LONDON - On October 18, Christie’s London evening auctions of Post-War & Contemporary Art and The Italian Sale realised a combined total of £54,586,900 ($88,157,844 / ˆ64,412,542). Together with yesterday’s auction of Thinking Big: Major Contemporary Sculpture and Installation sold to Benefit the Saatchi Gallery’s Foundation, the auctions of Contemporary art this week at Christie’s have realized a running total of £57,673,250 ($93,092,918 / ˆ68,048,262).
The top price this evening was paid for Sacco by Alberto Burri, which realised £2,994,500 ($4,836,118 / ˆ3,533,510).
In total 17 lots sold for over £1 million and 26 for over $1 million.
In total this week’s evening sales have established 31 artist records: 8 at this evening’s sales, and 23 at yesterday’s auction of Thinking Big.
Post-War & Contemporary Art
The Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Auction realised a total of £27,788,900 ($44,879,074 / ˆ32,790,902), selling 91% by lot against a pre-sale estimate of £20.3 million to £29.2 million. The top price was paid for Glenn Brown’s Böcklin’s Tomb (copied from ‘Floating Cities’, 1981, by Chris Foss), 1998, which sold for £2,322,500 ($3,750,838 / ˆ2,740,550).
9 lots sold for over £1 million / 12 for over $1 million. Full results can be found here.
With buyers from 19 countries across 4 continents, record prices at auction were established for 4 artists (Josephine Meckseper, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Sarah Lucas and Ryan Trecartin), as well as a record price for a photograph by Martin Kippenberger.
Francis Outred, International Director and Head of Post-War & Contemporary Art, Christie’s Europe: “This week has seen extraordinary success in our three evening sales. Including our ‘Thinking Big’ auction of sculpture from the Saatchi Gallery, we’ve achieved 31 artist records with only 8 unsold lots out of 162. We saw spectacular success with our Italian sale, which outstripped the previous record for 20th-century Italian art, showing strong global interest in this area and setting 4 new world records. We saw high prices both for established artists such as Kippenberger, Basquiat and Doig, as well as records for young artists like Josephine Meckseper, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and Ryan Trecartin. The strong visitor figures at our ‘Thinking Big’ and ‘When Britain Went Pop’ exhibitions, which welcomed over 10,000 visitors between them, show the depth of interest for contemporary art in London. The strength of our sales can be linked to this growing audience for contemporary art.”
- Böcklin’s Tomb (copied from ‘Floating Cities’, 1981, by Chris Foss), 1998, by Glenn Brown sold for £2,322,500 ($3,750,838 / ˆ2,740,550). Painstakingly executed on an epic scale with extraordinary detail and technical virtuosity, the painting transports the viewer into another universe. The work presents a solitary space station marooned in outer space, borrowing from Swiss symbolist Arnold Böcklin’s desolate Isle of the Dead and Ferdinand Keller’s work Tomb of Bocklin from 1901-1902. Spanning over three metres, this hyperrealist landscape was exhibited in Brown’s critically acclaimed mid-career retrospective at the Serpentine Gallery, London in 2004, and dominated the first room of his Tate Liverpool solo exhibition in 2009.
- Nieder mit der Bourgeoisie (Down with the Bourgeoisie), 1983, by Martin Kippenberger sold for £1,818,500 ($2,936,878 / ˆ2,145,830). A wry self-portrait of the artist, it is one of his most celebrated large-scale diptychs. Deliberately cropped, the painting depicts Kippenberger from the neck down, standing on a chair with his trousers slightly undone, a reference perhaps to his outlandish behaviour at the Reinhard Mucha opening at the Max Hetzler Gallery, Cologne, in October 1983.
- Red Canoe by Peter Doig sold for £1,762,500 / $2,846,438 / ˆ2,079,750. It was painted in London in 2000 after Doig returned from an artist’s residency in Trinidad, the Caribbean island where he had lived as a child. The work is part of the artist’s seminal 100 Years Ago series and relates closely to 100 Years Ago, in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, as well as to two other works of the same title at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and at the Centre Pompidou, Paris.
The Italian Sale
The Italian Sale achieved £26,798,000 ($43,278,770 / ˆ31,621,640) - the highest ever total for an auction of 20th century Italian art. It was 92% sold by lot against a pre-sale estimate of £15.6m – £22.0m.
The top price was paid for Sacco by Alberto Burri which realised £2,994,500 ($4,836,118 / ˆ3,533,510).
8 lots sold for over £1 million / 14 for over $1 million. Full results can be found here.
4 artist records were set for works by Marina Apollonio, Paolo Scheggi, Mario Schifano and Pino Pascali.
Mariolina Bassetti, Chairman Christie's Italy: "The 13th edition of Christie's Italian Sale realised a total of £26.8 million, smashing the previous record for the category. Over the years, Italian modern and contemporary art has attracted an increasingly international audience. The numerous record prices set tonight prove the gradual and healthy growth of this market, as highlighted by Pino Pascali's 'Muro di pietra', which set a world auction record for the artist. During his short life this extraordinary artist only produced 120 works whose quality has been repeatedly acknowledged at Christie's Italian Sales. Burri's 'Sacco', a true masterpiece of Italian 20th century art, has also rightly attracted great interest and achieved an impressive price ahead of the great retrospective which the Guggenheim Museum will dedicate to the artist in 2015".
- Sacco by Alberto Burri, one of the most important and influential Italian artists of the 20th century, sold for £2,994,500 ($4,836,118 / ˆ3,533,510). In Sacco, Burri has deliberately juxtaposed canvases of different colours, textures and weaves in order to create a composition that is abstract and yet ontologically sound. Sacco dates from the period when Burri's works were gaining an increasing audience, as he was enjoying group and one-man shows both in Italy and in the United States, where he was championed by the legendary director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, James Johnson Sweeney.
- Concetto spaziale, Attesa, 1967, by Lucio Fontana sold for £1,986,500 ($3,208,198 / ˆ2,344,070), while another Concetto spaziale, Attesa from 1968 realized £1,818,500 ($2,936,878 / ˆ2,145,830).
- Muro di pietra (Pietra pietra) Wall of stone (Stone stone) by Pino Pascali sold for £1,650,500 / $2,665,558 / ˆ1,947,590 – a world record price for the artist at auction. A vast 3-metre-long, 2-metre-high wall-like structure comprised of a sequence of rectangular sponge blocks each bearing the stenciled misnomer ‘Pietra’ (Stone), this is a work that explodes the traditional boundaries between painting, sculpture, language, theatre and environment. Executed in 1964, it is one of a pioneering sequence of semi-theatrical ‘object-sculptures’ that Pascali exhibited together at his first one-man show at the Galleria La Tartaruga, in Rome in 1965.
The Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Auction will take place on 19 October at 12 noon.
Thinking Big will be on public exhibition until 20 October at The Sorting Office, New Oxford Street
When Britain Went Pop! British Pop Art: The Early Years will be on view at Christie’s Mayfair until 23 November