(left to right) Sotheby's Contemporary Art experts Charles Locke Moffett, Johanna Flaum, Emily Kaplan, Michael Macaulay and Courtney Kremers.
NEW YORK – The Contemporary Art Day sale on 15 May features works that represent the breadth of artistic achievement from the Postwar period to the present day. As anticipation mounts for the over 450-lot sale, seven of the Contemporary Art department’s experts take a closer look at one of their favorite objects in the sale – and take a selfie in front of it. #sothebysselfie
Johanna Flaum in front of Elizabeth Peyton’s Ben (Villa d'Este). Estimate $800,000-1,200,000.
Assistant Vice President, Head of Day Sales, Contemporary Art
Elizabeth Peyton's Ben (Villa d'Este) is one of those paintings that reminds us of the stronghold of figurative painting. Set in the enchanted Villa d'Este of Lake Como and rendered in a life-size scale that is such a rare treat for Peyton, this rainbow-colored painting welcomes us into a moment of self-exploration alongside the figure with whom we share the space. I'm reminded of a summer afternoon, travelling in a new city and the discovery and inspiration that come along with such adventures. You can see why discerning collector Adam Sender would have chosen such a jewel for his carefully curated collection.
Charles Locke Moffett in front of Nate Lowman’s Uhtzaiian. Estimate $250,000-350,000.
CHARLES LOCKE MOFFETT
Head of Afternoon Sales, Contemporary Art
The towering wall of shaped canvases at Nate Lowman's exhibition "I Wanted to Be an Artist but All I Got Was This Lousy Career" was one of the most awe-inspiring groups of paintings that I've ever seen. Standing in front of that salon-style arrangement at the Brant Foundation Art Study Center one could not help but feel impressed by Nate Lowman's visual vocabulary, which is definitively his own. Uhtzaiian represents the first time one of his air freshener works has come to auction, which perfectly marries appropriated imagery and Americana.
Emily Kaplan in front of Dan Colen’s Untitled (A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime). Estimate $250,000-350,000.
Associate Specialist, Contemporary Art
When I first saw Dan Colen's Untitled (A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime), I immediately thought of the graffitied network of lipstick-stained kisses covering Oscar Wilde's gravestone at Père Lachaise Cemetery, a place I love to visit whenever I'm in Paris. As with the famed tribute to Wilde, the kisses on this canvas serve as a universal signifier of human desire in an undulating web of pink, red and purple lipstick marks. Originally created as a wedding gift for his brother, this painting is a rare window into Colen's personal life and a poetic elegy to the indelible impression of love.
Michael Macaulay in front of Sigmar Polke’s Untitled. Estimate $800,000-1,200,000.
Vice President, Head of Evening Sales, Contemporary Art
Sigmar Polke’s Untitled from 2004 is among my favorite works in the Day sale. Created towards the end of his career, here Polke is still wrestling with the conventions of media and pushing the boundaries of representation; using translucent layers of ever-changing interference color to destabilize our understanding of what constitutes painting. In the tradition of Warhol’s Marilyn, Lichtenstein’s Women, and Richter’s Brigitte Bardot, Polke broadcasts (in both positive and negative) an unashamedly sexy found-image while at the same time revealing the precise architecture of that visual communication: namely the raster dot printing process which had made him famous forty years before.
Courtney Kremers in front of Andy Warhol’s Mercedes-Benz W 196R Grand Prix. Estimate $1,200,000-1,800,000.
Head of Contemporary Curated Sales, Contemporary Art
No expert in fast cars myself, Warhol’s Mercedes-Benz W 196R Grand Prix from 1986 still revs my engine (pun fully intended!). In the same way that Coca-Cola and Marilyn Monroe are part of the American Pop fabric, so too are cars, even German made ones. One of the last paintings created before Warhol’s untimely death in 1987, this painting is as seductive and ostentatious as it is simplified and elegant – a perfect balance.
Colin Smith in front of Christopher Wool’s Untitled (S112). Estimate $800,000-1,200,000.
Associate Cataloguer, Contemporary Art
I love Untitled (S112) because it crystallizes a unique moment of pure experimentation and expressiveness in Christopher Wool’s early career. It’s one of the earliest pattern paintings ever to appear at auction in which Wool creates a composition out of entirely different stamped designs layered on top of one another. The auction market has never seen a painting that incorporates one of Wool’s more figurative elements, the iconic heraldic bird, together with one of his signature decorative vine patterns. The dense layering and dramatic composition foreshadows Wool’s potential for inventiveness as he continued to subvert the conventions of painting through his use of spray paint and silkscreened imagery.
Nicole Schloss wearing Alexander Calder’s Untitled (Necklace). Estimate $200,000-300,000.
Associate Cataloguer, Contemporary Art
I am absolutely obsessed with this Alexander Calder necklace. Calder's jewelry is just as abstract, innovative, three-dimensional and kinetic as the artist's sculptures, and just as strong a testimonial to the artist's genius for line and balance as any hanging mobile. With Calder's signature spiral form on full display, the necklace is as whimsical as it is practical – at once a sculpture, but very much a work of wearable art. After all, it is the original statement piece.