This October 2015, Christie’s will bring together an international selection of over 300 artists to headline the Frieze Week auctions of Post-War and Contemporary Art. A strong line up of some of the most exciting painters working today will form a core of the Post War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction. Led by Peter Doig’s Cabin Essence (1993-4), and Andy Warhol’s brightly coloured 1964 Flowers, included in Leo Castelli’s landmark exhibition of the same year, this field is completed by a series of some the biggest names in contemporary painting.
Jonas Wood, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Nicole Eisenmann, Toby Ziegler, Adrian Ghenie, Charline von Heyl and Amy Sillman are offered alongside some of their most celebrated antecedents including Martin Kippenberger, Albert Oehlen and Sigmar Polke. Featuring 55 lots the auction is estimated to achieve a total of £30,955,000 – £42,985,000. The Post War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction will take place at 16 October 2015 followed the same evening by the Italian Sale, together with ‘A Visual Odyssey: Selections from LAC (Lambert Art Collection)’ on 14 October and Post War and Contemporary Day Auction on 17 October, they are highlights of one of the most important weeks in the art world calendar.
Leading the new generation is Jonas Wood’s Untitled (M. V. Landscape) (2008, estimate: £250,000-350,000). Executed on a monumental scale, the painting captures Martha’s Vineyard in the height of summer during the year that the Boston Celtics won the world championship. An East-coast panorama piled high with trees and houses, the painting is rendered in a highlykeyed palette of blue, green, red and yellow, saturated with otherworldly brightness. The landscape is both indebted to and a departure from Peter Doig’s Cabin Essence; like Doig, David Hockney and Edward Hopper before him, Wood works from a personal archive of physical and half-remembered images. Opening his first major exhibition in London, the artist is also profiled in this month’s issue of frieze Magazine.: ‘Wood, who grew up literally surrounded by modern art – his grandfather collected works by the likes of Francis Bacon, Alexander Calder and Helen Frankenthaler – has dedicated his practice to the service of a surprisingly unreconstructed mission of purity and rigour, born out of that modernist inheritance.
Recently the subject of a major solo exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery in London, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye channels her emotional energies into the process of painting; her anonymous figures stand as expressions of her psyche, recording her state of mind on a particular day. Painted for the 11th Lyon Biennale Knave (2011, estimate: £60,000-80,000) epitomises YiadomBoakye’s ability to generate mood and emotion through a careful manipulation of colour and form. Another prominent figurative painter to feature is Adrian Ghenie, who was chosen to represent Romania at the 56th Venice Biennale, 2015. Ghenie’s Pie Fight Interior, (2012, estimate: £220,000-280,000) exhibited in the artist’s solo show at Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga in Spain (2014-2015). Pie Fight Interior shows an anonymous figure caked in thick swathes of oil paint, which slip slowly down his shoulders like custard cream, illustrating an incident that grapples with both the vicissitudes of history and the resonance of personal emotions within one compelling image.
Martin Kippenberger: Man of the 1980s
Kippenberger’s 21-panelled Bekannt durch Film, Funk, Fernsehen und Polizeinotrufsäulen (A celebrity in film, radio, television and police call boxes, 1981, estimate: £1,800,000-2,500,000) was last seen as part of Centre Georges Pompidou’s (Paris) exhibition Dear Painter, paint me…, in 2002-2003. The largest of the artist’s multi-panelled works, it was the centrepiece of Kippenberger’s first solo exhibition at Max Hetzler’s Stuttgart gallery in 1981, where it was acquired by the present owner. Executed in the same year, Kippenberger’s series of heroes and anti-heroes of the period – including a self-portrait in the style of Vincent Van Gogh and lookalikes of Ronald Reagan and Prince Rainier of Monaco, Peter Maffay, Horst, Marlon Brando, Chairman Mao, Helmut Schmidt and his wife Hannelore ‘Loki’ Glaser, Peter Krauss, Jörg Immendorff’s girlfriend Gabriela Manzona, Harald Juhnke, Pierre Littbarski, Leonid Brezhnev, Yasser Arafat, Albert Einstein and Prince Charles all capture the zeitgeist of this landmark decade.
Another highlight of the sale is Andy Warhol’s Flowers (1964, estimate: £1,500,000-2,000,000). Acquired in 1972, and included in Leo Castelli’s landmark exhibition in 1964, Flowers (1964) is one of the 24-inch square canvases that have come to define the series and Warhol’s career as a whole. Believed to be one of the original 28 works that were shown in the gallery’s window on facing East 77th Street, Flowers is a prime example of the series that stands as some of the most visually abstract and conceptually subversive of his early career. Believed to be one of the original 28 works that were shown in the gallery’s window on facing East 77th Street, Flowers is a prime example of the series that stands as some of the most visually abstract and conceptually subversive of his early career.
