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Auction Description for Sotheby's: Contemporary Art Evening

Contemporary Art Evening

by Sotheby's


64 lots with images

February 9, 2006

34-35 New Bond Street

London, W1A 2AA United Kingdom

Phone: +44 (0)207 293 5000

Fax: +44 (0)207 293 5989

Email: info@sothebys.com

c - MARTIN KIPPENBERGER

Lot 1: c - MARTIN KIPPENBERGER

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Description: 1953-1997CAPRI BY NIGHTmeasurements50 by 60cm.alternate measurements20 by 24in.oil on canvasExecuted in 1982.PROVENANCEPrivate Collection (acquired directly from the artist)Acquired from the above through Phillips de Pury & Co. in 2002NOTESince the beginning of aesthetic Modernity, artists have been attracted to things that lie just beyond the traditional confines of their isolated world as a means of loading their art with pseudo scientific, religious and historical themes. Sigmar Polke and Joseph Beuys had extended the scope of this strategy considerably during the 1960s and 70s, and it is against this background that the recurring, seemingly banal motifs that appear in Kippenberger's work should be examined.A symbol of affordable luxury and masculine power synonymous in Germany during the 1980s with the not-really-rich, the Ford Capri is a regular motif in Kippenberger's work. Simultaneously glamorous and degenerate and embodying the misery of social status symbols, Capri by Night is painted with all the exotica of a crime photo. The black and white palette and the 50x60cm. canvas both recall the artist's Uno do Voi series of 1976 in which Kippenberger painted a miscellany of everyday subjects as a means of providing a visual diary of his time in Florence. This is visually contrasted by the green half of the composition, which as if viewed through night vision lens, provides a visual reference to the title of work and a mocking acknowledgment the quasi-scientific range of subjects seen in the work of Polke and Beuys. Capri by Night epitomises the crux of Kippenberger's Capri concept. The striking vertical division here refers to one of his sculptures, Blaue Lagune, in which he sawed up a blue Ford Capri into pieces and hung them in a gallery. The painterly surface and title refer to an installation by Kippenberger and Albert Oehlen (fig. ???) in which they painted a Capri car with porridge oats. Intended as a satirical interpretation upon the retrogressive material aesthetic of Anselm Kiefer, Kippenberger and Oehlen's Capri by Night put the focus clearly on the here and now. Like the Uno di Voi, Kippenberger's Capri series transforms the banal into art and vice --versa and reflects the free for all naïvety with which he approached his art.

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DAMIEN HIRST

Lot 2: DAMIEN HIRST

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Description: B. 1965ARG-ASPmeasurements53.3 by 59.5cm.alternate measurements21 by 23in.Signed on the reverse; numbered 15 on the overlapHousehold gloss paint on canvasExecuted in 1994.PROVENANCEAcquired directly from the artist by the present owner circa 1995LITERATUREDamien Hirst & Robert Violette, Ed., I Want to Spend the Rest of My Life Everywhere, with Everyone, with Everyone, One to One, Always, Forever, Now, London 1997, p. 238, illustrated in colourNOTE"Mathematically, with the spot paintings, I probably discovered the most fundamentally important thing in any kind of art. Which is the harmony of where colour can exist on its own, interacting with other colours in perfect format." (Damien Hirst in Damien Hirst & Gordon Burn, On the Way to Work, London 2001, p. 120)

