Contemporary Art Online Highlights

Launch Slideshow

The upcoming Contemporary Art Online auction presents an intriguing array of paintings, drawings and sculptures from both established names such as Andy Warhol, David Hockney, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Louise Nevelson, and Kenneth Noland as well as by previously overlooked talents such as Julian Stanczak, John Little and Angelo Savelli. The sale offers a range of price points made more attractive by the recent elimination of the Buyer's Premium for Sotheby’s online-only auctions. Bidding takes place online starting 16 September. We welcome you to view all of the artworks in our preview exhibition at our New York galleries from 22–29 September. Click ahead to view highlights. 

Contemporary Art Online
16–29 September

Contemporary Art Online Highlights

  • David Hockney, Poiret Gowns for Mamelles IV, 1980. Estimate $20,000–30,000.
    David Hockney, considered one of the most influential British artists of the 20th century, is an important contributor to the Pop Art movement of the 1960s. Yet beyond his illustrious painting career, Hockney has created stage designs and costumes for numerous operas, ballets and symphonies since the mid-1970s. The present lot is a study for costumes created for “Les Mamelles de Tiresias” (The Breasts of Tiresias), an adaptation of Guillaume Apoillinaire’s Surrealist play of 1903. The play was adapted as an opera by Francis Poulenc in 1945 and performed two years later. The 1947 premiere of the opera featured costumes and design by acclaimed artist and designer Erté. For Erté, the commission served as inspiration for the  designs he was concurrently creating for the fashion house Paul Poiret. Here, Hockney references these Erté for Poiret’s original designs four decades later for the 1981 restaging of the opera at the Metropolitan Opera House.

  • Kenneth Noland, Bravo Costa Brava, No. 6, 1983. Estimate $8,000–12,000.
    One of the pioneers of Color Field painting, Kenneth Noland is known for geometric compositions articulated in blocks of flat, saturated colour. Bravo Costa Brava, No. 6, marks a shift in the artist’s practice prompted by a visit to artist Luis Remba’s innovative printmaking studio, the Taller de Grafica Mexicana in Mexico City. There, Noland began to experiment with painted monotypes. In this work, the artist embossed hand-made paper with diamond shapes and then coloured the composition by hand. The strikingly original work carries Noland’s mastery of geometry into an innovative medium.

  • Jean-Paul Riopelle, Untitled, 1961. Estimate $30,000–40,000.
    In 1947 Canadian artist Jean-Paul Riopelle moved from Montreal to Paris to study European Modernism. The present work from 1959 reflects his involvement in Lyrical Abstraction, which infused abstract painting with emotive, subjective qualities.  During his time in Paris he met fellow ex-pats including Sam Francis, Joan Mitchell and Norman Bluhm, all of whom forged unique, yet unified aesthetic vocabularies at this formative time.

  • Norman Bluhm, Untitled, 1955. Estimate $20,000-30,000.
    A native of Chicago, Norman Bluhm originally trained as an architect and studied under Mies van der Rohe, but turned his attention toward fine arts while stationed in Europe during World War II. Remaining in Europe after the end of the war, he went on to study at the Academia de Belle Arte in Florence and at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. This bold abstract painting was originally in the collection of painter Jean-Paul Riopelle, whom Bluhm befriended while living in Paris, along with fellow American artists Joan Mitchell and Sam Francis. Created two years before Bluhm’s first solo exhibition at Leo Castelli Gallery, this work is a powerful example of the artist’s oeuvre of the 1950s. 


  • John Chamberlain, Untitled, 1959. Estimate $15,000–20,000.
    John Chamberlain is best known for his sculptures consisting of crushed car parts welded together, assemblages which he began in the late 1950s. The present work of 1959 comes from that pivotal moment in his career. The artist was heavily inspired by Abstract Expressionist sculptor David Smith at the time, but — as the present work demonstrates — he was also looking to Abstract Expressionist painters, especially the work of Franz Kline.

  • Louise Nevelson, Moon Star I, 1979. Estimate $30,000–40,000.
    During the mid-1950s, Nevelson produced her first series of black wood sculptures that would become synonymous with her oeuvre until her death in 1988. Composed of wooden shapes that are obliquely evocative of the domestic sphere, Moon Star I is part of what Nevelson's longtime dealer Arnold Glimcher described in a 1976 catalogue as “a continuously powerful and regenerative body of work,” which, “extended the properties of illusion into the vocabulary of sculpture and fixed the ephemeral, nonspecific, and nondelineable into the repertory of art.”

  • Mary Heilmann, Summer Fan, 1987. Estimate $20,000–30,000.
    Mary Heilmann began to develop her unique painting style after her move from California to New York City in 1968. Her technique vacillates from crisply rendered layers of paint to dripping, more gestural applications. Single compositions often juxtapose two- and three-dimensional planes and incorporate multiple canvases, sometimes even furniture, or in the example of Summer Fan, a dynamically shaped plywood board. Richly symbolic, Heilmann’s paintings conjure recollections and dreams, imaginary tales, and abound with references to music and literature. Her work has recently found renewed enthusiasm, and was featured in Fast Forward: Painting from the 1980s at the Whitney Museum of American Art earlier this year and in a solo exhibition on view through May 27, 2018 at the Dan Flavin Art Institute in Bridgehampton, New York.

  • Larry Bell, Cyclone, 1990. Estimate $12,000–18,000.
    Throughout his career Larry Bell has investigated the spatial relationships between light and surface. From Bell’s Mirage series, Cyclone represents a dramatic departure from the minimal sculptures that had defined the artist’s career up until the mid-1980s. Around this time, the artist, then in his forties, learned that he suffered from an undiagnosed congenital hearing deficiency. The use of hearing aids profoundly altered Bell’s experience of the world around him, and inspired him to begin this series of painted collages. The works from the Mirage series are composed intuitively, using the materials and equipment Bell had on hand. The completed collages, often somewhat of a surprise to Bell himself, were named according to his first associations. 

  • Julian Schnabel, Come to Miami & Die on the Beach, 1973. Estimate $25,000–35,000.
    One of the earliest works by Julian Schnabel to come to auction, Come to Miami & Die on the Beach (1973) offers insights into the artist’s initial explorations of figurative painting. In the early 1970s, painting, especially figurative work, was rejected by many established critical circles as irrelevant. Ignoring these criticisms, Schnabel achieved an energetic style that set the stage for the Neo-Expressionist movement, which reinvigorated painting as a medium in the 1980s.


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