Auctions | April 24, 2014

Jean-Michel Basquiat Headlines Contemporary Art Auction at Swann Galleries


New York—On Tuesday, May 13, Swann Galleries will hold their spring auction of Contemporary Art, which features drawings, paintings, three-dimensional works, collages and prints by major artists working in Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism, Color Theory, Pop Art and more.

The lot with the highest pre-sale estimate is Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled (Artifical (sic) Flavors), color oilsticks on paper, titled and annotated in black and with a partial color oilstick transfer on the back showing Untitled (Venus Velvet Drawing). It is estimated at $80,000 to $120,000.

There is a Mel Ramos watercolor, Ode to Ang, from 1974, which was a gift from the artist to the current owner. This image of a female nude is an homage to the work of 19th-century artist Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, specifically his 1856 painting La Sourre, 1856 ($30,000 to $50,000) and an untitled Sol Lewitt gouache on paper, 1999, which was a Christmas gift from the artist ($10,000 to $15,000).

Also among featured paintings are Serge Charchoune’s In Mont Salvat Gennannt N°6, oil on canvas, 1955, which will be included in the forthcoming supplement to the catalogue raisonné of paintings by Charchoune ($12,000 to $18,000); Karel Appel’s Clown, oil on carved wooden board, 1977, acquired directly from the artist by the current owner ($15,000 to $20,000); an untitled oil on canvas by Josh Smith, 1997 ($3,000 to $5,000) and a 2004 untitled acrylic on canvas by Louise Fishman ($6,000 to $9,000).

Significant drawings include an untitled Willem de Kooning pen and ink ($15,000 to $20,000); Lucio Fontana’s Senza titolo, pen and black ink on wax paper mounted to card stock ($10,000 to $15,000); and a Keith Haring sketch of a running figure, which is a fragment of a larger drawing that was destroyed by a falling ladder during a New York exhibition, 1981 ($4,000 to $6,000).

Another unique highlight is Robert Mapplethorpe’s Gloria Swanson/Queen Kelly, photographic collage with acrylic and spray paint on paper, 1974, once in the collection of a fellow student at Pratt Institute ($8,000 to $12,000).

Top print highlights include Jasper Johns’s Savarin 3 (Red), color lithograph on Richard de Bas paper, 1978 ($30,000 to $50,000); Francis Bacon’s Man at a Washbasin, color aquatint and etching on Arches paper, based on the same-titled painting, 1977-78 ($20,000 to $30,000); and several examples by Roy Lichtenstein, such as Crying Girl and Shipboard Girl, offset color lithographs, 1963 and 1965 ($20,000 to $30,000 and $15,000 to $20,000 respectively) and a very scarce, early color woodcut Knight with Lady (Knight and Lady), 1951, which has only appeared at auction once in the last 25 years ($6,000 to $9,000).

Additional notable prints by artists associated with Pop Art are Andy Warhol’s You Can Lead a Shoe to Water but You Can't Make It Drink, offset lithograph with hand coloring in watercolor, circa 1955 ($15,000 to $20,000); David Hockney’s Water Pouring into Swimming Pool, Santa Monica, color lithograph on Japon nacré paper, 1964 ($10,000 to $15,000); and Wayne Thiebaud’s Country City, color etching and aquatint on Somerset paper, 1988 ($7,000 to $10,000).

Abstract Expressionist works include David Smith’s Don Quixote, a scarce, early lithograph, 1952 ($12,000 to $18,00); Richard Diebenkorn’s Cup, Saucer, Fork and Knife, color lithograph, 1965 ($15,000 to $20,000); a Jackson Pollock untitled screenprint on Strathmore paper, 1951, printed 1964 ($7,000 to $10,000); and Philip Guston’s Untitled #11 (Open Washes), lithograph, 1966 ($6,000 to $9,000).

Also featured are Numbers, the Robert Indiana portfolio with 10 color screenprints, 1968, one of 250 numbered copies, signed by both Indiana and poet Robert Creeley ($10,000 to $15,000); and a Fluxus lot, a group of seven Fluxkits, from the avant-garde movement founded by George Maciunas, each a mixed-media work in a labeled plastic box, among them Maciunas’s Excreta Fluxorum, 1973; Ben Vautier’s A Flux Suicide Kit, 1967 and George Brecht’s Games and Puzzles (Name Kit), 1961-70 and Geoge (15,000 to $20,000 for the entire set).

The auction, will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 13. The works will be on public exhibition Thursday, May 8 and Friday, May 9, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, May 10, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Monday, May 12, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Tuesday, May 13, from 10 a.m. to noon.

An illustrated catalogue is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, and may be viewed online at

For further information, and to make advance arrangements to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact Todd Weyman at (212) 254-4710, ext. 32, or via email at

Live online bidding is also available via

Image: Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled (Artifical (sic) Flavors), color oilsticks on paper, $80,000 to $120,000.