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Sotheby's opens first-ever online day sales of Contemporary and Impressionist & Modern art
Giorgio Morandi, Natura morta (Still Life). Oil on canvas, 14⅞ by 17¾ in.; 37.8 by 45.1 cm. Painted in 1951. Estimate $1/1.5 million. Courtesy Sotheby’s.

NEW YORK, NY.- Sotheby’s has opened bidding on their first-ever Online Day Sales of Contemporary Art and Impressionist & Modern Art. The auctions close on 14 and 18 May, respectively.

Together offering 250+ lots that are estimated to achieve more than $20 million, these sales represent Sotheby’s most ambitious online auctions to-date. With 60+ works estimated at $100,000 and above, they are poised to accelerate the strong momentum behind its successful online sales program – during a major moment in the traditional global auction calendar. Sotheby’s has raised $70+ million across 40+ online sales to-date in 2020, setting numerous benchmark results across both fine art and luxury goods.

Amy Cappellazzo, Chairman of Sotheby’s Fine Art Division, commented: “Throughout this unprecedented moment, collectors worldwide have enthusiastically participated in our online sales, demonstrating the continued appetite of the global art market. Through these Online Day Sales, we are meeting our clients’ needs by presenting unique opportunities to both buy and sell, during what would traditionally be a major moment in the international auction calendar. We are excited to present digitally the same exceptional selection of artists and works that the market has come to expect from our Day Sale program.”

The Online Day Sales benefit from the debut of Sotheby's new, immersive digital catalogue experience. The ‘digital-first’ design of these enhanced catalogues emphasizes visual storytelling through video, interactive media, and other rich content formats in a way that moves beyond print media. By presenting the objects featured in the sales in a wholly modern way, the digital catalogue encourages deeper engagement with each sale across all collecting categories.

Sotheby’s live evening and day auctions of Contemporary Art and Impressionist & Modern Art, previously scheduled for May, will be held in New York the week of 29 June, pending the lifting of certain restrictions and confirmation from the relevant authorities that they can proceed. Clients and visitors can expect extra precautions to ensure the safety of employees and visitors, as well as creative opportunities for those wishing to preview the exhibitions and participate in the auctions – from in-person and virtual appointment viewings to enhanced digital experiences. Sotheby's will announce a more a detailed schedule in due course, including relevant exhibition plans.

Open for bidding now through 14 May

This sale offers a strong selection of blue-chip Post-War and Contemporary Art across a range of price points. Presenting examples by some of the most renowned and sought-after artists of the period, the auction features a rare Brice Marden from his Basel Cathedral Window series, alongside works by Christopher Wool, Willem de Kooning, Keith Haring, Yoshitomo Nara, Richard Prince, KAWS, Damien Hirst and Julie Curtiss.

Untitled from 1988 is an exceptional example of Christopher Wool’s ‘pattern paintings,' in which he developed his style away from his early Abstract Expressionist works through the original use of wallpaper rollers (estimate $1.2/1.8 million). This seemingly simple innovation opened the possibility of mechanical reproduction in painting – much in the same way that Andy Warhol’s innovation of the silkscreen encouraged production in 1962. He identified a tool that was readily available and ubiquitous in any urban domestic environment, and transformed it into a bold new method of making fine art that is loaded with art historical references.

The preeminent abstract painter working today, Brice Marden is celebrated for his mastery over the fundamental components of the medium. Executed in 1985 after nearly a decade of conceptual development, Window Study No. 4 brings together cool and warm tones in ethereal washes, crafting the sensation of light and warmth emanating from within the canvas (estimate $700/900,000). An exemplar of Marden’s output, the present work captures the artist as he moved to address notions of spirituality as well as the relationship between nature and the individual, which endure as the primary painterly concerns of his practice.

Executed in 1987, 3 Jokes Painted to Death or 3 Jokes Really Painted is an early work and a rare gem from Richard Prince’s iconic series of monochrome Joke Paintings which he began in 1987 (estimate $500/700,000). For this seminal group of works, Prince fuses the unrefined content of low-brow cartoon humor with the sophisticated aesthetic of monochrome painting to introduce the seemingly irrelevant concept of humor into the resolutely intellectual sphere of fine art. As an early Joke Painting, the present work is particularly special for its triptych format and the visibly hand-painted nature of the text.

Open for bidding now through 18 May

This auction offers a distinguished selection of paintings, works on paper, sculpture and prints from important private and museum collections. Works by Impressionist masters including Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas and Camille Pissarro are complemented by an exciting assortment of works on paper by Modernists such as Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Joan Miró, as well as major prints by Edvard Munch. The sale features a wonderful group of sculpture by Aristide Maillol, Auguste Rodin and Henry Moore as well as a striking selection of School of Paris portraiture and abstraction. Vibrant examples by Latin American Modernists such as David Alfaro Siqueiros and Diego Rivera round out the sale’s offerings.

The fluted white oil bottle depicted in Natura morta (Still Life) appears in some of Giorgio Morandi’s earliest work from the mid-1910s, and is perhaps the most recognizable and iconic of all his subjects (estimate $1/1.5 million). Morandi repeatedly painted the same objects over the course of several decades, and the groupings begin to take on the feel of family gatherings to those familiar with his work. Morandi’s profound influence on contemporary art is indisputable, including the work of Wayne Thiebaud, Agnes Martin, Philip Guston and Sean Scully, and even extends to contemporary architect Frank Gehry.

While many of Edgar Degas’ works from this rare and early period are formal portraits or history paintings, Buste de jeune femme presque nu (Bust of Young Woman Almost Nude) foreshadows his obsession with beauty and line (estimate $350/450,000). Here the artist synthesizes the frieze-like technique inspired by his trips to Italy in the 1850s, with the “exotic” appeal and radical cropping of the Japanese prints that intrigued his generation. The painting’s first owner was George Jay Gould, the son of Jay Gould, an infamous “robber baron” who made his fortune as a financial speculator and railroad magnate. George Jay Gould was a successful financier in his own right and amassed an impressive collection of Dutch, Italian and Impressionist art.

Like his peers Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall found inspiration in the warm, colorful atmosphere of the Côte d’Azur, ultimately settling in the town of Saint-Paul-de-Vence with his wife Vava Brodsky after his return from the United States in 1948. Devant la fenêtre (In Front of the Window), executed circa 1974-75, is a reflection on the artist’s career, as well as the places and motifs that fueled his artistic production (estimate $200/300,000). Whether open or closed, windows have traditionally served as a frame through which the artist depicts the dreamlike merging of the idylls of the past.

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