Canvases by two cool-headed American painters whose markets took off in the 1980s also achieved stellar results on Thursday. Marden’s brightly striped Number Two
(1983–84) hammered at $9.6 million, or $10.9 million with fees, edging out his previous record by just $3,600. Two lots by
were on offer. A spray painting did better than an aggressive, text-filled canvas that read “AND IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT YOU CAN GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HOUSE.” The former, Untitled
(1995), hammered at $8.9 million after a long contest between a phone bidder and a shaggy-haired brunette man who reluctantly ceded the work around $8.8 million. With fees, the price came to $10.4 million—good enough to be the sale’s sixth-biggest lot.
On the eve of his 99th birthday, Thiebaud achieved an auction record with his luscious 2011 canvas, Encased Cakes (in celebration of the work, the auction house created a faux cake display case at the entrance to the sale room). The painting sold for a hammer price of $7.2 million, or $8.4 million with fees, handily beating his previous auction record of $6.3 million.
The second-to-last lot of the night, Förg’s Ohne Titel
(2007), enlivened an antsy crowd as phone bidders competed from around the world. The brushy, abstract canvas notched an even hammer price of $1 million, or $1.2 million with fees, beating his previous record of $815,000. Earlier this year, Hauser & Wirth
mounted its first presentation of the German artist’s work after adding his estate to its roster in 2018: The high-profile gallery support, as well as tonight’s result, signal growing interest in Förg’s market.
After Wednesday night’s record
at Christie’s, the two works by the L.A. artist up for sale at Sotheby’s failed to produce equally newsworthy results. Broken Glass
(1968) beat its high estimate of $1.5 million, hammering at $1.6 million, or $1.9 million with fees. More unsettling was Ruscha’s 1974 egg yolk on moiré (textured fabric) work She Gets Angry At Him
—from the collection of designer Marc Jacobs—which failed to find a buyer the first time around, when it was offered as the sale’s third lot. Undeterred, Barker later announced he’d be reoffering it after the final lot. The second time, in a much emptier salesroom, the work hammered for $1.4 million, still well short of its $2-million low estimate. The long-term effects of Ruscha’s record-setting Christie’s result remain to be seen; for now, it looks more like an outlier than the new normal.
While ’s Picture of a Hollywood Swimming Pool
(1964) wound up as the evening’s 9th highest lot, notching a hammer price of $6.1 million ($7.2 million with fees), the audience took a pass at the artist’s other offering, Yves-Marie in the Rain
(1973). Not all Hockneys are easy sales, and a glistening pool is far more appealing than bad weather—especially as temperatures dropped below freezing this week in New York. Winter is coming.