AO Auction Recap – London: Phillips 20th Century and Contemporary Evening Sale, June 27th, 2016

June 28th, 2016

Anselm Kiefer, Fur Velimir Khlebnikov Die Lehre vom Krieg Seeschlachten (2004-2010), via Phillips
Anselm Kiefer, Für Velimir Khlebnikov: Die Lehre vom Krieg: Seeschlachten (2004-2010), via Phillips

The first of June’s Contemporary Art sales in London has wrapped up in London this evening, as Phillips concluded its 20th Century and Contemporary sale to mixed results and a final sales total of £11,873,000, within the evening’s sales estimate.  The 31-lot sale saw 10 of its works go unsold, while a handful of other pieces brought impressively strong prices, ultimately casting ominous, albeit foggy indications of the European market in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Domenico Gnoli, Unside of Lady's Shoe (1969), via Phillips
Domenico Gnoli, Inside of Lady’s Shoe (1969), via Phillips

The sale began with Ugo Rondinone’s The Pleased and the Delighted, which opened at £65,000 and rose swiftly to its estimated range, ultimately beating estimate for a final of £281,000.  Lot by Mark Bradford and Adrian Ghenie met estimate in the next lots, before reaching the sale’s Rudolf Stingel pieces.  The first, a glimmering celotex work, met estimate and quickly sold for a £905,000 final, while a second work saw less enthused bidding that nevertheless pushed the work to estimate, selling at £1,325,000.

Michelangelo Pistoletto, Violet Dog (1968), via Phillips
Michelangelo Pistoletto, Violet Dog (1968), via Phillips

In the next lot, Michelangelo Pistoletto’s mirror piece started well below estimate and saw impressive bids, ultimately hovering at £700k before hammering for a final of £905,000, before a Rotella canvas was the first pass of the evening.  Another of the evening’s top lots, a Domenico Gnoli, also saw less impressive interest, and hammered below estimate to a final of £965,000.  An Anselm Kiefer in the next lot, however, was the subject of a rare surge of bidding, with energetic bidders pushing the work to over five times its estimate, bringing a final price of £2,389,000.  A Joan Miró in the next lot saw comparatively sluggish bidding session, selling below estimate for £365,000, before a string of passes saw another work by the artist, as well as works by Egon Schiele and Jean Dubuffet go unsold.  A Gerhard Richter several lots later sold for a final of £449,000.

Rudolf Stingel, Untitled (Topolino) (2002), via Phillips
Rudolf Stingel, Untitled (Topolino) (2002), via Phillips

The continued its mixed results into the late lots of the sale, as a Sam Francis canvas failed to sell, while a Calder sculpture quickly met estimates and sold for £605,000, joined by a Lee Ufan that saw staid bids to just nudge above its low estimate at £233,000.  Several more passes would follow in the last lots, including a Dan Flavin work that failed to get above its £100k low, while a Sterling Ruby went below estimate for £263,000.

Alexander Calder, Critter Bleue Assise  (1974), via Phillips
Alexander Calder, Critter Bleue Assise (1974), via Phillips

While buyers’ enthusiasm seemed considerably attenuated in comparison with Phillips’s past sales, the small group of strong prices may indicate an increasingly unpredictable market.  The picture is certain to get somewhat clearer as the week goes on.

Rudolf Stingel, Untitled (2014), via Phillips
Rudolf Stingel, Untitled (2014), via Phillips

— D. Creahan

Read more:
Phillips 20th Century and Contemporary Evening Sale [Phillips]
With Phillips Auction, Art Market Feels Effects of ‘Brexit’ [NYT]
Phillips weathers the storm in first London auction since Brexit [Art Newspaper]