De Kooning, Hockney, Warhol and More Lead Contemporary Art Day Sale

Launch Slideshow

Exciting works by some of the most sought-after names in Contemporary Art – from Warhol and Basquiat to Richter and Hockney – highlight the 17 November Contemporary Art Day Auction. Click ahead for a preview of the sale’s highlights which will be on exhibition at Sotheby’s New York headquarters beginning 3 November.

Contemporary Art Day Auction
New York | 17 November

De Kooning, Hockney, Warhol and More Lead Contemporary Art Day Sale

  • Willem de Kooning, Boudoir, 1950. Estimate $1,500,000–2,000,000.
    "I'm not interested in 'abstracting' or taking things out or reducing painting to design, form, line and color. I paint this way because I can keep putting more and more things in – drama, anger, pain, love, a figure, a horse, my ideas about space."  

    – Willem de Kooning

  • Andy Warhol, Self-Portrait, 1978. Estimate $1,500,000–2,000,000.
    The current work was created ten years after Warhol was unexpectedly shot by Valerie Solanas, which left him in the hospital for two months recuperating from surgeries to repair his lungs, esophagus, spleen, liver and stomach; the damage from which he never fully recovered. Warhol’s self-portraits from these later years are quite different from his earlier works and reflect the growing concerns that he had with mortality as his life progressed. Themes related to the fragility of human life became ever more prominent in his praxis following the 1968 shooting and can be seen in the triple image of the present work where the artist’s piercing yet absent stare sheds light into his complex inner thoughts. The multiple exposures of the 1978 negative portraits, such as the present work, suggest a confused identity fraught with uncertainty as Warhol examines the deep shadows and dark recesses of his own psyche.

  • Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled, 1983. Estimate $1,200,000–1,800,000.
    A multiplicity of meanings exists in Untitled. A viewer is captivated not only by the powerful, lone protagonist but also intrigued by the purposeful scrawls surrounding him. Is he a warrior like his spear suggests? Is he a king or a martyr with a crown or halo? Is he a skeleton–his anatomy visible in his stomach and right leg? Is he the artist himself or perhaps another young, black man who has risen to fame? Basquiat often portrayed athletes and musicians he admired and indicated their identity by symbols, visual cues and different references that are sometimes overt but often times encoded. Beyond the figure’s head in Untitled a viewer can see the outline of a boxing ring the lines of which are almost identical to those in one of Basquiat’s first paintings, The Ring from 1981.

  • Wayne Thiebaud, Nine Candy Apples, 1964. Estimate $1,000,000–1,500,000.
    A magnificent companion to Thiebaud’s best known early works based on cakes, pies, ice cream, gumball machines, and parfaits, Nine Candy Apples endures as a powerful tribute to the cultural consciousness of the sixties in America. Though readily remembered as a Pop Artist, Thiebaud differs from Oldenburg and Warhol in that his aim is not to critique society but rather to celebrate and remember it.

  • Mark Bradford, Exodus, 2006. Estimate $1,200,000–1,800,000.
    As a Los Angeles native, urbanity, specifically the realities of urban life have informed the very core of his practice both philosophically and aesthetically. Bradford’s artistic arsenal is composed of literal material fragments of urban life and the configurations that result from his distinctive practice. These often allude to the physical makeup of his city, and are seen as an expression of the dense and distinctly metropolitan network of interwoven districts.

  • Kazuo Shiraga, Work BB48, 1962. Estimate $1,000,000–1,500,000.
    This masterwork heaves and writhes with tactility and vivacious commotion. Claw-like strokes of red, blue and green converge at electrifying points of intersection, which are heightened by masterful finishing impasto swabs of deep black. Work BB48 coincides with Kazuo Shiraga’s critical early period of explosive dynamism with the artist’s historic inaugural solo exhibition outside Japan. At Galerie Stadler in Paris in 1962, the young Gutai master’s legendary feet-generated strokes thrash out a thrilling path of primal expression via impassioned collisions of body and paint: like no other artist before him, Shiraga’s performative abstractions are vehemently inspirited with movement.

  • George Condo, Compression IV, 2011. Estimate $800,000–1,200,000.
    Following a nine-month stint as the diamond duster in Andy Warhol’s infamous Factory, George Condo emerged onto the 1980s New York art scene at the eager age of twenty-three alongside seminal figures Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, the latter of whom is stated to have officially convinced Condo to pursue a career as a professional artist. Like Haring and Basquiat, Condo was critically engaged throughout the eighties in the inauguration of a new form of figurative painting that stylistically blended the representational and the abstract.

  • Yoshitomo Nara, Right Hand in Back, 2002. Estimate $1,200,000–1,800,000.
    Iconic, captivating, and grand in scale, Yoshitomo Nara’s Right Hand in Back from 2002 is an exemplary illustration of Nara’s artistic development. First introduced in the 1990s, Nara’s conceptualization of a lonely, young girl became a perfected paradigm by the early 2000s, reflecting the disaffection of Japanese youth and capturing the imagination of viewers worldwide. In the present work, the combination of Nara’s intricately constructed patchwork and delicate brushwork along the surface of the fiberglass disk typifies the artist’s representation of the little girl. With her penetrating eyes, the rebellious yet lonesome child in Right Hand in Back captures the fascinating tension between childhood and adolescence, innocence and mischievousness.

  • Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild, 1990. Estimate $800,000–1,200,000.
    Gerhard Richter’s Abstraktes Bild from 1990 is a chromatically arresting and compositionally complex example of the artist’s revered body of abstract paintings. The present work is dazzling in its display of a complex interplay of color as the dominating gray veil of paint simultaneously conceals and reveals spectacular glimpses of emerald greens, sky blues and peachy pinks underneath. This riveting color application and manner of obscuring and exposing manifests the strident and unparalleled achievement of Richter’s intellectual inquiry into abstraction. Created at the apex of Richter’s seminal 1988-1992 period of production, during which his Abstrakte Bilder realized new heights of sophistication and excellence as the hard-edged spatula became the central instrument of Richter’s technical practice, the present work is an elegant and refined example.

  • David Hockney, California Interior, 1984-86. Estimate $1,500,000–2,000,000.
    In California Interior, Hockney makes explicit the glorious oasis that Los Angeles represented to an artist born and bred in the harsh North of England. Setting the scene for a sun-bathed room, the painting depicts a table with two chairs set atop geometric expanses of electric orange, tangerine, and gorgeous magenta that indicate the woodwork of the floor and ceiling.

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