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What Sold at the November Auctions 2018?

  • David Hockney - Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), 1972
November 17, 2018
A philosophy graduate interested in critical theory, politics and art. Alias of Jelena Martinović.

The week of November auctions 2018 was certainly a successful one, breaking several records along the way. But the definite star of this week is David Hockney‘s Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) (1972) which reached an amazing $90,312,500 at Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale on November 15th, making Hockney the most expensive living artist. The piece went under the hammer after only nine minutes of bidding.

This stunning result shows the quick rise in figures a work by Hockney can reach, as his auction record was “only” $11.7 million two years before. The artist now joins the likes of Cy Twombly, whose record is $70.5 million, and Mark Rothko, whose record is $86.9 million. “We got multiple bidders on it—which, quite honestly, was not easy this week,” stated Alex Rotter, post-war and contemporary department chairman at Christie’s, in the post-sale press conference.

Let’s take a look at all the highlights of the November auction week!

Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale (Nov 11)

The highly anticipated sale, Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Art Evening garnered a tepid $279.3 million. The top lot of the sale was Claude Monet‘s Le bassin aux nymphéas (1919), which sold for an amazing $31,812,500, followed by Pablo Picasso‘s La Lampe (1931), which reached $29,562,500. Other notable works were Giacometti‘s sculptures Le Chat, which reached $17,187,500, and Femme assise, which reached $13,812,500, as well as Monet’s paintings Jeune fille dans le jardin de Giverny, which was sold for $16,062,500, and Effet de neige à Giverny, which reached $15,500,000. Two works set artist records – Tamara de Lempicka’s oil painting La Musicienne (1929), which made $9,087,500, and Jean Arp’s Déméter (1961), which brought $5,825,000.

Claude Monet - Le bassin aux nymphéas, 1919
Claude Monet – Le bassin aux nymphéas, 1919. Oil on canvas, 39 3/4 x 79 in. (100.7 x 200.8 cm.). Image via Christie’s

Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale (Nov 12)

Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale offered significant works from the movements that shaped the future of art and art collecting. The highest bid went to the sculpture Le hibou gris (1953) by Pablo Picasso, which reached $2,412,500, followed by Alberto Giacometti’s sculpture Projet pour un monument à Gabriel Péri (1946), which sold for $2,232,500 as well as Marc Chagall‘s painting Les Paysans (1971), which reached $1,932,500, and Edgar Degas‘s Petites filles spartiates provoquant des garçons (Jeunes spartiates s’exerçant à la lutte) (1860).

Pablo Picasso - Le hibou gris
Pablo Picasso – Le hibou gris, 1953. Signed and dated ‘Picasso 9.2.53.’ (on the front of the base). Painted earthenware; Height: 13 5/8 in. (34.7 cm.). Image via Christie’s

Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale (Nov 12)

During their Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale, Sotheby’s presented a stunning selection of paintings, works on paper and sculptures by leading artists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Seven works exceeded $20 million dollars, including the highest priced René Magritte‘s Le Principe du Plaisir, which reached $26,830,500. Other highlights include Wassily Kandinsky‘s paintings Improvisation on Mahogany (1910), which sold for $24,233,800On the Theme of the Last Judgement (1913), which sold for $22,879,000, and Le Rond Rouge (1939), which reached $20,621,000, and Egon Schiele‘s City in Twilight (Small City II) (1913), which sold for $24,572,500. Five artist records were set.

René Magritte - Le Principe du Plaisir, 1937
René Magritte – Le Principe du Plaisir, 1937. Oil on canvas; 28 3/4 by 21 1/2 in., 73 by 54.5 cm. Image via Sotheby’s

Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale (Nov 13)

Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale featured a wonderful selection of paintings, works on paper and sculpture by leading artists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The star lot was Rene Magritte’s L’Incendie (1948), which sold for $4,335,000, followed by Pierre-Auguste Renoir‘s Femme Au Jardin (1890), sold for $1,395,000, Alfredo Ramos Martinez‘s La India de Los Floripondios (1932), which sold for $1,167,000, and Claude Monet’s La Maison a Travers Les Roses (1925-26), which sold for $1,035,000.

Rene Magritte - L'Incendie, 1948
Rene Magritte – L’Incendie, circa 1948. Gouache on paper; 13 7/8 by 18 in., 35.2 by 45.7 cm. Robert Elkon Gallery, New York. Image via Sotheby’s

Christie’s An American Place | The Barney A. Ebsworth Collection Evening Sale (Nov 13)

Thirteen artist records were broken at Christie’s on November 13 and their Evening sale dedicated to the collection of the late Barney A. Ebsworth, making up a total of $317,801,250! Among them was Edward Hopper, whose masterpiece Chop Suey fetched $91,875,000 with buyer’s premium, doubling the artist’s previous highest hammer price. It was followed by the usual price-smashers Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock, whose paintings sold for $68,937,500 and $55,437,500 respectively. Others worthy of mention are Arshile Gorky, whose work sold for $14,037,500, just like Joan Mitchell’s 12 Hawks at 3 O’Clock.

