Rothko & The Abstractionists: First major canvas by Rothko at a London auction in a decade
Date: 26 Jan 2012 | | Views: 1544
LONDON - The first major canvas by Mark Rothko to be presented in a London auction in a decade, the spectacular Untitled was executed in 1955 (estimate on request). Realised at the height of the artist’s celebrated classic period, it forms part of a series of abstract works exhibited and owned by a number of major international museums. Rendered in a palette of brilliant red vermillion, burnt ochre and white, Untitled comprises two rectangular forms floating within the canvas. Faced with this large-scale and vivid piece, ‘abstract sublime’ and ‘spiritual awe’ are amongst the terms used to describe this work which inevitably provokes a wealth of emotions for the transcended viewer.
Following the world record price achieved for his Kerze in our October auctions and the accompanying high prices set for Gerhard Richter in the New York sales, Christie's presents an outstanding Abstraktes Bild created by the German master in 1994. A majestic painting from the finest period of the artist’s abstraction, it was executed using the spontaneous squeegee technique which reveals layers of bursting azure, emerald and mauve throughout the canvas. Monumental and atmospheric, this work expresses movement and encourages the viewers to immerse themselves in the imaginary space of the composition. The harmonious painting was shown in the historical monographic exhibition staged at the d’Offay Gallery in London in 1995 and is estimated at £5 million to £7 million.
1958 was a groundbreaking year for conceptual art, one that saw Yves Klein experimenting with the possibilities of the monochrome as a transcendental object, and Piero Manzoni with the autonomous creation of an artwork in his series of ‘achromes’. For Fontana it was a year that marked his rise to international acclaim following the success of his aniline infused works in the 29th Venice Biennale. An outstanding and groundbreaking example of Lucio Fontana's pioneering approach to Conceptual Art executed in 1958, Concetto spaziale, Forma is a direct pre-cursor to his most celebrated series of paintings, the Venezie cycle of 1961 and will be offered for sale at Christie’s London this February (estimate: £1,500,000-2,000,000). Created in earthy, atmospheric tones, the work prefigures the artist’s opulent Concetto Spaziale, Festa sul Canal Grande (1961) from the Venezie series. At 150 by 150 centimeters, Concetto spaziale, Forma lends its unprecedented and heroic scale directly to all of the paintings in the Venezie series. This was one of the first times that Fontana had ever combined ‘buchi’ (holes) and ‘pietre’ (stones) with a dense layering of colour on canvas. Of the two other works in this small group of ‘inchiostri’ realised on this scale, one is held within the permanent collection of the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark.
A student of Lucio Fontana from his time at the Academia Altamira in Buenos Aires, Sergio Camargo learnt a great deal from his teacher’s pure, conceptual aesthetic. Executed in 1970, Relief no. 259 is a signature, radiant, white, sculptural work by Brazilian artist Camargo (estimate: £400,000-600,000). The long horizontal aperture cleared through the wealth of cylindrical wooden pieces in Relief no. 259, recalls Fontana’s own slashes, cutting into the monochrome canvas to reveal the space beyond. In Relief no. 259, the wooden pieces create a dynamic play of shadows as light penetrates and illuminates different facets of the work. Relief no. 259 was created at the height of Camargo’s career, whilst he was staying in Paris forming associations with artists such as Jean Arp, Henri Laurens and Constantin Brancusi. Camargo’s first white relief was executed in 1963 when the artist was thirty-three. This is the first time that a work of art by Camargo is offered for sale at Christie's London.
Agrigente is an extraordinary abstract landscape which forms part of the renowned series of ‘Agrigente’ paintings by Nicolas de Staël, regarded as the most important ever produced by the Russian-born artist. This particular work, which was realised in Provence in August 1953, on his return from a visit to Agrigento, Sicily, is one of the largest paintings from the series and is indeed a masterwork. The thick impasto is applied with a palette knife in a technique honed down by the artist, fully emphasising the large juxtaposed strips of vivid colour. De Staël unusually signed, titled and dated the piece on its reverse, revealing its particular importance. This work is estimated to realise £3.5 million to £5 million, in line with the current record price for the artist at auction (ˆ7,033,418 / US$9,423,121).