World auction record for the work of Agnes Martin

Wednesday, May 11, 2016
World auction record for the work of Agnes Martin

The May 10 evening sale of Post-War and Contemporary Art established 6 new world auction records for artists.

World auction record for the work of Agnes Martin

The May 10 evening sale of Post-War and Contemporary Art realized US$318,388,000 / £220,796,117 /€279,086,291 with sell-through rates of 87% by lot and 91% by value. The sale established 6 new world auction records for artists including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Agnes Martin, Mike Kelley, Richard Prince, Kerry James Marshall and Barry X Ball. The results of tonight’s sale brings the week’s running total to $396.5million, which includes the price achieved by the May 8 evening auction of Bound to Fail.

The sale attracted registered bidders from 39 countries, with strong bidding from Asia, Europe and the United States.

Sale total: US$318,388,000 /£220,796,117 /€279,086,291

Top lot of the sale: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled, 1982. Sold for $57,285,000 (£39,726,075 / €50,213,758 )

AGNES MARTIN (1912-2004), ORANGE GROVE was estimated at $6,500,000 - $8,500,000 and realised for $10,693,000.

"In Agnes Martin’s exquisite Orange Grove pale orange lines circumscribe the outer perimeters of a series four stacked cells in a seemingly limitless vertical and horizontal scaling of the pictorial surface. Coursing over the canvas, these orange lines extend the length and width of the gridded canvas, marking out units in miniature vertical columnar shapes that virtually disappear into a hushed tonality when viewed from a distance. As if to both stymie and invite vision, Martin’s “channels of nuance” (this apt phrase is the art historian Lucy Lippard’s) is at once a tour de force of disciplined mark making and an open field upon which the viewer’s imagination runs free (L. R. Lippard, “Top To Bottom, Left To Right,” in Grids, Philadelphia, 1972). As the artist asserted, “There’s nobody living who couldn’t stand all afternoon in front of a waterfall” (A. Martin, quoted by Ann Wilson in “Linear Webs,” Art and Artists, London, October, 1966, p. 48). Equally, one could stand for hours in front of this expanse of glowing open field. The experience of looking links to that of hearing: the “sound of pencil lines drawn on canvas” suggests that a synesthetic experience is to be had in the presence of the magnificent Orange Grove (Ibid., p. 49). Not only do we “hear” the movement of graphite moving with considered discipline as it crosses the intertwined warp and weft of fabric, working into its grain, but we also imagine the fragrance of the orange grove itself, row upon row evoked by a semblance of hue. A further sense, tactility, the touch of the artist, is everywhere present, not only in the hand-drawn lines that follow the linearity of a marked measuring tape, but also in the erasures and corrections, which, as the image emerges, conform to Martin’s inner vision. The sense of physical identification, too, comes from the size of this picture. Martin considers her canvas, six-by-six-foot, “a size you can walk into” (A. Martin quoted in Benita Eisler, “Profile: Life Lines,” New Yorker, January 25, 1993, p. 81)." - Source: Christie's

Sara Friedlander, Vice President, Head of Evening Sale, Post-War and Contemporary Art, stated: “We built our sales this season to reflect the macro environment, providing an ideal balance that suits an array of collecting tastes. Tonight’s success is the result of a tightly edited sale with top quality works, which were extremely fresh to the marketplace. 84% of the lots had never been sold at auction, and of the 10 works that had been sold, only 4 had been offered over the past 10 years. We are very pleased to see collectors gravitate to a broad spectrum of art, spanning from masterpiece quality works, including Rothko’s No. 17, to artists who are quickly rising within the auction market. One such example is Kerry James Marshall, whose Plunge, captivated the imagination of so many collectors and set a world auction record for the artist.”

Brett Gorvy, Chairman and International Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art, remarked: “We are very proud of the record price achieved for Basquiat’s monumental portrait of the artist as devil at a time when top collectors are pursuing works of the very highest quality. This painting drew intense competition that dispelled questions of a market contraction. We are particularly happy that the work was acquired by a collector in Asia, demonstrating the global scope of the masterpiece market.”

Image above: AGNES MARTIN (1912-2004), ORANGE GROVE, signed, titled and dated '"ORANGE GROVE" 1965 a.martin' (on the reverse) oil and graphite on canvas, 72 x 72 in. (182.9 x 182.9 cm.) Painted in 1965.

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