Lichtenstein Fetches $46,242,500 as Historic One Sale Tops $420m — Setting Seven Artist Records

Sunday, July 12, 2020
Lichtenstein Fetches $46,242,500 as Historic One Sale Tops $420m — Setting Seven Artist Records

The first auction of its kind — relayed in sequence from Hong Kong, Paris, London and New York — totals $420,941,042 / £334,877,520 / €373,053,557 / HK$3,246,637,554 and sets auction records for Marden, Thiebaud, Condo and more.

Image: Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Les femmes d’Alger (version ‘F’), 1955. Oil on canvas. 21⅜ x 25⅝ in (54.2 x 65 cm). Sold for $29,217,500 in ONE: A Global Sale of the 20th Century on 10 July 2020 at Christie’s in New York. © 2020 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.



On 10 July Christie’s made auction history with ONE, a global live auction offering Impressionist and Modern, Post-War and Contemporary Art and Design.

Using streaming technology, ONE  took place in consecutive sessions in Hong Kong, Paris, London and New York, and realised $420,941,042 / £334,877,520 / €373,053,557 / HK$3,246,637,554, selling 94 per cent by lot and 97 per cent by value.

The event saw global participation online via Christie’s LIVE online bidding channel, and where regional government advice allowed, clients and phone bidders in the salerooms. More than 80,000 people tuned in to watch ‘the new theatre’ unfold, with 60,000 of those accessing through social media in Asia.

 ‘This hybrid-format concept sale is a way to adapt and innovate,’ commented Christie’s chief executive officer, Guillaume Cerutti. ‘We wanted to stage something that accommodates the current situation and serves our clients wherever they are and however they wish to participate.’

The top price of the ONE  sale was achieved by Nude with Joyous Painting (1994), a late-career tour de force by Roy Lichtenstein, which realised $46,242,500. Painted in Lichtenstein’s signature ‘Ben-day’ dot style, the landmark canvas features a blonde American beauty alone in her bedroom, wearing nothing but a blue headband and red lipstick.

Ana Maria Celis, Head of Evening Sale, Post-War and Contemporary Art at Christie’s, described the iconic work as ‘the most important example of Lichtenstein’s last great series of Nudes to have ever appeared at auction’.

It was followed by Barnett Newman’s Onement V. Executed in 1952, it is one of six paintings in Newman’s breakthrough ‘Onement’ series, which marked the moment the Colour Field artist came of age. The painting realised $30,920,000.

Brice Marden’s Complements  diptych, above, painted between 2004 and 2007 and exhibited at New York’s Matthew Marks Gallery in 2007, also sold for $30,920,000, establishing a new world record for the artist at auction. With its orange and blue rectangles traversed by a wiry collection of snaking coils, it is a standout example of the artist’s late, vibrant gestural style.

Hong Kong

Presided over by Elaine Kwok, the first leg of this international relay established two world auction records and saw active bidding in the Christie’s salesrooms in Hong Kong, Paris and New York, as well as via Christie’s LIVE.

The top lot was Gerhard Richter’s Frost (1) (1989), which sold for HK$79,255,000. A dazzling example of Richter’s Abstraktes Bild  paintings, it exemplifies the artist’s practice of continually laying down and then subsequently scraping off layers of paint with a squeegee, resulting in a fractured surface.

The Hong Kong section also saw strong results for George Condo’s Force Field  from 2010, which achieved HK$53,150,000, a world record for the artist at auction; and Yellow Quadrangle (1959) by avant-garde Japanese painter Takeo Yamaguchi. The largest of Yamaguchi’s works ever to come to auction set a world record at HK$15,125,000 — more than five times the high estimate.


Martin Wong’s 1990 Untitled (Statue of Liberty), realised HK$4,925,000, nearly double the high estimate; while Homecoming  by self-taught Canadian artist Matthew Wong soared above the high estimate before realising HK$3,000,000.

