Frank Auerbach's only original portrait of Lucian Freud features alongside other highlights, including major works by Urs Fischer, Gabriel Orozco, Jack Pierson, Richard Prince and Victor Vasarely
Bonhams is delighted to present Contemporary One, the second focused sale of important works by some of the most celebrated artists of the twentieth century, to take place on Monday 13 February 2012, 7pm. Following the inaugural sale by the new Contemporary Art Department in October 2011, Bonhams is offering another closely curated and considered sale of 20 lots.
Frank Auerbach's Head of Lucian Freud, 1960, has been in private hands since its purchase in 1975 and will be a highlight in the Bonhams Contemporary One sale. Never before exhibited in public, the drawing is a rare portrait of the artist who was notoriously difficult to capture as a subject. The sale of this unique work of art, the only original portrait of Freud ever made by Auerbach, coincides with the opening of Lucian Freud Portraits, a major exhibition spanning seventy years of Freud's own portraiture, which runs 9 February – 27 May 2012 at the National Portrait Gallery.
The sale also features works by leading contemporary artists Richard Artschwager, Chris Burden, Christo, Alan Davie, Urs Fischer, Damien Hirst, Mike Kelley, William Kentridge, Gabriel Kuri, Farhad Moshiri, Gabriel Orozco, Jack Pierson, Richard Prince, Nedko Solakov, Antoni Tapies, Victor Vasarely, Not Vital, Zao Wou Ki and Chen Zhen. Highlights include one of Richard Prince's earliest Girlfriend ektacolour photographs, a bold work by Jack Pierson entitled You Rotten Prick, a striking and surreal sculptural work by Urs Fischer and a painting which stands as testament to Victor Vasarely's mastery of the Op-Art movement. The collection presents important works by each artist, and comprises a diverse range of media, from sculpture to photography and works on paper.
Anthony McNerney, Head of Department, comments on the sale: "Following the inaugural Contemporary One sale in October, we were pleased with our achievements. We sold 70 percent by lot, which as a first sale in the current climate is positive. It is extremely exciting that the second sale in February will include such exceptional works, by some of the most celebrated artists of our day. Auerbach's Head of Lucien Freud is a particularly unique artwork which we are pleased will now be seen in public. The Contemporary One sale will take place as the National Portrait Gallery opens its major exhibition of Freud portraits, but the Auerbach drawing provides something new – a rare glimpse of the artist as sitter."
Benedetta Ghione-Webb, Head of Sale, adds: "Each of the lots to be auctioned has been carefully selected because it shows the very best of the artist. Our intention is to focus the auction and tailor it closely to best service our clients and to demonstrate most accurately our fresh approach to the buying and selling of unique pieces of art."
Urs Fischer - Untitled, 2006.
Urs Fischer, best known for his houses of bread, animated puppets and living robots, composes artworks to suggest imaginary worlds. He has dug up floors and carved holes in gallery walls. By dissecting objects or alternatively amplifying them out of proportion, he redefines how we relate to them and explores the infinite possible paths of perception. Combining Pop Art's immediacy with the absurdist characteristics of the neo-Baroque, Fischer's sculptures are created from a variety of materials usually unassociated with art, such as melting wax and rotten vegetables. Utilising such unstable media in a constant search for new ways to engage the plastic arts, Fischer presents each work as a glimpse into another world.
In Untitled, 2006, an excellent model of how Fischer's work transforms matter, the artist implicates the viewer's own body in his surreal vision. The artwork is a peculiar hybrid, between human and object, in which the bottom segment takes the form of chair or table legs. Instead of a top, several inches above the legs and held by curving aluminium wire, hovers a rough horizontal form with a thin channel running through from one end to another. Looking from both sides, each taking the form of a human orifice, the viewer is allowed to peer through the entire length of the form's digestive channel. These human elements are realistic, prompting, along with the scale of the artwork, a recollection of the completed, and yet conspicuously absent, image of a whole chair and a whole person. The appearances of both, violently reorganised, take on the guise of a Cubist painting in three-dimensional form.
This extraordinary sculpture has an estimate of £400,000-600,000.
Frank Auerbach – Head of Lucian Freud, 1960. The major highlight of the sale is the first auction appearance of a seminal work by one of the most celebrated British artists of the 20th century, Frank Auerbach. The drawing, charcoal and chalk on paper, is the only original portrait of artist Lucian Freud by Auerbach, and was made in 1960. The work has remained in private hands since its purchase in 1975, and this will be the first time the portrait has been exhibited in public.
