Contemporary Art Day: An Online Auction 4–14 May 2020 • 12:00 PM EDT • New York

S otheby's is pleased to announce Contemporary Art Day: An Online Auction from May 4–14. This sale will be an elevated online auction anchored by a tightly-curated selection of blue-chip Post-War and Contemporary Art. Featuring examples by some of the most renowned and sought after artists from the post-war period to today – highlighted by a rare Brice Marden from his Basel Cathedral Window series, alongside works by Willem de Kooning, Keith Haring, Sigmar Polke, Richard Prince, KAWS, Damien Hirst and Julie Curtiss – the auction offers an opportunity to acquire high-quality works at a range of price points and value levels. During this unprecedented moment, this sale is the leading platform for collectors to transact in the Contemporary Art market right now.

Highlights at a Glance

Estimate $700,000 – 900,000
Sotheby’s is thrilled to present this spectacular 1985 Brice Marden painting from his esteemed Basel Window series. This painting and the larger series to which it belongs is based on Marden’s commission to design the windows of the Basel Cathedral, a project he labored on continuously from 1978 to 1985. With other examples from this series belonging to the most revered private and public collections around the world, Window Study No. 4 is a rare and exceptional exemplar of Marden’s output to come to auction.

View Lot

Mapping the Downtown New York Art Scene of the 1980s

In the 1980s, downtown New York became the vibrant epicenter of the art world, producing legends such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, David Wojnarowicz, Julian Schnabel and Richard Hambleton – all of whom have works being offered in this auction. In the below map, we invite you to take a closer look at the geographic layout of the specific places – whether an abandoned massage parlor turned art gallery or an underground night club – that served as undeniable catalysts for the revolutionary creative boom of the 1980s New York art scene.

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  • Mr. Chow

    324 E 57TH ST

    Since opening its first New York location in 1979, Mr. Chow's has hosted many of the city's top figures in fashion, the arts and music.

    Mr. Chow with Jean-Michel Basquiat and Basquiat’s mother, Matilda Andrades, at Mr Chow 57th Street in 1984, in a photograph taken by Andy Warhol. Courtsey The Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts/Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York

    Excerpt from Andy Warhol’s Diary, Wednesday, November 14, 1984:

    "Cabbed to Mr. Chow’s for Jean-Michel’s party ($7). And it was great. I feel like I wasted two years running around with Christopher and Peter, just kids who talk about the Baths and things, when here, now, I’m going around with Jean-Michel and we’re getting so much art work done.

    Jean-Michel became the hostest with the mostest last night. He said it cost him $12,000— the Cristal was flowing."

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  • Private Eyes

    320 W 45TH ST

    Private Eyes, a (now defunct) gentlemen's club near Times Square

    Excerpt from Andy Warhol’s Diary, Wednesday, November 7, 1984:

    "I went to Private Eyes (cab $7). Scott was at the door, so he let us right in. Madonna was on the platform and since Jean-Michel had once been involved with her, we started to go up, and the bouncer said “Step aside for Mr. Warhol,” and then tried to block Jean-Michel and I said that it was okay, he was with me. And Madonna kissed Jean-Michel on the mouth, but she was with Jellybean, who said he’d heard his pictures in Interview made him look 6’ tall so he was thrilled because he’s 2. And Jean-Michel was moody because Madonna got so big and he’d lost her."

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  • Mudd Club


    Partiers at NYC's Mudd Club, circa 1980s

    The Mudd Club was a nightclub in the TriBeCa area of New York City, USA, that operated from 1978 to 1983 as a venue for underground music and counterculture events.

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  • Studio 54

    255 WEST 54TH STREET

    Liza Minnelli, Bianca Jagger, Andy Warhol, and Halston at Studio 54 | © Adam Schull / Zeitgeist Films

    An icon of New York City nightlife until its doors closed in 1986, Studio 54 was a hotspot for Warhol and his entourage. The club is no longer in operation as it was, but Warhol fans can still visit the building, which now houses the Roundabout Theatre Company.

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  • FUN Gallery

    229 EAST 11TH ST

    Fun Gallery in New York, 1982

    East Village became the new SoHo in 1981, when Patti Astor opened up what is widely regarded as the first art gallery in the neighborhood. Astor was a close friend and frequent collaborator with several of the hottest underground rappers, punk rockers, graffiti artists and filmmakers in the city. She chose a run down, East Village tenement building as the site for her new, experimental exhibition space: FUN Gallery. There, she helped jump start the careers of street artists like Lady Pink and Futura 2000, and gave major early shows to Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. FUN Gallery started an East Village land rush. Galleries popped up weekly. Within a few years, the neighborhood was the epicenter of art movements as aesthetically diverse as Neo-Expressionism, Neo-Pop and Street Art.

