David Hockney, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and Beauford Delaney lead Christie’s 20th/21st Century Frieze Week season in London
Records tumbled and funds were raised for multiple charities across three auctions led by Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale, which was 100 per cent sold by lot and value — including a Hockney landscape that fetched £20.9 million
After Christie’s nine sales across 20th/21st Century London to Paris achieved more than £250 million in June, attention returned to London for the 20th/21st Century Art sale week, coinciding with the London editions of Frieze and 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair.
Kicking off the programme was the 20th/21st Century: London Evening Sale. Sold 100 per cent by lot and value, it brought in a total of £72,533,850 / $80,294,972 / €82,616,055.
Uniting major post-war artists with some of today’s leading international contemporary painters, the auction was led by David Hockney’s luminous 1968-69 landscape Early Morning, Sainte-Maxime.
The canvas was the result of an idyllic stay at the French Riviera home of film director Tony Richardson, and it was exhibited in Hockney’s 1970 retrospective at the Whitechapel Art Gallery. Unseen at auction since its 1988 appearance at Christie’s in New York, on its re-entry to the market — after six intense minutes of phone bidding — it realised £20,899,500, close to three times its low estimate of £7,000,000.
Another highlight of the evening was Tracey Emin’s Like A Cloud of Blood. A visceral acrylic on canvas measuring almost two metres wide, it was among the first paintings Emin made following her six-month recovery from cancer treatment.
Proceeds raised from the sale will fund her new TKE Studios project — offering subsidised studios for professional artists, as well as a residency programme of free lectures, tutorials and studio space for 15-20 students in her home town of Margate.
‘If my art can make something happen for the future, then I am doing the right thing,’ Emin said an in interview with Christie’s prior to the sale. A round of applause erupted in the salesroom when it sold for £2,322,000 — a new record price for a painting by the artist.
Elsewhere, coinciding with a major Lucian Freud retrospective at the nearby National Gallery, two early works on paper by the artist both surpassed their high estimates to realise £252,000 and £138,600.
The sale, presided over by Christie’s global president Jussi Pylkkänen, saw spirited bidding for the work of young female painters. Shattering their high estimates, notable prices were secured for Christina Quarles’s Even in tha Evenin’ at £856,800, Caroline Walker’s Catered, which sold for £239,400, and Loie Hollowell’s Lick Lick (Boob Skwirt), which realised £378,000.
Marking her debut in a Christie’s evening sale, Sarah Ball’s Untitled (AC16) sold for £94,500, setting a new record price for the artist.
Scott Khan’s painting Croquet, which had 12 telephone bidders vying to win it, sold for £793,000 against a low estimate of £100,000.
Blue may have been the colour of the day, with Gerhard Richter’s important cloudscape Wolkenstudie (grün-blau) (Study for Clouds (Green-blue)), which had never been seen in public before, achieving £11,167,000, and Francis Bacon’s portrait on a cyan background, Painting 1990, realising £7,102,250.
The Evening Sale was followed by A Place With No Name: Works from the Sina Jina Collection, the largest collection of contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora ever offered at auction. It totalled £2,960,484 / $3,277,256 / €3,371,991.
A minimum of 20 per cent of the proceeds of the sale will be donated to The African Arts Trust, which will use the funds to support the work of Gasworks, The Africa Centre, Lamu Environment Fund and Bët Bi.
The groundbreaking collection was created by Robert Devereux, who began buying contemporary African art 20 years ago following an inspiring journey from Mozambique to Kenya.
With Christie’s associate director Veronica Scarpati at the rostrum, the top lot of the auction was Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s Highpower, which soared past its £600,000 low estimate to achieve £1,482,000.
Strong results were also seen for Aboudia’s Untitled (£302,400), El Anatsui’s Drying Line (£126,000) and Elias Sime’s Untitled (£119,700) — all achieving multiples of their low estimates.
Of the 73 works on offer, eight broke artists’ record prices. Among them were ruby onyinyechi amanze’s hybrids, aliens and ghosts, which sold for £21,420, Sanaa Gateja’s Big Mama, at £15,120, and £13,860 for Amadou Sanogo’s C’est ce que je voix.
The following afternoon saw Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Sale achieve a total of £15,843,348 / $17,839,610 / €18,251,537, selling 91 per cent by lot and 94 per cent by value.
Some of the earliest lots were paintings by up-and-coming female figurative painters. Portia Zvavahera’s Zvandiswededza (It Has Drawn Me Closer) realised £151,200; Claire Tabouret’s Les Diadèmes (La rousse) sold for £138,600; Jenna Gribbon’s Mackenzie Djassi and Rita in my living room preparing to wrestle fetched £81,900; and Danielle Orchard’s A Grave Loss and Koak’s The Trade went for £60,480 and £40,320 respectively — all at least double their low estimates.
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Ten artworks, including three artist-designed surfboards, were also offered to benefit the environmental charity Parley. The money raised will fund its Global Cleanup Network, which helps protect marine environments from plastic pollution.
The group was led by Ed Ruscha’s Dot (#4) and Untitled, a surfboard spray painted by Kenny Scharf. Both sold for £63,000, alongside works by Katharina Grosse, Rosemarie Trockel and Flora Yukhnovich.
The top price of the afternoon, however, was achieved by Beauford Delaney’s James Baldwin. One of 14 works from Istanbul Calling, sold to benefit the Young Artists Fund of the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV), the portrait of the American writer was painted in Turkey in 1966 and has been in the same private collection ever since. It flew past its £180,000 estimate to sell for £1,026,000.
Six-figure sums were then achieved by The Icon, a painting by Michaël Borremans, which fetched £604,800, and two of Banksy’s spray-paint pieces: Love Is in the Air (£567,000) and Laugh Now (£529,200).
Elsewhere in the auction, Zdeněk Sýkora’s Linien Nr. 91 sold for £567,000, Yayoi Kusama’s Pumpkin A, B, C, achieved £453,600 and Josef Albers’s Homage to the Square: Osmosis went for £403,200.
Christie’s 20/21 Art Sales continue with First Open: Post-War and Contemporary Art Online, which remains open for bidding until 18 October 2022, while No Regrets: The Collector’s Edition is online for bidding until 19 October.