Hell, Heaven, and Hockney at Christie’s

The bidding was far from fast and furious yesterday at Sotheby’s contemporary evening sale, where Jeff Koonsshiny, be-ribboned steel egg sold to Larry Gagosian for $5.4 million (all prices include buyer’s premium), a far cry from the $21 million commanded by Koons’ similarly Celebratory “Hanging Heart” back in the fall of 2007 (ah, those were the days). Still, our top picks from the pared down sale—the marvelous 1982 Cy Twombly, that sensuous thicket of a Cecily Brown in three parts—soared above their high estimates, and the massive Martin Kippenberger self-portrait (sold for $4.1 million) proved that there’s still a market for artists with recent MoMA retrospectives and a heap of talent.

Now it’s onto Christie’s, where no one is afraid of Roy Lichtenstein—his 1977 Picasso-goes-pop canvas, “Frolic,” made the catalogue cover and is estimated to sell for between $4 million and $6 million (look for it to go at the high end of that range). But the big star of the sale should be David Hockney‘s “Beverly Hills Housewife” (1966-67, pictured above), a majestic yet playful work—dig that zebra-striped chaise longue!—from 1966-67 that immortalizes the late Betty Freeman, whose extraordinary collection comprises nearly half of the evening sale. The 12-foot-long Hockney canvas, which looked right at home in Freeman’s mod Eszter Haraszty-designed abode, is estimated to sell for between $6 and $10 million. And the stunners certainly don’t end there. Ed Ruscha‘s spooky “Hell, Heaven” (1989, pictured at right) exalts in opposites and can be rotated to reflect the appropriate extreme. We think this two-for-one special is a bargain at its high estimate of $800,000. Our other favorites include Willem de Kooning‘s kinetic “Woman” from 1953 and the always delicious Wayne Thiebaud‘s good-enough-to-eat phalanx of lipsticks.

Previously on UnBeige:

  • Who’s Afraid of Roy Lichtenstein?