Exceptional Works by Rothko, Bacon & More to Highlight Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction
NEW YORK, 3 May 2019 – Sotheby’s is pleased to share highlights from our Contemporary Art Evening Auction in New York on 16 May 2019. The 63 lots on offer will open for public view in Sotheby’s newly-expanded York Avenue galleries today– featuring 90,000+ square feet of new galleries across four reimagined floors of our headquarters – as part of our marquee exhibitions of Contemporary and Impressionist & Modern Art.
MARK ROTHKO’S UNTITLED, 1960
The May auction is led by Mark Rothko’s Untitled, 1960, on offer on behalf of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), sold to benefit the institution’s Acquisitions Fund (estimate $35/50 million). An important work completed at the apex of Rothko’s artistic powers, Untitled, 1960 is one of just 19 paintings completed by the artist in 1960. This year marks a critical juncture in the iconic Abstract Expressionist’s career, following his defining commission of the Seagram Murals (1958-59) and his representation of the United States in the XXIX Venice Biennale (1958) – organized by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, which would subsequently hold Rothko’s first and only major lifetime retrospective in 1961. Separate release available
Untitled, 1960 is distinguished further by its connection to Peggy Guggenheim. A champion of Abstract Expressionism broadly and of Rothko, Peggy Guggenheim gave Rothko one of his first important solo shows in 1945, at her famed Art of This Century gallery. The following year, she loaned the artist’s Slow Swirl at the Edge of the Sea to SFMOMA’s exhibition of Rothko’s work titled An Environment for Faith, and subsequently donated the work to the institution. Slow Swirl at the Edge of the Sea remained in the museum’s collection until 1962, when SFMOMA made the direct request to Rothko to exchange the work for a more contemporary example of his oeuvre. The artist obliged, and the museum selected Untitled, 1960, which has remained in their collection to present. Slow Swirl at the Edge of the Sea now resides in the collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Separate release available
WATCH: MARK ROTHKO AT THE APEX OF HIS CAREER
THE RICHARD E. LANG AND JANE LANG DAVIS COLLECTION
The auction is highlighted by a selection of works on offer from the Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis Collection – indisputably one of the most important private collections of 20th century art, spanning from Surrealism through Abstract Expressionism. Assembled in the 1970s and ‘80s, the Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis Collection now belongs to the Friday Foundation, a private charitable organization committed to working with its cultural partners to ensure that the great works remaining in the collection will be enjoyed by the public, while also supporting key arts initiatives that were important to the Langs with proceeds from the sales.
The May offering is led by one of the most important paintings by Francis Bacon remaining in private hands: Study for a Head from 1952 (estimate $20/30 million). An outstanding example of Bacon’s most celebrated and recognizable iconography, Study for a Head powerfully captures the silent scream of his iconic Popes. In 1952, Bacon painted six small head-and-shoulders portrait paintings, which demonstrate the advancement of his suited businessmen as well as the Papal imagery that he began in the late 1940s. Other works from this series now reside at Tate Britain, London and the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven. Study for a Head is distinguished further as one of the first works by Bacon to enter a private American collection, having first been acquired by the collector, art critic and biographer of Jackson Pollock, Bernard H. Friedman in 1952 – predating Bacon’s first solo exhibition outside of England, which was held at Durlacher Brothers in New York in 1953. Separate release available
THE GERALD L. LENNARD FOUNDATION COLLECTION
Sotheby’s will offer select works from the Gerald L. Lennard Foundation Collection across our Evening and Day Auctions of Contemporary Art this May, with proceeds from the sale benefiting the Foundation’s mission to transform lives through strategic initiatives that support the visual and performing arts, equitable education and healthcare, environmental sustainability and social justice.
Passionately assembled by successful commodities trader Gerard L. Lennard primarily in the mid-1970s through the 90s, the collection is led by a number of evocative works executed by artists working at the peak of their powers. Highlights include: Willem de Kooning’s Untitled X, a stunning example from the group of works created in 1975 that marked the artist’s transition from a period of radical experimentation to the lush abstracts which are among his most celebrated and sought after works today (pictured left, estimate $8/12 million); Francis Bacon’s Study for Portrait from 1981, the last of the artist’s famed portraits of his lover and muse George Dyer (estimate $12/18 million); the most comprehensive group of late works by Philip Guston ever to appear at auction, including Legs, Rug, Floor from 1976 (estimate $6/8 million) and Red Sky from 1978 (estimate $6/8 million); and signature portraits by Frank Auerbarch depicting his wife Julia Wolstenhome and his friend Catherine Lampert. Separate release available
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