Polaroid Wall, Dash Snow (2005) all images via Phillips de Pury
This week we have been reporting on the Post-War and Contemporary evening sales in New York and last night Art Observed was on site at the final auction of the week – a smaller, more boutique event at Phillips de Pury in the meatpacking district of the city overlooking the celebrated Highline railway and Hudson River that was overseen by Simon de Pury himself. Unlike the multi-million totals achieved at Sotheby’s and Christie’s Contemporary evening sales, Phillip’s modest sale brought in a grand total of $7,099,250, within the pre-sale estimate of $5.8 – $8.4million.
More text, images and related after the jump…..
Dash Snow‘s Polaroid Wall, an installation of twenty c-prints the artist created from enlargements of his Polaroid film photographs that like much of Snow’s work, document illicit moments of sex, drug-taking and violence. sold at its estimate floor at a hammer price of $40,000. A “test of the enduring nature of Dash Snow’s work” as Marion Maneker from Art Market Monitor noted earlier this week, it is one of the first pieces of the artist’s work to be sold publicly after his untimely death earlier this year.
While there is generally a strong demand for works by Richard Prince -Prince’s Doctor’s Nurse (1949) sold to Alberto Mugrabi for $1,706,500 at Sotheby’s Post War & Contemporary Sale the previous night – his Untitled (four women with their backs to the camera) did not draw many bidders at Phillip’s auction and bidding eventually went dry at $320,000 and the work went unsold. This was not the only work of the night to go unsold – 9 of the 40 lots offered failed to find buyers in the sparsely occupied room.
After Andy Warhol‘s resounding triumph at Sotheby’s the night before, there was great anticipation when the first Warhol of the night, Brillo Soap Pads Box, came under the hammer at Phillips de Pury. Constructed of wood in the dimensions of an actual Brillo box with the label silk-screened on its surface, this piece, first exhibited in 1964, made clear the greatest question Warhol posed during his lifetime; “how is it possible for something to be a work of art when something else, which resembles it to whatever degree of exactitude, is merely a thing, or an artifact, but not an artwork?” (A.C. Danto, “Andy Warhol: Brillo Box” Art Forum, New York, 1993) – Brillo Soap Pads Box can therefore be viewed as a three dimensional extension of what Warhol did with Campbell’s Soup Cans. Unlike the mighty battle for Warhol’s 200 One Dollar Bills, only two telephone bidders went after this piece and it eventually sold with estimate for $842,500.
The second Warhol offering of the evening, Diamond Dust Shoes, of composition of multicolored women’s shoes against a black background covered with sparkling diamond dust, sold to a bidder on the telephone with Phillips de Pury’s worldwide director of Contemporary Art, Michael McGinnis for $506,500 over an estimate of $300,000-400,000.
The only work in the auction with a guarantee, Yayoi Kusama‘s Infinity Nets, was one of the greatest successes of the evening for Phillips de Pury. Selling at $842,500, Kusama’s mesmerizing composition fetched over twice its pre-sale estimate of $300,000 – 400,000. Selling for the same price as Warhol’s Brillo Soap Pads, Kusama’s Infinity Nets was joint-top lot of the evening.
Another popular work featured in the sale was Ed Ruscha‘s Mean As Hell – a composition that marks a return to a series Rusha began in the 1980s, which paired views of epic city-light grids with short phrases that ironically combined the speed of city life with the stereotypical “country” tone of America’s rural, Wild West past. The artists work is currently featured in a major retrospective at The Hayward Gallery, in London’s Southbank Centre.
Phillips will close with their day sale today after week of consecutive sales in all four New York selling departments at the auction house – Contemporary Art, Photographs, Design and Editions.
Phillips de Pury, Contemporary Auction E-Catalogue
Phillips de Pury Limps to the Finish with a $7million Total [NYTimes]
Phillips de Pury makes its (small) mark [ArtInfo]
Phillips de Pury Holds $7.1million Sale [WSJ]
NY Contemporary Art Stats [ArtMarketMonitor]
The Art Market Shows Signs of Life [WSJ]