LONDON - Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale which will take place on 30 June 2008 and is led by four exceptional highlights; Naked Potrait with Reflection by Lucian Freud (b.1922), one of the most important works by the artist to be offered at auction (estimate: £10 million to £15 million); Balloon Flower (Magenta), 1995-2000 by Jeff Koons (b.1955), the most important work by the artist to be offered at auction in Europe (estimate: in the region of £12 million), Three Studies for a Self Portrait by Francis Bacon (1909-1992), which has never before been seen in public (estimate: in excess of £10 million) and (Concetto spaziale) La fine di Dio, 1964, by Lucio Fontana (1899-1968) (estimate: in excess of £8 million). The auction is expected to realise in excess of £80 million.
Pilar Ordovas, Director and Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art, Christie’s London: ‘Christie’s continue to drive the market for Post-War and Contemporary Art in 2008, with fantastic results realised in our major sales in London and New York, as well as in Paris, Hong Kong, Milan and Dubai. Following the incredible success of Lucian Freud’s ‘Benefits Supervisor Sleeping’ which sold in New York in May for a record price of $33.6 million, we are really excited to be offering in London ‘Naked Portrait with Reflection’, one of the most important works by Freud to appear on the open market. We also look forward to presenting ‘Balloon Flower (Magenta)’, the most important sculpture by Jeff Koons ever offered at auction in Europe, which will be exhibited in St. James’s Square leading up to the sale. It is an unprecedented auction and we expect to attract international collectors from around the world.’
Naked Portrait with Reflection by Lucian Freud (b.1922) was painted in 1980 and is one of the most important works by the artist to appear at auction (estimate: £10 million to £15 million). The portrait stirs a sense of vulnerability – the model lies spread out on a tattered sofa, and is viewed from above, subject to the analysis of the artist—and to us, his accomplices, her public. In the top right corner of the painting, a pair of legs are apparent, adding a strange narrative tension to the painting: while initially appearing as though these were the feet of some clothed, departing man, it becomes clear by looking at the title and the peculiar angle of the floorboards that this is the artist himself, reflected in a mirror, smuggled into the picture through a device that had previously been favoured by Van Eyck and Velazquez. The painting was acquired by an anonymous collector at auction in London in December 1998, and it has remained in their possession since. It has been widely exhibited, most recently in the artist’s Retrospective at Tate Britain in 2002.
Three Studies for a Self Portrait by Francis Bacon (1909-1992) is a rare self-portrait triptych that the artist painted while in Paris in 1975 and that has never before been seen in public (estimate: in excess of £10 million). Throughout his career, Bacon’s reputation was greater in Paris than anywhere else, and he always held a desire to maintain a studio there. In 1971, Bacon’s lover George Dyer died in Paris at the time of the artist’s great retrospective in the city and in 1974, after a period of grieving, he left London for the French capital in a move that his biographer Michael Peppiatt described as ‘a mixture of morbidity, guilt and a masochistic desire to suffer more’. Painted in 1975, the present work is one of the first of an outstanding series of stark, piercing and highly analytical self-portrait triptychs painted by the artist in the mid 1970s and exploring the notion of mortality. In 1975, Bacon remarked to David Sylvester that ‘One of the nice things that Cocteau said was ‘Each day in the mirror I watch death at work.’. Acquired by the present owner in Paris in 1976, the work has never before been seen in public and has never been offered at auction.
Jeff Koons’s Balloon Flower (Magenta), 1995-2000 is the most important work by the artist to be offered at auction in Europe. The sculpture is offered from the Rachofsky Collection of Dallas and is expected to realise in the region of £12 million. With its monumental scale, mirrored surface and magnificent magenta color, Jeff Koons’s gleaming and seductive sculpture based upon a balloon twisted into the shape of a purply-pink wideopen bloom stands as a celebrated icon within the oeuvre of one of the most influential artists working today.
A further highlight of the auction is (Concetto spaziale) La fine di Dio, 1964, by Lucio Fontana (1899-1968). The La Fine Di Dio series of 1963 and 1964 represents arguably the pinnacle of the artist's career, and the example to be offered at Christie's is expected to realise in excess of £8 million.
Madrid desde Torres Blancas by Antonio Lopez (b. 1936) is expected to realise £1,500,000-£2,000,000. Along with Gran Vía (1974-1981), a much smaller painting, Madrid desde Torres Blancas is the most important urban view ever painted by the artist. It was started in 1976 and finished only in 1982 after which it was sold from the artist´s studio to an important private European collection. It has since passed by inheritance to the present owner. It has been seen very rarely in public and could become the most expensive work by a living Spanish artist sold at auction.
Christie's will offer a selection of Indian art at the London evening sale for the first time, as the international demand for post-war and contemporary Indian art continues to grow. The leading highlight is La Terre, 1973, by Syed Haider Raza (b. 1922), one of India’s leading modern masters and a founder member of the revolutionary Bombay Progressive Artist's Group (estimate: £1,000,000-£1,500,000). A further highlight is Curry II, a sculpture in stainless steel by Subodh Gupta (b. 1964), one of the most prominent contemporary Indian artists whose work was exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 2005. Chinese contemporary art is led by Father and Daughter by Zhang Xiaogang (b. 1958), one of the most successful artists of the Chinese avant-garde, which is expected to realise £900,000-£1,500,000.
Further highlights of the Post-War section of the sale include Nine Multicoloured Marilyns (Reversal series) by Andy Warhol (1928-1987) (estimate: £2,500,000-£3,500,000), Great American Nude No. 44 by Tom Wesselmann (1931-2004) (estimate: £2,500,000-£3,000,000), The Cathedral, The North East Face / Uluru (Ayers Rock) by Michael Andrews (1928-1995) (estimate: £1,000,000-£1,500,000) and works by Mark Rothko (1903-1970), Nicolas de Stael (1914-1955) and Antoni Tapies (b.1923).
Further highlights of the Contemporary section include L-Tyrosine-15n, 2001, by Damien Hirst (b. 1965) (estimate: £2,000,000-£3,000,000), Untitled, 2004, by Anish Kapoor (b.1954) (estimate: £600,000-£800,000), Heimat Land by Mamma Anderson (b.1962) (estimate: £120,000-£180,000), Auto, 2001, by Jeff Koons (b.1955) (estimate: £2,200,000-£2,800,000), Untitled (Fashion) by Richard Prince (b.1949) (estimate: £300,000-£400,000 and works by Takashi Murakami (b.1963) and Tom Friedman (b.1965).