Visually as powerful, Currin’s painting of a pair of female nudes, casually engaged in conversation, utilizes Old Master techniques to capture warm flesh tones on the bodies of his wife and muse—fellow artist Rachel Feinstein—and a friend, who playfully touches her belly while chatting. Considering that similar paintings in this series have been collected by Tate Britain, SFMOMA and the Hirshhorn Museum, the estimated value of $7-10 million seems like a bargain.
Next up at the auction house is Christie’s 20th Century Evening Sale, which features 65 outstanding modernist works, along with a few contemporary pieces, on November 9. Highlights include such modern masterpieces as René Magritte’s painting, L’empire des lumières (1949), (this canvas is the first of 17 versions of the motif, and it once belonged to Nelson Rockefeller) estimated at $25-35 million and a Pablo Picasso abstract portrait of Marie-Thérèse Walter, from 1934. Picasso biographer John Richardson proclaimed this period to be the artist’s “most innovative period since Cubism." It is also estimated at $25-35 million.
As fine as those artworks are, our favorite lots in the sale are Andy Warhol’s Sixteen Jackies, 1964, estimated at $25-35 million, and Frida Kahlo’s Portrait of Cristina, My Sister, 1928, estimated at $8-12 million. Originally exhibited at Leo Castelli Gallery and once part of the Saatchi Collection, Sixteen Jackies, a seminal work from Warhol’s Death and Disaster series, captures Jackie Kennedy’s public mourning after the assassination of her husband, President John F. Kennedy, in black-and-white, which was the opposite of the appropriated Life magazine image used for the mediated artwork.