Modern Masters Lead Strong Results for Summer in London

Modern Masters Lead Strong Results for Summer in London

Picasso, Renoir and Calder join Basquiat, Kusama and Fontana as an evening of masterworks go under the hammer on New Bond Street.
Picasso, Renoir and Calder join Basquiat, Kusama and Fontana as an evening of masterworks go under the hammer on New Bond Street.

Modern & Contemporary Evening Auction, including the Ralph I. Goldenberg Collection


A busy London saleroom in the New Bond Street galleries provided the backdrop for an auction comprised of some of the finest museum-quality works from the leading figures in artistic innovation. Standout results came from established names such as Giacometti and Picasso, whilst lesser-known artists such as Lucy Bull and Zdeněk Sýkora posted strong prices for works spanning significant periods of art history. The evening, presented in partnership with UK Sotheby's International Realty, saw several records set and welcomed fresh to market works and many appearing at auction for the first time in decades.

Primary Structures installation view in the Sotheby's New Bond Street galleries, June 2024.

The sale presented an expansive and visionary group of works that spanned the very pinnacle of American and European modernism. Artworks from the collection of Chicago financier Ralph I. Goldenberg led the evening’s proceedings. Star lots of this storied group include Cy Twombly's By the Ionian Sea and Robert Ryman’s Untitled from 1963, which sold for £2,160,000 and £540,000 respectively.

These important works tell the story of a driven and tenacious collector who placed himself firmly at the heart of the minimalist movement, as well as acquiring works from the YBAs during his time in London. The display of works was central to Goldenberg’s appreciation of these paintings, and he housed them at Hay’s Mews in Mayfair, a concept home designed by the great minimalist architect, John Pawson. The spaces in the house were recreated in the London galleries to bring this esteemed collection to life.

Other highlights include paintings by Brice Marden, Lucio Fontana and Agnes Martin, whose serene and harmonious Untitled from 2001 perfectly encapsulated Goldenberg's tastes as a committed connoisseur. The work made its auction debut this evening, and found a buyer at £744,000. Marden's calligraphic ink and gouache on paper, Hydra was purchased in 1990 by Goldenberg, and it's vein-like appearance articulates the artist's view of the world around him. Marden proclaimed: "I think my idea of form comes from observation of nature. To me, that's true form, or the best reference." The work rose above estimate to reach £420,000, and a further 62 works from the Goldenberg collection will be sold in the Contemporary Day Auction on Wednesday 26 June.

Elsewhere in the sale, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Derelict, a three-dimensional altarpiece of energetic marks and motifs, created in reverence to street art and graffiti. This 1982 tour de force inspired strong bidding in the room and on the phones, eventually selling for £16,016,832, the top price of the night.

Pablo Picasso’s Guitare sur un tapis rouge is a classic example of the artist’s post-war cubist experimentation and the shift towards pictorial reinvention. His development of analytical and synthetic Cubism are among the pivotal moments of art history and the guitar became the archetypal motif of Picasso’s exploration. This bold, angular celebration of colour appeared here at auction for the first time in twenty years, selling for £10,730,000.

Paula Rego’s Meadow, a multi-figured exploration of the human condition painted in 1996, also found a new buyer for £2,070,000. A wonderful example of Rego’s fascination with the interplay of human figures in a tableau reminiscent of Cezanne’s Scipio, although here the female form dominates the frame in "a dreamscape where mystery dominates and ambiguity thrives".

Watch as Paul Rego's 'Meadow' sells for £2,070,000

Proving the market strength for works by the Impressionist masters, Pierre August Renoir's joyful Bouquet de lilas was hotly contested in a ten-minute bidding battle and eventually sold for £6,880,000, more than double its pre-sale estimate.

Other standout works by 19th Century painters also enjoyed great success among bidders, with August Strindberg’s Solitary Fly Cap, a precursor to the Expressionists and Surrealists, was secured for £2,880,000. Alongside this, the equally serene Landscape, view from Lejre by Vilhelm Hammershøi soared to £660,000, the second highest price for a landscape by the artist.

See Renoir's 'Bouquet de lilas' soar to £6,880,000

Other highlights include the arresting Autoportrait en blanc (Étude de formes) by Françoise Gilot which closed at £360,000, double its estimate, and a 1966 Concetto spaziale, Attese by Lucio Fontana, which achieved more than £500,000 over the high estimate at £4,080,000.

The sale made a total of £83,618,832/$105,748,556, and The London Sales continue on 26 June with the Modern Day Auction, beginning at 11:00 am BST, and the Contemporary Day Auction, including the Ralph I. Goldenberg Collection, beginning at 14:00 BST.

Explore Highlights from the London Evening Sale

Auction Results

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