Published: February 12, 2002
LONDON – Christie’s February 6 evening sales of Post-War Art and Contemporary Art realized a total of $13,641,689. The Post-War Art sale achieved $10,477,750 and Contemporary Art totaled $3,164,303. Four world auction records for individual artists were realized.
Buyer activity in the sale of Post-War Art was 72 percent from the United Kingdom and Europe, 24 percent from the Americas and four percent from Asia. The sale was 89 percent sold by lot and 94 percent sold by value. Eighty-four percent of works sold within or above their presale estimates.
The top lot of the sale was “No 15,” a spectacular canvas by Mark Rothko (1903-1970), that sold for $2,338,402. The work was painted in 1949, the year of his great artistic breakthrough, when he finally abandoned imagery in favor of shimmering areas of intense color.
“The sale demonstrated the extraordinary strength of the Post-War Art market in Europe and the power of London as a center to bring in major paintings and to sell them to an international audience,” said Fernando Mignoni, specialist in charge of the sale.
Three works by Francis Bacon (1909-1992) were enthusiastically received in the sale. “Portrait of Man with Glasses IV” of 1963 realized $1,265,177. This painting shows a distorted face that looks as if it has been beaten to a pulp, with mangled glasses and a spray of red implying blood. “Man in Blue VII” of 1954, sold for $1,000,759. This work was the culmination of a series of pictures that Bacon painted while staying in the Imperial Hotel, in Henley-on-Thames, near to where his lover, Peter Lacy, had a house. Depicting a solitary figure, completely consumed by his surroundings, this work represents Bacon at his most existential, painting the angst and fragility of life. “Head,” of 1962, sold for $440,815. Painted in the year that Peter Lacy died, the work depicts the head of a surgeon with a lamp strapped to this forehead and Lacy’s features haunt those of the surgeon.
Further highlights of the sale included Yves Klein’s (1928-1962) “IKB 86” and Pierre Soulage’s “Peinture, 23 Avril 1963,” which established a new world record price for the artist at auction when it sold for $409,707.
The sale of Contemporary Art was 72 percent sold by lot and 77 percent sold by value. The top lot of the sale was “Untitled V,” 1997, by Andreas Gursky, which realized $611,909, setting a new world record for the artist and also a record for any contemporary photograph at auction.
The buying activity was broken down to show that 40 percent of buyers were from the United Kingdom and 24 percent from Europe, 24 percent of buyers were from the Americas and 12 percent from Asia. The sale included works from the Hans Grothe collection, which collectively totaled $1,104,952.
“The prices and fierce bidding seen reaffirmed that London remains central to the cutting-edge contemporary auction market,” said Gerard Goodrow, director of contemporary art at Christie’s. “We are particularly pleased by the result of the work by Gursky, which established a new world record for any contemporary photograph at auction.”
Further highlights of the sale included Miquel Barceló’s, “L’eau potable,” 1990 and Thomas Struth’s “Musée d’Orsay II, Paris,” 1989, which exceeded presale expectations.
Artist records were also achieved this evening for Thomas Demand and Glenn Brown.
The firm’s spring evening sales of Impressionist and Modern Art and The Art of the Surreal were held in London Thursday, February 4, and realized a total of $69,046,951. The Impressionist and Modern Art sale achieved $58,277,418, the highest total for more than a decade in this category. Eleven works of art sold for in excess of $1 million and three world auction records were realized for artists Maurice de Vlaminck, Chaim Soutine and Franz Marc.
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium and have been indicated in dollars when provided.
“The pictures spoke for themselves as bidding activity applauded quality, time and time again,” commented Jussi Pylkkanen, the auctioneer, international director of Nineteenth and Twentieth Century art department and deputy chairman of Christie’s UK. “The sale once more confirms that the February sales in London have quickly become renowned as the key starting point of the international auction calendar. European buying activity reflected the commitment of collectors and it was encouraging to see strong participation from the Americas.”
Buyer activity in the sale of Impressionist and Modern Art was 6.3 percent from the United Kingdom and Europe, 31 percent from the Americas and 6 percent from Asia. The sale was 81 percent sold by lot and 94 percent sold by value. Seventy-six percent of works sold within or above their presale estimates.
The top lot of the sale was Maurice de Vlaminck’s “La Seine a Chatou X,” establishing a new world record at auction for the artist. This paint-ing was one of three works sold on behalf of The Saint Francis of Assisi Foundation, a worldwide charitable foundation that funds projects to assist the fight against poverty and disease, and which had received the works as a gift from a private collector.
In total £11,011,250 was raised for the Foundation, with “L’Estaque” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir achieving £2,203,750 and “Golfe d’ Antibes,” painted by Claude Monet in 1888, realizing $3,113,899. The entire proceeds from the sale will go to the many worthy projects set up by the foundation in such countries as Ethiopia, Tanzania, Nicaragua, Equador and Brazil.
Claude Monet’s “Prairie de Limetz’ sold for $4,201,909. Dating from 1888, this magnificent painting of the poplar trees, which grew on the banks of the Epte at Limetz near his Giverny home, had not been seen in public for more than 100 years until it was exhibited at Christie’s.
The magnificent painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, “Le Premier Pas,” of 1876, sold for $6,688,789. The painting depicts Nini Lopez, one of Renoir’s favorite models who posed for many figurative paintings of the 1870s period.
A leading work from the German Expressionist movement, “Zwei Pferde” by Franz Marc (1871-1956) achieved a new world record at auction for a work on paper by the artist, selling for $1,870,459. “Zwei Pferde” was painted in 1913, the most important year in the artist’s career, when he produced canvases and watercolors of leaping and resting animals in a rich variety of luminous colors.
The sale of “The Art of the Surreal” immediately followed the session devoted to Impressionist and Modern Art. This sale totaled $10,769,534 and was 79 percent sold by lot and 88 percent sold by value. The buying activity was broken down to show that 85 percent of buyers were from the United Kingdom and Europe and 15 percent from America.
The top lot in this sale was Salvador Dali’s, “Apparition de la ville Delft,” which realized $2,103,604. Rene Ma-gritte’s “La geante” was further highlight selling for $782,449. More than 90 percent of the works sold this evening achieved prices within or above their presale estimate.
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