12 Captivating Highlights from Contemporary Art Evening

Launch Slideshow

Superb examples from some of the most significant movements of the latter half of the 20th century, including Abstraction, Minimalism, Pop Art and Conceptual Art highlight the Contemporary Art Evening Auction in New York. Works will be on exhibition from 3–16 November in advance of the sale on 16 November. Click ahead for a closer look at 12 of the sale's most anticipated lots.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction
16 November | New York

12 Captivating Highlights from Contemporary Art Evening

  • Roy Lichtenstein, Female Head, 1977. Estimate $10,000,000–15,000,000.
    Female Head is a masterpiece of unparalleled formal elegance and conceptual sophistication: fracturing and reconfiguring three distinct profiles within a single portrait—two mirrored faces, shadowed by a third silhouette enigmatically disguised as a flowing lock of blonde hair—Female Head fuses the diverse vernaculars of Cubism, Surrealism, and Pop in a captivating dialogue between masterpieces both past and present. Female Head has been in the Rea collection since it was acquired in 1977, the year of its execution. The work was also included in the 1993 retrospective of the artist, which Elizabeth Rea helped catalogue.

  • Jean-Michel Basquiat, Cabra, 1981–82. Estimate $9,000,000–12,000,000.
    Amongst the earliest depiction of the combative boxer-warrior that is so synonymous with Jean-Michel Basquiat’s most famous works, Cabra brings into searing focus Muhammad Ali’s historic triumph over undefeated heavyweight boxer Oscar “The Bull” Bonavena in their legendary face-off in December 1970. Held in the esteemed collection of Yoko Ono for over two decades, Cabra is best known from an image of Basquiat’s studio, in which it is staged immediately to the right of the artist’s studio. Exhibited in the pivotal Champions show at Tony Shafrazi Gallery in 1983, and first held in the personal collection of Tony Shafrazi, Cabra is a historical testament to Basquiat’s enduring legacy.

  • Louise Bourgeois, Spider IV, conceived in 1996 and cast in 1997. Estimate $10,000,000–15,000,000.
    Spider IV is arguably the most iconic example of Louise Bourgeois’ signature Spiders. At once poignant, powerful, menacing and nostalgic, Bourgeois' Spider IV assumes full command of its surroundings, its legs advancing, probing and coiling in repose, suggestive of both action and contemplation. Spider IV is further distinguished by its presence in the iconic photograph captured by Peter Bellamy, in which Bourgeois wraps her arms lovingly around the spider’s two wiry hind legs. Reproduced in nearly every publication on the artist, this portrait has become synonymous with her work, and subsequently it is this version of the spider, Spider IV, that has become her most iconic, recognizable, and perpetually enduring iteration of her beloved form.

  • Jean Dubuffet, Maison Fondée, 1961. Estimate $12,000,000–18,000,000.
    A jubilant fusion of form and motion, Maison Fondée brilliantly exemplifies the visual complexity, vibrancy, and creativity which characterize the very best of Jean Dubuffet’s celebrated oeuvre. Inspired by the frenetic urban bustle and unbridled joie-de-vivre he witnessed upon his return to Paris after several years spent in the countryside, Dubuffet’s paintings from the Paris Circus series are infused with a shimmering vibrancy, boisterous brushwork, and infectious dynamism unrivaled within his output. Taking its title from the signs adorning storefronts all around Paris – identifying the date they were founded/established – Maison Fondée stands in as an anonymous cipher for any Paris street, nearly abstract in its universality.

  • Philip Guston, The Visit, 1955. Estimate $6,000,000–8,000,000.
    Philip Guston’s The Visit is one of six works from the 1950s that was exhibited at Dorothy C. Miller’s exhibition Twelve Americans at the Museum of Modern Art in 1956. Alongside the present work, the five other paintings today reside in renowned museum and private collections. Guston began his exploration into abstraction in the late 1940s, which culminated in the production of several large paintings in the 1950s, including The Visit. The present work is distinguished by an esteemed exhibition history, having also been shown at Sidney Janis Gallery in 1956, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 1962, as well as the bold color palette of warm reds and pinks that has become synonymous with the artist.

  • Francis Bacon, Three Studies of George Dyer, 1966. Estimate $35,000,000–45,000,000.
    Between 1963 and 1969, an intensely busy moment in his career, Francis Bacon painted only five triptychs of George Dyer in this intimate scale, two of which are in museum collections. Charged with desire and framed within a seductive dark ground, Three Studies of George Dyer wields the full force of Bacon’s painterly bravura and pictorial authority with arresting intensity and consummate psychological depth. Although Bacon would continue to render Dyer’s countenance after his death, he never again returned to a portrayal of Dyer in this highly charged and intimate format after 1969.

