Bonhams Fall 2012 Contemporary Art auction offers iconic works from post-war to present day artists

New York, NY -– Bonhams fall sale of Contemporary Art in New York on November 12, 2012 showcases a selection of iconic works from an international group of post-war to present day artists. The well-rounded collection of paintings, sculptures and works on paper was curated to attract both new buyers and seasoned collectors alike and includes works by artists such as Pierre Soulages and Alexander Calder alongside artists from around the world such as Wangechi Mutu, Ai Xuan, and Yayoi Kusama.

The top lot of the Bonhams sale is a work by Pierre Soulages, Peinture, 116 x 89 cm, 22 mai 1958, dating from a period when the artist had truly come into his own; in which his investigation of light and space had reached a certain apex. Here Soulages first applied a thick tobacco brown wash over the expanse of the canvas before applying the swatches of black in multiples layers. Fresh to the market, the deeply expressive oil painting epitomises the artist's gestural brushstrokes and is a perfect example of Soulages' trademark use of black and light (estimate: $500,000-700,000).

Also on offer is an iconic Alexander Calder stabile from 1972, Untitled, which demonstrates the artist's keen sense of balance, engineering and design. The sculpture is a classic work of Calder's and has been in private hands since it left the artist's studio (estimate: $200,000 - 300,000).

The sale's cover lot is by Wangechi Mutu and is entitled Alien Polka Ponder from 2003. The work is acrylic, sequins and collage on paper and combines magazine imagery with found materials and traditional oil paint. Mutu's collages explore the duality nature of cultural identity, referencing colonial history, current ideals of beauty and contemporary politics (estimate: $100,000-150,000).

Further focusing on international artists, Bonhams auction features a work by Chinese artist, Ai Xuan, whose work rarely appears at auction in the west and is highly sought after by collectors around the world. Rejecting traditional cultural revolutionary style portraiture in favour of telling the true stories of the life of the common people, the oil on canvas, Wind From the Valley, 1988 (estimate: $200,000 – 300,000), is a poignant example of his work. The child in this painting is turned in profile, determined and moving forward out of the picture plane. Set in a snowy atmosphere, the scene is cold and harsh yet it affirms the figure's determination to persist.

Also of note is a grouping of seminal sculptures by Manolo Valdés, including one of his famous Menina series. Working predominantly in bronze, Valdés's monumental sculptures reference Spanish history and royal iconography and adorn many public areas around the world. Valdés's recent works appear in The New York Botanical Gardens. On offer in this sale are Dorothy, 2005, number two from an edition of nine (estimate: $35,000-45,000), Menina, 2001, number one from an edition of seven (estimate: $40,000-60,000), and Irene VII, 2003, a unique work (estimate: $80,000-120,000).

Yayoi Kusama: Works on Paper from the 1950s from an Important Private Collection, San Francisco
Bonhams is delighted to offer a rare collection of six stunning works on paper by Yayoi Kusama from the 1950s and early 60s. Given as a gift to the present owner in the early sixties in New York, this special selection of works has been preserved in the same private hands ever since and have never been seen in public before. The works tell an intimate story between the artist and one of her earliest confidantes.

While in Japan, Kusama was a subversive artist working against the rigidity of her country's attitude to art and is known for breaking away from the traditional Japanese approach and the master-disciple system. Her works on paper from the 1950s are delicate, abstracted natural forms, typical of her work during this time and unlike the bolder polka-dot designs she has been known to produce more recently. Estimated at $25,000 – 35,000 each, the six works (Untitled, 1953; Untitled, 1953; Swamp, 1956; No. 2 Light, 1962; Light No. 1, 1962; Display Fireworks, 1952) all show soft undulating forms represented in materials such as pastel, gouache, watercolour, ink and charcoal.

Collection of the Hale House Center
The sale also includes a selection of 21 works by African American artists such as Romare Bearden, Alan Stringfellow and Norman Lewis among others from the Collection of the Hale House Centre, given to Mother Hale and the centre as gifts over the years by various donors – some directly from the artists themselves. Since its inception in 1969 by Mother Clara Hale, Hale House has continued the tradition of serving children and families in need through distinctive and innovative programmes. Hale House works to provide a nurturing environment and an opportunity for a better future to all families. Their current initiatives include an early childhood learning centre and a supportive transitional housing programme. Proceeds from the sale of the Hale House African-American Art Collection will benefit these programmes.

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Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to

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