Polke, Gursky, Wylie & Koons Light Up Contemporary Week

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Launch Slideshow

Over 200 works by the world's most important artists will be offered for sale in the Contemporary Art Day Auction in London on 6 March, bringing together iconic works by artists such as Sigmar Polke, David Hockney, Gerhard Richter and Rose Wylie — and spanning almost a century of groundbreaking artistic production. Click through to see highlights from the sale.

Polke, Gursky, Wylie & Koons Light Up Contemporary Week

  • Damien Hirst, The Midas Principle, 2008-09. Estimate £350,000–450,000.
    Executed in 2008-09, The Midas Principle exemplifies Damien Hirst’s unyielding philosophical enquiry into beauty and its ephemerality through the symbol of the butterfly. The monochrome gold background in recalls the gilded backdrops to depictions of Christ, Mary and the saints in Byzantine mosaics and Italian panel paintings. If the monochrome butterfly paintings immortalised Hirst’s obsession with death and life’s ephemeral beauty, then the introduction of gold as background imbued his concept with the solemnity of religion and spirituality.
  • Rose Wylie, Listening To Miss S, 1993. Estimate £50,000–70,000.
    Listening to Miss S is spontaneous and vibrantly colourful, simultaneously full of reference points and singing with ambiguity. It has all the hallmarks of Rose Wylie’s idiosyncratic collage-like approach to painting. In the present work, the crude and colourful figures and objects that populate the picture plane brilliantly weave together a vast array of wildly disparate references. It is this synthesis of highly personal memories of the artist’s immediate surroundings, and the collective visual culture of a shared consciousness, rendered with a tongue-and-cheek, down-to-earth spirit, which make Rose Wylie’s paintings so captivating.
  • Nina Chanel Abney, Untitled, 2016. Estimate £10,000–15,000.
    Untitled epitomises Nina Chanel Abney’s chromatically intense and kaleidoscopic graphic style, brilliantly combining references to specific cultural and political events with abstraction to the point of ambiguity. In the present work, cartoon-like portraits are met with bustling sparks of bright colour, ‘x’ marks and numbers, swimming across a crimson red background. The painting sings with the artist’s inimitable visual language, re-writing the potential of narrative painting in the contemporary age.
  • Secundino Hernández, Untitled, 2014. Estimate £50,000–70,000.
    Iridescent tones shimmer within an intricately structured network of black brushstrokes, interrupted only by frenetic bursts of rich colour. Untitled, from 2014, balances perfectly between spontaneous gesture and carefully considered, methodical process.
  • Imi Knoebel, schief und schräg 3, 2010. Estimate £200,000–300,000.
    Measuring nearly two metres tall and three metres wide, the monumental Schief und Schräg 3 is a poetic embodiment of Imi Knoebel’s lifelong engagement with colour, seriality and materiality. Composed of aluminium slates of varying thickness fixed onto a panel and creating an interpenetrating display of colour and form, the work encapsulates Knoebel’s five decades of artistic achievements into a single work that marks the apogee of the artist’s career.
  • Mario Klingemann, Memories of Passersby I, 2018. Estimate £30,000–40,000.
    Memories of Passersby I is a pioneering work of artificial intelligence. Fully autonomous, it uses a complex system of neural networks to generate a never-ending stream of portraits, disquieting visions of male and female faces created by a machine. These uncanny interpretations of the human face can be seen as AI-generated examples of what André Breton referred to as “convulsive beauty.” At times, the images melt into abstract arrangements of pixels as the machine struggles to create a new portrait. For the viewer, Memories of Passersby I is a hypnotic experience, the opportunity to watch an AI brain “think” in real time and view truly unique portraits which are neither recorded nor repeated.
  • Sigmar Polke, Untitled, 1992. Estimate £150,000–200,000.
    Fascinatingly complex and multifariously composite, Untitled, is a testament to an oeuvre that is defined by reckless experimentation. Over the course of five decades, Sigmar Polke rebelliously destabilised the boundaries between media, appropriated manifold sources, and melded together every binary opposition imaginable, becoming the true opponent of Contemporary art. In a hallmark gesture familiar to the artist’s innovative exploration of paint and pigment, here Polke lets a pale blue spill over a white ground, allowing gravity and accident to trace a spidery network.
  • Johannes Kahrs, O.T. (Two Figures), 2013. Estimate £15,000–20,000.
    O.T. (Two Figures) exudes the ambiguity and intimacy that have come to defines Johannes Kahrs’ oeuvre. Drawing from source materials both of his personal archive and from popular culture photographs, Kahrs brilliantly renders every detail of the photographic image, skilfully translating each quirk and inadequacy of the image across this large canvas. The result decontextualises the snapshot, and propels the image into to the sphere of high art.
  • Andreas Gursky, EM, Arena, Amsterdam I, 2000. Estimate £150,000–250,000.
    Few photographers have had such a seismic and lasting impression on contemporary art as German artist Andreas Gursky, whose overwhelming panoramic images document the grandiose perspectives and restless environments of late stage, global capitalism in the 21st century. EM, Arena, Amsterdam I , executed in 2000, incorporates monumental scale, extraordinary detail, art historical cues and a universally recognisable scene into a certified masterwork. Cropped and retouched, foreshortened, and rendered with an unprecedented fineness, the present work demonstrates the variety of formal and epistemological concerns Gursky addresses in his practice.
  • Jeff Koons, Jim Beam - Box Car, 1986. Estimate £300,000–400,000.
    Jim Beam - Box Car , executed in in 1986, is a consummate example of Jeff Koons’ formal and ideological interests, marking a decisive evolution from the fluorescently lit readymades that typify his early hoover works, towards the radiant mirrored surfaces that are emblematic of Koons’ oeuvre. Representing a key work in his Luxury and Degradation series, the chromed, stainless steel train carriage of Jim Beam - Box Car nods to the readymades of Marcel Duchamp – removing the ornate decanter from its window display and refashioning it as an artwork – whilst inciting the bourgeois, kitsch, decadent surfaces of the height of luxury.
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