Contemporary Eye: Specialist Picks from November Sales

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Launch Slideshow

Alex Branczik, Sotheby's Head of Contemporary Art, Europe, talks us through his highlights of the upcoming Modern and Contemporary sales in both London and Milan. Pieces by leading contemporary artists such as Wolfgang Tillmans sit alongside the pioneers of Pop Art, and important 20th Century works including C.R.W. Nevinson's 1914 WWI opus, A DawnClick through to see highlights from across the sales. 

Modern & Post-War British Art
21 & 22 November 2017 | London

Contemporary Curated
21 November 2017 | London

Arte Moderna e Contemporanea
29 & 30 November 2017 | Milan

Contemporary Eye: Specialist Picks from November Sales

  • Andy Warhol, Onion Soup, from Campbell's Soup I, 1969. Estimate: €8,000–10,000.
    The visual recognition of objects and brands was a recurring motif in Warhol's work, with the Campbell's soup can images eventually reaching iconic status through the themes he explored. Warhol spent his career experimenting with the creative process to record the popular culture of the time and the mass-produced products sold in to every American home. He was fascinated by a mechanised approach to artistic production, and this approach was even reflected in the name of his studio; The Factory.



     



    Modern & Contemporary Art Online
    3–20 November 2017 | Online



     

  • Tom Wesselmann, Monica With Spread Legs, 1986.
    Estimate: €8,000–12,000.
    In Monica With Spread Legs, Wesselmann demonstrates the simplicity of line typical in his work, omitting facial features of his subject, leaving just the mouth, and the figure in a suggestive pose. He provides his viewer with minimal visual information, yet still creates a provocative and daring image. 



     



    Modern & Contemporary Art Online
    3–20 November 2017 | Online

  • Mimmo Rotella, Senza Titolo, 1959. Estimate €10,000–15,000.
    Senza Titolo is a beautiful, intimate example of Mimmo Rotella's collaged works. Rotella was interested in subverting the meaning behind the mass-media imagery of the late 1950s; erasing their defining features and creating new composite motifs through his torn-collage technique. 



     



    Modern & Contemporary Art Online
    3–20 November 2017 | Online

  • Piero Dorazio, Cheval, 1984.
    Estimate €10,000–15,000.
    A powerful and colourful painting by Dorazio, Cheval offers both geometrical precision and enigmatic abstraction, replete with a multi-coloured and vibrant colour palette and unitary composition.



     



    Modern & Contemporary Art Online
    3–20 November 2017 | Online

  • Wolfgang Tillmans, Still Life Talbot Rd., 1991.
    Estimate: £6,000–8,000.
    With a number of impressive institutional exhibitions over the last two years, Wolfgang Tillmans has become one of the most sought-after artists of the moment. After the record-prices for his abstract photographs, the art-historically important early still lifes are now receiving more attention from collectors. Still Life Talbot Rd. is a classic example of Tillmans' approach to photography, which elevates everyday objects to the centre of attention.



     



    Contemporary Curated
    21 November 2017 | London

  • Richard Prince, Untitled (Question & Answer), 1990.
    Estimate: £12,000–18,000.
    Richard Prince's famous monochrome joke paintings, which he started making in 1987, were preceded by years of copying the low-brow humour from American magazines onto notebooks and pieces of paper. The present work perfectly captures Prince's interest in the absurd. "Artists were casting sculptures in bronze, making huge paintings, talking about prices and clothes and cars and spending vast amounts of money. So I wrote jokes on little pieces of paper and sold them for $10 each."



     



    Contemporary Curated
    21 November 2017 | London

  • Sigmar Polke, Untitled, 2002. Estimate: £80,000–120,000.
    There aren't many artists who have been as thoroughly experimental as Sigmar Polke. His approach to image-making as well as his exploration of materials and techniques have consistently pushed the boundaries of painting. The present work is a great example of his use of interference paint, which changes colour depending on your point of view, creating an image that is inherently unstable.



     



    Contemporary Curated
    21 November 2017 | London

  • Evelyne Axell, Store Vénitien, 1966.
    Estimate: £40,000–60,000.
    The last few years have seen a renewed interest in artists who have historically been overlooked for a number of reasons, and Evelyne Axell is one of them. Although this great work from her small oeuvre dates back to 1966, this is the first time her work appears at auction outside of Belgium. With its colourful palette and the suggestive outline of a female nude, Store Vénitien is both an expression of European Pop Art in the 1960s and the sexual revolution at the time.



     



    Contemporary Curated
    21 November 2017 | London

  • C.R.W. Nevinson, A Dawn, 1914.
    Estimate: £700,000–1,000,000.
    Unseen in public for over 30 years, A Dawn , 1914 is one of the finest images of the First World War that Nevinson ever painted, and one of the last remaining paintings of this period by the artist to remain in private ownership. In Nevinson's Futurist-inspired scene the viewer is thrown abruptly into the unforgiving light of an autumnal morning in Flanders, where they are met with the artist's adept rendering of the downtrodden French soldiers – the poilus – on the march to the front line.



