From Hirst to Warhol: Highlights from Yellow Ball

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Launch Slideshow

Yellow Ball: The Frank and Lorna Dunphy Collection auction in London this September celebrates one of the most extraordinary art world collaborations of our times: that of Damien Hirst and his unstoppable business manager, mentor and ‘partner in crime’, Frank Dunphy. The two-part sale of more than 200 artworks features a number of works by Damien Hirst made especially for the Dunphys, alongside numerous pieces by the YBAs including Tracey Emin, Angus Fairhurst and Rachel Whiteread. Reflecting the Dunphy’s immersion in the wider art world, the sale also features works by Lucio Fontana and Andy Warhol. Click ahead to see highlights.

Yellow Ball: The Frank and Lorna Dunphy Collection
20 September | London
Yellow Ball: The Frank and Lorna Dunphy Collection Online
11-21 September | Online

From Hirst to Warhol: Highlights from Yellow Ball

  • Andy Warhol, Dollar Sign, 1982.
    Estimate £200,000-300,000.
    Andy Warhol’s Dollar Signs are a superb manifestation of perhaps the most salient inquiry in Pop art history: the relationship between art and commerce. Warhol’s lifelong fascination with money as a ubiquitous symbol of wealth, power, and status spans his entire oeuvre as a key leitmotif and inextricably links his art with his own biography. As such, the Dollar Signs stand in direct reference to Warhol’s works from the early 1960s in which he first employed the silkscreen to transfer dollar bills onto canvases. Returning to this iconography as a mature artist in the 1980s, the Dollar Signs not only scrutinise the dichotomy between low and high art that is so quintessentially Warholian, but also confront the prominent American symbol as a potent visual instrument charged with ambiguous significance. Previously from the collection of legendary curator and gallerist David Whitney, the present work is the absolute epitome of 80s New York.

    Yellow Ball: The Frank and Lorna Dunphy Collection
    20 September | London
  • Lucio Fontana, Concetto Spaziale, Attese, 1961.
    Estimate £600,000-800,000.
    With three unwavering incisions cut into a pure white canvas the present work is as among Lucio Fontana’s most powerful, energetic, and dramatic iterations of his venerated series of tagli. One of the most recognisable gestures of the post-war era and the apotheosis of Abstract Spatialism, the tagli define the quintessence of the artist’s career: Fontana forged a new dimension for painting in which past, present and future collapse within the immaculate and slender glimpses of a void beyond the picture plane.

    Yellow Ball: The Frank and Lorna Dunphy Collection
    20 September | London
  • Richard Prince, Untitled (Gene Pitney), 2011. Estimate £50,000-70,000.
    Richard Prince:


    "That's the way we want to look. To be pictured. A portrait...Maybe it’s a kind of stupid desire. Passion. Is passion what we are? Is that what we are in pictures? Is what we are in pictures almost real? Maybe it’s become the 'most' real thing. I mean, the picture I take has already been taken. I take it again. My picture is seamless. No cuts. No scissors. The camera as electronic scissors. It makes the magazine picture a photograph. The photograph is 'close.' It’s real close. Close to the real thing" (Richard Prince). Depicting Gene Pitney, who Frank Dunphy used to manage,  Untitled (Gene Pitney) is the perfect convergence of Frank’s two worlds.

    Yellow Ball: The Frank and Lorna Dunphy Collection
    20 September | London
  • Damien Hirst, Smashing Yellow Ball at Peace, 2008.
    Estimate £100,000-150,000.
    Frank and Lorna’s first meeting took place around a snooker table in London in 1981. It was the first night during which The Green Club, a popular billiards club, allowed women to enter, and it was then that Lorna caught the attention of Frank, who was playing snooker with friends. When Frank pulled the ‘yellow ball’, he saw Lorna for the first time. The yellow ball then became a central motif in their life together: they named their management company Yellow Ball, and the present work, an iconic Hirst butterfly work, brilliantly pays homage to their auspicious first meeting.

    Yellow Ball: The Frank and Lorna Dunphy Collection
    20 September | London
  • Damien Hirst, Psst, 1997.
    Estimate £60,000-80,000.
    In its carefully selected assortment of pills, mixtures and medicine packets enclosed within three shelves, PSST signifies the progression of existence itself, presenting the ‘tools’ required to maintain a long and healthy life. Furthermore, PSST and the other medicine cabinets channel a Pop art ideal in their presentation of quotidian commercial goods: re-imagining a consumer commodity as art. Characteristically witty, the present work was given to Frank from Damien when he was unwell.

    Yellow Ball: The Frank and Lorna Dunphy Collection
    20 September | London
  • Damien Hirst, Win, Draw or Lose, We're Here to Booze (The Groucho Club).
    Estimate £1,000-2,000.
    Drawn on a Grouch Club Menu, where Frank, Damien Hirst and many of the other YBAs would spend much of their time, the present work perfectly summates the 90s London art scene.