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  • Annina Nosei Gallery

    100 PRINCE ST

    Basquiat’s studio, Annina Nosei Gallery basement, New York, 1982. Photo courtesy Annina Nosei GalleryArt © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP Paris

    In 1980, Annina Nosei opened a new gallery location at 100 Prince Street. She was instrumental in launching Basquiat’s career, working closely with him from 1981-1983. Basquiat also used Nosei’s basement as a studio space.

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  • East Village Eye

    167 LUDLOW ST

    167 Ludlow St, New York

    The East Village Eye was a publication covering arts, music and culture in downtown New York. From May 1979 until January 1987, editions of the East Village Eye were published on a monthly basis; the magazine covered the development of the downtown creative community, in particular the art of Keith Haring and David Wojnarowicz.

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  • Pat Hearn Gallery

    94 AVENUE B

    Artists Martin Wong and Annie Herron at the Pat Hearn Gallery, circa 1980 Copyright © Diana Mara Henry/

    The opening of Pat Hearn Gallery in 1984 signaled an important turning point in the East Village aesthetic. The cool, stripped-down paintings of Taaffe and Peter Schuyff, and the more Neo-Surrealist work of George Condo, evoked a stylistic sophistication that seemed to spurn some of the East Village’s proletarian trappings in favor of artworks and galleries that were every bit as polished as their uptown counterparts.

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  • Times Square Show


    The venue of the Times Square Show, 1980. Photograph by Francine Keery. Courtesy of Colab, Inc.

    Opening on June 1st 1980, The Times Square Show was an exhibition organized by the avant-garde artist collective, Collaborative Projects Inc., in an abandoned massage parlor at the epicenter of New York’s entertainment and pornography district. This show launched the careers of artists such as Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, Nan Goldin, Jenny Holzer, Kiki Smith -- and most significantly, was Jean-Michel Basquiat’s first show as both graffiti artist “SAMO” and a painter.

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  • Alexander F. Milliken Inc.

    98 PRINCE ST

    Exhibition catalogue for “Fast”

    Location of show Ed Baynard exhibition “Fast” July 1982.

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  • Keith Haring's Studio

    676 BROADWAY

    KEITH HARING, UNTITLED, 1984. Estimate $300,000 – 400,000.

    After using the city as his canvas – from making countless quick chalk drawings on empty black subway advertising spaces to creating a Crack is Whack mural in Harlem – Keith Haring applied his bold lines and bright colors to freestanding drawings and paintings. Between 1980 and 1989, the artist achieved international recognition, participating in numerous group and solo shows and producing more than 50 public artworks from New York to Paris. By finding a direct means of expressing universal concepts of birth, death, love, sex and war, Haring created a lasting imagery that has been embraced around the world.

    American artist Keith Haring (1958 - 1990) drawing on a subway platform in New York City, circa 1985. (Photo by Laura Levine/Corbis via Getty Images) Photograph courtesy of Laura Levine/Corbis via Getty Images

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  • Jean-Michel Basquiat's Studio


    JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT, ZENITH, 1982. Estimate $180,000 – 250,000.

    Hailing from Brooklyn, Basquiat first attracted attention in the late 1970s with the enigmatic graffiti he created under the name SAMO, befriending artists and downtown New York luminaries and beginning to paint and draw with more focused effort. A first public group show in a vacant Times Square building in June 1980 eventually led to his first solo exhibition in 1982. Success among the Contemporary art-loving public was immediate, while critics both lauded Basquiat as a genius and derided him as a product of the newly booming market. In the mid-1980s, the artist collaborated on several works with the most famous artist of the time, Andy Warhol. Basquiat died of a heroin overdose on 12 August 1988, but the influence of his complex aesthetic on subsequent generations of artists remains incalculable.


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  • Andy Warhol's Studio

    22 EAST 33RD ST

    ANDY WARHOL, LADIES AND GENTLEMAN, 1975. Estimate $70,000 – 100,000.

    By the 1980s, Andy Warhol had already achieved a high degree of financial and critical success; but in his final decade, he saw a second wave of popularity (due in part to his friendships with younger artists, including Jean-Michel Basquiat). In 1987, Warhol passed away; the cause of death was complications following surgery to his gallbladder.

