Sotheby’s Presents: Contemporary Art Online
David Hockney, considered one of the most influential British artists of the 20th century, is an important contributor to the Pop Art movement of the 1960s. Yet beyond his illustrious painting career, Hockney has created stage designs and costumes for numerous operas, ballets and symphonies since the mid-1970s. The present lot is a study for costumes created for “Les Mamelles de Tiresias” (The Breasts of Tiresias), an adaptation of Guillaume Apoillinaire’s Surrealist play of 1903. The play was adapted as an opera by Francis Poulenc in 1945 and performed two years later. The 1947 premiere of the opera featured costumes and design by acclaimed artist and designer Erté. For Erté, the commission served as inspiration for the designs he was concurrently creating for the fashion house Paul Poiret. Here, Hockney references these Erté for Poiret’s original designs four decades later for the 1981 restaging of the opera at the Metropolitan Opera House.
One of the pioneers of Color Field painting, Kenneth Noland is known for geometric compositions articulated in blocks of flat, saturated colour. Bravo Costa Brava, No. 6, marks a shift in the artist’s practice prompted by a visit to artist Luis Remba’s innovative printmaking studio, the Taller de Grafica Mexicana in Mexico City. There, Noland began to experiment with painted monotypes. In this work, the artist embossed hand-made paper with diamond shapes and then coloured the composition by hand. The strikingly original work carries Noland’s mastery of geometry into an innovative medium.
During the mid-1950s, Nevelson produced her first series of black wood sculptures that would become synonymous with her oeuvre until her death in 1988. Composed of wooden shapes that are obliquely evocative of the domestic sphere, Moon Star I is part of what Nevelson's longtime dealer Arnold Glimcher described in a 1976 catalogue as “a continuously powerful and regenerative body of work,” which, “extended the properties of illusion into the vocabulary of sculpture and fixed the ephemeral, nonspecific, and nondelineable into the repertory of art.”
Throughout his career Larry Bell has investigated the spatial relationships between light and surface. From Bell’s Mirage series, Cyclone represents a dramatic departure from the minimal sculptures that had defined the artist’s career up until the mid-1980s. Around this time, the artist, then in his forties, learned that he suffered from an undiagnosed congenital hearing deficiency. The use of hearing aids profoundly altered Bell’s experience of the world around him, and inspired him to begin this series of painted collages. The works from the Mirage series are composed intuitively, using the materials and equipment Bell had on hand. The completed collages, often somewhat of a surprise to Bell himself, were named according to his first associations.