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Phillips - Contemporary Art Evening Sale Auction Analysis

  • auction results, World Record for Ai Weiwei Work in an auction, chinese, news, set, million
  • auction results, World Record for Ai Weiwei Work in an auction, chinese, news, set, million
  • auction results, World Record for Ai Weiwei Work in an auction, chinese, news, set, million
  • auction results, World Record for Ai Weiwei Work in an auction, chinese, news, set, million
July 1, 2015

Ahead of the evening sales of Contemporary art at Christie’s and Sotheby’s that will, for sure, mark the next week, the Contemporary Art Evening Sale took place at Phillips London. And while the percentage of sold lots was high, at mid-eighties, the total amount of money gathered was much closer to the sum of low estimates for sold lots. In April this year, the British pound had its lowest value against the US dollar since 2010 and the middle of the world economic crisis. Since April, the pound has steadily grown, and the currency today is around $1.57 for one pound. So, perhaps, this important week for major auction houses didn’t come at the right moment – we’ll see how auctions at Christie’s and Sotheby’s will go. So, to wrap it up, Contemporary Art Evening Sale at Phillips London was a solid auction that met the prior-sale expectation. The highest hammer price of the auction was Ai Weiwei’s Circle Of Animals / Zodiac Heads, which was sold for $4,715,610!

The World Record for Ai Weiwei’s Work in an auction: Ai Weiwei – Circle Of Animals / Zodiac Heads (2010)

Modelled on a series of eighteenth century sculptures, the zodiac heads have a specific point of reference. The original pieces belonged to the Emperor Qianlong’s Garden of Perfect Brightness in the palace of Yuanming Yuan, where they formed part of a decorative clock fountain. Designed by the Italian Jesuit Giuseppe Castiglione and representing the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac, they exist at a cross-cultural intersection.

Today only seven of the original twelve are known to exist. Recasting the heads in bronze, as in the present lot, and also in a smaller gold-plated series, Ai is interested in fullness. As he avers, “without twelve, it’s not a zodiac. So the idea was first, to complete it, and more important, to complete it the way I think it should be. Then that becomes solid, because I did it”. Ai recognises that the act of completion is also an act of creation and interpretation. To imagine the absent heads he worked from an array of sources, incorporating material from the Ming and Qing Dynasties as well as from contemporary observation. His approach was eclectic, poised between the imitative and the inventive.

(Info on Ai Weiwei’s Circle Of Animals / Zodiac Heads courtesy of Phillips)

  • auction results, World Record for Ai Weiwei Work in an auction, chinese, news, set, million

The Overview of Contemporary Art Evening Sale at Phillips London

Out of 50 total lots, 42 were sold at Contemporary Art Evening Sale at Phillips London (84 percent). These 42 lots were sold for almost $24 million ($23,956,872), which means that the average price for a lot was $570,402. Only seven lots were sold over high estimate (16.7 percent), 20 lots were sold in range of estimated values (47.6 percent), and 15 lots were sold under low estimate.

That Ai Weiwei’s work (Circle Of Animals / Zodiac Heads) had the highest hammer price with $4,715,610, followed by Bruce Nauman’s Hanging Heads # 1 (Blue Andrew, Mouth Open / Red Julie with Cap) ($2,357,805), Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe ($1,571,870) and Ed Ruscha’s Ship Talk ($1,155,324). As we speak of lots that exceeded the expectation, Neo Rauch’s Wald had the highest difference between hammer price and high estimate with +91.7 percent. Jonas Wood’s Fish Tank had +85.7 percent, and Robert Gober’s Drain had +40 percent. On the other hand, Richard Prince’s Untitled (Van Door) had the biggest negative difference between hammer price and low estimate (-25.3 percent), while Ed Ruscha’s She Slept With Two Windup Alarm Clocks and Sarah Lucas’ Wichser Schicksal (Wanker Destiny) both had -25 percent difference.

