Midway through this week’s contemporary art sales and prices show no signs of softening. Last night Sotheby’s sale tallied $380 million, with outlandish auction records for Christopher Wool ($30 million) and Mark Grotjahn ($6.5 million) among plenty of others. Tonight Christie’s will attempt to sell another half billion dollars worth of art in the span of a few hours.
Cy Twombly, Untitled, 1969, est. $35-55 million
This creamy abstract painting, inflected with black and brown crayon squares, jagged lines and other marks, float across the canvas. Made soon after Twombly settled in Tuscany, the work’s previous owners include financier turned art dealer Asher Edelman.
Lucian Freud, Benefits Supervisor Resting, 1994, est. $30-50 million
In 2008, before the economy tanked, auction prices were peaking. Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich reportedly paid $33.6 million at Sotheby’s for Freud’s majestically fleshy portrait titled Benefits Supervisor Sleeping. Now a related work, featuring the same subject on the same beige sofa, is for sale, with a bold new estimate.
Andy Warhol, Colored Mona Lisa, 1963, est. $35 million
Warhol included no fewer than 28 images of da Vinci’s muse in this oversized canvas. Painted in shades of yellow, pink, black and blue, the work has a long and illustrious exhibition history, but the subject is less beguiling than Warhol’s interpretations of other totemic subjects, Marilyn and Jackie.
Francis Bacon, Portrait of Henrietta Moraes, 1963, est. $42 million
This nude portrait of Bacon’s friend reclining on a bed, in a lavender and red room, last sold at auction just three years ago. Bacon paintings were the toast of the auction block in recent years, to the point of oversaturation. This one comes with some prominent previous owners and a fetching female subject.
Mark Rothko, No. 10, 1958, est. $45 million
This painting comes from a period when Rothko was exploring a darker, earthy palette. The year 1958 coincides with the moment when the artist was commissioned to make a series of paintings for the Four Seasons Restaurant in the Seagram building—a famous group which ultimately landed in London’s Tate Modern.