The Contemporary Art Evening Auction in London this June is headed by an incredible group of Andreas Gursky stock exchanges – the largest assembly from Gursky’s seminal cycle to exist in either public or private hands. Two seminal paintings by Francis Bacon frame the sale: Head III, an unsettling depiction of man from his crucial 1949 series of six Heads is joined by the important triptych Three Studies of Isabel Rawsthorne painted in 1966. Further highlights also include an exceptional work from Lucio Fontana’s celebrated Venezie as well as a large white Concetto Spaziale boasting six immaculate cuts.
In addition, two paintings executed at the very height of Gerhard Richter’s practice exemplify his acclaimed Abstrakte Bilder. An extremely rare black and white work by Bridget Riley from 1964, Stretch, makes its first public appearance since the 1970s while two prime examples spanning David Hockney’s career illustrate his unique painterly approach. An exceptional Pop art section is led by Tom Wesselmann’s Great American Nude #34 and Still Life 5½ from 1962 and complemented by works by Andy Warhol. Accompanying these, a host of sought-after pieces by the leading names in contemporary art such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Takashi Murakami, Martin Kippenberger, Christopher Wool, Nate Lowman, Dan Colen and Hurvin Anderson will also be offered.
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The opportunity to acquire landmark works for their collections bought bidders from 38 countries to compete at Sotheby’s London on 26 June, 2013. The Contemporary Art Evening Auction realized £75.8 million, with an average lot value of £1.43 million – one of the highest figures for this category in London. Leading the sale were two works by Francis Bacon. The 1966 triptych portrait of his friend, muse and lover Isabel Rawsthorne sold for £11,282,500, while the first work the artist ever sold, his historic Head III was battled for by six collectors, driving the price to £10,442,500 (est. £5-7m). Fifty-four years ago, just across the road from Sotheby’s at the Hanover Gallery in St. George Street, the same work fetched £150 at Bacon’s first ever commercial show.
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