At Large  August 8, 2017

Albers Far in Front

Undisputed at the top of the auction with 616,000 was Homage to the Square by Josef Albers. Gerhard Richter followed with 360,000 for a small canvas with a curtain. Günther Uecker reached 174,000 with a small nail work, whilst a pyramid by Keith Haring and a characteristic head by Marwan both settled at 124,000, and brilliant-green grapes by Karin Kneffel reached 136,000. A sculpture by Fritz Koenig sold for 105,500. Altogether, the three auctions achieved a very pleasing total result of 8 million euro.

Homage to the Square by Josef Albers from 1961 was the overall highlight of the auction with a price of 616,000. Alone eleven national and international telephones fought over the square work. Painted in oil on aluminium the 50.5 x 50.5 cm work belongs to the important series of Homage to the Square pictures and originally came from the collection of the Swiss author and founder of Concrete poetry Eugen Gomringer. The strict geometric arrangements were the foundation of Albers' iconographic pictures with which he studied the effects of colour (lot 505, 250/350,000).

Highlights of the auction included a 360,000 euro painting Vorhang by Gerhard Richter. The small-format work (30 x 24 cm) belongs to his earliest works in which he used the motif of the curtain. Between 1964 and 1967 he produced a total of twelve works on this subject, which, with the succession of light and dark stripes, suggest, rather than actually depict a curtain. The 1960s are considered a stylistically important decade for Richter, in which the foundation themes and techniques for the artist's oeuvre were developed (lot 519, 290/350,000).

A 54 x 32 x 10 cm work by Günther UeckerAmpel, from 1958, eventually sold to the German market for 174,000. The use of nails as a structural element became a benchmark characteristic of Uecker's work from 1957. The different colours of the three tin lids, the gloss of the material, their vertical placement as well as the square shape of the canvas stretched over the wood all reinforce the association with the title. The circular nail fields can be brought into movement, supporting the dynamism of the object (lot 512, 80/120,000).

Over the last few years Lempertz has made many record results for paintings by Karin Kneffel, in particular for her fruit still lifes. This time, a canvas with brilliant-green grapes was offered which sold to a North German collector for 136,000 (lot 541, 100/150,000). Keith Haring's three-dimensional object Pyramid Sculpture from 1989 was one of a series of 15 examples, composed of four aluminium panels joined to form a sculptural pyramid. The tapering form creates a suitable analogy for Haring's densely arranged, interleaved drawings which give his characteristic motifs a striking expression. An American collector was successful for 124,000 (lot 525, 100/150,000). 124,000 was also the result for a 1975/76 characteristic painted head by Marwan, and found its new home in a London collection (lot 528, 80/100,000).

Paul Thek was present with two works from 1969: the acrylic and gouache on newspaper Island sold for 74,400 (lot 522, 40/50,000), and Schwimmer 10.10.69 for 72,000 (lot 523, 30/40,000). Antonio Calderara successfully sold all seven of his works, including an untitled painting from 1970 which went to an Italian collector for 57,000 (lot 506, 28/32,000). An engraved and drilled ceramic plate by Lucio Fontana sold for 54,500 (lot 511, 35/45,000), as did a small cushion picture by Gotthard Graubner from 1968 (lot 515, 35/45,000). Katharina Grosse, whose large-format works sold very successfully at Lempertz in the autumn, was present in this auction with among others, two large-formats, in which she discusses the material basic conditions of the medium of painting. Whilst the larger painting went to a German collection for 74,400, the somewhat smaller work went to the German trade for 59,500 (lots 542/543, each 40/50,000).

The strong offering of sculptural was led by Fritz Koenig's Epitaph für Zwei III from 1976. The 180 cm high bronze had an estimate of 90,000. Whilst iron was primarily used in later pieces, the present bronze example of Epitaph für Zwei III is an early example of Fritz Koenig's important work series in which the artist discusses the theme of death. A German collector won the hammer price of 105,000 (lot 531).

Probably the most unusual lot in the auction was a work by the Korean artist Do-Ho SuhStove is part of his Specimen-Series in which the artist exactly recreates his personal everyday objects out of polyester fabric. The work sold to the New York trade for 99,000 (lot 544, 80/120,000).

Contemporary Art + Photography (June 1)

The three industry images by Bernd and Hilla Becher impressed with their quality and condition, and sold for a total of 33,000 (lots 590-592, total estimate 21/26,000). A conceptual approach was also pursued by Isa Genzken in her large-scale work Ohr from 1980, displayed at the Venice Biennale in 1982, and now selling for 7,000 (lot 602, 4/5,000).