Specialist Picks: A Dynamic Group of Prints & Multiples

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Appealing to any type of collector, works in the upcoming auction of Prints & Multiples range tremendously in date, aesthetic and price. The artists represented are among the most celebrated names in 20th-century culture, including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, David Hockney and Andy Warhol, to name just a few. Materials such as paper, ceramic and steel were used to create a myriad of impactful imagery. With more than 350 lots to choose from, Sotheby’s Prints & Multiples specialists explain the pieces in the sale that most speak to them. Click ahead to discover their diverse selections.

Prints & Multiples
27–28 April | New York

Specialist Picks: A Dynamic Group of Prints & Multiples

  • Mary Bartow’s Pick:
    George Wesley Bellows, A Stag at Sharkey's. Estimate $60,000–80,000.
    “I have always loved the monumentality of this print. Bellows’s use of the triangle in the composition is brilliant. Even though the triangle is one of the simplest geometric forms, here it imparts an almost spiritual solidity and strength.” 

  • Mary Bartow’s Pick:
    El Lissitzky, 
Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge. Estimate $70,000–100,000.
    “Constructivism was such an important movement, interfacing with Cubism, the Bauhaus and de Stijl, and prints from these artists are exceedingly rare. The colour is so very fresh, and I feel the imagery and meaning is pertinent even today.” 

  • Molly Steiger’s Pick:
    Yoshitomo Nara, Untitled (Eye Patch). Estimate $10,000–15,000.
    “Nara never fails to capture a mood, and it is impossible not to relate to the expression of the subject here. That it is rendered in woodcut, such an arduous medium, adds to the tangible tension, as does the paper and tape collage eye bandage. I feel alternately amused, frazzled or stoic, depending on when I’m looking at it.” 

  • Molly Steiger’s Pick:
    Robert Rauschenberg, Breakthrough II. Estimate $80,000–120,000.
    “There is often a story or a personal aspect to Rauschenberg’s work. In this case, the lithographic stone started to break during the printing process, creating the crack that runs through the composition and preventing an edition larger than 34. Found objects, such as the eye chart at lower left and the key, mix with images seen elsewhere in art history, like the reclining nude. My eye finds something new every time I look at this print.” 

  • Helen Hatch’s Pick:
    Edvard Munch, Vampire II (Vampyr II). Estimate $300,000–400,000.
    “Experimentation with colour and process was key to Munch’s working method, exemplified in Vampire II where the artist first combines woodcut with lithography. In this print, the complexity of the process is matched by the intensity of the image itself. The artist often used red hair to signify erotic danger or desire; as the artist once wrote about a lover’s hair, ‘She had bent her head over mine—the blood-red hair had entwined itself around me…its finest threads had entangled themselves in my heart.” 

  • Helen Hatch’s Pick:
    Sybil Andrews,
Racing. Estimate $6,000–8,000.
    “The radical style of Cubism and Futurism arrived in Britain just as the nation was transitioning to a more modern, vital society. In this image, the bold colours and abstracted geometric forms replicate the excitement and ferocity of the dash to the finish line.” 

  • John Maher’s Pick:
    James McNeill Whistler, Nocturne. Estimate $25,000–45,000.
    “The luminous quality of Whistler’s prints is always enchanting. The fact that this is a previously unrecorded working proof and that it retains the large margins the artist usually trimmed right to the image, make it particularly special.” 

  • John Maher’s Pick:
    Robert Motherwell, The Red and Black. Estimate $30,000–50,000.
    “I love the vibrant colours and energy of this collage. The strength of the deep black hand additions and the spontaneity in the ink splatter is so typical of Motherwell, and figuring out which prints are the sources of the collage fragments is a delightful puzzle.” 

  • Chanler Rutherfurd’s Pick:
    Arthur Wesley Dow, The Dory; A Gray Day (Houses on a Beach); and The Dory. Estimate $7,000–10,000.
    “With woodcuts, Arthur Wesley Dow was able to print the same block several times, experimenting with colour variations. So while the compositions of the images at left and right are identical, each print has a unique feel. As seen in this group of three prints, Dow continuously returned to the image of a lone boat on the shore in front of fishermen houses, the different combinations of colours suggesting different times of day, different seasons or different weather conditions.” 

  • Chanler Rutherfurd’s Pick:
    Edward Ruscha, Sin-Without. Estimate $15,000–20,000.
    “What interests me most about this work is that it is a colour trial proof. In 2002 Ruscha created Sin-Without in an edition of 60 in black and white. Instead of discarding the overrun prints, Ruscha and the printer Steve Andersen took eighteen overrun impressions and overlaid the black and white prints with transparent layers of colour, creating two sets of nine colour trial proofs aside from the edition. Here, we see one of two sepia-coloured trial proofs.” 

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