Hockney's American Landscape Leads Sotheby's Contemporary Art Sale
“The star of tonight’s sale was a painting of the great American landscape by one of the great British painters. It couldn’t be more fitting that in the biggest week for London on the art calendar we saw such a fantastic result for Hockney, attracting bidders from America, Europe, Asia and beyond. Frieze Week always brings a unique energy to London, evident as much in our saleroom tonight as across the city’s fairs, galleries and museums.” – Alex Branczik, Head of Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s Europe.
CONTEMPORARY ART EVENING SALE
SALE TOTAL: £50,301,500 / $66,548,885 / € 56,423,180 – Sotheby’s highest total for an Evening Sale of Contemporary Art in October. 88.4% sold by lot.
One of the greatest DAVID HOCKNEY landscapes in private hands, 15 Canvas Study of the Grand Canyon (1998), sold for £6,008,750 / $7,949,576 / €6,740,013 – the second highest price for the artist at auction, following the record set in Sotheby’s New York saleroom earlier this year.
The work was painted in preparation for A Bigger Grand Canyon, the seven and a half metre wide masterpiece housed in the National Gallery of Australia. The painting’s importance is underlined by its inclusion in two of the most important exhibitions of the artist’s career, including his major 1999 exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and his blockbuster retrospective in London at Tate Britain earlier this year (lot 6, est. £3,800,000-5,000,000).
The enthusiasm for Hockney tonight was echoed elsewhere in the sale, with a succession of strong prices for other British artists, including Cecily Brown, Hurvin Anderson and Anthony Gormley and HOWARD HODGKIN, whose House sold for more than double the pre-sale estimate to realise £704,750 / $932,384 / €790,518 (lot 3, est. £350,000-450,000).
CY TWOMBLY’s untitled work set the highest price of the evening when it sold for £6,402,500 / $8,470,508 / €7,181,683. This important painting, never before offered at auction, had remained in the same collection for four decades, and had not been exhibited since 1963. A metaphor for the artist’s entire career, this work was used by art historian Claire Daigle as a visual key to decrypt the symbolic driving forces behind Twombly’s life’s work on the occasion of his 2008 retrospective at Tate Modern. (lot 13, est. £5,500,000-7,500,000)
JOSEF ALBERS’s Homage to the Square: Temperate set a new AUCTION RECORD for the artist, after seeing competition from no fewer than eight bidders. The work from 1957 sold for £2,288,750 / $3,028,016 / €2,567,290, almost £1 million higher than the previous artist’s record of £1,392,600, set in these rooms in 2007 (lot 11, est. £700,000-1,000,000). The sale of this painting precedes tomorrow’s sale “Bauhaus_Defining a Century”, celebrating the legacy of the most radical and influential Modernist art school of the Twentieth Century.
An AUCTION RECORD was also set for Belgian artist THIERRY DE CORDIER in his evening sale debut. Tempête en Mer Du Nord, Étude No. 3, last seen at the Venice Biennale in 2013, sold for £380,750 / $503,732 / €427,087 (Lot 1, est. £250,000-350,000). His previous auction record was $121,682, set in New York last year.
A further AUCTION RECORD was set for ALEX DA CORTE. In the artist’s first appearance in an evening sale, Bandaids with Butterfly sold for £40,000 / $52,920 / €44,868 (lot 42, est. £15,000-20,000).
IN CONTEXT ITALIAN ART
SALE TOTAL: £18,401,750/ $24,345,515 / €20,641,239
This season, Sotheby’s broadened the remit of its annual Italian Sale for the first time to explore the artistic dialogues between Italian and international artists in the post-war period.
ALIGHIERO BOETTI’s Addizione from 1982 sold for £2,288,750 / $3,028,016 / €2,567,290, the second highest price at auction for the artist, and a record for a Boetti embroidery. The work had been acquired directly from the artist in 1987, and remained in the same collection ever since until appearing at auction for the first time tonight (lot 19, est. £1,700,000-2,500,000).
LUCIO FONTANA’s classic red tagli, Concetto Spaziale, Attese from 1968 brought the second highest to sell for £1,568,750 / $2,075,456 / €1,759,666 in its first appearance at auction (lot 5, est. £1,500,000-2,000,000).
An earlier work by LUCIO FONTANA, Concetto Spaziale from 1960, saw quick fire bidding from three collectors. The work doubled its estimate to sell for £1,352,750 / $1,789,688 / €1,517,379 (lot 9, est. £600,000-800,000).
Three bidders drove ENRICO CASTELLANI’s Superficie Rigata from 1961 to double its estimate. The work which sold for £1,088,750 / $1,440,416 / €1,221,251 had not been seen in public since 1987 (lot 7, est. £400,000-600,000).
Forming part of MICHELANGELO PISTOLETTO’s most recognisable and celebrated series, the Quadri Specchiati (“Mirror Paintings”), Motociclisti is an early example of the artist’s radical and eloquent use of the reflective surface. The work sold tonight for £1,508,750 / $1,996,076 / €1,692,365 (lot 28, est. £1,200,000-1,600,000).
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