At the end of November, Contemporary Week at Dorotheum
once again brings together top 20th and 21st century works. Modern and contemporary art, jewellery and wristwatches will be auctioned at various sessions. The offer ranges from works by well-known Austrian artists such as Egon Schiele, Alfons Walde, Hermann Nitsch and Martha Jungwirth to works by international greats such as Lucio Fontana, Tamara de Lempicka, Andy Warhol, Hans Hartung, Bill Viola, Carla Accardi and Daniel Richter. Works by the Italian avant-garde of the 1960s, including Paolo Scheggi, Enrico Castellani and Agostino Bonalumi, are also prominently represented.
Yayoi Kusama, the Japanese polka dot queen much celebrated in her adopted home of late 1950s New York, creates and covers her universe with dots a universe which often seems to extend into infinity through the use of mirrors. She does not stop at herself or even George Clooney. At the contemporary art auction on 30 November 2022, one of her signature pumpkin paintings will take centre stage. For Kusama, the pumpkin is associated with positive childhood memories, symbolising reassurance and warmth for those plagued by hallucinations ( 250,000 350,000).
Andy Warhol portrayed an actual queen, namely Elizabeth II, in a series of pictures from 1985. Fame was this pop chameleons stated goal. No wonder, then, that Warhol wished to be as famous as the Queen one day. As he did for Marilyn, he elevated the long-serving head of the British Empire to icon status in his works. The painting offered at Dorotheum, no. 9 from an edition of 40, is from a private European collection. It was created as part of Warhol's "Reigning Queens" series, and was modelled on Queen Elizabeth II's official photo on the occasion of her 25th coronation anniversary ( 150,000 200,000).
One of the highlights of the auction was described by the Italian Arte Povera artist Alighiero Boetti as "Naturale artificiale", translated roughly as "naturally artificial". The work comes from Boetti's biro drawings series - abstract images whose titles identify themselves through special arrangements of letters and signs ( 160,000 280,000).
The various possible uses of Franz West's "Watschenaltar" are easy to imagine: his wordplay is not limited to his two-part installation from 1989, initially called "Requisit". It consists of a tableau-like wall piece and a "Paßstück", or fitting piece, on a plinth called "Maulschelle", colloquially translated as "a slap". Visitors to the exhibition were originally supposed to handle these papier-mâché and plaster sculptures as they pleased, which, according to West, represented neuroses or prostheses ( 180,000 260,000).
The artist Hermann Nitsch, who died in August 2022 at the age of 84, is considered one of the central figures of Viennese Actionism of the 1960s, along with Günter Brus, Otto Muehl and Rudolf Schwarzkogler. His characteristic splatter paintings are closely related to Nitsch's action art, the so-called Orgien-Mysterien-Theater. Colour often becomes material, as in the two-by-three-metre Splatter painting with chemise and impasto from 1995 ( 80,000 140,000) offered at the Dorotheum auction.
There is also a focus on contemporary German art at this auction. Examples of this are Anselm Reyle's untitled wheel object painted with garish neon paint and a hypnotic picture from the universe of Germany's angry star painter Daniel Richter. His oeuvre is fed by set pieces from politics, mass media and pop culture, as with his 2009 "Leap from the Towers".
The Modern Art auction on 29 November 2022 will include a number of important works by Alfons Walde, among them the typical landscape paintings of Walde's homeland, Tyrol, which are so sought after by collectors. Almost no other painter has depicted snow as skilfully as Walde, as "Almen und Gletscher" (Alpine Meadows and Glaciers) from 1932 and the winter picture "Einsamer Berghof" (Lonely Mountain Farm), c. 1935, testify ( 220,000 360,000, 250,000 380,000). Walde's scene "Kirchstiege" (Church Staircase), which is highly modern, especially in terms of its composition, comes to the auction from a private collection in Israel. The father of the present owner brought the painting with him to his new homeland in the 1930s ( 120,000 200,000).
Another outstanding drawing by Egon Schiele from 1915, "Standing Peasant Girl with Headscarf", was once one of the few works acquired by Max Wagner, Schiele's most important archivist. The auction also offers a painted floral still life by this exceptional artist, who was only 15 years old at the time ( 140,000 200,000, 45,000 70,000). The print "Christ before Pilate" by Ernst Fuchs, is stylistically inspired by Albrecht Dürer. It is one of the main works of the fantastic Realist and was once in the collection of Edita Gruberová ( 70,000 120,000).
Tamara de Lempicka is known for her depictions of sophisticated femme fatales. We see another side to her in this auction - through the late, deserted hotel interior painted around 1951. Hyperrealism and surrealism merge in this scene, which could have come from a David Lynch film ( 150,000 200,000).