    André Ostier, Andy Warhol, collection particulière - © Indivision A. et A. Ostier

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  • David Wojnarowicz's Studio

    108 LEONARD ST

    DAVID WOJNAROWICZ, WHERE I'LL GO AFTER I'M GONE, 1988-1989. Estimate $250,000 – 350,000.

    A graduate of the High School of Music and Art in Manhattan, Wojnarowicz moved to New York as a young adult in the 1970s; there, he first achieved recognition for his iconic graffiti stencils – depicting burning houses – which appeared on buildings in the Lower East Side. Wojnarowicz went on to become a leading figure in the mixed-media avant-garde movement which emerged from the LES in the 1980s. Most notably, Wojnarowicz and another artist, Mike Bidlo, led the (illegal) takeover of the then-abandoned Pier 34 building for use as an alternative studio and art system community for two years, from 1983-84. Wojnarowicz completed a number of other projects in a range of mediums, including super-8 films, before succumbing to AIDS in 1992.

    David Wojnarowicz at work in 1983 | © Andreas Sterzing

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  • Richard Hambleton's Studio


    RICHARD HAMBLETON, SHADOWMAN, 1987. Estimate $80,000 – 120,000.

    An American-Canadian graffiti artist, Richard Hambleton initially attracted public attention by painting faux crime-scene outlines of bodies on pavements. In the early 1980s, Hambleton painted buildings in the Lower East Side of New York City alongside Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, during which time the artist also began to portray iterations of his highly recognized Shadowman figures onto found objects and canvases. As his reputation as a Contemporary artist rose, Hambleton was also struggling with addiction; on a number of occasions, this left him without an income or a studio space. Hambleton passed away in October 2017, at the age of 65.

    Richard Hambleton in his studio, 1984 Andreas Sterzing/© Andreas Sterzing

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  • Julian Schnabel's Studio

    20TH ST

    JULIAN SCHNABEL, UNTITLED (MIAMI), 1983. Estimate $70,000 – 90,000.

    American painter and filmmaker Julian Schnabel synthesized the postmodern interests in earlier artistic movements such as German Expressionism and Abstract Expressionism, with a heightened sense of experimentation with materiality. His works from the late 1970s and 1980s, alongside those of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Eric Fischl, contributed to the development of American Neo-Expressionism.

    Julian Schnabel, second from right, in 1984 at Indochine. Published 2009 by Rizzoli International, New York. Photo Roxanne Lowit, copyright, used by permission

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  • Christopher Wool's Studio


    CHRISTOPHER WOOL, UNTITLED, 1988. Estimate $1,200,000 – 1,800,000.

    Between 1980 and 1984, Christopher Wool worked as a studio assistant to artist Joel Shapiro, whose dynamic sculptural works in many ways contributed to Wool’s own artistic experimentation. During this time he created a number of abstract paintings, and in 1984 he had his first solo exhibition. His work from around this period largely reflects his early openness to experimentation, as he vacillated between different types and forms of repeating patterns, which were generally produced with a roller stencil—in this way he could utilize familiar, sometimes even commercial, shapes and prints, and through their application to canvas they were decontextualized and viewable abstractly.

    In 1987, Wool began creating his “word paintings,” works that he has become most well known for. In these paintings, he stencils black letters onto white canvas, playing with the ways in which the parameters of the canvas inadvertently break phrases or cause sequences of words to run on. In this manner, common phrases must be visually excavated from any aesthetic effect that the painting produces.

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Titans of Abstraction

Lucio Fontana, Willem de Kooning, Jean Paul Riopelle and Josef Albers all rank among the most storied artists from the post-war period of abstraction. These five artists are titans of abstraction, all canonized within the history of art, and their works being offered in the sale, represent an incredible opportunity for new and established collectors alike.

The Female Nude Throughout Art History

The female nude has remained one of the oldest and most iconic subjects throughout the history of art – generally reflecting the social and moral standards of the times while also provoking a critical reexamination of such standards. Throughout history, the provocative nature of the female nude has most importantly instigated new ways of thinking within the fabric of social consciousness. Through four works by Lisa Yuskavage, Richard Diebenkorn, George Condo, and Thomas Ruff, we trace the lineage of the female nude, analyzing the critical historical precedents that have paved the way for the endurance and relevance of this seminal subject.

Behind the Lens

Discover works of photography included in the Contemporary Art Day auction, including works from Diane Arbus, Richard Prince and Robert Mapplethorpe.

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