Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hockney's Beverly Hills Housewife Highlights Christie's Post-War & Contemporary Art Sale

Hockney's Beverly Hills Housewife Highlights Christie's Post-War & Contemporary Art Sale


An employee from Christie’s contemplates the work of art titled 'Beverly Hills Housewife', made by artist David Hockney, during the presentation at Christie’s in London, today March 23. Photo: EFE/Andy Rain.

Andy Warhol’s Portrait of Man Ray, 1976. Estimate: $2-4 million. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2009.

NEW YORK, NY.- Christie’s will offer a selection of works from the Collection of Betty Freeman in the May 13 Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale. Leading the selection is one of the most important works to come to the auction market by David Hockney, Beverly Hills Housewife, (estimate: $7-10 million), 1966-1967. The Evening Sale selection of works from the collection comprises 19 lots and is estimated at $26-40 million.

Laura Paulson, Deputy Chairman and International Director of Post-War and Contemporary Art stated: “Betty Freeman’s deep commitment to the arts was demonstrated by a lifetime of indefatigable dedication and passionate support. David Hockney’s epic Beverly Hills Housewife is one of the artist’s most fascinating and iconic works and remains a perfect, timeless tribute to Freeman, a modern-day Medici, who will be remembered as an influential patron of our contemporary culture.”

Marc Porter, President of Christie’s Americas said: "This was a highly competitive consignment won by Christie's through creative marketing commitments, the expertise of its specialists and our long-term relationships with the consignor rather than through any revenue sharing arrangements."

A diptych measuring twelve feet long and six feet high, David Hockney’s Beverly Hills Housewife depicts a 1960’s California housewife standing on the patio of her well-appointed home. The painting’s modernist setting is testament to the refined and minimalist sensibilities of the subject, who is none other than Freeman herself. Having recently arrived in Los Angeles, the British artist asked Freeman if he could come to her house and paint the swimming pool in her backyard for a series that would become famously representative of his oeuvre, the ‘California Dreaming’ series. Upon arriving, Hockney decided to focus the work on Freeman, immediately finding that she, like many Los Angeles residents he had met, was very much a function of the space that she existed in, and the space that she existed in was very much a function of her.

Infused with pervasive and powerful silence, Beverly Hills Housewife not only captures the artist’s detached fascination with the California landscape, it also demonstrates his predilection for scenes bathed in crisp light and hyper-real colors, a distinct departure from the work being created by Hockney’s Post-War British counterparts at the time. Painted between 1966-1967, the work depicts a tanned, sculptural Freeman in bright pink dress standing on her covered patio. Hockney added the antelope trophy head on the wall to create a deliberately humorous face-off between the Freeman and fictional character.

Beverly Hills Housewife would become the centerpiece of Betty Freeman’s collection. She was to remain in the same house, memorialized on canvas, for the remainder of her life. The painting not only conveys the essence of the California good life, it also stands as a testament to the remarkable life-long friendship between the subject and the artist.

A much-admired, generous supporter of avant-garde contemporary music, Betty Freeman was also drawn to the work of the contemporary artists of her day who challenged the boundaries of painting and sculpture. She began collecting art in the 1950’s and gathered works by Abstract Expressionist artists. As with the composers she supported, Freeman forged friendships with artists David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein, Dan Flavin, Clyfford Still, and Sam Francis, and followed the development of their careers throughout her lifetime. Freeman was also an accomplished photographer, who published and exhibited portraits of musicians and composers.

In addition to Beverly Hills Housewife, the New York Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale will also feature works from the Collection of Betty Freeman by Roy Lichtenstein, Dan Flavin, Alexander Calder, Sam Francis, Andy Warhol, and Claes Oldenburg.

Roy Lichtenstein’s Frolic, 1977, (estimate: $4-7 million), was inspired by his own 1962 painting, Girl with Ball, by ads and comic books, and by one of the greatest painters in art history – Pablo Picasso. In Frolic, Picasso is seen through the filter of Pop, as his celebrated 1932 painting Baigneuse au ballon de plage in the collection of New York’s MoMA is interpreted with an unusual and irreverent twist.

