Phillips de Pury & Company rounded out New York's May evening contemporary art auctions with strong results last night, bringing in $86.9 million. This was within the projected range, and 80% of offerings found buyers. Three works sold in excess of $10 million, and a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting fetched $16.3 million, setting a record for that artist, as did works by Seth Price and Dana Schutz.
The Basquiat sold well above its $12 million high estimate, with three phone bidders in competition, according to a Bloomberg report. The 1981 painting on wood, from when the artist was only 21, shows a life-size figure, arms aloft and sporting a spiked black halo recalling a crown of thorns. The work was consigned by Washington, D.C., collector Robert Lehrman.
Willem de Kooning's Untitled VI (1975), an abstract canvas predominantly in shades of pale pink, brought $12.4 million. A Warhol Mao from 1973, showing the Chairman with a glowing pink face and overlaid with gestural brushstrokes in blue, commanded $10.4 million to become the night's third-priciest offering.
Setting an auction record for Price was an untitled sculpture from 2009, which climbed to $92,500. The 8-foot-high work presents a frayed length of rope encased in a vacuum-formed sheet of polystyrene. Ironically in view of skyrocketing prices for art in this month's auctions, the work is described in the sale catalogue as a comment on "manufactured desire."
Schutz's Death Comes to Us All (2003) brought a record $482,500. Prices in her current show at New York's Friedrich Petzel Gallery (through June 16) are listed up to $120,000. The 10-foot-high canvas shows a cigarette-smoking figure, standing in a parking lot, whose top half dissolves into a flurry of strokes that create a birdlike shape.
The results follow record-setting sales earlier in the week at Christie's and Sotheby's.
Currently on view in the group show "Redux" at New York's Cristin Tierney Gallery (through Feb. 4) are two works by Joe Fig, both related to his 200