Edward Hopper - Chop Suey, 1929
Edward Hopper – Chop Suey, 1929. Oil on canvas, 32 x 38 in. (81.3 x 96.5 cm.). Image via Christie’s

Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction (Nov 14)

Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction was an impressive night of many records. Although only seven lots sold for more than $10 million, the sale made an impressive $362.6 million tally. The highest bid went to Gerhard Richter‘s Abstraktest Bild (1987), which reached an impressive $32 million. Other highlights include the cover lot for the sale, Jean-Michel Basquiat‘s Untitled (Pollo Frito), which made $25,701,500, Georgia O’Keeffe‘s A Street, which reached $13,282,500, Jasper Johns‘s Flag, which sold for $13,056,700, David Hockney‘s Montcalm Interior With 2 Dogs, which sold for $12,718,000, and Willem de Kooning‘s Amityville, which sold for $11,589,000. There were three artist records set – for Jacob Lawrence‘s The Businessmen, which sold for $6,169,800, Jack Whitten‘s Ancient Mentor I, which sold for $2,235,000, and Henry Taylor‘s I’ll Put a Spell on You, which sold for $975,000.

Gerhard Richter - Abstraktest Bild, 1987
Gerhard Richter – Abstraktest Bild, 1987. Oil on canvas, 2 panels, each: 102 3/8 by 78 7/8 in. 260 by 200.3 cm; overall: 102 3/8 by 157 3/4 in. 260 by 401 cm. Galerie Liliane & Michel Durand-Dessert, Paris. Image via Sotheby’s

Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Day Auction (Nov 15)

During their Contemporary Art Day Auction, Sotheby’s offered a robust array of works from the post-war period to the present, including works by artists such as Sam Francis, Yayoi Kusama, Helen Frankenthaler, and Robert Ryman. The sale brought in a total of almost $100 million. The star lot was Cy Twombly‘s Untitled (1970), which sold for $3,135,000, almost doubling on its estimate. Just right behind the work are Joan Mitchell‘s Untitled (circa 1956) and Tom Wesselmann‘s 18 Year Old on the Beach (1984), which both reached $3,015,000. Other notable lots include Jean Dubuffet‘s Barbu Hirsute (1945), which sold for $2,031,000, David Wojnarowicz‘s Earth, Wind Fire and Water (1986), which sold for $1,515,000, and Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled (1982), which sold for $1,500,000.

Cy Twombly - Untitled, 1970
Cy Twombly – Untitled, 1970. Signed and dated 70 on the reverse. Oil, wax crayon and graphite on paper; 27 3/8 by 34 3/8 in. 69.7 by 87.4 cm. Image via Sotheby’s

Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale (Nov 15)

Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale broke all records for David Hockney, who became the most expensive living artist. By far the night’s top lot, Hockney’s Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) (1972) reached an amazing $90,312,500, nearly doubling the previous record-holder for a work by a living artist, Jeff Koons‘s Balloon Dog (Orange) (1994-2000) which sold for $58.4 million in 2013. Other notable works from the sale, which brought in a total of $357.6 million, are Mark Rothko‘s Untitled (Rust, Blacks on Plum) (1962), which sold for $35,712,500, Richard Diebenkorn‘s Ocean Park #137 (1985), which reached $22,587,500, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Discography Two (1983), which sold for $20,900,000, and Francis Bacon‘s Study of Henrietta Moraes Laughing (1969), which sold for $21,687,500.

David Hockney - Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), 1972
David Hockney – Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), 1972. Acrylic on canvas, 84 x 120 in. (213.5 x 305 cm.). Image via Christie’s

Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Morning and Afternoon Sessions (Nov 16)

Closing the November auction giga-week is Christie’s two sessions dedicated to Post-War and Contemporary Art on November 16. At the morning one, Ed Ruscha’s $3,252,500 Ruby came just before Ellsworth Kelly’s Orange Blue with $2,772,500 and David Hockney’s A Visit with Mo and Lisa, Echo Park which fetched $2,652,500, contributing to the total of $63,501,500. The evening session, on the other hand, was a more “modest” one, reaching $31,737,250, with the star being Jean-Michel Basquiat – the Untitled painting sold for $2,532,500, followed by a work which came as a result of his collaboration with Andy Warhol – Outlays Hisssssssss (Collaboration #22)‘s latest price is now $2,052,500.

Jean-Michel Basquiat - Untitled, 1983
Jean-Michel Basquiat – Untitled, 1983. Silkscreen ink on canvas, 57 1/2 x 75 1/2 in. (146.1 x 191.8 cm.). Image via Christie’s

Featured image: David Hockney – Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), 1972. Acrylic on canvas, 84 x 120 in. (213.5 x 305 cm.). Courtesy Christie’s. All images used for illustrative purposes only.