Strong Demand for Pop-Art and Op-Art at Bonhams

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New York—There was strong demand for Pop-art and Op-art works at Bonhams’ 33 lot Post-War and Contemporary Art sale in New York on 12 May which raised more than $3.5 million.  

Robert Indiana’s iconic work, LOVE outstripped expectations and fetched $653,000, racing past its high estimate of $250,000. The winning bid was placed in the room after a prolonged bidding war. The image is one of Indiana’s most recognizable and is still ubiquitous even half a century after its creation.

Victor Vasarely’s hypnotic optical works sold well: OND-III, a 1968 acrylic on canvas, achieved $251,000, over two times its high estimate of $120,000; and Attam, a 1979 acrylic work realized $155,000, over 2.5 times the high estimate. 

Jeremy Goldsmith, Director of Post-War and Contemporary Art at Bonhams commented, “We saw competitive bidding for Robert Indiana’s LOVE painting, which brilliantly illustrates the strength and depth of the market for iconic Pop-Art. Furthermore, the energetic bidding that realized prices well over the high estimates for works by Victor Vasarely demonstrated a renewed and revitalized interest in the artist and Op-Art in general.”

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The auction’s highest-selling lot was Alexander Calder’s spectacular sculpture, The Mountain (1960) that sold for $845,000, past the high estimate. Calder, one of America’s greatest artists, shows his unparalleled mastery of line and balance in The Mountain by creating a sculpture that crafts a landscape out of form and air. It was by 1934, after producing a series of wire works and developing his mobiles, that Calder began constructing self-supporting, abstract sculptures—nicknamed ‘stabiles’ by Jean Arp—of which The Mountain is a magnificent example.

Additional high points of the evening include:

  • Homage to the Square: “Suspended,” a 1953 work by Josef Albers that represents the artist’s 25-year examination of color and its optical and compositional components, which realized $485,000. 
  • A beautiful stainless steel and aluminum sculpture by Frank Stella called Lejak that achieved $102,500, well past its high estimate of $70,000. The sculpture is from the Bali Series and demonstrates Stella’s lifelong goal of achieving a synergy between painting, sculpture, and architecture.

The next Post-War & Contemporary art sale will be held in London in July.

First image: SOLD for $653,000: Robert Indiana, LOVE, 1965, oil on canvas.

Second image: SOLD for 845,000: Alexander Calder, The Mountain, 1960, painted sheet metal and wire. © 2015 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Auction Guide