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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Ramos, Sturtevant, Kapoor, Banksy, Henning, Warhol and Chicago – Stand-Outs for May’s Inaugural Contemporary Art Sale at Bonhams New York

Collectors and admirers of contemporary works of art are eagerly anticipating Bonhams’ inaugural New York sale of Contemporary Art on May 13, 2008. On offer will be outstanding works by many of today’s most highly regarded artists, including Mel Ramos, Elaine Sturtevant, Anish Kapoor, Banksy, Anton Henning, Andy Warhol and Judy Chicago.

Bonhams Director of Contemporary Art Tate Dougherty states, “We have put together a very strong debut sale. Many of the works to be sold are among the very best of their kind. Additionally, the sale has great breadth. There are terrific works by women artists and emerging artists. There is a vibrant pigment wall sculpture by the Indian artist Anish Kapoor and a bold organic piece from his acclaimed Earthworks series by the Iranian Marcos Grigorian. In keeping with Bonhams’ strength in these fields, we a have some excellent works by California and Urban artists.”

Expected to generate strong interest among an international pool of bidders is a very rare and important early Banksy. An artist recently catapulted to fame for his politically charged often ironic spraypainted stencils, Banksy has become one of the most sought after young artists of his generation.

banksy.jpgOne of the works to be sold is a very early stand-alone red and black painting of four monkeys bearing signs which read: “Laugh now, but one day we’ll be in charge.”

This image, like Warhol’s Marilyn, has become one of the artist’s most famous and iconographic images. The work to be offered on May 13th is a 24 x 28 _ inch red board on which the artist spray-painted with stencil four monkeys. Many years before he started frequently using the imagery, Banksy gifted this piece to its current owner, a close friend of the artist. It is expected to bring upwards of $180,000. Signature works by fellow urban artists Nick Walker and the New York collaborative Faile will also be offered.

Another important work on offer is an installation by Judy Chicago, arguably the most recognized living female artist. Known primarily for her groundbreaking work The Dinner Party, currently on long-term view at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and as one of the foremost feminist artists, Chicago also has recently been recognized for her significant contribution to Minimalism. Included in the sale will be the beautifully monumental Rainbow Pickett, which consists of a series of monochrome color planks at right angles ascending a wall. Most recently exhibited at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art during the exhibition “A Minimal Future? Art as Object,” the work was widely reproduced in banners, advertisements, and on billboards announcing the exhibition. Inspired by the 1960’s soul singer Wilson Pickett, Chicago originally created the piece in 1965 for an exhibition at the Rolf Nelson Gallery. It was subsequently shown at the Jewish Museum in the groundbreaking “Primary Structures” exhibition. Writing on the show, Clement Greenberg cited Rainbow Pickett as one of the best works. The work has been reproduced and cited in numerous books and articles. Due to prohibitive storage costs, the artist was forced to destroy the original work only to recreate it in 2004. This museum quality work is estimated to bring between $350,000 and $450,000 at auction.

Another lot which has spent a considerable amount of time in a museum is an impressive 1975 painting by Larry Rivers titled Two Lines of the Depression. In this work, the artist starkly renders two aspects of perseverance and fortitude using themes, images and a visual style of the Great Depression. The work depicts two groups of people: most prominent is a long chorus line of young women bearing the National Recovery Administration logo on their backs, below them is a group of people waiting in line for assistance, the very people the NRA was created to help. This painting was on long-term loan to the Indianapolis Museum and has been reproduced in a number of books and articles about the artist. Estimated at $60,000-80,000, this, according to Bonhams specialists, is one of the artist’s best works from 1970s.

Dougherty also notes the anticipated high level of interest in a couple of works coming from the renowned Kenneth L. Freed Collection. The first, an anatomical and organic JohnWesley painting, was included in the artist’s 2000 P.S.1 retrospective “John Wesley: Paintings 1961-2000,” curated Alanna Heiss. Carrying an estimate of $100,000 -150,000, the 48×66 inch Wesley piece is expected to spark fierce bidding.

Also from the Kenneth L. Freed Collection is a work from a leading young German artist, Anton Henning. Estimated at $40,000-60,000, the piece is considered a very important work by the artist, referencing Van Gogh’s Room at Arles. The artist has subsequently painted this imagery hanging on the walls of other imaginary interiors he has created.

One of the super heroes of the sale is a powerful and iconographic Mel Ramos painting from the 1960s. Coming from a private collection, The Green Lantern embodies all the optimism and visual punch of the very best of the pop movement. Beautifully and simply rendered, the figure stands on a background defined by bold sweeps of thick paint. Says Dougherty, “The Green Lantern is part of the pantheon of Pop Art. These works have been influencing younger artists for nearly 50 years.” The auction’s catalog cover lot, its crime-stopping estimate is set at $600,000-800,000.

“I’m very much looking forward to showing these works in the new headquarters of Bonhams New York. As a former museum space, the new galleries will give us a terrific platform to continue to showcase the best of contemporary art.”

Previews open in New York City at the new salesrooms and gallery of Bonhams at 580 Madison Avenue on May 9-13, 2008. The illustrated auction catalog will be online for review and purchase at in the weeks preceding the previews.