Landmark Basquiat Leads London Contemporary Highlights

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Launch Slideshow

The Contemporary Art Evening Auction in London on 8 March will be led by Untitled (One Eyed Man or Xerox Face), one of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s finest full-length male figures from his series of grand-scale paintings that took the art world by storm in the early 1980s. The work last appeared at auction in 1987, the year before the artist’s death, when it sold for $23,100. Other standout works from the sale include one of Richter’s finest landscapes, a stunning Baselitz that looks to break the artist’s record and a Dubuffet once owned by Britain’s leading champion of Abstract Expressionism. Click ahead to find out more about the highlights.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction
London | 8 March 2017

Landmark Basquiat Leads London Contemporary Highlights

  • Property of an Important Private Collector. Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled (One Eyed Man or Xerox Face), 1982.
    Estimate £14,000,000–18,000,000.
    Untitled (One Eyed Man or Xerox Face) is positioned in the top tier of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s cycle of full-length male figures; that limited series of immensely impactful grand-scale paintings that took the art world by storm in 1981 and 1982. It represents a significant milestone within Basquiat’s oeuvre as the first occasion upon which a sheet of Xerox collage was used as the compositional centre point for a major painting and, in depiction, is undoubtedly one of the most arresting and dramatic works from the entirety of 1982 – itself the most significant year of this artist’s cruelly curtailed career.

  • Alexander Calder, Black Lace, circa 1947.
    Estimate £3,000,000–4,000,000.
    Dominating its surroundings with inimitable kinetic grace and a monumental horizontal span of over eight feet, Alexander Calder’s sensational Black Lace (circa 1947) is a symphonic marriage between form and movement. Demonstrating the profound influence that Calder’s visit to Rio de Janiero in the late 1940s and his encounter with architect Henrique Mindlin had on his output, this work exists as the spectacular result of a significant moment in the artist’s career. Acquired directly from Mindlin in 1959 and included in the artist’s first ever exhibition in Brazil, Black Lace exists for us today not simply as a stunning exemplar of Calder’s distinctive aesthetic but also as an indelible memento to a period of profound creative flourish and insatiable inspiration.

  • Property from an Important Private Collection. Martin Kippenberger, Die Mutter von Joseph Beuys, 1984.
    Estimate £3,000,000–4,000,000.
    Die Mutter von Joseph Beuys is one of two major paintings by Martin Kippenberger that seditiously depicts the mother of the German high-priest of conceptual art, Joseph Beuys. The sister painting is held in the permanent collection of the renowned artist, collector and professor, Wilhelm Schürmann, and should be viewed as a transition point between this artist’s two most important series: the Lieber Maler, male mir works of 1981, and the Picasso Paintings of 1988. Across the entirety of its composition, Kippenberger is at pains to reroute the contemporaneous course of the avant-garde and to revisit the critical appreciation of art history. He undermines his artistic peers and predecessors with teasing wit and condescension, and presents himself at the heart of the avant-garde discourse in Germany.

  • Property from a Private American Collection. Adrian Ghenie, Self Portrait as Charles Darwin, 2011.
    Estimate £ 2,000,000–3,000,000.
    Self-Portrait as Charles Darwin pinpoints a milestone in Adrian Ghenie’s oeuvre. Created in 2011, this is the very first instance of Charles Darwin’s appearance in Ghenie’s work: a thematic focus that has fuelled the artist’s acclaimed scrutiny of identity as subject to the darker vicissitudes of twentieth-century history. It is thus the first in an important and substantial series of self-portraits executed in the guise of the father of modern biological science. It prefaces both the eminent Self Portrait as Charles Darwin 3 (2012) in the collection of the CAC in Malaga, and the tour de force of painting that is The Death of Charles Darwin from 2013.

