Works by Richter and Calder Lead Bonhams Art Sale in NY

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Signature works by two titans of contemporary art, Gerhard Richter and Alexander Calder, lead Bonhams’ Post-War & Contemporary Art sale on November 18 in New York. Created during the peak of Richter’s implementation of a pioneering new form of abstraction, Abstraktes Bild (Untitled) 679-3 is a seminal work by the artist and is estimated at $1,500,000- 2,500,000. In the Abstraktes Bild series, Richter mixes relatively common techniques such as troweling, scraping, and brushing, with his signature squeegee technique – in which he applies and re-applies layers of paint, dragging them across the canvas to produce shimmering planes of color.

Calder’s Little Red and Blue, a trademark monumental mobile by the innovative 20th century master of sculptural abstraction, has an estimate of $1,000,000- 1,500,000. It was created just a few months prior to his untimely death in 1976 – the same year that the artist’s major retrospective show opened at the Whitney Museum in New York, Calder’s Universe.

This is the first time that these two master works have been offered at auction.

Alexander Calder (1898-1976) Little Red and Blue, 1976 Estimate: $1,000,000 – 1,500,000

Jacqueline Towers-Perkins, Bonhams Vice President, Director of Post-War & Contemporary Art, commented: “Both Gerhard Richter’s Abstraktes Bild (Untitled) 679-3 and Alexander Calder’s Little Red and Blue are exceptional works by pioneering artists, completed in the signature styles that garnered them such acclaim.

Abstraktes Bild (Untitled) 679-3 (1988), was painted during the peak years of Richter’s celebrated abstract practice of the late 1980s, and is an exceptional example from the artist’s most iconic series of works.

“Calder’s breathtaking Little Red and Blue (1976), is a pivotal work in his most admired form of the sculptural mobile. It is a simply spectacular, and it has been part of the same important private collection for almost half a century.”

Other highlights include: 

  • Barry Flanagan (1941-2009), Large Boxing Hare on Anvil, 1984. Estimate: $400,000-600,000.
  • Joan Mitchell (1926-1992), Untitled, 1983. Estimate: $200,000-300,000.
  • Takashi Murakami (born 1962) Tongari-kun (Mr. Pointy) Costume, 2003. Estimate: $180,000-250,000.
  • Olga de Amaral (born 1932) Estela 56, 2015. Estimate: $150,000-200,000.

Gerhard Richter (1932-)

Born in Dresden in 1932, Richter studied at Dresden Art Academy before moving to  Düsseldorf in 1961 where he introduced his trademark ‘blur’ in photo-paintings. In the late 1960s, Richter redirected his attention to abstraction, and by the early 1980s, he embarked upon an exploration into a new frontier of abstraction. Throughout his long career, Richter has continued to move between styles, from Photorealism to experiments in sculpture and installation. His work has been the subject of touring retrospectives at the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf; the Tate Gallery, London; the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among many others.

Alexander Calder (1898-1976)

Calder was born into a family of well-established sculptors in 1898. In 1926, he moved to Paris and began to develop his wire sculpture and his Cirque Calder (1926–1931), a unique body of performance art made from wire and a spectrum of found materials. By 1932, he had created his first suspended mobile that was free from all mechanization, propelled instead by human intervention or air currents. Calder’s works can be found in the collections of numerous international institutions including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

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