Auctions | May 16, 2017

Swann Galleries' Contemporary Art Auction Breaks Records

153-Warhol copy.jpgNew York—Swann Galleries broke multiple established records for editions by important artists in their May 11 auction of Contemporary Art. This was the department’s seventh consecutive sale to exceed $1M. The house’s contemporary sales are notable for scarce multiples, though Thursday’s sale offered a premier selection of original works and sculpture as well.

The top lot of the sale was an important etching by David Hockney titled The Artist and Model, 1974, which was purchased for $52,500, above its high estimate of $30,000. Six of the seven offered lots by Hockney sold above or within their estimates, including the complete portfolio of Illustrations for Six Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm, 1970, with 39 etchings, some with aquatint, as well as an additional six etchings on handmade paper. The portfolio, in its original blue leather case, sold for $23,400, above a high estimate of $15,000.

Each of the eight offered works by Josef Albers was purchased, exceeding the $36,000 high estimate for the section by more than $11,000. The highlight was the fiery color screenprint DR-a, 1968, which nearly doubled its high estimate to reach $11,250 after rapid phone bidding, a record for the work. Additional runaway lots included two color screenprints featuring the squares for which Albers is known: Hommage au Carré, 1965, and Attic, 1965 ($7,280 and $6,000, a record for the work, respectively).

Julian Opie was represented in the sale by three works that all exceeded their high estimates. The highlight was Walking in the City, 2012, the complete set of six lacquered sculptures of anonymous businesspeople, which sold for $21,250; another highlight was This is Shahnoza 3, 2006, a screenprint depicting four stages of Shahnoza’s dance routine ($6,750, a record for the work).

All three offered works by Ellsworth Kelly found buyers, led by the 1964-65 lithograph Blue and Yellow and Red-Orange, which went to a collector for $16,250, a record for the work. Another lithograph from the same period, Black with White, surpassed its high estimate of $3,500 to sell for $5,000.

Additional records included $11,875 for Richard Diebenkorn’s 1969 color lithograph Untitled (Ocean Park). The previous record for Jean Arp’s Non loin du soleil, de la lune et des étoiles, 1962, stood at $2,000; in this sale, the brightly colored lithograph more than tripled that, flying to $7,250. New records were also achieved for works by Pierre Alechinsky, Chuck Close, Jim Dine, Robert Motherwell and David Wojnarowicz.

Todd Weyman, Director of Prints & Drawings at Swann Galleries, noted, “This sale’s active, competitive bidding signifies that the energy surrounding contemporary art is not going anywhere. Collectors especially exhibit a thirst for post-war works on paper.”

The next sale of Prints & Drawings at Swann Galleries will be held June 15, 2017. For more information or consign quality materials, contact Todd Weyman at

Image: Lot 153 Andy Warhol, Geronimo, color screenprint, 1986. Sold May 11, 2017 for $30,000. (Pre-sale estimate $20,000 to $30,000)