29 October 2018

Jackson Pollock Formerly Owned by Nelson Rockefeller to    

Lead Phillips’ Evening Sale of 20th Century & Contemporary Art


Auction on 15 November to Also Offer Masterworks by

Warhol, Basquiat, KAWS, Miró, and Burri


Day Sale to Feature Frankenthaler, Thiebaud, Salle, and Steir, Among Others

NEW YORK – 29 OCTOBER 2018 – Phillips’ November auctions of 20th Century & Contemporary Art will offer over 300 lots, spanning over a century. The Day Sale will take place on Wednesday, 14 November, followed by the Evening Sale on Thursday, 15 November. With a total of 41 lots, the Evening Sale is expected to realize in excess of $100 million, featuring works by Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, KAWS, Joan Miró, and Alberto Burri, among others. The Day Sale, which is comprised of a Morning and Afternoon Session, will offer works by Helen Frankenthaler, Wayne Thiebaud, David Salle, and Pat Steir. The November sales underscore Phillips’ commitment to offering a breadth of material for collectors of all levels across the 20th and 21st centuries.

“The upcoming auction is one of the most ambitious November Evening Sales that Phillips has ever assembled, underscoring our confidence in the market for high-quality, rare-to-market works,” said Jean-Paul Engelen and Robert Manley, Worldwide Co-Heads of 20th Century & Contemporary Art. “This season’s Day and Evening Sales epitomize Phillips’ vision of embracing the entirety of the 20th and 21st centuries, featuring significant works of Modern, Latin American, classic Post-War, and Contemporary Art. We are delighted to have the opportunity to offer several examples by artists who do not often appear on the secondary market, alongside blue-chip masters of the category, as we continue to reexamine the art historical canon. We are also honored to present works with exceptional provenance this season, including works from the Karshan Collection, as well as the Louis-Dreyfus Family Collection.”

The Evening Sale | 15 November, 5pm

Leading the sale is Jackson Pollock’s Number 16, a masterpiece of the Abstract Expressionist artist’s oeuvre, which is being offered publicly for the first time. The works Pollock created in 1950 represent the culmination of an incredibly creative and productive period that began three years prior. It was in this post-war period that Pollock developed his unique pictorial “drip” technique, which would change the course of art history forever. Working from above the picture plane, Pollock honed a precisely controlled the application of line, and introduced radical new directions in art. Executed in 1950, this work was included in Pollock’s fourth solo show at the Betty Parsons Gallery alongside some of his most famous canvases that have since been acquired by major museums around the world. Similarly distinguished by formidable provenance, Number 16 was gifted by former Vice President Nelson Rockefeller to the Museu de Arte Moderna Rio de Janeiro (MAM) in 1952, where it has resided ever since – making this an absolutely rare work by Pollock to surface at auction.

Also among the Evening Sale highlights is Andy Warhol’s Gun, 1981-1982, which offers the viewer a monumental memento mori of the modern age. In an oeuvre revolving around celebrity, death and tragedy, this work takes a critical position amongst the car crashes, race riots and electric chairs of Warhol’s Death and Disaster series from the early 1960s. Taking on the scale of a grand history painting, the present work depicts the gun in three-quarter view, silkscreened in black over the white canvas like an X-ray. As part of Warhol’s larger Gun series created a little more than a decade after the artist was shot by Valerie Solanas, this work demonstrates Warhol's unerring, almost prophetic ability to select, isolate and transform a single image into a provocative icon as he here zooms in on the instrument, rather than the act of violence. According to Vincent Fremont, former vice president of Andy Warhol Enterprises and executive manager of the artist’s studio, “It’s this powerful image that causes people to stop and think. It's not unlike the electric chairs. It's still controversial. He takes something ominous and turns it into something beautiful at the same time, so you have that layer of terror.”

