The Modern Art and Contemporary Art auctions last weekend, with a total of 12.2 million, belong to their most successful in their field at Lempertz for years. The result for Contemporary was equally as bright as the offering. At the top stand Homage to the Square – a canvas from Josef Albers (676,000, German record price), a sculpture by Fritz Koenig (568,000, international record price), two cushion pictures by Gotthard Graubner (together for just over 1 million, international record price), and three canvases by Zdeněk Sýkora (446,000, international record price, 260,000 and 111,600). An artwork consisting of 48 watercolours by Günther Uecker reached 211,000, a painting by Botero sold for 248,000, a drawing by Sigmar Polke for 111,600, and a work by Lucio Fontana for 124,000. Lots by further artists also reached six-figure sums: Victor Vasarély (130,000), Günter Fruhtrunk (111,600) and a drawing by Cy Twombly (124,000).
The highlight of the auction came from a classic Homage to the Square by Josef Albers from 1962. Painted in oil on masonite, it features the typical three squares – in this case in blue and green tones. It aroused great interest and with alone 15 multinational telephones, a bidding war took place. In the end a telephone bidder won with 676,000, a German record price (lot 406, 300/500,000).
A great surprise came from Große Flora D, a bronze from 1979/1980 by Fritz Koenig. On display up until now in Dortmund city centre, the ca. 450 x 200 x 200 cm sculpture was fought over by three telephone bidders pushing the result far over the estimate up to 568,000, the international record price for Koenig (lot 420, 100/150,000).
Both characteristic cushion pictures Farbraumkörper I and Farbraumkörper II by Gotthard Graubner from the year 1997, measuring 204 x 204 x 20 cm attracted a lot of interest. Both Farbraumkörper sold for well over the estimate of 500/700,000 to become international records.
Günter Uecker was represented by two fine works from a private European collection. Both measuring 200 x 200 x 15 cm, the nail pictures Spirale I and Spirale II from 1997 were sold under reserve for 1.3 million. Promising negotiations are taking place (lots 467/468, each estimated at 700,000 – 1,000,000). Uecker's 48-part watercolour work Patagonien jumped from 50/80,000 to 211,000, selling way over the estimate to a German collector (lot 469).
Three canvases by Zdeněk Sýkora, whose works have been sold very successfully at Lempertz for years, were offered in the auction and all pushed dramatically up by Czech collectors. Linie Nr. 3 (100 Lines) eventually reached 446,000 after a determined bidding, following an estimate of 100/150,000. With this Lempertz has achieved the international record price for this artist (lot 432). With the same estimate, Linien Nr. 49 sold for 260,000 (lot 433), whilst Linie Nr. 85 moved from 60/70,000 up to 111,600 (lot 434).
Fernando Botero was present with an important early painting from 1965, which changed hands for 248,000. Round forms and bulky bodies are classed as trademarks of this Columbian artist who began developing his expressive style from the 1950s. People, animals and also objects are transformed by the artist into the voluminous, creating their own aesthetic in which the rules of proportion are suspended (lot 410, 240/260,000).
A German dealer took over Lucio Fontana'sMatrice di incisione from the 'Serie Rosa' for 124,000. The steel plate had been worked with a hammer and chisel by repeatedly hitting the back of the picture carrier until the surface opened up creating various holes, thereby transforming the picture into a sculptural work and revealing a view of the space behind the surface (lot 409, 100/150,000). Another German collector invested 111,600 in Sigmar Polke'sC-Mann, a 99 x 74.5 cm paper work from 1963, a typical work from the 1960s by this artist (lot 557, 120,000). A wax crayon, ballpoint pen and pencil work on paper by Cy Twombly sold to the German market for 124,000 (lot 450, estimate 100,000), whilst a characteristic canvas by Victor Vasarely from 1979, Volans, sold to a Swiss bidder for 130,000 (lot 453, 100,000). With three anodised aluminium works from 'Pyramid', Keith Haring reached a total of 131,500 (lots 454 – 456, 95/125,000).
Three works came from Günter Fruhtrunk, the most successful of which was Homage à Duccio from the year 1970 selling for 111,600. A total of six variations were produced, of which the present one is the largest featuring alternating rows of black, violet and red stripes (lot 414, 70/90,000). Katharina Grosse has long been a sought-after artist, and two untitled works from 1997 sold in this auction. Large compositions from the 1990s play with the interaction or the effect of individual colour segments. Lot 460 sold for 49,600 to a German collector, as did lot 461 for 73,000 (40/60,000 and 50/70,000). Also featured in the auction was DIN XV Ci-C4 by Imi Knoebel from the year 1995. The four-part work of acrylic on wood on aluminium brought 84,000 (lot 458, 40/60,000). A result of 99,000 was paid for Gerhard Richter'sBlech, a small canvas from 1988 (lot 448, 70/90,000), and 89,000 for a typical double portrait by Hans-Peter Feldmann (lot 473, 55,000). A watercolour by Simon Hantaï made 87,000 (lot 411, 50/60,000), and a spherical concave mirror object by Adolf Luther made 59,000 (lot 423, 50,000). Seven gouache and colour serigraphs by Blinky Palermo, once owned by his printer, all went high above their estimates (lots 610, et seq., up to 57,000).
Highlights featured in the photography section of the Contemporary Art auction on 3 December included two large-format C prints by Thomas Struth: a cityscape from the Tokyo series rose up to 34,700 (lot 470, 20/28,000), and a view through the thick Bavarian woods from the 'Paradies' series changed hands for 49,600 (lot 471, 40/50,000). A result of 13,600 was made by Wolfgang Tillman's famous double portrait of 'Lutz & Alex' (lot 709, 8/10,000), whilst amongst the masterworks of black and white photography offered, Gerhard Richter's 'Uran' stood out, selling for 31,000 (lot 624, estimate 20/25,000)