American Greats Lead Contemporary Art Evening Auction

Launch Slideshow
The market for Basquiat and Warhol shows no signs of slowing after the two American artists dominated the Contemporary Art Evening Auction in London. Basquiat’s Untitled led the sale on £6,492,500 and was followed by an early self-portrait by Andy Warhol that fetched £6,008,750. The iconic pair featured again in the evening’s third biggest lot after Sweet Pungent – one of two collaborative works by the artists to feature in the sale – raised £4,433,750, while the second - New Flame - went for £2,408,750. The evening exceeded its pre-sale high estimate to total £62,325,750 – an increase of 20% on the equivalent sale last year and it was the fifth consecutive Contemporary Art Evening Sale at Sotheby’s worldwide with a sell-through rate of over 90%. Other highlights of the sale included works by Richter, Grotjahn, Lichtenstein and British artist Cecily Brown who achieved an auction record for the second time this year. Click ahead to see the Top 10 highlights.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

28 June 2017 | London


American Greats Lead Contemporary Art Evening Auction

  • Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled, 1983. Sold for £6,492,500.
    Recalling the sequential progression of a classical frieze in its grand scale and rich communicative power, Jean-Michel Basquiat's breathtaking Untitled demonstrates the artist’s creative reimagining of the weighted genre of history painting. Underscored by the nascent rhythms of hip-hop and the clatter of metropolitan life, this work gives cinematic form to the new creative epicentre emerging out of downtown New York.

  • Andy Warhol, Self-Portrait, 1963-64. Sold for £6,008,750.
    Self-Portrait comes from a concise series of nine similarly titled works, each made in the same scale using silkscreen prints enlarged from the same shred of photographic source material. In the latter part of the twentieth-century, Andy Warhol joined the ranks of Rembrandt van Rijn, Vincent van Gogh, and Pablo Picasso to take his place amongst the most important and influential self-portraitists in the history of art.

  • Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, Sweet Pungent, 1984–85. Sold for £4,433,750.
    From the inimitable collection of fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol’s collaborative work Sweet Pungent is a painting of great significance. In 1983, fortuitous circumstances enabled the inauguration of a unique and perhaps unlikely collaboration between the founding father of Pop art, Andy Warhol, and the art world’s latest Neo-Expressionist prodigy, Jean-Michel Basquiat. Created in 1984-85, Sweet Pungent offers a unique insight into one of the most important relationships within the history of contemporary art and evinces a perfect partnership between aesthetic pioneers from different generations.  

  • Richard Prince, School Nurse, 2005. Sold for £4,096,250.
    Based on the uncredited cover art of dime-store romance novels, the Nurses offer a transgressive scrutiny of idealised modes of feminine portrayal as popularised in the later Twentieth Century. Marking a reformulation of the iconic blonde bombshell trope as elevated into the realm of high-art by Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, Prince's Nurses assimilate and pick apart erotic stereotypes and gender constructs.

  • Mark Grotjahn, Untitled (White Butterfly MPG 03), 2003.
    Sold for £3,983,750.
    Entrancing the viewer through an expanding spatial illusion of subtle monochromatic gradations, Untitled (White Butterfly MPG 03) belongs to Mark Grotjahn’s celebrated series of Butterfly Paintings. Iconic and instantly recognisable, these paintings today represent a short-hand for the artist's acclaimed contemporary practice.

  • Gerhard Richter, Split (Rubble), 1989. Sold for £3,983,750.
    Gerhard Richter's Split (Rubble) epitomises the extraordinary negotiation between photography, representation, and abstraction that positions the Abstrakte Bilder among the most significant contributions to the history of twentieth-century painting. Richter's abstract paintings undoubtedly sign-post the furthest most point in an artistic inquiry that spans over fifty years.

  • Roy Lichtenstein, Two Paintings with Dado, 1983.
    Sold for £3,308,750.
    From the very outset, Roy Lichtenstein dedicated his career to making art about art. Lichtenstein exhibited a number of art historical icons rendered in the same hard-edged graphic style as his comic book paintings. Juxtaposing art historical icons and unifying them via the author's own borrowed aesthetic, Two Paintings with Dado at once reaffirms and furthers Lichtenstein’s position at the very forefront of appropriation art.

  • Jean Dubuffet, Béret Rose, 1955–56. Sold for £2,633,750.
    Belonging to Jean Dubuffet's Tableaux d'assemblages, created in Vence between November 1955 and December 1956, Béret Rose embodies the artist's career-long fascination with the metamorphic portent of nature. An important body of work, in which Dubuffet explored the concept of pre-painted canvas collage, the Tableaux d'assemblages allowed the artist to experiment with new-found textures and depths in the picture plane, while excavating the mythological properties of the earth.

  • Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, New Flame, 1985.
    Sold for £2,408,750.
    Despite the distinct stylistic differences between the two artists, New Flame evinces a vibrant meeting of two of the most revolutionary minds in contemporary art. A vibrant medley of iconography and colour, the contrast between the artist’s two most iconic mediums – Warhol's consciously flat graphically inspired imagery and Basquiat’s coarse, textured oilstick draughtsmanship – is here completely subsumed by the pictorial blend of Warhol and Basquiat's style.

  • Lucio Fontana, Concetto Spaziale, 1962. Sold for £2,168,750.
    Epitomising the essence of Lucio Fontana’s ground-breaking career, Concetto Spaziale encapsulates two of the artist's defining traits: a continuous search for new forms of abstraction and an abiding re-evaluation of the traditional principals of painting. Striking in its compositional and monochromatic simplicity, the lyrical patterns of gashes – or squarci – here radically rupture the two-dimensional canvas support, and in doing so, Fontana offers a philosophical glimpse into the infinite void beyond.


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