     



    Modern & Post-War British Art
    21 & 22 November 2017 | London

  • Bridget Riley, Study for Point Movement, 1966.
    Estimate: £40,000–60,000.
    During the 1960s British Op-artist Bridget Riley garnered great international acclaim through her ground-breaking work. She was shown alongside many of the leading artists of the day – including David Hockney and Howard Hodgkin – on both sides of the Atlantic. Her energetic and innovative style of abstraction resonated with the atmosphere of cultural and social liberation in the 1960s, and her work informed not only the art world, but also the worlds of fashion and design of the period.



     



    Modern & Post-War British Art
    21 & 22 November 2017 | London

  • Jenny Saville, Cultural Fetish, 1992.
    Estimate: £120,000–180,000.
    As part of the group of artists that rose to prominence in the 1990s, supported by Charles Saatchi (and included in his ground-breaking Sensation exhibition), Jenny Saville is best known for her arresting portrayal of the female nude, a subject steeped in art historical tradition.



     



    Her work holds a resonance with some of the greatest figurative British painters of the past century including Stanley Spencer and Lucian Freud. Cultural Fetish was created when the artist was still in her early twenties, and soon after she graduated from Glasgow School of Art. In June 2016 Sotheby's established a new auction record for the artist, when Shift (1996-7) sold for £6.8million.



     



    Modern & Post-War British Art
    21 & 22 November 2017 | London

  • William Turnbull, Leaf Venus I, 1986.
    Estimate: £150,000–200,000.
    An artist whose work spanned the course of the second half of the century, William Turnbull is celebrated for his paintings and sculptures alike. He paid equal attention to each, and the painted surfaces of his bronzes are as beautiful as any painting he created during his long career. Championed by the influential collector Donald Blinken – who in turn introduced him to the artists Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman – Turnbull's sculptures deal with his lifelong fascination with the archetypal female form, becoming ageless symbols of mankind and fertility.



     



    Modern & Post-War British Art
    21 & 22 November 2017 | London

  • Michaelangelo Pistoletto, Il Fotografo, 1975.
    Estimate: €280,000–350,000.
    Il Fotografo is a magnificent example of Pistoletto's mirror paintings, that intentionally use the reflective properties of the steel to produce an interactive dialogue between the viewer and the image in front of them.



    In this work from 1975 the "real photographer" that Pistoletto referred to in the manuscript inscription on the back of the work is Paolo Mussat Sartor, the famous photographer from Turin, known for his collaboration with several artists of that period, especially those of Arte Povera. 



     



    Arte Moderna e Contemporanea
    29 & 30 November 2017 | Milan

  • BOETTI
    Alighiero Boetti, Alternando da uno a cento e viceversa, 1977-78. Estimate: €400,000–600,000.
    Alternando da uno a cento e viceversa (Alternating one to one hundred and vice versa) is an iconic work by Alighiero Boetti. Mathematics and the order of a sequence, find in the randomness of disposition the key point: alternating white and black squares and sewing inside them the same amount of squares in alternating colours makes the canvas seem to crumble in its central part transforming itself into an abstract work of art. Starting off from a mathematical sequence the work undertakes an extremely personal aesthetic which comes from randomness. Alternando da uno a cento e viceversa is a proof of Alighiero Boetti's vivid mind and its complexity, it is a hymn to curiosity and the reinvention of the surrounding reality.



     



    Arte Moderna e Contemporanea
    29 & 30 November 2017 | Milan

  • Lucio Fontana, Concetto Spaziale, 1962.
    Estimate: €500,000–700,000.
    Three resolute incisions cut into a deep peculiar ocher canvas: this is one of the most powerful and dramatic work among Lucio Fontana's series of tagli.



    "By cutting the ties that connect a great number of expressions known as avant- gard expressions,  to more classical and aesthetic data, Fontana has created a kind of spatial art that is overall supplementary to the space of others. In terms of greatness he can be compared only to Picabia..." – Alain Jouffroy, 1965



     



    Arte Moderna e Contemporanea
    29 & 30 November 2017 | Milan

  • Salvatore Scarpitta, Gravity, 1963.
    Estimate: €450,000–600,000.
    Executed in 1963, Gravity is an emblematic example of Scarpitta's works made with bandages, a series of Avant Garde works that he started in Rome in 1957. This is how the artist describes his works: "one of my works either holds itself together or not, thus it can't be planned because I execute my work live, while executing it. This happened already in 1957, when I started  these works, not knowing yet what the outcome was going to be, all I knew was that the canvases were scars that needed to be bandaged.”



     



    Compared to the innovative works of art executed by his fellow artists like Alberto Burri and Lucio Fontana this work is an example of innovative art, the invention of the wrapped canvas leads to a level of abstraction that makes the canvas the absolute main character of the work, the matter is the canvas itself which reveals its plot, its strength, its weaknesses. 



     



    Arte Moderna e Contemporanea
    29 & 30 November 2017 | Milan

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