Phillips London
Ed Ruscha – Ship Talk, 1988 (Lot 35). Estimated at $628,748 – $943,122, sold for $1,155,324 (+22.5 percent difference between high estimate and hammer price).
Phillips London
Left: Robert Gober – Drain, 1989 (Lot 6). Estimated at $157,187 – $235,781, sold for $330,093, or with +40 percent difference. Robert Gober’s Drain looks, at first glance, like a humble piece of bathroom plumbing. This simple domesticity of form belies a profound and sensitive investment of personal and historical meaning in the quotidian. It belongs to a remarkable body of work; crafting sinks, urinals and furniture, Gober is a meticulous sculptor of the sanitary and the functional. / Right: Jonas Wood – Fish Tank, 2007 (Lot 3). Estimated at $78,594 – $110,031, sold for almost doubled high estimate ($204,343, or with +85.7 percent).
Phillips London
Left: Neo Rauch – Wald, 1993 (Lot 48). Estimated at $125,750 – $188,624, sold for $361,530, or with +91.7 percent difference – the highest margin of the auction. A circular form divided into two hemispheres, the work is one of fusion and dissonance. On the left hand side, Rauch depicts a quasi-industrial scene. A figure presides over an arcane process seeming to inhabit some ghoulish foundry or grotto. On the right, a Socialist Realist soldier gropes witch-like through the night, flying under arched porticoes amidst a swarm of crystalline butterflies. Rendered in orange and blue tonalities respectively, these opposing sides are uncannily complementary. / Right: Bruce Nauman – Hanging Heads # 1 (Blue Andrew, Mouth Open / Red Julie with Cap), 1989 (Lot 30). Estimated at $2,357,805 – $3,929,675, sold for low estimate – second highest hammer price of the auction.
Phillips London
Andy Warhol – Marilyn Monroe, 1967 (Lot 27). Estimated at $1,571,870 – $2,357,805. Sold for low estimate. Warhol first created a silkscreen of Monroe in 1962, just weeks after her death at the age of thirty-six. He used a publicity still from her 1953 movie Niagara. The archetypal picture of Monroe in ascension to stardom, this photograph presents a relaxed and sensuous visage: suggestively parted lips, perfect hair, an inviting and smoky gaze. It is a face guilelessly at odds with the brutal and unrelenting serialisation to which Warhol would subject it.
Phillips London
Sigmar Polke – Carnival, 1979 (Lot 39). Estimated $1,571,870 – $2,357,805, sold for $1,493,277. In the present lot, Sigmar Polke takes up this radical notion and brings it into potent dialogue with his own practice. In the 1960s, Polke instigated the Kapitalistischer Realismus (Capitalist Realism) movement along with Gerhard Richter and Wolf Vostell. This uniquely German Pop permutation was an ironic celebration of the country’s buoyant postwar economy, standing in direct opposition to the Socialist Realism that was popularised and endorsed by the Communist party. These artists mocked the anodyne optimism of materially prosperous society, positioning their work as a kind of anti-art; they rebutted advertising culture, training their attention on the capitalist illusion of freedom by which social conservatism is reinforced. Polke and his contemporaries sought out the very freedoms that Bakhtin associated with the carnivalesque.
  • auction results, World Record for Ai Weiwei Work in an auction, chinese, news, set, million

Phillips - Contemporary Art Evening Sale in Details

In these two tables bellow, you will find the summary of the Contemporary Art Evening Sale at Phillips London, as well as detailed information on every lot that has been auctioned at this sale.

