybody differently.

Highlights of the Contemporary Day auction include: John Baldessari, Space between glad hands, 1986, estimated at £100,000-150,000 $158,300-237,500 €116,000-174,800; Yang Shoabin, Untitled No.13, 2000, estimated at £150,000-180,000 $237,500-285,000 €174,800-209,800; Mira Schendel, Untitled, 1956, estimated at £120,000–180,000 $190,000–285,000 €139,900–209,800; George Condo, Ballet Gris, 1987, estimated at £80,000–120,000 $ 126,700–190,000 € 93,200–139,900; Andy Warhol, Repent and Sin No More! (Positive), 1985–86, estimated at £50,000–70,000 $79,200–110,800 €58,300–81,600; Francis Alys, Ambulantes, 1992–2001 estimated at £40,000–60,000 $63,300–95,000 €46,600–69,900; Keith Haring, Untitled, 1982, estimated at £ 40,000–60,000 $63,300–95,000 €46,600–69,900; Josef Albers, Portfolio ‘Homage to the Square’, 1967, estimated at £50,000-70,000 $79,200-110,800 €58,300-81,600.

Other day sale highlights include: Wade Guyton,Untitled, 2005, estimated at £50,000–70,000 $79,200–110,800 €58,300–81,600; Aaron Young, Untitled (Pink, quadriptyque), 2008, estimated at £30,000-50,000 $47,500-79,200 €35,00-58,300 ; Seth Price, Gold Key (Blue 1), 2007, estimated at £15,000–25,000 $ 23,700–$39,600 €17,500–€29,100; Friederich Kunath, Untitled “All my favourite painters couldn’t paint”, 2010, estimated at £10,000-15,000 $15,800-23,700 €11,700-17,500; Jennifer Allora & Guillermo Calzadilla, Under Discussion, 2004-05, estimated at £3,000-5,000 $6,300-9,500 €4,700-7,000; Folkert de Jong; The Message (Diogenes), 2007, estimated at £10,000-15,000 $15,800-23,700 €11,700-17,500;Thomas Houseago, Study for Aluminium Monument, 2009,estimated at £6,000–8,000 $9,500–12,700 €7,000–9,300; Adel Abdessemed, Sphere, 2006, estimated at £ 12,000–18,000 $19,000–28,500 €14,000–21,000; Callum Innes, Exposed Painting Blue Light, 2002, estimated at £ 5,000–7,000 $7,900–11,100 €5,800–8,200; Mickalene Thomas , Ain’t l a Woman (Fran), 2009, estimated at £10,000-15,000 $15,800-23,700 €11,700-17,500 ; Klara Lindén, Untitled (Poster Painting), 2007, estimated at £5,000-7,000 $7,900-11,100 €5,800-8,200; Tatsuo Miyajima, Untitled, 2007, estimated at £40,000-50,000 $63,300-79,200 €46,600-58,300;Desire Dolron, Xteriors (Brigitte), 2001estimated at £40,000-60,000 $63,300-95,000 €46,600-69,900.

Category: Fine Art

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