Andy Warhol’s Portrait of Man Ray, 1976 (estimate: $2-4 million), will also be featured as part of the collection. One of Warhol’s most definitive portraits, his execution of Man Ray is a testament of his adoration of the celebrated artist. Man Ray’s work had a very significant impact on Warhol’s career, but with this portrait it becomes evident that Man Ray’s being had just as much of an influence. This portrait reinforces the larger theme within Warhol’s oeuvre regarding the concept of the artist as celebrity, putting Man Ray among the ranks of the glittering cultural icons by which Warhol defined his life and work, including Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando, Mick Jagger and Mohammed Ali.

Typewriter Eraser (estimate: $1.4-1.8 million), epitomizes Claes Oldenburg's revolutionary approach to sculpture as an objectification of mundane objects. Produced in 1976, this work marks a period of technical expansion for the sculptor, in which he experimented with new materials and an everincreasing scale.

A rare, early painting by Sam Francis from 1954 entitled Grey (estimate: $2.5-3.5 million) will also be offered. First exhibited in Dorothy Miller’s seminal Twelve Americans show at the MoMa, the work was acquired directly from Francis’ private collection by Betty Freeman, who enjoyed a long and close relationship with the artist.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Vermeer Masterpiece Back in Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum Presents Top Vermeer Work

Vermeer Masterpiece Back in Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum Presents Top Vermeer Work


Johannes Vermeer, Woman Holding a Balance (ca. 1664).

AMSTERDAM.- A major work by Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) is temporarily back in Amsterdam. From 11 March to 1 June 2009, the Rijksmuseum presents his Woman Holding a Balance (c.1664) from the United States. The Rijksmuseum proudly presents this important work alongside four other masterpieces by Vermeer from the museum s own collection. Vermeer did not produce many paintings, so this is a unique moment for the Rijksmuseum as the only museum in Europe to be able to show five works by the renowned artist together. The painting is on loan from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, from which it rarely leaves.

Woman Holding a Balance
Among the items sold in 1696 in the sale of the estate of Jacob Dissius, a bookseller in Delft, were 21 paintings by Johannes Vermeer, a fellow townsman and already in his day a much admired artist. Isaac Rooleeuw, an Amsterdam merchant, managed to snap up two of the artist’s most important and expensive works in the space of five minutes: The Milkmaid and The Woman Holding a Balance. For five years they hung side-by-side at his home in Amsterdam, until Rooleeuw went bankrupt and the paintings were sold. The Woman Holding a Balance remained in private hands in Amsterdam for another century until shortly after 1800 she left the Netherlands and eventually in 1942 found herself via a circuitous route through Europe in Washington’s National Gallery of Art.

Vermeers reunited
For the first time in more than 200 years, The Milkmaid and The Woman Holding a Balance are once again together in Amsterdam, in the Rijksmuseum. Together with The Woman Reading a Letter, they represent the essential Vermeer. In all three works, he presents a domestic scene with a young woman standing in a typical Vermeer room, as she busies herself with some everyday activity, absorbed in thought. While Vermeer manages with his exceptional sense of detail to make us believe that we are watching a slice of real life, each of these scenes is minutely choreographed. He was careful to give each object its place, making clever use of perspective and the soft daylight entering the room from the left.

Vermeer in the Rijksmuseum collection
Since 1921, the Rijksmuseum has been able to show four masterpieces by Johannes Vermeer: The Little Street (c. 1658), The Love Letter (c. 1669-70), The Woman Reading a Letter (c. 1664) and one of Vermeer’s best known works, The Kitchen Maid, or as most people know her, The Milkmaid (c. 1658-60). Over the years, these paintings have become firm favourites alongside Rembrandt’s paintings at the Rijksmuseum, attracting more than a million visitors each year from around the world. As far as we know, Vermeer produced far fewer paintings than his famous contemporary. We know of 34 works by Vermeer, found today for the most part in the world s principal museums.

Guest appearance
The Vermeer from the National Gallery of Art in Washington is on loan to the Rijksmuseum from 11 March to 1 June 2009 as part of an annual series of guest appearances by major works at the museum. Each year the Rijksmuseum welcomes an outstanding exhibit from a leading international museum which relates in some way to works in the Rijksmuseum’s own collection. Vermeer’s illustrious predecessors include Catrina Hooghsaet by Rembrandt from Penrhyn Castle in Wales, The Leaping Horse by the 19th-century British artist Constable from the Royal Academy in London, and the Portrait of Jacopo Strada by Titian from Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum.