Outstanding Works by Contemporary Masters

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This October, London will play host to Frieze and Frieze Masters – the world’s most vibrant contemporary and modern art fair. In the spirit of Frieze Week, the Contemporary evening auction is led by a selection of outstanding works by contemporary masters, including a group of impressive works by Gerhard Richter, which are headlined by a vibrant and grandly scaled abstract painting,Garten. A dynamic group of works from a Distinguished Private American Collection punctuate the sale and include standout pieces by contemporary stalwarts such as Christopher Wool, Mark Grotjahn and Rudolf Stingel. Click ahead to see highlights.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction
7 October | London

Outstanding Works by Contemporary Masters

  • Gerhard Richter, Garten. Estimate £3,000,000–4,000,000.
    Gerhard Richter’s Garten  is an essay in colour; an astounding work that perfectly evinces the artist’s inimitable ability to variegate texture, timbre, tone, and hue in order to create paintings of stunning quality and astounding complexity. Heralding from 1982, it also marks an important ontological milestone in Richter’s oeuvre, charting the journey of his praxis from photorealist exactitude into abstract splendour. Executed on an astounding scale as a profound monument to the enduring power of painting and as an altar to the supremacy of colour, Garten professes a transcendent aesthetic uniquely bound to the act of painting and its physical constitution.



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  • Peter Doig, Grasshopper. Estimate £2,800,000–3,500,000.
    Grasshopper  is a compelling work of dreamlike beauty. It is historically significant in its status as one of only a handful of works completed in the lead up to Doig’s 1991 solo exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery, compositionally distinct as the first work to deploy Doig’s idiosyncratic tripartite device, and typical of this artist’s early 90s praxis in its evocation of a vast Canadian landscape. Doig’s deference to the majesty of the Canadian landscape resonates on more than one level in the present work. Indeed, the title was inspired by a quotation from a nineteenth century Canadian explorer, who, having ventured deep into his country’s wilderness, reported to the readers of Toronto’s Globe that “man is a grasshopper here, a mere insect, making way between the enormous discs of heaven and earth” (Gareth Jones, ‘Weird Places, Strange Folk’, Frieze, September-October 1992, online).



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  • Jean-Michel Basquiat, Hannibal. Estimate £3,500,000–4,500,000.
    Hannibal is an absolute masterclass of unrivalled pictorial invention from the artist’s highly sought after early period. Looking back on 1982, Basquiat recalled, “I made the best paintings ever” and perhaps nowhere does this manifest itself better than in the extraordinary surfaces and creative ingenuity of Hannibal. Adorned with Basquiat's trademark crown and brimming with his iconic convulsive, paroxysmal marks that reflect the spontaneity of graffiti, Hannibal is Basquiat at his very best. Titled Hannibal after one of the most infamous warriors of all times, Hannibal Barca, the present work can be understood as an abstracted battlefield, which draws upon the bloodied wars of history with an excitable nostalgia that serves the young artist’s unparalleled aesthetic ambitions.



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  • Gerhard Richter, Säulen. Estimate £1,800,000–2,500,000.
    Encompassing a total of seven intriguing canvases, Säulen  is one of the largest and most ambitious works of Gerhard Richter's early career. The late 1960s represent a pivotal moment in Richter’s multifarious oeuvre, as it was during this decisive period that his radical experimentations on canvas began to redefine the pre-existing parameters of painting. At this pioneering moment, Richter started to express a marked interest in architectural forms, which found material expression in his seminal series ofTownscapes and the epic canvas Domplatz, Mailand. The present work forms part of an eclectic corpus, which includes the celebrated and highly conceptual sculpture 4 Glasscheiben (4 Glass Panes) as well as the CurtainsWindows and Shadowpaintings. While Richter painted several versions of the latter motifs, Säulen is truly unique in that it is the only painting of that subject matter.



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  • David Hockney, Guest House Wall. Estimate £1,800,000–2,500,000.
    Guest House Wall  is a work of immense chromatic variance and brilliant painterly beauty; it is filled with David Hockney’s love for his home country and informed by his erudite investigations into painterly techniques of the past. Guest House Wall serves as compelling evidence for the manner in which Hockney called upon lessons learnt in photography and stage design in order to achieve his artistic goals, and absolute proof of the massive influence that art history has had upon his work. This work hovers between abstraction and figuration, exemplifying the manner in which Hockney playfully explores and intellectually scrutinises the formal issues of contemporary painting with unprecedented invention and confidence.



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  • Sigmar Polke, Spirale. Estimate £1,400,000–1,800,000.
    Spirale  is an outstanding painting from an immensely important period of Polke’s career. It is a work of exceptional gestural vivacity that hovers between printed order and painted chaos in deliberate and unabashed ambiguity. For its idiosyncratic and evocative medium, as well as for its immense scale and rarefied execution, it should be considered in keeping with the best of this artist’s career. Spirale is a particularly painterly example of the works that Polke made in the 1980s using industrially produced fabric as a ground. In their production, he poured and splashed paint over the regulated patterns of the manufactured materials in a way that deliberately disrupted and subverted their geometry and rationality.



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  • Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild. Estimate £1,000,000–1,500,000.
    Chromatically arresting and compositionally complex, Abstraktes Bild  from 1986 is a veritable masterclass in tone and texture from Gerhard Richter’s iconic corpus of abstract paintings. Derived from a body of nascent abstractions created between the years of 1980-85, the present work announces a decisive break and undeniable landmark achievement; from 1986 onwards Richter would relinquish any planned compositional elements of form and structure in favour of the haphazard scrape and stutter of the ‘squeegee’. Variously evoking Rothko’s exuberance of transformative colour, Kline’s structural expressionism, and Pollock’s instigation of autonomous composition, Richter’s abstraction is entirely without comparison.



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  • Christopher Wool, Minor Mishap (Black).
    Estimate £1,000,000–1,500,000.
    Born of Christopher Wool’s landmark 9th Street Rundown series, Minor Mishap (Black)  is a commanding example of the artist’s lauded self-appropriating facture. Using his own paintings as starting points for his new work, original hand-painted marks are mechanically reproduced and silkscreened in a process that challenges the traditional notions of authorship. Minor Mishap (Black) takes for its source Wool’s iconic and oft quoted corpus of drawings, the 9th Street Rundown. Representing something of an encyclopaedia of painterly marks, 9th Street Rundown encompasses an impressive range of gestures that includes drippy pours, roller patterns, sponge marks and, as in the present work, splashes. Quite literally an encyclopaedic endeavour, for these drawings, Wool lifted marks and motifs directly from illustrations in beginner’s guides to abstract painting.



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