Two works by Jean-Michel Basquiat will be included in the Evening Sale. Untitled, 1981, is an exceptional masterwork on paper. Executed in the seminal year of 1981 as one of the earliest examples of portraiture in Basquiat’s oeuvre, this drawing anticipates the artist’s increased focus on the subject matter in the ensuing year. With this portrait, Basquiat puts forth a raw and existential portrait of a black man who confronts the viewer with a gaze that is equally tortured and yet prophetic. A truly exceptional work created by Basquiat in his most celebrated period, Untitled was notably included in the The Jean-Michel Basquiat Show at the Fondazione La Triennale di Milano in 2006 and 2007, and his retrospective at the Fondation Beyeler and Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 2010-2011.  An Untitled work on canvas from 1982 will also be featured. Estimated at $9-12 million, the work was created at a watershed moment in Basquiat’s career. Debuted at his seminal exhibition at Gagosian Gallery, Los Angeles, in the spring of 1982, the artist’s second solo show in the United States, Untitled is among the discrete group of paintings that propelled the artist to international stardom.

Two KAWS works will also be offered in the Evening Sale on 15 November. Towering over its viewers and animating its surroundings with a uniquely uncanny presence, KAWS’ CLEAN SLATE, 2014, comprises the ultimate monument to the artist’s trademark Companion figure. Since its unveiling in Hong Kong in 2014 as one of KAWS’ largest public sculptures, CLEAN SLATE has taken a prominent position as the artist’s most recognizable figures. At $900,000-1.2 million, the work represents the highest auction estimate for any work by the artist. Painted in 2005, KAWS’s playfully irreverent UNTITLED (FATAL GROUP) is exemplary of the artist’s unique visual lexicon that deconstructs the division between popular culture and fine art. This work evinces KAWS at his most technically accomplished and conceptually resolute, having been painted by hand with such perfected clarity that there is no trace of the artist’s hand. The present work refigures the cast of the animated series The Fat Albert Show with their heads composed in his trademark cross-eyed skull head. Reading like a movie poster without text, this image provides an entrancing scene that challenges the artifice of familiar mass media images and a saturated contemporary visual culture.

Following the record-breaking sale in May, Phillips is also pleased to offer Robert Motherwell’s Open No. 153: In Scarlet with White Line, 1970. Also included in the auction on 15 November are Pierre Bonnard’s Place Clichy ou les deux élégantes, 1905, Jean Dubuffet’s Mademoiselle mine orange, March 1950, and George Condo’s Dreaming Nude, 2006. Previously announced works from the Evening Sale include Joan Miró’s Femme dans la nuit and Alberto Burri’s monumental Grande legno e rosso, and Carmen Herrera’s Blanco y verde.

The Day Sale – Morning Session | 14 November, 11am

Leading the Morning Session of the Day Sale is Helen Frankenthaler’s Red Shift, which Phillips is honored to be offering from the prestigious Louis-Dreyfus Family Collection. A passionate and avid collector of art, William Louis-Dreyfus (19322016) assembled, over the course of fifty years, an exceptionally rich collection. While his collection included works by Wassily Kandinsky, Jean Dubuffet, John Newman,  and Catherine Murphy, Helen Frankenthaler was among the only abstract expressionist artists whom Louis-Dreyfus admired and collected in depth. Red Shift, executed in 1990, generously diffuses washes of red and purple in subtle gradation, across a monumental surface. While the majority of the canvas is tinted with uniform layers of acrylic paint, applied in the artist’s quintessential technique of saturating the canvas, splotches of color emerge in dripping motion, infusing the serene composition with bursts of spirited, vibrant hues. Inherently complex and spontaneous, it is unsurprising that Frankenthaler’s paintings are likened to nature and human emotions. Red Shift, an exceptional mature work of the artist, epitomizes this very trait.

