Thursday, March 24, 2016

Sotheby’s Evening Auction of Contempora ry Art in New York on 11 May 2016- Bacon, Twombly

A rare Francis Bacon self-portrait is set to come to auction for the first time in May, having remained in the same private collection since soon after it was painted over forty-five years ago. Widely acknowledged as the finest self-portrayal Bacon ever produced, 

Two Studies for a Self-Portrait (1970) will lead Sotheby’s Evening Auction of Contemporary Art in New York on 11 May 2016, with an estimate of US$22-30 million. 

While Bacon is renowned for capturing the tortured psychological depths of human existence in his portraits, the overwhelming positivity of Two Studies for a Self-Portrait renders this work almost unique in the artist’s oeuvre . Here we see an elated Francis Bacon on the cusp of his career-defining retrospective at the Grand Palais in 1971 (Bacon was only the second living artist, after Picasso, to be afforded this honour), and in the throes of his relationship with George Dyer, whose suicide a year later was to haunt Bacon (and shape his art) for decades to come. 

Little known to the public eye, Two Studies for a Self-Portrait has been exhibited only twice before - first at the acclaimed 1971 Grand Palais retrospective and then most recently at Marlborough Fine Art Small Portrait Studies exhibition in London in 1993. 

However, perhaps the work’s iconic status lies in the fact it was chosen to adorn the cover of Milan Kundera and France Borel’s definitive book 

Francis Bacon: Portraits and Self-Portraits, confirming its position at the ab solute zenith of Francis Bacon’s most significant and enduring body of work. 

“Two Studies for a Self-Portrait goes straight in at number one of all the paintings I’ve handled in my career. Discovering a work such as this is like finding gold du st To my mind, the painting is worthy of a place alongside the very finest self-portraits of Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Picasso. It’s certainly among the greatest self-portraits ever offered at auction.” - Oliver Barker, Senior International Specialist in Contemporary Art

 “...he was never more brilliant, more incisive or more ferocious when it came to depicting himself. In this he helped revive a genre, and Bacon’s self-portraits can now be seen as among the most pictorially inventive and psychologically re vealing portraits of the Twentieth Century” - Michael Peppiatt in: Exhibition Catalogue, Rome, Galleria Borghese, Caravaggio Bacon , 2009-10

A masterpiece of self-analysis, Bacon’s dramatic brushstrokes, Impressionistic palette, use of corduroy fabric, and exigent marks recount the story of this work's creation as the artist brushed, smeared and lifted the paint in his drive to define his likeness. Photos of the artist’s Reece Mews studio in London show radiant pink, red, blue, and white hues smea red across his studio door, echoing those used in Two Studies for a Self Portrait as the artist scraped clean his brush as he reworked, and layered this canvas. Bacon created only two other self-portraits in this dual format. One of them, 

Two Studies for a Self- Portrait (1977) sold at Sotheby’s in February 2015 for £14.7m ($22.4m). 

2016 is set to be a red-letter year for Francis Bacon with exhibitions of his work planned at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco (sponsored by Sotheby’s), at Tate Liverpool, and at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. 

The most significant publication on the artist for 30 years, Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné , edited by Martin Harrison, is set to be released in the next few months.

Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné is a landmark publishing event that presents the entire oeuvre of Bacon’s paintings for the first time and includes over 100 previously unpublished works. The impeccably produced five-volume, slipcased publication, containing each of Bacon’s 584 paintings, has been edited by Martin Harrison, FSA, the pre-eminent expert on Bacon’s work, alongside research assistant Dr Rebecca Daniels. An ambitious and painstaking project that has been ten years in the making, this seminal visual document eclipses in scope any previous publication on the artist and will have a profound effect on the perception of his work.

Containing around 800 illustrations across 1,538 pages within five cloth-bound hardcover volumes, the three volumes that make up the study of Bacon’s entire painting oeuvre are bookended by two further volumes: the former including an introduction and a chronology, and the latter a catalogue of Bacon’s sketches, an index, and an illustrated bibliography compiled by Krzysztof Cieszkowski. Printed on 170 gsm GardaMatt Ultra stock in Bergamo, Italy at Castelli Bolis, Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné are boxed within a cloth- bound slipcase, and supplied within a bespoke protective shipping carton.

In addition to the 584 paintings, the catalogue will contain illuminating supporting material. This includes sketches by Bacon, photographs of early states of paintings, images of Bacon’s furniture, hand-written notes by the artist, photographs of Bacon, his family and circle, and fascinating x-ray and microscope photography of his paintings.

 On 11 May 2016 Sotheby’s New York will offer Untitled (New York City) by Cy Twombly in the Contemporary Art Evening Sale. The work is the only painting from the famed Blackboard series executed with blue loops on grey ground and boasts a remarkable history. It was acquired by the current owner from the artist’ s studio immediately after it 2 was executed in 1968, and has not been seen in public since. Untitled (New York City) is expected to fetch in excess of $40 million.

 Untitled (New York City) is a one-off example of the artist’s most hallowed series of Blackboard paintings through which he forged a new visual language in a period of great convergence in postwar art. However, unlike every other Blackboard painting that bears white loops, in Untitled (New York City) Twombly used a blue, rather than white, wax crayon to create the endless ove rlapping loops on the wet paint. At over 28 square feet, the work belongs to the elite group of large-scale works by Twombly that can be found in the world's great museums including: The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Menil Collection, Houston; and The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. 

The appearance of Untitled (New York City) at auction comes just six months after Sotheby’s set a record for the artist with 

Untitled [New YorkCity], 1968 from the collection of Los Angeles philanthropist Audrey Irmas. That work was the second Twombly Blackboard to exceed $65 million in the previous 18 months. 

The sale will also include a major late Twombly: Untitled (Bacchus 1st Version V) . The appearance of the 2004 work in May marks the first time an example from the series, that is widely recognized as defining the artist’s late work, has appeared at auction. The painting is expected to fetch in excess of $20 million and will also be on view in Los Angeles alongside highlights by Franci s Bacon and Andy Warhol.