10 Standout Auction Lots on Artsy This Week: August 5, 2021
In this series, Artsy’s Curatorial and Editorial teams offer a look at the auction lots we’re currently watching on Artsy. This selection includes hidden gems, popular works with the most bids, and promising lots from the latest auctions. Browse all of the auctions on Artsy, including lots by artists you follow, here.
Louise Bourgeois, Henriette (1998)
While working at the Louvre in the 1930s, Louise Bourgeois passed a prosthetics shop on her daily commute, and noticed how many guards at the institution were amputees who had fought in World War I. Bourgeois’s sister Henriette—for whom this work is named—suffered from constant leg stiffness and swelling, though never had a prosthetic leg herself. Incorporating a wrench key and wire, this surrealistic print reflects the ghostliness of an inanimate limb while emphasizing its potential. Henriette is currently available from $2,200 in Bonhams’s “Prints & Multiples Summer Splash” auction.
David Hockney, Pool made with Paper and Blue Ink for Book (Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo 234) (1980)
There is a certain nostalgia that surfaces when gazing at one of David Hockney’s pool paintings. Memories of warm summers mingle with the meditative qualities of still water and a boiling sun. In Pool made with Paper and Blue Ink for Book (Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo 234), the reflection of an empty diving board slithers down towards the bottom of the pool as eel-like waves swim throughout the water. This lithograph, which has already received a bid, is expected to garner additional attention. In the last two weeks alone, several Hockney prints sold for double or triple their high estimates.
Sonia Delaunay, Contrepoint (1968)
French artist Sonia Delaunay was a key figure in the Orphism movement, which blended Cubism and Futurism in abstract works that emphasized color. Delaunay studied the relationship between colors, examined their interactions, and employed avant-garde techniques in her practice. In 1964, Delaunay was the first living woman to have a retrospective at the Louvre. Contrepoint, a colorful lithograph that exemplifies Delaunay’s intriguing method of contrasting shapes and hues, is available in Bonhams’s “Prints & Multiples Summer Splash” auction from $1,700.
David Wojnarowicz, Untitled for ACT UP (1990)
Untitled for ACT UP is a screenprint diptych created by David Wojnarowicz in 1990 to benefit the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP). The piece on the left depicts stock data superimposed onto a map of the contiguous United States, the interior of which is a red and white bull’s-eye target. The screenprint on the right shows stream-of-consciousness text printed on a black and white background. In 2018, ACT UP activists demonstrated in front of an edition of this work at Wojnarowicz’s Whitney retrospective, “History Keeps Me Awake at Night,” to protest the museum’s historicization of the AIDS epidemic. This work is available in Swann Auction Galleries’s “LGBTQ+ Art, Material Culture & History” auction with a starting bid of $4,600.
Robert Rauschenberg, Statue of Liberty (from the New York, New York portfolio) (1983)
A tricolor screenprint with collaged elements, Robert Rauschenberg’s Statue of Liberty (from the New York, New York portfolio) combines notable snapshots of the Statue of Liberty with an imprint of the monument’s scaled blueprint. Uniting familiar colors and details in an unconventional formation, Rauschenberg foregrounds the symbols that define the American archetype. This work is for sale in Wright’s “Prints & Multiples” auction with a current bid of $2,000.
Georges Braque, L’Ordre des Oiseaux, text by Saint-John Perse (12 works) (Vallier 182) (1962)
In 1962, the French poet Saint-John Perse wrote a poem about birds for Georges Braque’s 80th birthday, and in response, Braque composed a series of 12 aquatints meditating on birds and freedom. Together, the poem and the artworks became L’Ordre des Oiseaux, a book with just 130 editions. This edition is a complete bound volume and is up for bidding in Bonhams’s “Prints & Multiples Summer Splash” auction from $12,000.
Marc Chagall, Le Clown amoureux (from The Lithographs of Chagall, Volume II) (1963)
Marc Chagall, whose prints consistently sell far above their high estimates, was a multidisciplinary artist who drew inspiration from his Jewish heritage as well as Eastern European folklore. Many of his figurative works are playful depictions of people in vibrant settings. Chagall was especially enamored with circus scenes, and in this work—available in Wright’s “Prints & Multiples” auction—a clown leans in to embrace a nude woman. Le Clown amoureux is part of Chagall’s “Circus” series in which he explored the otherworldliness of such characters, rendering them in a playful yet traditional style.
David Ligare, Landscape with Eros and Endymion (1990–92)
American painter David Ligare centers his practice around realism, taking direct inspiration from Neoclassical painters of the 17th and 18th centuries. Landscape with Eros and Endymion showcases Ligare’s deep-seated interest in Greco-Roman mythology. The work depicts Eros, god of love, standing beside a slumbering Endymion in anticipation of the moon goddess Selene’s visit to her mortal lover. Selene’s absence in this scene, however, heightens underlying tones of homoeroticism between the two sparsely clothed young men, drawing attention to the multiplicity of narratives inherent in Greek myths. This painting is available in Swann Auction Galleries’s “LGBTQ+ Art, Material Culture & History” auction with a starting bid of $7,500.
Diane Arbus, Two men dancing at a drag ball, NYC (1970; printed 1972)
In this photograph, Diane Arbus captures a couple’s embrace at a New York City drag ball in 1970. One partner glances over the other’s shoulder; their feathery boa, glittery gloves, and meticulously coiffed wig strikingly juxtapose their look of casual indifference. Throughout her career, Arbus remained adamant about photographing those living on the fringes of mainstream society. This work can be found in Swann’s “LGBTQ+ Art, Material Culture & History” auction with a starting bid of $3,800.
Leonor Fini, Two Kneeling Nudes (ca. 1960)
Leonor Fini is finally receiving widespread recognition for her whimsical, mystical, and delectably strange oeuvre. This past May, the painting Autoportrait au scorpion (1938) broke her auction record, fetching $2.32 million, nearly three times its high estimate. Although her work is associated with Surrealism and contains many of its defining features, Fini rejected the Surrealist label due to the movement’s pervasive misogyny. The artist’s proof Two Kneeling Nudes—available from $750 in Swann Auction Galleries’s “LGBTQ+ Art, Material Culture & History” sale—is an enticing print that reveals Fini’s delicate approach to unearthly subject matters.