Christie’s London Post War And Contemporary Auction Realises Over £70m

Christie’s London evening auction of Post-War & Contemporary Art held on 25 June has realised a total of £70,253,225 / $108,470,979 / €82,477,286, selling 90% by value and 80% by lot.

The most expensive lot in the sale was Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled (1982) which sold for £18,765,875 / $28,974,511 / €22,031,137. Peter Doig’s Jetty (1994) sold for £7,341,875 / $11,335,855 / €8,619,361 (estimate: £4,000,000-6,000,000).

The anticipated Homage to Chillida collection sold out realising a total result of £7,335,000/ $11,325,240 / €8,611,290, against a combined low estimate of £5.7 million. The other 39 lots will be offered for sale on 26 June.

Francis Outred, International Director and Head of Post-War & Contemporary Art, Christie’s Europe said; “Following the recent records set at Christie’s for Basquiat and Doig, yet again we saw strong results for these artists both of whom made their second price.”

Three artists across generations and around the world made record prices – from Chillida in the Post-War period, to Castellani in the Sixties and Banisadr today. Overall the auction showed an intelligent, solid market and a depth of global bidding, which is a testament to the worldwide interest in Post-War and Contemporary art”.

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled sold for £18,765,875 / $28,974,511 / €22,031,137 (estimate on request). An epic large-scale double portrait from 1982, a pivotal year in the artist’s career, it forms part of the series of important double portraits, including Untitled (Two Heads on Gold) and Dustheads (which set the current record price for the artist at auction when it sold at Christie’s New York in May). The full-length double portraits of 1982 marked Basquiat’s coming of age in the art world. In 1982 he was 21, he had just met his idol Andy Warhol, and the success of his gallery show at Annina Nosei that March gave him a new-found freedom, enabling him to earn a living from his paintings. The dancing figures in this work evoke the joyous spirit of this heady time when Basquiat had just broken through to art world super-star status.

Consigned from the same prestigious collection within which it had remained since the year of its creation, Jetty (1994), a masterpiece by Peter Doig, sold for £7,341,875 / $11,335,855 / €8,619,361 (estimate: £4,000,000-6,000,000). Executed on a monumental scale, Jetty creates an idealised vision of a landscape, vast and all encompassing. Taking a scenic postcard as his point of departure, Jetty is a nostalgia-tinged rendering of Alberta’s Cameron Lake in Western Canada. All three works by Doig offered in the Christie’s evening auction sold far above their pre-sale estimates.

Nicolas de Staël’s Marseille (1954) realised £3,085,875 / $4,764,591 / €3,622,817 (estimate: £1,000,000-1,500,000). Dating from the pinnacle of the artist’s career, when nature and landscape became his preferred subjects through which to explore colour and form, Marseille is one of de Staël’s Mediterranean paintings, which are among his most celebrated works. One of the earliest examples of Roy Lichtenstein’s Pop imagery Cup of Coffee (1961) fetched £2,805,875 / $4,332,271 / €3,294,097 (estimate: £1,500,000-2,000,000). With its graphic intensity and striking array of hand-stencilled indigo blue Benday dots, this work is a crucial marker of the advent of Pop Art in America and forms part of a series of single object paintings that represented quintessential American life and were sourced from mass-produced newsprint ads.

Yves Klein’s SE 181 (1960) sold for £2,693,875 / $4,159,343 / €3,162,609 (estimate: £1,400,000-1,800,000). With its elegant oceanic sponge form is one of only three extremely rare versions in the artist’s oeuvre in which the sponge and base are organically linked by Klein’s trademark blue, creating a tree-like form. Drenched in the artist’s signature International Klein Blue, this sponge sculpture embodies the essence of the artist’s celebrated Sculptures éponges that have recently made record prices at Christie’s. One of five large and uniquely formatted works that Enrico Castellani made for the Central Italian Pavilion of the 1966 Venice Biennale, Superficie bianca n. 34 (White Surface n. 34) realised £1,853,875 / $2,862,383 / €2,176,449, setting a new world record price for the artist at auction (estimate: £400,000-600,000). Superficie bianca n. 34 is a work that breaks down the conventional borderlines between painting and sculpture and between space, surface and material. Following his mentor Lucio Fontana’s radical break with tradition, Castellani evolved a technique of spatially distorting the empty monochrome surface of the painting by stretching it over a systematically prepared relief background of nails.

‘HOMAGE TO CHILLIDA’ Christie’s evening auction offered the first 8 works from the group of 47 lots which formed the complete Homage to Chillida exhibition curated by Kosme de Barañano and held at Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in 2006. Representing a fitting testament to the remarkable career of Eduardo Chillida (1924-2002), sold 100% totalling £7,335,000/ $11,325,240 / € 8,611,290 (combined pre-sale estimate: £5,680,000-7.5 mllion). The top lot from this section of the sale was Eduardo Chillida’s monumental sculpture Buscando la Luz IV (2001). Standing as a tribute to light and to the earth, this spectacular 8-metre tall and 17 tons heavy monolith, sold for £4,093,875 ⁄ $6,320,943 ⁄ €4,806,209, setting a new world record for the artist at auction. ARTIST RECORDS: • Lot 4, Ali Banisadr (b. 1976), In the Name Of, 2008, £217,875 / $336,399 / €255,785 • Lot 35, Enrico Castellani (b. 1930), Superficie bianca n. 34, 1966, £1,853,875 ⁄ $2,862,383 ⁄ €2,176,449 • Lot 56, Eduardo Chillida (1924-2002), Buscando la Luz IV, 2001, £4,093,875 ⁄ $6,320,943 ⁄ €4,806,209

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