Hockney and Twombly Lead London Frieze Week Sales

Sotheby's Contemporary Auction
Launch Slideshow

The Frieze Week London sales were led by vibrant masterpieces by Josef AlbersCy TwomblyJean-Michel Basquiat and David Hockney in the Contemporary Art Evening Auction. Twombly's Untitled topped the bidding at £6,402,500 while Albers' Homage to the Square: Temperate achieved a record price after energetic bidding in the saleroom drove the total up to £2.3 million. The In Context Italian Art Sale saw Alighiero Boetti's 1982 work, Addizione, sell for £2.3 million in its first ever appearance at auction. The total result across both sales was £68.7 million. Click through to see highlights from the evening.

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Hockney and Twombly Lead London Frieze Week Sales

  • Cy Twombly, Untitled, 1962. Sold for: £6,402,500.
    Cy Twombly's Untitled provides an extraordinary insight into this artist's esoteric works, illustrating and explaining the central tenets of his painterly style: in the upper third of the work, we are presented chromatic coda, a key to each of the artist's principle colours and the poetic meaning that each imbued. Meanwhile, in the lower passage of the work, we are given a clear explication of the manner in which Twombly deployed text and image in symbiotic. In this work, accompanied by the archaic Greek poetry of Sappho, Twombly ruminates on the very nature of his art. 

  • David Hockney, 15 Canvas Study of the Grand Canyon, 1998.
    Sold for: £6,008,750.
    Born of David Hockney's immersion in American culture and his turn towards landscape at the end of the millennium, 15 Canvas Study of the Grand Canyon stands at the forefront of the artist's output; a masterful and immersive symphony of paint that epitomises David Hockney's idiosyncratic style. It is a masterpiece of Hockney's oeuvre, closely linked to feted Yorkshire landscapes of the same period, and doubtless familiar to the London art audience from its prominent appearance in the landmark Hockney retrospective at the Tate Britain in 2017. 

  • Philip Guston, Odessa, 1977.
    Sold for: £3,758,750.
    In 1968, disillusioned by the progressively restrictive dogma of Abstract Expressionism, Philip Guston performed an about-turn and began to make figurative works that intentionally went against the erudite taste of Clement Greenberg et. al. Odessa is a spectacular example of this extraordinary and final phase of his output; a monolith of jumbled shoes and upturned legs in the midst of a vibrant blue sea. It is a deeply personal work, through which Guston pines for a homeland that he has never visited. 

  • Jean-Michel Basquiat, Remote Commander, 1984.
    Sold for: £2,971,250.
    In this painting the workings of an extraordinarily creative mind are on full view. Stream of consciousness cartoon doodles and Pop culture references merge with anatomical sketches and quotidian transcriptions snatched from Basquiat's everyday life. 

  • Alexander Calder, Untitled, 1960. Sold for: £2,858,750.
    Spanning two metres, elegant wire branches support a canopy of floating black elements punctuated by two larger elements painted red and yellow. Archetypally Calder, Untitled is a graceful demonstration of the artist's ground-breaking liberation of pictorial colour and line. Suspended from arched steel wires of varying thickness, organic shapes of flat painted sheet metal hang from individual points. The result is an ever-changing and mutable visual encounter that reacts to the movement and flow of air.

  • Gerhard Richter, Stadtbild, 1969. Sold for: £2,521,250.
    Gerhard Richter's Stadtbild (Townscape) forms part of the eponymous series of Stadtbilder that mark a crucial turning point in Richter's oeuvre: namely the moment Richter abandoned blurred photo-realism and shifted towards a more abstract, painterly approach.

  • Josef Albers, Homage to the Square: Temperate, 1957.
    Sold for: £2,288,750.
    Josef Albers' Homage to the Square series is one of the most recognisable and iconic bodies of work of the Twentieth Century. Mesmeric symphonies of colour and form, the paintings vary widely, from achingly subtle variations between colours to boisterous paintings filled with stunning internal juxtapositions.

  • Francis Bacon, Studies of Isabel Rawsthorne, 1983. Sold for: £1,988,750.
    In this extraordinary portrait we see Bacon as "the Proustian recorder of time passing"; Studies of Isabel Rawsthorne is not only the valediction to a truly epic life that spanned the devastating excesses of the Twentieth Century, but also punctuates the closing chapter of her friendship with Bacon.

  • Alighiero Boetti, Addizione, 1982. Sold for: £2,288,750.
    Monumental in scale, vibrant in design and nuanced in implication, Addizione deftly engages with the major facets of Alighiero Boetti's fêted oeuvre. Through a myriad of multi-coloured embroidered letters Boetti explores etymological and mathematical structures and the polarity between order and disorder. One of only four pairs correlatively entitled Addizione and Sottrazione, of which only three are in colour; the present work is supremely rare. These sets of embroideries all incorporate mathematical problems that always give, as a result, the execution year of the work. The present work includes a series of additions, spelt out vertically from top to bottom, (ie. 1901 + 81, 1931 + 51 etc.), all with the result 1982.

  • Lucio Fontana, Concetto Spaziale, Attese, 1968. Sold for: £1,568,750.
    With three unwavering incisions cut into a deep unblemished scarlet 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.


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