  • David Smith, Voltri-Bolton X, 1962. Estimate $6,000,000–8,000,000.
    David Smith’s Voltri-Bolton X was personally selected by Jerome Stern after he drove several hours to Bolton Landing and walked in the snowbanks in his designer loafers to choose this particular work for his esteemed collection, in which it has resided for over four decades. Exuding a bold tenacity and breathtaking formal dexterity, the commanding silhouette of Voltri-Bolton X fiercely claims the space it inhabits, serving as an enduring testament to the astounding innovation, ambition, and unparalleled creative genius of David Smith at the dazzling apex of his iconic sculptural practice. 

  • Joan Mitchell, Ste. Hilaire, 1957. Estimate $6,000,000–8,000,000.
    Bursting forth in a torrent of fiercely expressive brushstrokes and shocks of vibrant color, Joan Mitchell’s evocative Ste. Hilaire from 1957 towers as a superlative icon from a seminal moment in the artist’s highly-celebrated career. The immense scale, dynamic composition and fervent activity evident in this maelstrom of line and color distinguish Ste. Hilaire as an outstanding example not only of Mitchell’s prolific career, but also of the heroic sensibilities inherent to Abstract Expressionism.

  • Gerhard Richter, Vesuv, 1976. Estimate $4,000,000–6,000,000.
    Vesuv is a stirring testament to Gerhard Richter’s unique ability to surpass the limitations of his forbears and propel the time-honored tradition of landscape painting into the modern day. A transcendent panorama of delicate sfumato clouds and the subtlest hint of terra firma, the present work belongs to the limited cycle of seven Vesuv paintings from 1976; testifying to the fascination this majestic vista held for the artist, the seven works, differentiated by subtle yet exacting particularities, are the only landscapes the artist produced in the decade between 1972 and 1983. Within this exceptional cycle, the present work evinces the most elegant articulation of the infamously erratic Neapolitan volcano, depicting the tranquil crest below an idyllic horizon of incandescent azure sky. 

  • Andy Warhol, Mao, 1972. Estimate $30,000,000–40,000,000.
    Evincing the same commanding presence and indelibly charged graphic force of the state portrait which inspired it, Andy Warhol’s extraordinary 1972 masterwork Mao is among the most historically potent, culturally significant, and incomparably iconic paintings of the Twentieth Century. Fixing the viewer with a gaze both utterly penetrating and entirely opaque, Warhol’s universally recognizable portrait of Chairman Mao commands our full attention with a provocative bravura that rivals that of the artist’s quintessential Pop images of Campbell’s Soup Cans and Marilyn Monroe

  • Alberto Burri, Nero Plastica L.A., 1963. Estimate Upon Request.
    Fusing visceral materiality with a Baroque sculptural magnificence, Nero Plastica L.A. is an unparalleled example from Alberto Burri’s revered and acutely limited corpus of black Plastiche. Executed at the spectacular apotheosis of the series in 1963, Nero Plastica L.A. is joined by only six other Nero Plastica constructions in a monumental scale; of these, all but one are held in or promised to the esteemed collections of the Galleria Nazionale D’Arte Moderna in Rome, the Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini, Collezione Burri, Rome, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Further testifying to the superb caliber of the present work, Nero Plastica L.A., amongst other select masterworks from the artist’ s oeuvre, was recently featured in the internationally lauded retrospective exhibition Alberto Burri: The Trauma of Painting, organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2015.

  • David Hammons, African American Flag, 1990. Estimate $1,500,000–2,000,000.
    David Hammons’ African American Flag is one of ten (plus two artist’s proofs) that is hand-sewn. Another example from this edition resides in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and is currently on view at the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris as part of MoMA’s exhibition “Being Modern: MoMA in Paris." Originally included in the exhibition Who’s Ice is Colder? at Jack Tilton Gallery in 1990, the present work was acquired in 1992 and has remained in the same private collection ever since. In African American Flag, Hammons has applied the Pan-African colors of red, black and green to the traditional American flag in order to address difficult issues about the American dream and the nation’s collective history. Red, black, and green represent, respectively, the blood, skin color and rich natural resources of Africa, and here contribute to a striking iteration of one of the most iconic American symbols.


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