    Yellow Ball: The Frank and Lorna Dunphy Collection
    20 September | London
  • Damien Hirst, Bust of Frank, 2008.
    Estimate £25,000-35,000.
    Decorated with one of Hirst’s infamous Spin Paintings and depicting Frank Dunphy in the guise of a Roman Emperor, Bust of Frank was Hirst’s 70th birthday present to Frank. For Frank’s party, which was held at London’s private members club Home House, all the original sculpture was removed and the present work took centre stage at the top of the club’s iconic staircase.

    Yellow Ball: The Frank and Lorna Dunphy Collection
    20 September | London
  • Rachel Whiteread, Junk Food, 2007.
    Estimate £10,000-15,000.
    Recording the usually discarded packaging of junk food in a vibrant plaster cast, the present work cleverly continues the artist's career defining project of concretising spaces and places whose dimensions are hidden, unnoticed, or doomed to destruction. As with her iconic work House, casting the takeaway containers involves violently destroying them, literally ripping the packaging from the hardened plaster.

    Yellow Ball: The Frank and Lorna Dunphy Collection
    20 September | London
  • Angus Fairhurst, A Couple of Differences Between Thinking And Feeling, 2000.
    Estimate £8,000-12,000.
    Depicting a gorilla with a fish under his arm, A Couple of Differences Between Thinking And Feeling is utterly paradigmatic of Fairhurst’s oeuvre. Gorillas utterly dominated the artist’s practice, figures of fun that appeared time and time again in photographs, gorilla suits, gorilla cartoons, and as in the present work, imperious silver sculptures. Attesting to how art informed all aspects of the Dunphy’s life together, the present work would sit at the head of their dining table when they would host an ‘unlucky’ number of 13 guests.

    Yellow Ball: The Frank and Lorna Dunphy Collection
    20 September | London
  • Michael Craig-Martin, Untitled (US), 2007.
    Estimate £15,000-20,000.
    Hirst’s teacher whilst he was a student at Goldsmiths, Michael Craig Martin played a pivotal role in the YBA movement. The present work is characteristic of the artist’s vibrantly hued works that masterfully play with linguistics and perspective to intense optical effect.

    Yellow Ball: The Frank and Lorna Dunphy Collection
    20 September | London
  • Tracey Emin, Marlboro, torn cigarette pack.
    Estimate £300-400.
    Featuring a torn up cigarette packet in the guise of cat, the present work is quintessentially Emin. An icon of the YBA’s Emin, rose to prominence in the early 1990s with hand-made items, much like the present work, which she sold in her Bethnal Green shop.

    Yellow Ball: The Frank and Lorna Dunphy Collection Online
    11-21 September | Online
  • Damien Hirst, Beautiful Dreamer, 2008
    Estimate £150,000–200,000
    Butterflies were one of the earliest sources of inspiration for Hirst, and have appeared frequently throughout his career to date. He first alighted upon the idea of incorporating insects into his works by chance. Beautiful Dreamer is directly related to Hirst's seminal 1991 installation: In & Out of Love. Held in a former travel agent’s office, this immersive work comprised brightly coloured monochrome butterfly paintings similar in aesthetic to the present work, and a set of white monochrome canvases onto which Hirst attached live butterfly pupae. Bowls of sugar water placed near the ‘pupae’ canvases allowed the hatchling butterflies to feed and mate. The butterflies live metamorphosis from pupae to fully grown breeding adults effectively served as a miniature illustration of the complete cycle of life and death.

    Yellow Ball: The Frank and Lorna Dunphy Collection Online
    11-21 September | Online
  • Ed Ruscha, Three Books, 2001.
    Estimate £80,000–120,000
    Ruscha’s career long preoccupation with books and language utterly characterises his prodigious oeuvre and is perfectly exemplified by Three Books. Taking the book as both his subject and object, Ruscha innovatively prioritises the physicality of books rather than their content.

    Yellow Ball: The Frank and Lorna Dunphy Collection Online
    11-21 September | Online
  • Gavin Turk, Me as Him (Silver); Me as Him (Gold) (two works). Estimate £2,000–4,000.
    In Gavin Turk’s 2005 Faces series, the artist reinvented famous portraits with his own face as the subject. Here depicting himself as Andy Warhol, Turk borrows the visual language of Pop art to create images that are familiar to the viewer, yet simultaneously subverted.
  • Andy Warhol, Happy Bug Day; Happy Butterfly Day (two works). Estimate £3,000–4,000.
    Although best known for his screen-printed images of iconic brand names and portraits of the stars of stage and screen, Warhol in fact began his career as an illustrator, producing drawings by hand for fashion advertisements in 1950s New York. These elegant lithographs are hand-coloured, and hark back to the charming delicacy of Warhol’s early hand-rendered images.
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