Other notable results included Yayoi Kusama’s 1981 Pumpkin, which realised HK$14,525,000; and Nicholas Party’s captivating large-scale Still Life  in pastel, which achieved HK$7,925,000.

Paris

Following a swift transition the Paris section got underway with Cécile Verdier at the rostrum. It was led by Jean Dubuffet’s Pourlèche fiston (1963), which fetched €6,528,500. Held in the same family collection for half a century, the painting represents the kaleidoscopic fusion of two worlds: the transformation of Dubuffet’s celebrated ‘Paris Circus’ series into his career-defining cycle, ‘Hourloupe’.

The second-highest price of the Paris leg came from Amedeo Modigliani’s 1909 portrait of Maurice Drouard, below, which fetched €4,485,500.

It was followed by Nicolas de Staël’s Plage à Agrigente, an exquisite work from the artist’s series based on his time in Sicily. Painted in the South of France in 1953, and unveiled in his landmark debut at Paul Rosenberg’s New York gallery shortly afterwards, it sold for €4,031,500.

Other highlights included Pierre Soulages’ Peinture 130 x 89 cm, 25 novembre 1950, which realised €3,237,000. This dynamic oil on canvas had not been seen in public since 1953, when it toured to Australia for the exhibition French Painting Today.

London

In London Jussi Pylkkänen was at the podium. Leading the auction was René Magritte’s monumental L’Arc de Triomphe, one of only a handful of Magritte paintings of such large scale still in private hands. Painted during the opening months of 1962, it features one of the most iconic motifs of Magritte’s post-war oeuvre: the tree. It sold for £17,798,750.

There were numerous other impressive results. Carnival and Lent (2006-2008) by Cecily Brown produced the second-highest price of the London leg at £4,859,750, while Gebeugter Trinker [Bent Drinker] by Georg Baselitz realised £4,600,000. After an international bidding battle, David Hockney’s 1988 Jade Plant sold for £4,178,750, nearly triple the low estimate.

Executed in 1959, and widely exhibited, Manolo Millares’ Cuatro 54 realised £1,091,250, setting a new world record for the artist at auction. Some two metres wide, it is a powerful large-scale example of the artist’s extraordinary burlap creations.

New York

Led by Adrien Meyer, the fourth and final leg took the sale total to $420,941,042. In addition to the works by Lichtenstein, Newman and Marden (see above), other notable results included Picasso’s monumental Les Femmes d’Alger (Version F), one of a series of 15 canvases based on Eugène Delacroix’s masterpiece Les femmes d’Alger, which achieved $29,217,500.

Picasso created the series in a burst of activity between December 1954 and February 1955, assigning each work an identifying letter, from ‘A’ to ‘O’. What makes Version ‘F’ stand out is the way it marks a bridge between the first phase of the series (of regular-sized canvases) and the second, final phase (featuring much larger works). More than any other painting in the series, it also conveys the hothouse atmosphere of a harem.

Ed Ruscha’s groundbreaking early text painting Annie (1962) fetched $22,975,000, while Four Pinball Machines, one of the largest canvases from Wayne Thiebaud’s early period, sold for $19,135,000, setting a new world record for the artist at auction.

Painted in 1962, it depicts a row of arcade machines, decorated in a vibrant mix of oranges and yellows. ‘Thiebaud is one of the most underrated and overlooked painters of recent times,’ says Stephen Jones, associate vice president of Post-War & Contemporary Art at Christie’s. ‘It’s only as we approach his 100th birthday that the world is really waking up to that.’


The New York leg also saw competitive bidding for Frank Stella’s Sharpeville  from 1962, which realised $11,625,000; Georgia O'Keeffe’s From Pink Shell, which sold for $5,098,750, and two further Picasso works. Baigneuses, sirènes, femme nue et minotaure  from 1937 sold for $8,106,500, while Baigneuses au ballon (1928) achieved $4,575,000, more than double the high estimate.

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