Contemporary Art by Mark Grotjahn, Ed Ruscha, Richard Pettibon & More

13–28 September | Online
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Featuring more than 200 lots, Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Online auction offers many of the art world’s most celebrated names at exceptional prices. Alexander Calder, Louise Nevelson, Wayne Thiebaud and Keith Haring are just a few of the artists included in the sale, whose works range from a striking example of Victor Vasarely’s black and white optical paintings, to contemplative word art by Jenny Holzer. Click ahead to view 16 highlights, selected by our specialists.

Contemporary Art by Mark Grotjahn, Ed Ruscha, Richard Pettibon & More

  • Mark Grotjahn, Untitled, 2001. Estimate $25,000–35,000.
    Beginning his career as a gallerist, Mark Grotjahn began honing his own skills as an artist through a conceptual practice where he would faithfully reproduce signs placed in the windows of stores in his native Los Angeles and trade them with the shop owners for the original signs. From here, the artist began to explore using shifting perspectives on one surface, culminating in the Butterfly series, which features highly abstracted forms of butterflies.

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    Contemporary Art Online
    13–28 September | Online
  • Bob Mizer, Untitled (Larry Lamb, Catalog #UH1-FH), 2005. Estimate $2,000–3,000.
    Mizer began taking unapologetically erotic photography of men in the early 1940s, at a time when homosexuality and pornography were both considered criminal. In 1947, Mizer was convicted of unlawful distribution of obscene material through the US mail and served a nine-month sentence at a work camp in Saugus, California. Undeterred, Mizer returned to his practice to create photographs that gave men around the nation access to a rich fantasy world that the government fiercely fought to repress.

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    Contemporary Art Online
    13–28 September
  • Mary Heilmann, Red Corner, 1995. Estimate $15,000–20,000.
    Schooled in sculpture and ceramics, Mary Heilmann only began to paint when she moved to New York in the 1960s. In the present work, the artist experiments with geometry and the flatness of the canvas, toying with space and form by using simple, bold lines.

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    Contemporary Art Online
    13–28 September | Online
  • Mark Grotjahn, Untitled, 2002. Estimate $15,000–20,000.
    Grotjahn is celebrated for his radiating butterfly paintings, mask sculptures and detailed artistic practice. However, it was only as a result of an injury he sustained while working on his Butterfly series that Grotjahn began to create masks from repurposed objects, such as beer boxes and toilet paper rolls. In this work, the artist blends his radial paintings, dynamic face paintings and mask sculptures into one.

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    Contemporary Art Online
    13–28 September | Online
  • George Rickey, Flowering Tree, 1956. Estimate $80,000–120,000.
    George Rickey received his art training from renowned Modernists, Fernand Léger and Amédée Ozenfant, in Paris. Rickey’s experience serving in World War II heightened his interest in mechanical systems, which inspired him to increasingly explore kinetic sculptures. ‘Flowering Tree’ is exceptional for its elaborate upper element. The sculpture was a gift to Stanley Myers, the Modernist architect, who helped redesign Rickey’s home in the 1950s. The work has been in the Myers family collection ever since.

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    Contemporary Art Online
    13–28 September | Online
  • Victor Vasarely, Study for Sophia, In Three Parts, 1952. Estimate $50,000–70,000.
    Vasarely created this as a study for a triptych mural at the University of Caracas, in honor of Sofia Imber, who worked diligently to ensure that many famous artists’ works would go on display there. This work is a striking example of Vasarely’s black and white optical paintings. The mural is made of tiles, similar to the broken ones seen in the Parisian subway which consequently inspired Vasarely to pursue optical art.

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    Contemporary Art Online
    13–28 September | Online
  • Wojciech Fangor, M34, 1969. Estimate $100,000–150,000.
    Wojciech Fangor began his artistic career in Poland as a Social Realist after World War II. Dissatisfied with painting in a propagandistic mode, Fangor co-created the Polish School of Posters, which fused fine art and design to create graphic posters. With the death of Stalin came a new permissiveness that allowed the restless artist to move further away from orthodox painting and toward vivid abstraction. Fangor’s late 1950s Op Paintings garnered international acclaim.

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    Contemporary Art Online
    13–28 September | Online
  • John McLaughlin, Untitled, 1954. Estimate $80,000–120,000.
    McLaughlin drew his artistic inspiration from Asian art, which he was exposed to during his childhood and then later as an adult living in Japan. Much of McLaughlin’s work features geometric forms in beige, yellow, indigo and black. With its precise forms and the juxtaposition of neutral and bold colors, this work is reminiscent of Piet Mondrian’s art.

