Records & Results: Contemporary Art

Works from the post-war period to today found new homes at our biannual auction of Contemporary Art on November 15. The sale reflected the great diversity of materials and philosophies espoused in the current art world, and bidders responded with enthusiasm.

 

Ellsworth Kelly, Milkweed, pencil, 1969. Sold for $125,000.

Lot 161: Ellsworth Kelly, Milkweed, pencil, 1969. Sold November 15, 2016 for $125,000.

 

The top lot of the sale was a pencil drawing by Ellsworth Kelly titled Milkweed, 1969, which sold to a collector for $125,000. This tied a previous record for a single plant study in pencil by the artist. A lithograph from 1965-66 titled String Bean Leaves II sold for $13,750, a record for that print, while Camellia II, a lithograph from 1964-65, reached $12,500, tying the previous record for that print. All offered works by Kelly sold above their estimates, including the solid geometric forms for which the artist is known.

 

Brice Marden, Cold Mountain Series, Zen Studies 2, etching and aquatint, 1991. Sold for $60,000, a record for the work.

Lot 164: Brice Marden, Cold Mountain Series, Zen Studies 2, etching and aquatint, 1991.
Sold November 15, 2016 for $60,000, a record for the work.

 

A highlight of the sale was Cold Mountain Series, Zen Studies 2, a 1991 etching and aquatint by Brice Marden, which sold for $60,000, a record for the print. Another work by Marden also performed well: the color etching and lithograph L.A. Muses, 1999, sold for $8,750. Additional abstract prints received much attention, including Robert Motherwell’s color aquatint Lament for Lorca, 1981-82, which achieved $20,000, and Holland Hotel, a 1980 color screenprint by Richard Estes that reached $15,000.

 

Helen Frankenthaler, Skywriting, color screenprint, 1997. Sold for $10,625.

Lot 22: Helen Frankenthaler, Skywriting, color screenprint, 1997. Sold November 15, 2016 for $10,625.

 

Works by women artists did especially well, led by Helen Frankenthaler’s Skywriting, a color screenprint from 1997, which sold for $10,625, a record for the work. Other highlights included works by Alice Baber, Louise Bourgeois, Joan Mitchell, Alice Neel, Louise Nevelson and Dorothea Rockburne. An undulating Op Art color screenprint by Bridget Riley titled Elapse, 1982, sold for $7,020, while Abstract Composition, a circa 1960 gouache painting by Irene Rice Pereira, reached $2,750.

 

David Wojnarowicz, Jean Genet Masturbating in Metteray Prison, screenprint, 1983. Sold for $10,000, a record for the work.

Lot 257A: David Wojnarowicz, Jean Genet Masturbating in Metteray Prison, screenprint, 1983. Sold November 15, 2016 for $10,000, a record for the work.

 

The sale broke several auction records, including that of Jean Genet Masturbating in Metteray Prison, a 1984 screenprint by David Wojnarowicz, which reached $10,000, a record for any print by the artist. An untitled set of five inkjet prints by Christopher Wool, 2003, tied the standing record for the work at auction, reaching $37,500. Similarly, Roy Lichtenstein’s Against Apartheid, a 1983 color lithograph, tied its previous auction record with $10,625.

 

Christopher Wool, Untitled, complete set of 5 digital inkjet prints, 2003. Sold for $37,500.

Lot 164: Christopher Wool, Untitled, complete set of 5 digital inkjet prints, 2003. Sold November 15, 2016 for $37,500, a record for the work.

 

In its auction debut, Wayne Thiebaud’s hardground etching and drypoint Snack Counter, 1966, brought $12,500. Another work by the artist, Suckers, State II, a 1969 lithograph, sold for the same price.

 

Wayne Thiebaud, Snack Counter, hardground etching and drypoint, 1966. Sold for $12,500, a record for the work.

Lot 222: Wayne Thiebaud, Snack Counter, hardground etching and drypoint, 1966. Sold November 16, 2016 for $12,500, a record for the work.

 

Each of the four prints by Zao Wou-Ki sold to the same collector after intense bidding. The price of his color etching Paysage au Soleil, 1950, was pushed past its estimate to $5,750.

 

Zao Wou-Ki, Paysage au Soleil, color etching, 1950. Sold for $5,750.

Lot 47: Zao Wou-Ki, Paysage au Soleil, color etching, 1950. Sold November 15, 2016 for $5,750.

 

For full results, visit the catalogue. Our next auction of Contemporary Art will be held in May, 2017.