Total number of lots:50
Number of sold lots:42
Sold lots [%]:84
Total [$]:23,956,872
Number of sold lots over high estimate:7
Over high estimate (Total) [%]:14
Over high estimate (Sold) [%]:16.7
Number of sold lots in range of estimated values:20
In range of estimated values (Sold) [%]:47.6
Number of sold lots under low estimate:15
Under low estimate (Sold) [%]:35.7
Results were under estimate spread of [%]:34.4
Max Hammer [$]:4,715,610
Average Hammer [$]:570,402
Median Hammer [$]:314,374
Median Hammer Average Hammer Difference [%]:-44.9
Lot No.Artist NameArtwork NameLow Estimate $High Estimate $Hammer Price $Hammer High Estimate Difference [%]Hammer Low Estimate Difference [%]
1Rob PruittCountry Boy, 201194.312125.750102.172-18.78.3
2Ai WeiweiColoured Vases (in 6 parts), 2013235.781392.968345.811-1246.7
3Jonas WoodFish Tank, 200778.594110.031204.34385.7160
4Harold AncartUntitled, 201231.43747.15659.73126.790
5Nate LowmanOrange Maxima, 2005314.374471.561282.937-40-10
6Robert GoberDrain, 1989157.187235.781330.09340110
7Rosemarie TrockelFalse Alarm, 2012314.374471.561282.937-40-10
8Mark GrotjahnUntitled (Three Sided with X Out of Shell Standing Flat SF4.a), 2013220.062282.937235.781-16.77.1
9Carol BoveUntitled, 2008188.624282.937180.765-36.1-4.2
10Sherrie LevineCaribou Skull, 2006471.561785.935644.467-1836.7
11Raqib ShawArrival of the Horse King from the series Paradise Lost, 2011-20121.100.3091.571.870943.122-40-14.3
12Mark BradfordWaiting on Forever, 2011628.748943.122597.311-36.7-5
13Chris OfiliHomage, 1993-1995471.561785.935392.968-50-16.7
14BanksyStudy for Happy Choppers, 2003471.561628.748Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
15Cindy ShermanUntitled #423, 2004314.374471.561377.249-2020
16Andreas GurskyJames Bond Island III, 2007471.561785.935471.561-400
17Andreas GurskyChicago, Mercantile Exchange, 19971.021.7161.336.090Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
18Andy WarholUntitled (Imperial Car Detail), 1962235.781392.968Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
19Cindy ShermanUntitled #264, 1992314.374471.561282.937-40-10
20Carroll DunhamMOUND F, 1992188.624282.937251.499-11.133.3
21Takashi MurakamiPom and Me, 2010628.748943.122628.748-33.30
22Damien HirstVeneration, 2007707.3421.021.716628.748-38.5-11.1
23Ai WeiweiCircle of Animals / Zodiac Heads, 20104.715.6107.859.3504.715.610-400
24Ai WeiweiGrapes, 2007392.968550.155550.155040
25Yue MinjunFree at Leisure No. 11, 2004785.9351.100.309Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
26George CondoStanley Steamer (Fat Jim), 2009282.937345.811Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
27Andy WarholMarilyn Monroe, 19671.571.8702.357.8051.571.870-33.30
29Andy WarholFlowers, 19641.021.7161.336.090943.122-29.4-7.7
30Bruce NaumanHanging Heads # 1 (Blue Andrew, Mouth Open / Red Julie with Cap), 19892.357.8053.929.6752.357.805-400
31Fred SandbackUntitled (Rust Brown Diagonal), 1976188.624282.937188.624-33.30
32Andy WarholGun, 1981-82471.561785.935Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
33Andy WarholGun (Cowboy six shooter), 1981392.968550.155345.811-37.1-12
34Ed RuschaFairly Small Torpedos, 1974157.187282.937298.6555.690
35Ed RuschaShip Talk, 1988628.748943.1221.155.32422.583.7
36Ed RuschaAnchor Stuck in Sand, 1990471.561785.935487.280-383.3
37Ed RuschaShe Slept With Two Windup Alarm Clocks, 1978628.748943.122471.561-50-25
38Gilbert & GeorgeSpitalfields, 1980188.624282.937188.624-33.30
39Sigmar PolkeCarnival, 19791.571.8702.357.8051.493.277-36.7-5
40Albert OehlenLandschaft, 1987392.968550.155Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
41Gerhard RichterAbstraktes Bild (894-14), 2005282.937345.811251.499-27.3-11.1
43Lucian FreudAnnie, 1960392.968550.155Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
44Maurizio CattelanRichard, 199694.312125.75094.312-250
46Thomas DemandVault, 201294.312125.750133.6096.241.7
47Sarah LucasWichser Schicksal (Wanker Destiny), 1999314.374471.561235.781-50-25
48Neo RauchWald, 1993125.750188.624361.53091.7187.5
49Damien HirstPhenylpropiolic Acid, 2010157.187235.781188.624-2020
50Richard PrinceUntitled (Van Door), 2007235.781392.968176.049-55.2-25.3
51Sergej JensenUntitled (Schwarz/Durchsichtig), 200939.29755.01540.869-25.74
52Danh VoWe the People (detail), Element #D2, 2011-2013188.624282.937251.499-11.133.3
53Richard PrinceUntitled (Three Men's Hands with Watches), 1980157.187235.781212.202-1035
TOTAL (Sold lots):22.910.00735.406.37923.956.872-32.34.6

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All images and lot info courtesy of Phillips.