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MARTIN KIPPENBERGER

Lot 3: MARTIN KIPPENBERGER

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Description: 1953-1997FALSCHES ZEICHEN DER LORD JIM LOGEmeasurements130.5 by 120cm.alternate measurements51 3/8 by 47 1/4 in.acrylic paint, silicon and stickers on canvasExecuted in 1985.PROVENANCEGalerie Max Hetzler, CologneAcquired directly from the above by the present ownerNOTEIn a comeback to Joseph Beuys' famous declaration, "Everyone is an artist," Kippenberger had once said "Every artist is a person", and this satirical yet profound outlook is epitomised by this iconic and complex autobiographical work of 1985. Executed during the fecund zenith of the artist's creative maturity, the present work immediately sets Kippenberger's contradictory and multivalent nature into play. As the title of the painting tells us, the picture here conveys the wrong logo of 'The Lord Jim Lodge' - a secret society of which Kippenberger was a member along with a number of fellow German contemporary artists. Although its beginnings are unclear, an anecdotal story of the Lodge's formation involves a cardboard box being passed around Berlin's Paris Bar late one night, and anyone who deposited a small fee became a lifetime member. Kippenberger, who was the self-appointed curator of the Paris Bar's now-renowned art collection, uses the Lodge's logo in various guises throughout much of his work of the 1980s. The logo consists of a hammer smashing into a rayed sun, a spider's web and a pair of breasts over the acronym N.H.M, which stands for the lodge's motto: 'Niemand Hilft Niemand' or Nobody Helps Nobody'.Although the Lodge's striking hammer was essentially adopted by Kippenberger as his own motif, the entire composition is rife with symbolism and allusion. The layered impenetrability of the background suggests a wooden door or floor as locked and steadfast as the society. The day-glow spider's web weaving its way through the rays of the centrally positioned sun is another recurring motif of Kippenberger's work. He had read somewhere that spiders spin their web differently under the influence of various drugs and the hallucinatory use of colour here reflects this. Kippenberger also had a profound knowledge of art history and he would have been familiar with the Modernist 'Spiderman Atelier' and the role of drug names in their paintings. The web here also functions as a map of accumulated information, alluded to by the various tourist labels scattered around the periphery of the canvas. For Kippenberger, knowledge and experience was the prerequisite condition to finding new ways of extending art history in valid ways. Expressing his tongue in cheek love for the banal, low brow and bad-taste alongside that of two of Germany's two most prominent artists of the 20th century, 'Polke + Baselitz', Kippenberger provides a sublime realisation of his quest to disprove and ridicule the romantic notion of the artist. By likening Polke and Baselitz, and by extension himself, to the pornographer Larry Flint, Schnapps, and the Underground system, Kippenberger strips away art's cultured veneer to expose its often absurd dysfunctionality.

