NEW YORK, 3 December 2020 – Sotheby’s is pleased to share full highlights from the upcoming Impressionist, Modern & Contemporary Art | An Evening Sale, a new cross-category auction that will bring together masterworks encompassing the most renowned artists from the late 19th century to the most in-demand contemporary artists working today. The marquee Evening Sale will be held in New York and livestreamed to the world on Tuesday, 8 December beginning at 6pm EST via Sothebys.com. In addition to Pablo Picasso’s Buste de Femme Assise (separate press release available), the sale will be highlighted by works from Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, Edvard Munch, Alexander Calder, Barkley L. Hendricks, Glenn Ligon, Mark Bradford, Jenny Saville, and many more.
The Evening Sale exhibition is open for appointment viewings at Sotheby’s York Avenue Galleries from 1-8 December, coinciding with our exhibitions for Design Week, on view 5-9 December, and the recently announced Festival of Wonder, a luxury sale series featuring coveted jewels, watches, designer handbags, wine and much more offered across a series of live and online auctions, which is on view 1-14 December.
The cross-category format builds on the success of Sotheby’s Rembrandt to Richter Evening Sale in London in July, which brought together works of art spanning 500 years of art history, and achieved $193 million with 95% of lots sold. The December Evening Sale also follows the success of Sotheby’s global October auctions, including marquee Evening Sales of Contemporary and Impressionist & Modern Art across Hong Kong, Paris, London, and New York, which achieved $1 billion in consolidated sales, as well as the record-breaking Impressionist & Modern Art Online Day Sale, which achieved $30.5 million in November, establishing a new record for an online sale at Sotheby’s.
The December sale will once again be presented in the dynamic, innovative digital format pioneered during Sotheby’s marquee summer sales and autumn sales. The auction will be broadcast globally from the New York salesroom to enable viewers to follow the bidding live, in high-definition through real-time video streams, while bidders will be able to place bids with Sotheby’s specialists via phone in New York and London, where there will be a dedicated phone bank for clients bidding from Asia, or via Sotheby’s interactive online bidding platform.
Julian Dawes, Sotheby’s Head of the Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale in New York, commented: “This cross-category sale presents a wide-range of works that appeals to the many facets of Modern art history. From classic Impressionism with a beautiful Monet landscape, to daring works by Vincent Van Gogh and Edvard Munch that presaged a new modern way of painting, to exemplary works of Surrealism by Man Ray and one of the finest late period portraits by Picasso, the works of offer encompass nearly 100 years of art history by the leading artists who defined the course of Modernism.”
David Galperin, Sotheby’s Head of the Contemporary Art Evening Sale in New York, said: “Adding a new sale to our autumn auction calendar created an opportunity to showcase an exceptional selection of works by the most in-demand postwar and contemporary artists. Leading the auction is Alexander Calder's magnificent Mariposa from 1951, one of the most impressive works by the artist to come to auction in years. Executed in 1951, the epic grandeur of the nineteen cascading elements in red, white, yellow, and black, showcase the artist at the height of his powers and ingenuity. Alongside exceptional works by artists such as Barkley Hendricks, Glenn Ligon, Mark Bradford, and John Baldessari, the auction tells a unique story of art of the 20th and 21st centuries.”
IMPRESSIONIST, MODERN & CONTEMPORARY ART | AN EVENING SALE
8 December Sale
Among the highlights of the December Evening Sale, Alexander Calder’s Mariposa (estimate $6/8 million) is a standout example of the artist’s iconic hanging mobiles that is at once gracefully delicate and impressively scaled. The work brilliantly distills the crucial elements of form, motion, and color that define the renowned sculptor’s theory and practice. Hovering apparently weightless above the viewer, the nineteen exquisitely cascading elements communicate a sense of limitless kinetic possibility, shifting and rotating to create infinite permutations within the simplest of abstract forms in perfect equilibrium. Although entirely abstract, Mariposa, which is Spanish for butterfly, recalls through its form and motion both the elegant fluttering of flight and the patterns of conspicuous beauty that distinguish the insects’ wings. The work is further distinguished by exceptional provenance, having resided in the famed Neiman Marcus Collection since it was acquired in 1951.
Further highlighting the sale is Claude Monet’s Vernon, Soleil (estimate $4/6 million), a classic example of the artist’s innovative style in creating an evocative atmosphere that was no longer purely a vehicle to capture his en plein air naturalism, but instead ventured to fulfill his pursuit of an increasingly abstract vision. After moving to the village of Giverny in Normandy in 1883, Monet dedicated himself to documenting the surrounding countryside and began returning to the same motif at different times of day, in different weather conditions and seasons. Executed in 1894, the present painting is part of a series of seven canvases focused on the Gothic church in Vernon, and is the crowning achievement from the group in which the bright light transfigures the structure of the church, making it appear as ephemeral as the reflections on the water and invoking a beautifully mystical setting. Monet reflected on his first paintings of Vernon in the summer of that year, explaining: "I discovered the curious silhouette of a church, and I undertook to paint it. It was the beginning of summer… foggy fresh mornings were followed by sudden outbursts of sunshine whose hot rays could only slowly dissolve the mist surrounding every crevice of the edifice and covering the golden stones with an ideally vaporous envelope." Vernon, Soleil is being offered from the collection of the Brooklyn Museum, and is being sold to support the Museum’s collections.
