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Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale

28/01/2008, By

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Triptych Left Francis Bacon

London – Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale on Wednesday, 6th February will offer an unrivalled selection of 55 works of art from both the European and American Post-War era, together with major stars of the Contemporary world. Featuring masterpieces from some of the most renowned names in 20th Century Art including Francis Bacon, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Gerhard Richter, Lucio Fontana, Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly and Richard Prince, the sale is estimated in the region of £70 million.

“We are incredibly excited to present an amazing selection of works, led by one of the greatest Bacon triptychs still in private hands. This tightly selected sale consists of works of the highest quality available by a range of artists from the Post-War years to recent times, including some of the shining lights of the Chinese contemporary scene. We hope that this sale will build upon our continued dominance of this market,” says Pilar Ordovas, Head of Post War & Contemporary Art, Christie’s London.

Triptych Centre Francis Bacon

Perhaps the most important triptych by Francis Bacon (1909-1992) ever to appear at auction leads the sale. Appearing at auction for the first time and offered from a private collection, Triptych 1974-77 is the last in the great series that Bacon painted in response to the tragic death of his lover George Dyer in 1971. One of the finest and most mysterious of Bacon’s paintings from the 1970s, Triptych 1974-77 was painted between May and June of 1974 and revisited in 1977. This great, strangely open, Baconian landscape was the last work the artist made before a major retrospective of his work held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1974. As the most recent and also one of the most elaborate and ambitious of the artist’s paintings to be included in this exhibition, it formed the culmination of this important survey of Bacon’s career from the late 1960s onwards and was immediately recognised as both a major landmark and also perhaps a turning point in Bacon’s career.

Painted in 1966, Zwei Liebespaare, is a masterpiece by German artist Gerhard Richter (b. 1932) painted at the height of his involvement with Pop. Acquired from the artist by the mother of the present owner, the work has been on long-term loan to the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus in Munich. At Christie’s recent auction of Post-War and Contemporary Art in New York on 13th November 2007, Richter’s Düsenjäger (JetFighter), 1963, sold for $11,241,000, setting a world record price for the artist at auction.

Triptych Right Francis Bacon

Three further works from the artist include Italienische Landschaft, 1966 and Abstraktes Bild, 1981 both offered from the collection of publisher Bernd F. Lunkewitz and Abstraktes Bild, 1985. Appearing at auction for the first time, Palm Springs Jump, 1982 by Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) is an exceptional and electrifying work made in a surge of drug and music-fuelled creativity during the heady days when he had just broken through to star status.

The master of Pop Art Andy Warhol (1928-1987) is represented by five works in the sale including Judy Garland, executed in 1979, a silkscreen on canvas in two parts presents a coiffed and bejewelled image of the actress against pure white and regal blue backgrounds. Executed in 1965, the monumental Concetto spaziale, Attesa is thought to be the most important work by Lucio Fontana (1899-1968) to appear at auction. The smooth, red surface is interrupted by one single, long straight slash over a metre long. It is perhaps a tribute to the rarity of this superlative work that it bears a dedication from Fontana to Teresita, his wife, on the reverse. Indeed, throughout the years this work has often been referred to and known as the ‘Teresita’.

Lucio Fontana

In Richard Prince’s (b. 1949) Settlement Nurse, 2003 the title character joins the cast of unlikely art-world protagonists who populate Richard Prince's body of work, such as Marlboro men, biker chicks, celebrities and naughty nurses. A popular subject which Prince has regularly visited over recent years, the fetishistic connotations of the nurse in pulp fiction from earlier decades would be explored in Prince’s famous photograph of supermodel Kate Moss in a nurse’s outfit. This fetishisation is accentuated in Settlement Nurse by the removal of any background details. The nurse floats, deprived of context, in her own unsettling, lurid, painterly world.

With the market for Chinese contemporary art continuing to attract international interest, the sale features a number of works by prominent artists including Le père de l'artiste, 1995 and Mao Rouge, 2000 by Yan Pei-Ming (b. 1960) one of the most exciting expressionist painters of his generation. Also offered is Le Cimetière du monde des signes, 1994 by Chen Zhen (1955-2000), one of the leading members of China's international avant-garde who prior to his untimely death in 2000 was a rising international art star, and Red, Yellow, Blue, 1997 by Liu Ye (b. 1964).

February 6th
8 King Street
St. James’s
London SW1Y 6QT
+44 (0)20 7839 9060

Copyright: © Christie's Images Limited

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