Sigmar Polke’s radical reinvention of painting is showcased in three works in the Evening Auction, each showing his striking approach to styles, forms and media, resisting definition at every turn. The three works featured in this season’s Evening Auction demonstrate the artist’s trademark juxtapositions of genres and subjects. Untitled (Familie vorm Fernseher) (Untitled (Family in Front of the Television)) (1999, estimate: £500,000-700,000) employs disparate styles to create an image of apparent domestic bliss that contains a witty assertion of its opposite. Polke created the work by tracing a graphic, cartoon-like image of a young family watching television upon the shimmering surface of this vast, almost two-metre-long painting on paper. This is presented alongside Untitled (2004, estimate: £600,000-800,000), a radical combination of two distinct styles that he had first pioneered in the 1960s – his Stoffbilder (fabric paintings) and his Rasterbilder (Raster dot paintings). Fusing the apparently natural pattern of dots on a leopard-skin and a raster-pattern of dots mechanically produced to convey an image of Alfred Hitchcock, Director of Birds and Psycho, Untitled asserts itself as a demonstrably abstract painting. The trio of canvases that form the third piece, Untitled (2000, estimate: £380,000-420,000), exploit the unpredictable nature of dispersion fluid, depicting an unknown world of volatile form, chemical interaction, hidden structure and perpetual flux.
Frieze Week Favourites
Also central to the sale are works by artists who are the subject of some of London’s most highly anticipated exhibitions of the year. Currently the subject of a major solo show at the Royal Academy of Arts, Ai Weiwei is represented in the auction with three works including Coca-Cola Vase (2010, estimate: £250,000-350,000), part of an iconic series of hand-painted vases which began in 1994, shortly after the artist returned to China after twelve years in America. By delicately painting the famous ‘Coca-Cola’ logo, a symbol of capitalist America, onto an ancient Han dynasty vase (206 B.C.–220 A.D.), Ai powerfully strips the object of its original value and rebrands it as a contemporary commodity.
Gerald Laing is currently included in ‘The World Goes Pop’ exhibition at Tate Modern and features with his work Commemoration (1965, estimate: £500,000-700,000). Encapsulating the heady glamour of the Swinging Sixties, its seductive, bikini-clad figure is based on an image found in the January 1965 edition of the American fashion magazine Mademoiselle. Painted in Tony Curtis’s studio and part of the same California collection since 1965, the work is composed via a series of dots and blank white spaces, bisected by two fluorescent streaks of orange, the work anticipates both Roy Lichtenstein’s engagement with the ‘Ben Day’ graphic process, and Polke’s later rasterbilder.
Subject of a major autumn blockbuster retrospective at Tate Britain is Frank Auerbach, whose Figure on a Bed (1968, estimate: £400,000-600,000) belongs to a series of works that depicts one of his most significant muses, Julia Yardley Mills (‘J.Y.M.’), reclining upon a bed. His works from this period are situated at an important turning point in Auerbach’s practice as, having signed a contract with Beaux Arts gallery, the artist was able to purchase high-quality coloured pigments for the first time. Figure on a Bed is an exemplar of new saturated palette.
Five Early Works on Paper: Baselitz, Kiefer and Freud
Christie’s is also pleased to offer a selection of four Anslem Kiefer and Georg Baselitz’s works on paper as a central group within the Evening Auction. Their creative partnership was formed in 1968 after Baselitz purchased several of Kiefer’s works and found a shared agenda to deconstruct the fundamentals of German Romanticism in the post-War era. This artistic dialogue can be witnessed in their mutual explorations of legacy of the Romantic sublime, such as Kiefer’s snow covered landscape – an unusual engagement with his native German landscape. Baselitz ‘s Heimweg (Way Home) and Ohne Titel (Heimweg II) (Untitled Way Home II, 1967, estimate: £250,000350,000 each are marked by the post-War situation, two figures are avatars torn between two worlds – between a lost age of pastoral innocence and an uprooted, destabilized post-War landscape.
Lucian Freud’s Tired Boy (1943, estimate: £500,000-700,000) also promises to be a much sought after item in the sale, an intimately rendered line drawing executed when Freud was just twenty-one years old, the work portrays the artist’s young friend Nigel Macdonald his companion on numerous adventures to Scotland.
Katharine Arnold, Head of the Post War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction commented: ‘We are delighted to present the very best of painting at Christie’s during Frieze Week. From the great master of contemporary figuration, Peter Doig, with his landmark ‘Cabin Essence’ – surely the highlight of the season – to man of the ‘80s Martin Kippenberger, to the very best of the new generation including Jonas Wood, Nicole Eisenmann, Toby Ziegler and Adrian Ghenie, Christie’s is celebrating the true power of paint. Female artists are strongly represented by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Charlene von Heyl and Amy Sillman who lie at the heart of the carefully-curated sale we have gathered for this season’s Post War and Contemporary Evening Auction.’