  • Property from a Distinguished Private Italian Collection. Tom Wesselmann, Smoker #5 (Mouth #19), 1969.
    Estimate £3,000,000–4,000,000
    Smoker #5 (Mouth #19) from 1969 is a prime example of Tom Wesselmann's iconic series of shaped canvases that focused on the enlarged and disembodied mouth of an anonymous female, caught in the act of enjoying a cigarette. Monumental in scale, the sculptural quality of the shaped canvas maintains a sense of realism and graphic clarity in the depiction of the magnified and isolated hot-red lips, pearl-white teeth and haze of grey smoke wafting from the tip of the cigarette, presenting an image with maximum visual intensity that is at once evocative, sensual, and alluring.

  • Property from a Private European Collection. Gerhard Richter, Eisberg, 1982.
    Estimate £8,000,000–12,000,000.
    Eisberg is an extraordinary painting by Gerhard Richter; utterly captivating in its desolate serenity. Characterised by a monolithic shard of forbidding ice, and executed in a perfectly balanced atmospheric spectrum of icy, arctic hues, it can be said to exemplify this artist’s career-defining series of landscapes. It is the largest of only three works ever completed on this subject, another of which is held in the prestigious collection of Doris and Donald Fisher that is now promised to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. In this work we are reminded of Richter’s extraordinary technical skill: of his ability to evoke a sense of the sublime in the same manner as Caspar David Friedrich, and of his expertise in atmospheric light effects.

  • Property Formerly from the Collection of E. J. Power. Jean Dubuffet, L'Homme au Papillon, 1954.
    Estimate £3,000,000–5,000,000.
    L’Homme au Papillon is one of the most significant works of Jean Dubuffet’s career. It is rare in content, exceptional in provenance, and sublime in painterly style; in keeping with the most highly regarded works from Dubuffet’s oeuvre in every facet. As indicated in the title, it takes the butterfly as its focal point. This motif was integral to the artist’s visual vocabulary in the 1950s and its appearance in this work suffuses the composition with a sense of self-portraiture. That this work is formerly from the collection of E.J. Power adds to its importance immensely: Power was one of Britain’s leading collectors of the post-war period.

  • Property from a Private German Collection. Yves Klein, Untitled Monogold (MG 47), 1959.
    Estimate £700,000–900,000.
    Gold was hugely important to Yves Klein. As a formal element, the shimmering and resplendent hue formed one third of the chromatic trio upon which the vast majority of his oeuvre was based. As a material, the metal provided him with a medium already imbued with so many of the qualities he sought in his work. Subsequently, the Monogolds are considered to be of immense significance to the interpretation of this artist’s cruelly curtailed career. Given to the family of the present owner during the year of its creation, this work is as delicate in aesthetic as it is ferocious in conceptual vigour, and as such it is filled with the artistic impetus that defined Klein’s production.

  • Property from a Prestigious Private European Collection. Louise Bourgeois, Heart, 2004.
    Estimate £800,000–1,200,000.
    Created in 2004, Louise Bourgeois’ Heart is replete with melancholic poignancy and visceral provocation. Treading the line between aggression and tenderness, this piece is a quintessential example of the artist’s ‘Old Age’ production – the period, beginning in the early 1990s and continuing until the end of her life, in which Bourgeois drew heavily upon her increasingly vivid childhood memories, particularly those concerning her mother. Containing sewing needles and threads, this work recalls the artist’s childhood home in Antony, a suburb of Paris, and the Bourgeois family’s tapestry repair business.

  • Georg Baselitz, Mit Roter Fahne (With Red Flag), 1965. Estimate £6,500,000–8,500,000.
    Mit Roter Fahne (With Red Flag) is a bold and arresting archetype of Georg Baselitz’s most important series – the seminal corpus of Heroes that cemented his reputation as one of the most provocative and compelling voices of the post-war era. In the imposing monumentality of its protagonist, with its diminutive head, tattered uniform and oversized bright scarlet flag, Mit Roter Fahne displays the fiercely idiosyncratic style of the Helden (Hero) series. Produced between 1965 and 1966, they have garnered the highest degree of commendation and many are now housed in institutional collections worldwide, such as Tate, London and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humblebaek.

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