Wayne Thiebaud’s Cosmetic Lady  will also be offered in the Morning Session on 14 November. Depicted in delectable candy-like hues, this work is a stellar pairing of Wayne Thiebaud’s signature still lifes of everyday objects with his exploration of the human figure. Thiebaud truly hit his stride as a painter in the early 1960s through his extensive investigation of unequivocally American objects that celebrated ordinary life; painted from memory, Thiebaud’s subjects ranged from desserts, for which he is best known, to pinball machines, cosmetics, tools and toys. Figure painting has been a significant preoccupation of the artist since 1963 and plays an important role alongside his still lifes in capturing modern taste and accoutrements. In Cosmetic Lady, the figure and neatly aligned cosmetics are pared down to their essential details and lit with dramatic spot lighting, qualities typical of Thiebaud’s irresistible bright modernity.  Painted in 1983-86, Cosmetic Lady is a testament to the artist’s unwavering commitment to depicting the colorful story of popular culture and his fascination with brash Americana. 

Nearly 50 lots from the Estate of Howard Karshan will also be included in the Morning Session. Over the course of nearly fifty years, Howard Karshan and his wife, Linda, assembled one of the most significant collections of modern and post-war paintings and works on paper. Works from the collection in the in the Day Sale include those by Jackson Pollock, Pablo Picasso, and Willem de Kooning.

The Day Sale – Afternoon Session | 14 November, 3pm

Among the highlights of the Afternoon Session is David Salle’s Nadar’s Grey , 1990, a riotous expanse of color, depth, texture, and form, which belongs to one of David Salle’s most accomplished bodies of work, the Tapestry Paintings. During this period, he continued explorations into sculpture, theater, film, and black-and-white photography, all of which informed the evolution of his painterly style. The pictorial backdrops of his Tapestry Paintings derive from sixteenth and seventeenth century tapestries, as well as modern copies by a Russian tapestry-maker. Delicately tinted and deliberately rococo, these rhythmic backgrounds luminesce like cinematic screens. The background of Nadar’s Grey is saturated with figures collaged in an undefinable space. Draped in togas and exhibiting chiseled muscles rendered in careful chiaroscuro, the anonymous figures resemble classical sculptures – their figures set in motion by a rhythmic force. Salle was among the vanguard artists of his generation who reacted against the cool rationalism of Conceptualism and Minimalism. While marking a new maturity in his oeuvre, this monumental composition embodies Salle’s distinct visual language and is a testament to his decisive role in the artistic developments of the 1980s.

An untitled work on paper by Jean-Michel Basquiat leads the Afternoon Session of the Day Sale. Executed in 1987, Untitled is an exceptional window into the mind of one of the most celebrated artists of the twentieth century. An all-encompassing visual melding of text and imagery, the present lot is a testament to Jean-Michel Basquiat’s tenacity as a creator during his far too short career. Untitled was executed just a year before the artist’s untimely passing at the age of 27, during a time in which he was struggling with the loss of his dear friend and mentor, Andy Warhol. As with all of his best works, Untitled serves as a map of the artist’s brilliant and complicated mind. Here, Basquiat invites the viewer into his own universe – an encyclopedic display of symbols, signs and motifs that was the very foundation of his unique and powerful visual lexicon.


EVENING SALE: Thursday, 15 November, 5pm EST

DAY SALE: Wednesday, 14 November, 11am & 3pm EST

Location: 450 Park Avenue, New York



Phillips is a leading global platform for buying and selling 20th and 21st century art and design. With dedicated expertise in the areas of 20th Century and Contemporary Art, Design, Photographs, Editions, Watches, and Jewelry, Phillips offers professional services and advice on all aspects of collecting. Auctions and exhibitions are held at salerooms in New York, London, Geneva, and Hong Kong, while clients are further served through representative offices based throughout Europe, the United States and Asia. Phillips also offers an online auction platform accessible anywhere in the world.  In addition to providing selling and buying opportunities through auction, Phillips brokers private sales and offers assistance with appraisals, valuations, and other financial services.

Visit www.phillips.com for further information.


*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium; prices achieved include the hammer price plus buyer’s premium.


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