Christie’s Sale Presents Exciting Selection of Post-War & Contemporary Art

Attracting both new and seasoned collectors alike, Christie’s First Open sale of Post-War and Contemporary Art will offer a stimulating selection of paintings, prints, photographs, and sculptures on March 11. Presenting an exciting mid-season collecting opportunity, First Open showcases works by some of the most desired contemporary artists of our time, including Helen Frankenthaler, Barbara Kruger, Yayoi Kusama, Glenn Ligon, Gabriel Orozco, Cindy Sherman, Wayne Thiebaud, Fred Tomaselli, and Andy Warhol among many others. The sale will be preceded by a public exhibition at Christie’s Rockefeller Center Galleries from 6-10 March.

Wayne-Thiebaud
Wayne Thiebaud (b. 1920) Valley River signed and dated `Thiebaud 1995′ (on the reverse) oil on canvas 15.7/8 x 20 in. (40.3 x 50.8 cm.) Painted in 1995. Estimate: $200,000-300,000. Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2010

Wayne Thiebaud’s (b. 1920) Valley River (estimate: $200,000-300,000) is a vibrant painting that features the flat, fertile farmland of the Sacramento river valley as it flows westward towards the San Francisco bay. Thiebaud’s attachment to the land can be traced back to his childhood when he spent his summers on his grandfather’s ranch in California helping to work the land and harvest crops. While Thiebaud is best known for his paintings of store fronts and colorful displays of confectionary goods, his landscapes remain an integral and important part of his oeuvre; and are a testament to the versatile talents of the artist today.

Among the highlights is an extraordinary work executed in 1963 by Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929), Repetitive Vision (estimate: $100,000-150,000). A prime example of Kusama’s obsessive fascination with replication along with the appropriation of everyday objects, the work is an accumulation of air mail labels pasted down by hand on paper. Broadly unsung during her two decades in New York, Yayoi Kusama is now unequivocally regarded as a critical figure in the Pop, Minimalist and Performance Art movements and an artist whose influence still reverberates with contemporary artists of today.

Helen Frankenthaler’s (b. 1928) Dawn Stroke, (estimate: $100,000-150,000) is among the key abstract expressionist works offered in the sale. Reminiscent of early morning hues, this powerful and lyrical work is seeped in gradations of tawny rose and is emblematic of Frankenthaler’s ongoing investigations into the application of color and immediacy of image. In the artist’s own words, “A really good picture looks as if it’s happened at once… one really beautiful wrist motion that is synchronized with your head and heart, and you have it, and therefore it looks as if it were born in a minute.” (In Barbara Rose, Frankenthaler (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. 1975, p. 85)

Additional highlights include Two Jackies by Andy Warhol (1928-1987), dated 1964 (estimate: $40,000-60,000). Andy Warhol selected this image of Jackie Kennedy from eight close-up photographs of the First Lady in dramatic focus, and used it as the emotional barometer of the Kennedy assassination of 22 Nov 1963. The resulting image in Warhol’s silkscreen produces the effect of transforming the historical narrative into a series of affective moments or portraits that register the subject over time. Warhol’s Jackies series emphasize the artist’s fascination with portraiture as a true form of biography and arguably are his most powerful and evocative body of works. This iconic work on Plexiglas from the 1960s is a prime example of Warhol’s artistic process that has never before been offered at auction.

Among the other contemporary works being offered is Gabriel Orozco’s (b. 1962) Black Kites Perspectives (Right), completed in 1997 (estimate: $18,000-22,000). A print of a human skull decorated with a geometric pattern drawn in graphite, this work raises the question of its medium and content: whether it is a drawing or a sculpture, if it is figurative or abstract. Furthermore, the intricate checkerboard mapping of the skull brings to life the object’s endless protrusions and indentations. As both an aesthetically and intellectually stimulating work, Orozco’s collaborative use of different mediums exemplifies his ability to invigorate the genre of contemporary art

The sale also features Untitled #194 by the celebrated artist Cindy Sherman (b. 1954), executed in 1989 (estimate: $90,000-120,000). The legacy of the male gaze and its ultimate objectification of women are among the multiple interpretations this image addresses. In this instance, the viewer is confronted with a portrait of a sitter in costume, apparently a woman dressed in men’s clothing. As the subject stares directly at the viewer, our gaze is reflected and we ultimately become the object of the subject’s gaze. In other words, when dressed as a man, the female subject is able to objectify the viewer, rather than remaining the object.

Additional First Open highlights include works by Barbara Kruger (b. 1945), Untitled (Your every wish is our command), 1982 (estimate: $80,000-120,000); Fred Tomaselli (b. 1956) Lil’ Phosphenea, 1992 (estimate: $40,000-60,000) and the sale’s cover lot, Glenn Ligon (b. 1960) Untitled (Invisible Man) (estimate: $50,000-70,000).

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