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    Contemporary Art Online
    13–28 September | Online
  • Angelo Savelli, Untitled (from the Diagonal Rope Series), circa 1972-1973. Estimate $15,000–20,000.
    An Italian native, Angelo Savelli began using a monochromatic white palette in 1957, a few years after he moved to New York and was inspired by the minimal palette and line work of artists such as Ad Reinhardt and Barnett Newman. Savelli had contact with them, as well as other Abstract Expressionist artists. In 1958, Leo Castelli exhibited Savelli’s work in his legendary gallery. Similar to Johns and Rauschenberg, who also showed at Leo Castelli, Savelli began to incorporate found objects into his artwork, specifically rope, which referenced the fishing industry of his hometown.

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    Contemporary Art Online
    13–28 September | Online
  • Manuel Neri, Rossa, 1982. Estimate $40,000–60,000.
    Manuel Neri is an American artist whose sculpture is closely associated with the Bay Area Figurative Movement. This movement was comprised of artists in Northern California who abandoned the prevalent Abstract Expressionist movement for figuration in the 1950s and 1960s. His sculptures, such as the present work, focus on the forms of women, sculpted in plaster, cast in bronze and painted with brightly colored paint.

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    Contemporary Art Online
    13–28 September | Online
  • Karel Appel, Untitled, 1969. Estimate $18,000–25,000.
    Karel Appel was a Dutch painter whose style focused on abstractions and the use of bold colors and forms. Appel was inspired by the art of Joan Miró and Paul Klee. In 1948 he helped establish the CoBrA group, an artist collective united under their rejection of rationalism and geometric abstraction.

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    Contemporary Art Online
    13–28 September | Online
  • Richard Pettibon, Roy Lichtenstein, ‘Ball of Twine’, 1963, 1965. Estimate $40,000–60,000.
    Part of Pettibon's foundational 1964–1967 series in which the artist copied Contemporary artworks from the pages of Artforum, ‘Roy Lichtenstein, ‘Ball of Twine’, 1963,’ brings together the stacked canvases of Jasper Johns’ Flag paintings and Roy Lichtenstein’s appropriation of mass media imagery, with a Duchampian attitude towards originality. Stamped with both the name of the original work by Lichtenstein, and its own title, this lot is an enduring exemplar of Pettibone’s groundbreaking conceptual process.

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    Contemporary Art Online
    13–28 September | Online
  • Haim Steinbach, lemon accent 2, 2006. Estimate $40,00–60,000.
    Haim Steinbach is an Israeli-American artist known for incorporating found objects. Featuring careful arrangements of ready-made objects on shelves, his work seeks to create a dialogue about the psychology of collecting and consumer culture in America.

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    Contemporary Art Online
    13–28 September | Online
  • Ed Ruscha, CARE for 50 Years, 1995. Estimate $10,000–15,000.
    The present lot is a collage study for the poster that Ruscha created for CARE, a humanitarian organization that fights world hunger. Countless posters for the organization’s 50th anniversary were created based on this original design.

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    Contemporary Art Online
    13–28 September | Online
  • Jenny Holzer, Untitled (from "The Living Series"), 1981-1982. Estimate $20,000–30,000.
    Conceptual artist Jenny Holzer is well known for text-based public art projects. After studying at Ohio University and Rhode Island School of Design, Holzer began her Truisms series in 1977 by posting ambiguous quotes throughout New York. The present work contains a wide range of Truisms, which speak of various reflections on human interaction. Holzer’s chosen material of aluminum elevates her practice, as the plaques give her words the appearance of authority.

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    Contemporary Art Online
    13–28 September | Online
  • David Wojnarowicz, Rimbaud in New York (with gun in west side pier warehouse), 1979. Estimate $10,000–15,000.
    This work is from Wojnarowicz’s noted Rimbaud series, in which the artist photographed himself and others, wearing a mask of the renowned French poet Arthur Rimbaud, in different areas of New York. Like Wojnarowicz, Rimbaud suffered violence in his early years, due to society’s demonizing of his homosexuality. Pictured here is Wojnarowicz’s lover at the time, Brian Butterick. Butterick gifted the work to DJ and downtown personality Johnny Dynell, who has had the work ever since.

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    Contemporary Art Online
    13–28 September | Online
  • Amy Sillman, Green Painting (w Boat), 2001. Estimate $15,000–20,000.
    American artist Amy Sillman once described her painting process as a physical continuation of her inner dialogue. As such, Sillman’s paintings are thoughtfully gestural, witty and often times humorous. Sillman’s strong sense for composition, color and line continuously produce work with a bold personality and sense of space.

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    Contemporary Art Online
    13–28 September | Online
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