Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sotheby's 2-day Qatar exhibition of highlights from Contemporary Art Sale

Sotheby's two-day exhibition in Qatar of highlights from its forthcoming 13 November evening  Contemporary Art Sale in New York opened today, 21 October, at the Katara Gallery, Building 5, Katara Cultural Village.

The show features 16 masterworks by some of leading post-war American and European contemporary artists including Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter, Francis Bacon and Jean-Michel Basquiat.  The exhibition is led by of one of the most elegant and fully resolved abstractions by Gerhard Richter ever to appear at auction - Abstraktes Bild (712) estimated at more than  $16 million (estimates exclude the buyer's premium).

 Gerhard Richter's Abstraktes Bild (712)

The sale follows the remarkable price of $34.2 million (£21.3 million) achieved for Richter’s Abstraktes Bild (809-4) on 12 October at Sotheby’s London. This established the world record for a work by Gerhard Richter, as well as a new benchmark for the work of any living artist at auction. Abstraktes Bild (712) from 1990 was painted at a crucial moment in the artist’s career and epitomizes his mastery of the art of abstraction. The Abstraktes Bild paintings are conceived through an extensive, time-consuming and labor intensive process in which the introduction of “chance” produces a calculated and magnificent chaos of color and structure.

Francis Bacon's Untitled (Pope)

A further highlight in the New York sale is one of the most important versions of Francis Bacon’s iconic Pope Paintings ever to have appeared at auction (est. $18/25 million). The vision of screaming Popes emerged from the desolate shadows of the Second World War as humanity tried to make sense of the horrors that had been committed during those years. This version was painted circa 1954 and is closely related to the artist’s Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X, the seminal masterpiece that is now housed in the Des Moines Art Center in Iowa. Untitled (Pope) has been in the same private collection since a 1975 auction at Sotheby’s London.

 Franz Kline's Shenandoah

Other highlights of the exhibition include 20th century masterworks from the extensive collection of Sidney and Dorothy Kohl. Acquired predominantly in the early 1970s, the offering features prime examples by the titans of the American Abstract Expressionist movement. The works on view from this collection include Franz Kline's commanding canvas Shenandoah ) from 1956,. The painting  is archetypal of the artists urgent and powerful yet complex and sophisticated brand of action painting (est. $6.5/8.5 million). This monolithic work comprises a visceral onslaught of broad swathes of heavy impasto, principally in the signature black and white oils of his technique, though also foundationally suffused with layers of golden ochres that mark a key departure from his purely monochromatic canvases of the earlier 1950s.

 Joan Mitchell's Untitled

Joan Mitchell's Untitled of 1957, presents the distilled essence and perfect fulfillment of her late 1950s Abstract Expressionist vernacular. The frenzied application of paint evokes both the chaotic vitality of Jackson Pollock's drip paintings and the powerful atmospheric compartmentalization of Mark Rothko's dense, hovering spatial forms (est. $6/8 million). Executed the following year, Adolph Gottlieb's Transfiguration ranks in the very top tier of the artist's instantly recognizable 'Burst' paintings (est. $3/5 million, below left). Rounding out the works from the Kohl Collection on view is Nirvana by Hans Hofmann – a simultaneous culmination and rebirth of his prodigious life's work (est. $5/7 million).

 Andy Warhol's The Kiss (Bela Lugosi)

Five paintings by American Pop Art legend Andy Warhol will also be on exhibition. These include The Kiss (Bela Lugosi) from 1963, created shortly after Andy Warhol first pioneered the silk-screening technique that was to transform the direction of his work and with it the course of art history (est. $4.5/6.5 million). Also by Warhol is Cagney from 1964, a remarkable and unique work on paper, which depicts an intense James Cagney in Angels with Dirty Faces (1938) (est. $4.5/6.5 million). Cagney is markedly differentiated from Warhol’s later, more mechanical and commercial prints and sees Cagney’s character, the ruthless mobster Rocky Sullivan, confronted by the ominous shadow of his adversary’s machine gun.

Andy Warhol's Green Disaster (Green Disaster Twice)

Other Warhol works on view include Green Disaster (Green Disaster Twice) (est. in the region of $12 million), Suicide from 1964 (est. $4.5/6.5 million), Martinson Coffee from 1962 (est. $3/4 million) and the 1964 painting Flowers (est. $1.5/2 million).

Other paintings on view include two works by Jean-Michel Basquiat: Onion Gum from 1983 (est. $7/9 million) and John Lurie (est. $1/1.5 million).

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