Known best as a figurative painter, Auerbach's most recognised works are his single sitter portraits and landscapes, many painted in neighbourhoods surrounding his Camden home, including Primrose Hill, Mornington Cresent and Hampstead. In the case of both landscapes and portraits, the artist's ambition, and the intense connections he developed around his subjects, meant he was often drawn to capture them regularly. This is most evident with such subjects as Estella Olive West (indicated as EOW), Joan Yardley Mills (JYM) and his wife Julia.
That this artwork is the only original portrait Frank Auerbach made of Lucian Freud, therefore, is all the more exceptional. It is well-documented that the two artists were close friends, with great mutual respect surrounding their art. Both artists would regularly seek the other's opinion before their pieces left the confines of the studio and into public collections.
Head of Lucian Freud, 1960, is a unique masterpiece, executed in a rare medium for Auerbach, whose greater known works are paintings and etchings. The chalk and charcoal drawing was made swiftly to capture a subject who was notorious for his reluctance to be drawn. It not only demonstrates the artist's deft skill in a medium other than paint, but also offers a rare glimpse into the intimate friendship held between two of the 20th Century's great British artists. The estimate for the exceptional work is £300,000–500,000.
Jack Pierson – You Rotten Prick, 2004.. Pierson's word sculptures, which he began making in 1991, utilise mismatched letters salvaged from businesses whose presences surround us daily but which in these cases stand vacant and derelict: junkyards, old cinemas, boarded up diners and Las Vegas casinos. The sculptures present us with words or phrases that evoke multiple meanings – they are words we know but which when presented in this framework are given unexpected connotations. This bold work, playing on the notions of interpretation through both the suggestion and denial of context, represents Pierson's spirited method at its best, and has been estimated at £100,000-150,000.
Richard Prince – Untitled (Girlfriend), 1987, ektacolour photograph. Prince's abandonment of figurative painting in the 1970s led to his practise of conceptual photography for which he is best known. The photographer's Girlfriends are amongst the most famous of his works, and much like his Cowboys series explore pervasive images from American culture. Prince's Girlfriend pictures are appropriated from advertisements placed by women in biker magazines. Re-photographed by the artist and enlarged, these self-portraits reveal a fascinating commentary on gender, self-promotion and a culture of desire. This photograph is one of Prince's earliest Girlfriend pictures, representing the start of an artistic preoccupation which would continue for over a decade. The photograph has an estimate of £150,000-200,000.
Gabriel Orozco – Atomists: Evasive Action, 1996, plastic coated computer-generated laser print. Through Orozco's explorations through the media of video, photography, sculpture, drawing, and installation, the artist allows his audience to examine the creative associations between the everyday, often overlooked objects surrounding us, encouraging a rarely permitted interaction between the artwork and the audience. In this work, a newspaper clipping, a typical example of Orozco's everyday images, England's cricketer Mike Atherton is featured along with the photograph's accompanying caption, "Atherton takes evasive action from a Srinath bouncer during his unbeaten 53." Overlaid on the image, however, are the plastic geometric shapes often associated with Orozco's work, curving with the subject's supposed movements as if in the very moment they are made. The work has been estimated at £150,000-200,000.
Victor Vasarely – Canopus 1/1, 1959-1965, acrylic on canvas. Victor Vasarely is internationally recognised as one of the most important artists of the 20th century. During the 1950's, Vasarely wrote a series of manifestos on the use of optical phenomena for artistic purposes, and remains widely perceived as the father of the Op Art movement. The artist's innovations in both colour and optical illusion have had an undeniable influence on many modern artists. This artwork, Canopus 1/1, stands as a prime example of Vasarely's work. Its extraordinary effects, demonstrating the very best in Op-Art as well as his own oeuvre, are reason for his continuing artistic legacy, and it has been estimated to sell at £140,000-180,000.
The Contemporary One Sale will be held in London on Monday 13 February 2012, 7pm. The highlights will be on view 9-13 February 2012.
Location: 101 New Bond Street, London.
The highlights will be on view in New York from 14-19 January 2012.
Location: 580 Madison Avenue, New York.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
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 www.bonhams.com