10 for September: Highlights from Contemporary Curated

Launch Slideshow

For the 27 September Contemporary Curated auction, our specialists have selected exciting works that showcase the range of contemporary art making today. Among the highlights are important canvases by pioneering abstract painters such as Joan Mitchell and Helen Frankenthaler; works that blur the boundary between painting and sculpture, such as a golden, soft-sculpture triptych by Yayoi Kusama, and a fresh take on the self-portrait by the in-demand LA artist Alex Israel. We welcome you to visit our New York galleries 22–26 September to view these works and many others from the sale, including the collection of fashion magnate Santiago Barberi Gonzalez and a selection curated by Nina Garcia, Elle magazine’s newly appointed editor in chief. Click ahead to preview ten of our favourite works from the sale.

Contemporary Curated
27 September| New York

10 for September: Highlights from Contemporary Curated

  • Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Nets 1960, circa 1979. Estimate $350,000–550,000.
    Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Nets paintings are among the most acclaimed works of the Japanese artist's nearly 70-year career. Though the present work is titled Infinity Nets 1960, Kusama painted the work around 1979 – almost two decades later. The artist backdated this work as a tribute to a particularly fruitful period of her career. Infinity Nets 1960 is one of very few canvases from this period made in the Infinity Nets style. 

  • Alexander Calder, Pup, 1949. Estimate $250,000–350,000.
    Alexander Calder’s Pup has remained in private hands since 1949, the year it was created. The intimate stabile is a brilliant manifestation of the artist’s fascination with animal subjects and is imbued with character, personality and charm. With this delicately rendered sculpture, Calder strikes a balance of form and abstraction, elevating and enriching the simple materials of wire and metal.

  • Willem de Kooning, Untitled, 1978. Estimate $200,000–300,000.
    Willem de Kooning’s Untitled from 1978 is a stirring testament to his mastery of painterly expression. Created during a period when the artist was pioneering a looser, more fluid approach to abstraction, this work belongs to an explosive creative outpouring that produced a series of large-scale, colour-saturated canvases. In these spectacular paintings, de Kooning’s unrestrained style collapses the distinction between the optical and the tactile, and carries the genre of landscape painting to a new plane of sensory rapture.

  • Joan Mitchell, Parasol, 1977. Estimate $1,500,000–2,000,000.
    The multiple panels that comprise this work suggest Mitchell’s interest in the passage of time, while the expressive application of green, blue and yellow colours suggests a close connection to nature. Impassioned and authoritative, Parasol embodies the dense surface textures and forceful brushwork that defined Mitchell’s superb output in the last decades of her career.

  • Helen Frankenthaler, Haze, 1984. Estimate $500,000–700,000.
    An enthralling example of Frankenthaler’s mature paintings, Haze literalises concept through form. Suggestions of a landscape are blurred through Frankenthaler’s signature process of diluting paint with turpentine, allowing it to fully soak into the fibres of the raw canvas. Using the Color Field technique that she pioneered, the artist evokes the natural phenomenon of haze by softening the abstract forms that lie ahead, heightening their ambiguity. With poetic blues and intermittent dabs of pale colours, Haze evokes the stillness of a boat surrounded by mist at dawn or the view from a foggy window on a rainy day. 

  • Sam Gilliam, Rays, 1971. Estimate $100,000–150,000.
    Rays is a large and stunning early example of Sam Gilliam’s experimental floor paintings, created through his “soak stain” technique in which the work is pulled around the original beveled-edge stretcher. In an exploration of texture and surface, the built-up surface meets with intricate pools of paint, contrasted by strong diagonal elements that border on the sculptural.  


  • Robert Indiana, The Dietary, 1962. Estimate $400,000–600,000.
    Robert Indiana’s signature engagement with repetition and figurative language began to take form in 1962, the year he completed this work. InThe Dietary’s roulette wheel of numbers, Indiana employs the iconography and language characteristic of his oeuvre. The present work was originally conceived as a diptych with The Eateria (in the collection of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden); together, the panels would have alluded to Indiana’s parents and their absence from his life. 

  • Yayoi Kusama, Beyond My Illusion / Imaginary Flowers of Shangri-La, 1999. Estimate $650,000–850,000.
    Kusama began creating her soft sculptures in the 1960s, while she was first gaining prestige in the New York art scene. Made in 1999, Beyond My Illusion / Imaginary Flowers of Shangri-La reimagines those early works as a stately golden triptych, with exquisite flowers nestled amid teeming fields of her famous gourd-shaped tubers. The 1990s were a particularly positive period in Kusama’s career. After gaining critical recognition for her performace pieces and staged happenings in the 1960s, the artist withdrew from the art scene for much of the next two decades, reemerging in 1993, when she represented Japan in the Venice Biennale. 


  • Alex Israel, Self-Portrait (Signature), 2014. Estimate $120,000–180,000.
    Evidenced by the style and conceptualisation of his works, Los Angeles native Alex Israel remains engaged with and connected to his hometown’s aesthetic and the tropes of the entertainment industry that define it. Israel’s Self-Portrait (Signature) is among the more conceptual works in his Self-Portrait series in which the artist presents an image of himself on canvases in the shape of his own profile. In this portrait-within-the-portrait, the artist is shown in action, writing his signature at his studio, which is located on Warner Brothers backlot.  

  • Sigmar Polke, Untitled, 1990. Estimate $400,000–600,000.
    Sigmar Polke’s Untitled is an intricately rendered exploration of materiality. Polke’s sustained pursuit of expressive, non-figurative painting here results in a dreamlike scene that expands across the canvas and hovers hauntingly between landscape and total abstraction. The present work is among the most delicately rendered and ethereal compositions in this scale from the early 1990s. 

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