The auction was led by Frank Stella’s Scramble: Descending Green Values/Descending Spectrum, a remarkable embodiment of the exhilarating visual energy that characterizes the very finest of his oeuvre, which brought $2.7 million – an auction record for any Scramble painting by the artist. Enveloping the viewer in a dazzling surge of painterly force, the canvas from 1977 captures Stella’s incisive intellectual rigor as applied to the very tenets of painting.
Following the record-breaking $21.1 million sale of Kerry James Marshall’s pivotal Past Times in May 2018, the artist’s Study for Past Times bested its high estimate to achieve $1.8 million, establishing a new auction record for a work on paper by Marshall (estimate $900,000/1.2 million). Study for Past Times combines the most thought provoking and aesthetically engaging features of Marshall’s most celebrated larger scale paintings, with a level of insight into his compositional and conceptual developments that are seldom afforded by his grander examples.
In addition to pieces by these two artists, five works achieved prices in excess of $1 million, including George Condo’s Girl with Ponytail from 2009, a quintessential example of the artist’s distorted portraits that achieved $1.7 million (estimate $1/1.5 million); Robert Motherwell’s Elegy to the Spanish Republic #169, a classic example of the artist’s most acclaimed body of works, which also sold for $1.7 million; and Jonas Wood’s Hunting with Mochi that realized $1,035,000 (estimate $400/600,000).