Published: December 19, 2000
Thirty-two of the 150 lots offered in artnet.com’s recent auction of Icons: Modern and Contemporary found buyers. The sale netted $107,700, including the ten percent buyers’ premium.
George Grosz’s pen and India ink drawing “Strasse, Berlin” (1917) garnered the highest price by far at $18,700, including premium. The buyer, “hross” of New York, captured the piece at the very end of the auction, which ran from to November 30, on the lower end of its estimate of $1822,000.
Grosz was known for his caricatures and “his wit in depicting figures and landscapes that suggest a wry and subversive treatment of social order and authority,” according to the auction catalog. He created this 17-by-13.5 inch work depicting his hometown while or immediately after serving in the German forces in World War I. Before emigrating to the United States in 1933, he “was frequently prosecuted for insulting public morals and for blasphemy.”
Only two other pieces in this sale drew more than $5,000, before premium: Andy Warhol’s color silkscreen “$” (1982), selling for $6,300, and Marc Chagall’s color lithograph “XXe Siecle” (1963) for $5,500.
The Warhol, purchased by another New York buyer (“tonyu”), fairly straightforwardly depicts what its name indicates, a dollar sign, but it is placed on a purple background and appears colored in with Day-Glo orange crayon: What better icon for the 1980s? The catalog notes that each screenprint of this image is unique.
The Chagall, “splashed with brilliant color and populated with the citizens of Chagall’s artistic world: lovers, horses and birds, all in a joyous landscape,” is a limited edition from a print that originally appeared in a Paris art magazine. It was sold to a Florida buyer.
Selling for $5,000 each, before premium, the next two highest lots were David Hockney’s color lithograph “pool made with paper and blue ink for book” (1980) and Roy Lichtenstein’s color silkscreen landscape “Untitled” (1996).
The Hockney must have been a welcome sight in winter for its Michigan buyer, “twodogsdancing.” Measuring just 10.5 by nine inches, it came with the special edition book “Paper Pools.” Although Hockney is known for his pool images, according to the auction catalog, he produced relatively few of them.
Measuring perhaps smaller than the typical Lichtenstein, 24 by 33 inches, “Untitled” was won by “oakswb,” a bidder from Florida. It appears to be a beach scene, with a setting sun and invitingly placed tree – perhaps a parody of a travel brochure for its new owner’s home state.
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