NEW YORK, NY.- Phillips de Pury & Company announced the highlights from the May Contemporary Art Part I and Contemporary Art Part II sales.
The sales will feature important and iconic modern and contemporary works. Contemporary Art Part I includes 51 lots with a pre-sale estimate of $84,970,000 to $120,500,000. Contemporary Art Part II includes 308 lots with a pre-sale estimate of $8,467,000 to $12,153,000.
Contemporary Art Part I
"The quality selection of the May auction reflects the discerning standards that the contemporary market demands. With top works across the entire spectrum of mid-century through cutting edge art, we have high expectations for global competition and record prices." Michael McGinnis, Senior Director and Worldwide Head of Contemporary Art.
Andy Warhol’s, Liz #5, 1963 is a rare and exquisite example of the world renowned images of feminine paragons of grace that catapulted the artist to prominence nearly 50 years ago. This glamorous portrait of the legendary actress, Elizabeth Taylor, embodies the most important themes of Warhol’s oeuvre including his fascination with celebrity, real-life drama and the fleeting nature of beauty. One of the artists most instantly recognized images, Liz #5 is a testament to Warhol’s unique and unrivaled contribution to the visual arts. Coming from an important private collection, the work was acquired from the estate of Warhol’s long-timed dealer and collector Ileana Sonnabend, where it remained in her personal art collection until her death. This is the first time a major work from her estate will come to auction and it offers the once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire a true Warhol masterpiece and one of the Sonnabend treasures in the open market.
Andy Warhol’s, Flowers, 1964 estimated at $8,000,000 to $12,000,000 is a beaming example from his instantly recognizable, Flowers series. Interpreting the traditional genre of still life, Warhol’s choice of a synthetic palette is as vibrant and visually exciting as the day it was painted. Flowers captures the ethos of a society in transition, the civil unrest of the 1960s just underway seems to percolate beneath the seemingly joyful and placid image. Warhol’s singular approach has transformed this fleeting symbol into an enduring statement of longevity.
Roy Lichtenstein’s, Still life with Mirror, 1972 estimated at $6,000,000 to $8,000,000 illustrates Lichtenstein’s inspiration from all forms of mass produced printed material rendered in a flat, two dimensional painting paradoxically reaching three-dimensional status. Still life with Mirror is a seminal work from an important period of Lichtenstein’s career incorporating many of his earlier works that function as an extension of the multi-tiered formal dialogue that he had been engaging in with his artistic forebears’ well-known interiors such as Matisse and Abraham van Beryeren. This work is a deceptively simple interior scene composed of a table on which a bowl of fruit, a coffee cup and the verso of a painting sit, construing a foreground. Reduced to elemental shape, three primary colors of the high modernism of Mondrian are exercised in support of a representational scene that is undermined by it’s own flatness. This work exemplifies Lichtenstein’s incomparable contribution to the visual arts.
Richard Prince’s, Crashed (Wayward Nurse), 2006 – 2010 estimated at $4,000,000 to $6,000,000 is a seminal work, arguably the most visually striking and important work from this series. Prince captures the striking tension between the good and the wicked in his Nurses series. Unlike many of Prince’s nurses, whose eyes he covers in a diaphanous veil of white paint, Prince has left his Wayward Nurse’s striking eyes, clear and piercing. Painted in vivid reds set against bright white, it screams of macabre violence and unadulterated sex – the viewer finds themselves transfixed by the sheer visual splendor of the canvas. The nurse is a beautiful and in this case, dangerous representation of a fantasy based in reality – it is an outdated perception yet still holds weight in today’s culture. Therein lays Prince’s strength – his ability to timelessly capture these flash moments in the American cultural vernacular and make them modern. Wayward Nurse is layered in depth – Prince created art for art’s sake and just as he intended, this painting is a provocatively brilliant piece the viewer cannot tear their eyes away from.
Ellsworth Kelly’s, Green White, 1968 estimated at $3,000,000 to $4,000,000 marks the debut appearance of the triangle in Kelly’s oeuvre, a shape that reoccurs throughout his distinguished career. Green White is composed of two distinct, shaped monochromatic canvases, which are installed on top of each other: a large-scale, inverted green trapezoid is positioned vertically above a smaller white triangle, forming a new geometric composition. Independently, each shape is recognizable by its own inherent structure, however, when combined, the two shapes unite, dynamically shifting and visually transforming into a new geometric entity. Everyday shapes, forms, and lines served as the impetus for Kelly’s visual vernacular. Life could now be refined to spatial constructions of meaning as seen in Green White.
Additional notable highlights include Third Eye, 1985 by Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat estimated at $2,000,000 to $3,000,000 and Mao (Mao 10), 1973 by Andy Warhol estimated at $3,500,000 to $4,500,000.
Contemporary Art Part II
“This season begins an exciting run for contemporary art. We are pleased to present top works that are fresh to the market, from private collections all over the world. The selection is wide-ranging and dynamic.” Sarah Mudge, Head of Contemporary Art Part II.
Roy Lichtenstein’s, New Born, 1988 estimated at $300,000 - $500,000 is titled and modeled after Constainti Brancusi’s bronze modernist gem Le Nouveau-né (the Newborn), 1920, part of the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection. Lichtenstein’s recall and response to Brancusi’s graceful, deceptively effortless sculpture of abstraction and form goes one step further in expressing the artist’s interest in the relationship between three dimensional form and two-dimensional space. Lichtenstein’s Newborn identifies with the artist’s fundamental issue of representing a figure in abstract means. Newborn is an exquisite representation of its time and place within art history, and an iconic work from one of Pop Art’s best artists.
Vik Muniz’s, iconic portrait of Elizabeth Taylor (from the Pictures of Diamonds series), 2004, estimated at $80,000 to $120,000, is a dazzling portrait of the late Hollywood dame. Muniz knew Taylor would make the perfect subject to be rendered entirely out of precious stones. This work was a gift from the artist to Elizabeth Taylor directly. Following the death of its beloved subject, the portrait’s provenance continues to find its way towards one of the star’s many dedicated devotees.
John Wesley’s, 3 Sunbathers, 1982 estimated at $250,000 to $350,000 echoes the historical phenomenon of the reclining nude that has been recognized throughout history as the most iconic representation of the female form in an exciting and modern way. Wesley’s animated style and bold use of color confronts the allegory of the nude with vitality and good humor, a prime example of Wesley’s painterly abstractions.
Additional highlights include Matthias Weischer, Untitled, 2003 estimated at $250,000 - $350,000; Mark Bradford, Am I losing you …, 2002 estimated at $250,000 - $350,000; and Robert Ryman, Place VI, 1998 estimated at $120,000 - $180,000.