The 12 February Contemporary Art Evening Auction totalled £88 million, with over two-thirds of the works offered never before seen at auction. The top lot was Gerhard Richter’s monumental Wand (Wall) which achieved £17.4 million. The painting was held by Richter to be a work of such importance that he chose to keep it in his personal collection for over fifteen years, singling it out as a keynote work for many important museum exhibitions.
Cy Twombly’s Untitled (Rome) sold significantly above estimate to a round of applause for £12.2 million, setting a new auction record for the artist. Other highlights of the sale included Andy Warhol’s red canvas Mao, Head on a Green Sofa by Lucian Freud and a rediscovered masterpiece by Frank Auerbach, Morning – Mornington.
Global participation was evident throughout the sale process, with works consigned from 14 countries and participants from 40 countries.
The Contemporary Art Evening Auction is led by a number of museum quality masterpieces from the post-war era through to the present day. Headlining the sale is an extraordinary work by Gerhard Richter, Wand (Wall) from 1994: chromatically astounding and monumental in scale, this painting is utterly without parallel in Richter’s landmark corpus of Abstrakte Bilder. Accompanying this masterpiece, further highlights include an historic Rome painting by Cy Twombly, diverse works by Italian master Lucio Fontana, and an extraordinary red Plastica piece by Alberto Burri.
In addition, a strong British section including a 1970s landscape by Frank Auerbach and a Dog Woman by Paula Rego is headlined by Lucian Freud’s defining 1960-61 painting, Head on a Green Sofa, depicting Lady Belinda ‘Bindy’ Lambton. Based on an eighteenth-century Fête Galante, Sigmar Polke’s striking Rokoko is complemented by signature works from German painters Martin Kippenberger and Anselm Kiefer, while a superb line-up of Pop Art boasts Andy Warhol’s commanding red and yellow Mao from 1973. Kicking off the sale, Lucien Smith’s London evening auction debut, the monumental Rain Painting Two Sides of the Same Coin, is followed by an imposing X Painting by Wade Guyton and an important work on paper from Christopher Wool’s 9th Street Rundown series belonging to the CAP Art Collection.