In a way, I feel as if I am following up as some kind of Fall sequel to Nilani’s request to share some behind the scenes information on the upcoming Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale at Christie’s as I had so much fun sharing earlier this year, when the May sales were upon us. We hold two sales a year in New York, one in May and one in November. And as such, with the next one just a week away, I invite you to peruse a brief selection of versos of this season’s masterpieces.
Thank you for reading and I do hope you find intrigue in it. Please come in and visit, below is but a fraction of the hundreds of works that will be on view! Open this Saturday to next Wednesday.
1. Jean-Michel Basquiat, Dos Cabezas, 1982 (Est. $6,000,000 – 10,000,000)
I particularly enjoy the emphasis of quotations of this reverse inscription, and something about how his signature is perfectly centered below it and then the date below center of the signature. It is all very blocky and clear and organized, but, entirely human. The wooden support reminds me of these qualities as well. The painting, in fact, depicts as the title suggests, two heads. A double portrait of pupil, Jean-Michel and his master, Andy Warhol, this was originally owned by Warhol and sold in his estate sale in New York for $99K. It has been said that Basquiat titled this work in Spanish as a nod to his Puerto Rican mother, with whom he shared a deep love — and as such, for Andy in Dos Cabezas.
2. Roy Lichtenstein, Cherry Pie, 1962 (Est. $4,000,000-5,500,000)
This is a painting makes me so happy and well, hungry. It is one of those angels. I should mention first that about a year ago when Magnolia decided to open a tourista version of themselves in the vortex of Rock Center, there became even more reasons for more cake and cupcakes and yes indeed, pies in the office. Not that there were ever not enough reasons to have such deliciousness. But still. So when I first spent time with Cherry Pie one of those days in late September, examining every last little benday, I began to fall in love and feeling the Americana nostalgia in a very existential way, I thought how great it would be to serve up some of that sweetness and share it with everyone in the department. Mmmm. So we had some great Magnolia pie that day. I must say and I owe it all to Roy.
Nonetheless, I digress about Magnolia, but, back to the point. Painting. Versos. Despite it being one of those works that barrels into the sale near the final closing hour and conceivably presents a multitude of obstacles– quite the opposite when it redeems itself, morphing into a gift that keeps on giving. Not just the Magnolia part of course, but, the research and essay writing and catalogue spread comes together swimmingly. What with two colors and very little tonal complexity, the photography and color proofing moves without a trace. The condition is flawless and does not require a doctor, which in turn could have meant time, which meant money. And if that multi-faceted list was not enough there is but another supreme attribute of this painting which involves a great discovery. One of the real great thrills in Art History is the discovery. And a couple of times each season, I get a zing at the prospect of actually unearthing something unprecedented. In this case, it was the source material for the present lot, a Dick Tracey comic adhered to the backing board–which as far as the Lichtenstein experts were concerned, was unknown. And after all that, the comic is based aptly on none other than this painting, itself. Here is the little darling’s verso along with the collection of venerable labels including not only the “discovery” but also a 1967 exhibition label from the Pasadena Art Museum (today the Norton-Simon) and a Dwan Gallery label from when phone numbers were actually a series of words and numbers. The Gallery’s number at the time was `GRANITE 8-5298′. How about that for nostalgia?
3. Marcel Duchamp, Monte Carlo Bond, 1924 (Est. $400,000-600,000)
Ah, the bond. A perfect Duchampian scheme—only he could be so hipster as to conceive of such an ambitious operation. But I suppose, after all—when it all comes down to it—this is precisely what seals Duchamp as the ultimate conspirator of modern art. The “Company Statutes” which are visible on the verso of each bond set out to further “legitimize” his system in promising that if the company is successful, payment of dividends will occur on March 1st of every year, or bi-annually, should shareholders desire. At the same time rounding it back on his venture’s dual purpose of exploiting an inherent weakness within the system used to wager at roulette, based on a cumulative process that “is experimentally based on one hundred throws of the ball”. Ha! I absolutely love all of this.
4. Jackson Pollock, Eyes in the Heat II, 1947 (Est. $6,000,000-9,000,000)
When I have the opportunity to work with paintings on their original stretchers, I get really excited. This Pollock painting from 1947 is on its original stretcher with its original keys and the work’s earliest labels still affixed to the stretcher. The nails on the turning edges are original as well. Without an overlap on the reverse tacking margin and only the side edges covered, it is great to see the corresponding drip trails on the stretcher bar which confirms he was still working with the support of stretched canvases and easels. It is one of those true cusp periods—as in a matter of months, Pollock would leave the easel entirely and move to working with unstretched canvas on the studio floor, throwing both himself and pigment into the composition. The rest is well, the beginning of a certain end as it pertains to modern art history. I like to think of this painting as being on the verge of a certain eureka moment.
All of the monumental sculptures Calder created in a small town in France called Biemont in the early 1970s bear the letter `C’ on each bolt. It is pretty great to see that Tableau noir (The Blackboard) still has an impressive number of these original `C’ bolts in tact. All of them, except one!
The very fine texture and matte sheen of the painted aluminum surface of Christopher Wool’s work is so delicate and sensitive, there are very specific instructions on how to care and install. We can never be too specific or too prepared in life. Wool covers all bases.
Labels Read: WEAR CLEAN COTTON GLOVES WHEN HANDLING PAINTING. HANDS MUST NEVER TOUCH SURFACE.
This painting hangs on specially designed hanging bar. Attach hanging bar to wall (pins up). Slide painting onto bar keying pins into holes on stretcher. NOTE: Always ship hanging bar with painting.
7. Cy Twombly, Untitled, 1971 (Est. $800,000-1,200,000)
I love Twombly’s over the top edge of the heavy wove paper as a particular design element in this work. The flap is not hinged and reveals the unpainted paper. The inscriptions on the verso shows this work belonged to the legendary Italian dealer Gian Enzo Sperone and I like to think that Cy made this flap specially for him…also, there is another inscription which is still a mystery. It is indistinctly written and is not necessarily translatable but perhaps you take a go at it?