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PAUL MCCARTHY

Lot 4: PAUL MCCARTHY

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Description: B. 1945RED PLUGheight: 335cm.; 131 7/8 in.resin on fibreglassExecuted circa 1995.PROVENANCEGalerie Krinzinger, ViennaAcquired directly from the above by the present owner in 1996 at Art ChicagoEXHIBITEDNOTEAs was witnessed by his recent 'La-La Land' retrospective at the Whitechapel Gallery, since the 1960s Paul McCarthy has continually re-pitched the tone and volume of his singular creative voice to challenge the conventions governing traditional artistic practice. From his conceptually inspired body-art performances of the 70s to the most recent motorized sculptures and ever more lavish video and sculpture installations, McCarthy undertakes a critical examination of Western Pop culture. Highlighting its traumas and celebrating its taboos to expose the institutions that shape us, McCarthy's work tackles the foundations of the social structures presented to us through the media of popular culture.Informed by an exploration of the often complex and subconscious relationships between form, medium and process, Red Plug is one of McCarthy's most important sculptures of the 1990s and embodies the artist's humorous fascination with the underbelly of popular culture. Taking themes physical abstraction and exaggeration to new, monumental levels, the enlarged feet and head combine with the smooth materiality of the blood-red resin to augment the work's compelling psychological and physical presence. Much like his early work in which McCarthy had used his own body as a locus for social criticism through acts of self-mutilation, defecation and humiliation, here McCarthy takes the enormous, androgynous body of a children's toy through which to voice a range of social fears, obsessions and conflicts. Recalling the excessive and gratuitous atmosphere of his video performances in which McCarthy ingests mountains of processed hamburger meat, hot dogs and condiments -- the packaged goods synonymous with modern American culture - there is a similar mood here of humorous / grotesque exaggeration.Red Plug belongs to McCarthy' series of iconic 'appropriation' sculptures. Transforming familiar forms from Popular culture through often violent and humorous acts of manipulation, like Michael Jackson Gold (fig. 1) which took Jeff Koons' famous 'Michael Jackson and Bubbles' sculpture as its basis, or Blockhead (2003) which towered over the London skyline whilst on exhibition at the Tate Modern, Red Plug transforms the unthreatening objects of childhood into the menacing and unexpected. As in his most renowned sculptures from the early 1990s like Spaghetti Man (fig. 2) and Tomato Head (fig. 3), McCarthy here constructs an atmosphere through which to challenge the viewer's cultural and moral boundaries. As the artist explained, "I operate in a kind of theatre. I use objects to represent things, to represent thoughts and feelings." (Paul McCarthy in conversation with Kristine Stiles, Ralph Rugoff, (Ed.), Paul McCarthy, London 1998, p.14) Taking us beyond the comfort zones of familiarity and expectation, McCarthy pursues the constructive devaluation of cultural hierarchies through "the construct of reality as absurdity". McCarthy here borrows the association and metaphor connected to this familiar, toy-like object and wreaks havoc with our idealized visions of childhood. "Bristling with the dark and mischievous humour of fairy tales, these works seem to have stepped out of another order of reality, an impression reinforced by their professional fabrication. Unmarked by any touch of the hand, their impersonal gloss signifies the immaculate conception of the virtual, yet they are disconcertingly concrete. Towering over our heads, they shock us back to the confusions of childhood and a crisis often associated with effigies: it seems impossible to see them as mere lifeless objects." (Ralph Rugoff, (Ed.), Paul McCarthy, London 1998, p. 78) Red Plug's disproportionately enormous, eyeless head looms over the viewer and physically transports us to the role of infant. Calculatingly created to nurture an uncomfortable proximity, it is us the viewer who begin to feel examined and not the object we perceive. Questioning preconceived notions of gender and sexuality, Red Plug's androgynous form stirs up the contradictory realities of contemporary society. McCarthy's broad artistic ambitions here unite the real world of Pop culture with the closed confines of the art world and its movements. As a conveyor of often unwelcome truths and notorious breaker of taboos, McCarthy's influence upon the outwardly amoral stance and blasphemous elements of shows like 'Sensation' and 'Apocalypse' cannot be overstressed. In today's cultural panorama, McCarthy is unquestionably one of the most influential living artists and it is impossible to examine the work of artists like Jake and Dinos Chapman without the acknowledgement of McCarthy's influence and example. Mixing cliché and convention to break down our social stereotypes and expectations, McCarthy's contaminated aesthetic is addressed to a contaminated audience through the language of infancy. In his inherently humorous, topsy-turvy world of images drawn from both the media generated ideals of behavior and the murky depths of his own psyche, there is no reasoned hierarchy of taste to guide us safely between the kitsch and the authentic. As such, McCarthy's work forces us to question pre-conceived notions of taste and control in a media driven world of collective experience.

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c - FRANZ ACKERMANN

Lot 5: c - FRANZ ACKERMANN

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Description: B.1963THE SECRET TUNNELmeasurements260 by 200cm.alternate measurements102 3/8 by 78 3/4 in.signed, titled and dated 99 on the reverseoil on canvasPROVENANCEMai 36 Gallery, ZurichMarc Jancou Fine Art, New YorkAcquired directly from the above by the present ownerNOTEFranz Ackermann's work locates him as a contemporary explorer of urban globalisation and cultural commodification. A perpetual tourist who scavenges the world in search of contemporary exotica, his abstract paintings act as travelogues, recording his often tragicomic impressions of the locations he visits. Packaged with psychedelic explosions, flat-packed landscapes and candy coloured pop graphics, Ackermann's paintings offer an apocalyptic view of an ever-shrinking world. Described by Ackermann as 'mental maps', each psycho-cartographic canvas offers both a topographical geography and an emotive record of thoughts and feelings: a kind of contemporary surrealism. Twisting awkwardly in time and space, in The Secret Tunnel, festive, toxic sunsets tainted with package-holiday promise swallow up traditional ways of life in an explosive vortex of spiralling shapes and patterns. Digesting the subtle nuances of popular destinations and regurgitating them as international emblems, Ackermann's visual travelogues provide a provocative record of an ever-shrinking planet in which the conflict between the centre and periphery is drawing closer. Each place becomes a logoised 'non-place', a triumph of marketing over cultural difference, national identity and natural exoticism.

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