Auctions | October 27, 2017

Six-Figure Set of Basquiat Prints Headlines Swann Contemporary Sale

swann-basquiat.jpgNew York—Swann Galleries announces their largest and most encyclopedic sale of Contemporary Art to date, featuring scarce and important works by such titans as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Yves Klein and Christo. Also in the Thursday, November 16 auction is the largest section of sculpture the department has ever offered, and a slew of works that toe the line between two- and three- dimensions, epitomizing the paradoxical nature of postmodernism.

The sale is led by a set of four evocative prints by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled: Four Prints, 1983-2001, rarely seen complete at auction. Each panel features the graffiti-inspired enigmatic figures for which the visionary artist is known. The set carries an estimate of $250,000 to $350,000.

Another highlight is a delicate triptych by the master of the minimal, Yves Klein: L' IKB, l'IKG, et l'immatériel vous souhaitent avec Yves Klein la santé pour toujours!, 1960, consists of a hand-painted International Klein Blue square, a gold leaf square and an annotated square with the artist's handwriting in ink, and is estimated at $100,000 to $150,000.

Latin American art is led by Sans titre, Arthur Luiz Piza’s circa 1964 mixed media collage on canvas, with an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. Politically-relevant commentary by Mexican artist Eduardo Sarabia in the form of a hand-painted ceramic vase and screenprinted box, A Thin Line Between Love and Hate, 2005 ($5,000 to $8,000) joins prints and sculptural works by Eduardo Chillida, Jesús Rafael Soto and Esteban Vicente.

The sale is distinguished by a selection of maquettes for important works, including the original design in acrylic on canvas of Gene Davis’s Signal, 1973, for the same-titled color screenprint of the same year, still bearing notations and printers’ marks, with an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000. Every Grain of Sand, a collection of approximately 57 pencil drawings by Richard Long circa 1998, comprise the original maquette for a 1999 exhibition of the same name at Kunstverein Hannover and the Orangerie Herrenhausen ($20,000 to $30,000). Making its auction debut is an authenticated pencil and gouache study by Christo for Study for Corridor Store Front - Back Room, 1968, for the 1967-68 installation of the same name, currently at the Musée d'art Moderne et Contemporain in Geneva, Switzerland ($20,000 to $30,000). Christo is additionally represented in the sale by collages representing some of his numerous large-scale projects, some of which were never executed, including Wrapped Building Project for 1 Times Square, New York, 1985, and Wrapped Motorcycle/Sidecar (Project for Harley-Davidson 1933 VL Model), 1997, each with a value of $5,000 to $8,000. The objet d’art Wrapped Book Modern Art, 1978, graces the catalogue cover for the auction ($5,000 to $8,000).

Fine examples of sculptural works that transcend designation range from recent works by El Anatsui—whose pigment print with hand collage and copper wire, Pewter Variation, 2015, is simultaneously a print, sculpture and tapestry ($15,000 to $20,000)—to James Rosenquist’s iconic collage-work For Artists, a 1975 color screenprint and collage with belt, valued at $2,500 to $3,500. Also available are several metallic balloon animals by Jeff Koons, as well as sculptures by Jean Arp, David Gilhooly, Jenny Holzer, Paul Sharits and Kiki Smith.

Midcentury superstars Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Motherwell, Robert Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly will be well-represented by bright and iconic works in the sale. Only two impressions of Target, 1967, an etching on handmade paper by Jasper Johns, have appeared at auction in the last 30 years; here it is expected to sell between $10,000 and $15,000. Richard Hamilton’s color screenprint rebuttal to Andy Warhol, My Marilyn, 1965, is expected to sell between $20,000 and $30,000.

Recent examples of German abstraction include Gerhard Richter’s Eis 2, 2003, a monumental color screenprint in 41 colors, valued at $40,000 to $60,000. Also available is Anima Mundi 18-3, 2010, Imi Knoebel’s set of three collaged acrylic on plastic film mounted to aluminum, with an estimate of  $15,000 to $20,000.

The complete catalogue and bidding information is available at

Additional highlights can be found here.

Image: Lot 327: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled: Four Prints, complete set of four color screenprints, 1983-2001. Estimate $250,000 to $350,000.