Executed in 1972, Barkley L. Hendricks’ Mr. Johnson (Sammy from Miami) (estimate $2/3 million) masterfully exemplifies the artists ability to encapsulate vibrant individuality, presenting a subject that is at once emotionally stirring, teeming with vitality, and entirely inscrutable. Having remained in the same family collection since 1973, the painting has remained entirely unseen by the public since Hendricks' Greenville County Museum of Art retrospective in 1975. The present work showcases the breadth of Hendricks’ practice and his photorealist style, derived from his tightly rendered brushstrokes, imbues the entirety of composition with an entrancing vividness. This portrait embodies the trademark style which marks Hendricks as truly peerless – marrying the superb formal qualities and techniques of the old masters he admired, including Caravaggio and Jan van Eyck, with the singular essence and panache of the figures he depicts, Hendricks forged a revolutionary artistic precedent. Sotheby’s has established numerous benchmarks for Hendricks’ work at auction, including the artist’s auction record for Yocks (sold for $3.7 million in 2019), as well as holding the top 10 prices for the artist at auction. The present work follows strong recent sales of Hendricks’ work in New York from the November Contemporary Art Day Sale (Jackie Sha-La-La (Jackie Cameron) which sold for $2.8 million) and Contemporary Curated in October (Latin From Manhattan...The Bronx Actually which sold for $1.5 million).
Edvard Munch's Bjørk i snø (Birch in Snow) (estimate $3/4 million) is one of only two works by the artist remaining in private hands from a small group of nine winter landscapes painted at the very end of 1900 and the beginning of 1901. Encapsulating Munch’s Expressionist opus while foreshadowing his growing interest in the landscape of his native Norway, Bjørk i snø utilizes one of Munch’s most powerful compositional devices: the lone vertical figure as a mysterious and emotionally evocative center point of a semi-abstracted background. As one of the key pioneers of Expressionism, Munch used the genre of landscape as a vehicle to express inner states of being. In depicting nature in a highly individual, internalized manner, and draws on the tradition of stemningsmaleri, or “mood-painting,” characteristic of Nordic art towards the end of the nineteenth century. Bjørk i snø captures Munch’s use of bold coloration, sharp perspective and sinuous line, and showcases how Munch abandoned plein-air naturalism, which had dominated Norwegian landscape painting, in favor of an emotionally charged and resonant vision of nature.
The "Laakmolen" Near The Hague by Vincent Van Gogh (estimate $2/3 million) captured Van Gogh’s formative time spent in The Hague, and the subject matter of a Dutch windmill held sentimental importance for the artist, who had visited it with his younger brother Theo years earlier. Prior to the execution of the present work, Van Gogh focused primarily on developing his study of the human figure. But by 1882, the year the present work was executed, the artist began to shift his focus and, instilled with a renewed sense of confidence, Van Gogh began to devote himself to the study of landscapes and enhance his draughtsmanship, paving the way for the introduction of color and more advanced rendering of depth present in The 'Laakmolen' near The Hague. The present work is an excellent example of how Van Gogh was already forging his own style, freeing himself from the restraints of the previous generation. In the artist’s delicate handling of color and the complex compositional arrangement of the work, The “Laakmolen” near The Hague is testament to his unique artistic vision.
Milton Avery’s Sunset Sea (estimate $3/5 million) from 1958 was painted during the artist’s customary summer-long working vacation in Provincetown, Massachusetts. During this time, Avery created some of his largest and most elemental abstract paintings. Sunset Sea belongs to this group of majestic canvases essentializing sky and ocean, and reflects both the time and place in which Avery created the work. Avery’s Sunset Sea conveys the sense of awe that can be evoked by the descending light over Provincetown Harbor—one of the few places in the US where one can witness the sun setting over the Atlantic.
The Evening Sale is further distinguished by Jenny Saville’s Reproduction drawing III (after the Leonardo cartoon) (estimate $700/900,000), an exquisite example of the artist’s unparalleled artistic virtuosity and unique ability to capture contemporary reflections on motherhood, pregnancy, and femininity; Man Ray's Untitled (Plaster Cast of a Nude Female Torso) (pictured left, estimate $300/500,000), a bold experimental work from the master of the 20th century avant-garde, synthesizing the artist’s technical abilities and aesthetic talents; Mark Bradford’s Drag Her To The Path (estimate $3/5 million), a signature work by the artist that merges complex layers of social, historical, and personal significance in a powerful investigation of the contemporary urban experience; a “Crocodile” Armchair by Claude Lalanne (estimate $600/800,000), the beloved sculptor and designer known for her playfully surreal yet highly technical works; and John Baldessari’s Duck Pond Bar, National City, California (estimate $1/1.5 million), an early embodiment of the artist’s enigmatic body of work, known for his fusion of text and photography.