Christie’s New York Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale Results

Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale totaled $74,151,500/£44,669,578/€49,766,107. Works by artists Peter Doig, Jeff Koons, and Joan Mitchell commanded the top prices. In addition, new world record prices were set for works on paper by Philip Guston, and Brice Marden and a drawing by Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Joan MitchellMarc Porter, President of Christie’s Americas, states: “This Evening Sale confirmed the stability of the Post-War market for the freshest and highest caliber works by Peter Doig, Joan Mitchell, and Jasper Johns with strong prices achieved for highly sought-after artists. These results reflected a market that is sophisticated, focused and determined in its buying activity. Master works on paper captured the interest of international buyers, attracting fierce bidding and achieving record prices for drawings by Jean Michel Basquiat, Brice Marden, and Philip Guston. Private collections and estates performed superbly, led by The Collection of John Cage and Merce Cunningham sold to benefit the Cunningham Trust, which soared beyond expectation.”

The sale of Property from the Collection of John Cage and Merce Cunningham, Sold to Benefit the Merce Cunningham Trust presented collectors with the opportunity to acquire six significant works by the great Post-War masters Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Philip Guston. All six works achieved strong prices, achieving a collective total of $7,111,000. Two of the most important figures to emerge in the American Post-War era, Cunningham and Cage collaborated and forged friendships with some of the most influential artists of their generation. It is therefore fitting that the centerpiece of the collection is a work directly inspired by Merce Cunningham and his dance troupe – Jasper Johns, Dancers on a Plane, Merce Cunningham, 1980-1981, which realized $4,338,500.

An exceptional group of works by Robert Rauschenberg including works from the 1950s were offered, each emblematic of his highly experimental approach, including a transfer drawing dedicated to John Cage, Untitled, from 1961 that sold for $938,500 and No. 1, 1951, which achieved $962,500. A new world auction record of $542,500 was established for a work on paper by Philip Guston, with the sale of Untitled, an ink on paper executed circa 1953.

The sale’s top lot was Peter Doig’s Reflection (What Does Your Soul Look Like), 1996, which sold for $10,162,500 after an extended bidding battle. Considered one of the artist’s great masterpieces, the large-scale painting echoes Gustav Klimt’s landscapes, Caspar David Friedrich’s figures, Claude Monet’s waterlilies, and Jackson Pollock’s drips.

One of the most important paintings by Joan Mitchell to be offered at auction, Untitled, circa 1958 achieved $5,458,500. A powerful and intense painting created by a youthful Mitchell at the beginning of her career, Untitled demonstrates the unbridled force and unrelenting passion that came to define Mitchell’s best work.

Master works on paper from prominent artists achieved strong prices, including a rare large-scale Untitled, 1982 by Jean-Michel Basquiat, which set a new world auction record for a drawing by the artist $3,106,500. A second Basquiat work, Untitled (14 Drawings) achieved $1,986,500. Elsewhere, Heinz Tomato Ketchup with Campbell’s Soup Can from 1961 by Andy Warhol $1,052,500 and Untitled with Green, 1989 by Brice Marden, sold for $2,042,500, also establishing a world auction record for a work on paper by the artist.

Three seminal, early works by Jeff Koons drew strong bidding. The rare and spectacular Large Vase of Flowers, an exquisitely colorful, vibrant work with complex allusions to social hierarchies, taste, life cycles, and sex, ultimately sold for $5,682,500. Koons’s New Shelton Wet/Dry 5-Gallon, New Hoover Convertible Doubledecker, 1981-87, from his ground-breaking series, The New, achieved $3,106,500. Completing the selection was Wishing Well, 1988, a large Rococo-like mirror inspired by the artist’s fascination with old masters and immortality from his best known series, Banality, totaled $1,142,500.

An important orange-hued vintage stack sculpture by Donald Judd, Untitled, 1968 (DSS120) realized $4,898,500. The present work is one of a small number of this ground-breaking series composition Judd created between 1965-1968. Other sculptures presented in the sale yielded strong results, including two works by Alexander Calder: Untitled, a large-scale hanging mobile created in 1950, which achieved a top price at $3,554,500, and Constellation with Red Knife, circa 1943, which realized $2,378,500. David Smith’s Abandoned Foundation (Landscape) soared above the estimate of $600,000-800,000 to sell for $1,426,500.

Among one of the most anticipated works in the sale was Andy Warhol’s Michael Jackson, which sold for $812,500. The painting was one of a small group of portraits executed in the 1980’s of the late pop legend, one of which was subsequently used as a cover for Time Magazine and is now in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.

The sales continue at Christie’s New York Wednesday November 11, with the Christie’s Post-War & Contemporary Art Day Sales.

Image: “Untitled,” by artist Joan Mitchell, circa 1958 achieved $5,458,500. Photo: Reuters/Chip East

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