Phillips Achieves White Glove Contemporary Art Sale with £8.4m Martin Kippenberger

Phillips achieved a robust £34.4m (US$45m) 20th Century and Contemporary Art Evening Sale on Wednesday, recording a 41 percent up from its last year sale. With 31 lots offered all sold, the auction house pulled off a white-glove sale. 

Leading the sale was Ohne Titel (aus der Serie Das Floß der Medusa) by Martin Kippenberger (1953-1997), estimate on request. Painted in 1996, it came directly from the collection of Marcel Brient, Paris. It is one of the last masterpieces that Kippenberger created in part of his homage to Théodore Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa, which depicts the plight of distressed survivors clinging to a raft after the historic sinking of the frigate Méduse on 2 July 1816.

Théodore Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa

Kippenberger staged a photo-shoot in his studio with dramatic poses mimicking the raft survivors and corpses

The present masterpiece is a self-portrait, painted whilst Kippenberger had liver cancer and was refusing treatment. The painting shows the artist’s body laying elegantly reclined, his soul departing his still body. It was hammered down for £7.3m and sold for £8.45m (US$11m).

The second highest price was realised by Francis Bacon (1909-1992)’s Interior of a Room, estimated at US$3m-5m. Densely layered and multifaceted in connotative associations, Interior of a Room encapsulates a number of the key themes that Francis Bacon explored in great depth throughout his prolific oeuvre.

Picasso's Head (La Demoiselle [Tête], 1929)

It is an early example of Bacon's painterly enquiry into the interaction of form and colour. In the present work, we see Bacon continuing a dialogue with Picasso’s abstracted Cubist compositions, particularly with Head (La Demoiselle [Tête]), painted by Picasso in 1929. Interior of a Room was hammered down for £2.7m and sold for £3.25m.

The third top lot was Joan Mitchell (1925-1992)’s Champs, painted in the final years of the artist’s career. Created in 1990, the present work articulates Mitchell’s fusion of disparate artistic movements to create a singular style that is entirely her own. Mitchell’s profound appreciation for the beauty of the natural world fostered in her a strong connection to the French Impressionists and European Post-Impressionists, whose luminous landscapes were equally influential to her work.

Mitchell’s late paintings are characterised by a striking painterly bravura; remarking upon the emotional power and energy embodied in works such as Champs. Estimated at £2.5m-3.5m, the painting was hammered down for £2.65m and sold for £3.19m.

Besides the top three lots, another noteworthy lots was KAWS's Pressure Parade, estimated at £250,000 - 350,000. It was previously sold for US$125,000 at Sotheby's New York in May 2016. This time, it was sold at Phillips London for £321,000 (US$420,000) , more than three-fold of its price two years ago. 

Top three lots

Martin Kippenberger (1953-1997). Ohne Titel (aus der Serie Das Floß der Medusa)

Lot no.: 8
Size: 150 x 180 cm
Created in: 1996

  • Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne
  • Galerie Samia Saouma, Paris
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1998

Estimate on request
Hammer price: £7,300,000
Price realised: £8,446,500 (US$11,092,788)

Francis Bacon (1909-1992). Interior of a Room

Lot no.: 14
Size: 111.7 x 86.5 cm
Created in: circa 1935

  • Ms. Diana V. Watson, London (acquired directly from her cousin, the artist)
  • Sotheby's, London, 30 November 1989, lot 600
  • Mr. James Kirkman, London (acquired at the above sale)
  • Sotheby's, London, 2 July 1998, lot 117
  • Crane Kalman Gallery, London
  • Private Collection (acquired from the above in June 2000)
  • Private Collection, New York

Estimate: £3,000,000 - 5,000,000
Hammer price: £2,700,000
Price realised: £3,249,000

Joan Mitchell (1925-1992). Champs

Lot no.: 11
Size: 240 x 200 cm
Created in: 1990

  • Galerie Jean Fournier, Paris
  • Collection Jean Fournier and Jean-Marie Bonnet, Paris
  • Artcurial Briest Le Fur Poulain F. Tajan, Paris, 28 October 2006, lot 38
  • Private Collection (acquired at the above sale)
  • Sotheby's, New York, 14 May 2013, lot 26
  • Duhamel Fine Art, Paris
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner

Estimate: £2,500,000 - 3,500,000
Hammer price: £2,650,000
Price realised: £3,189,000

Auction summary
Auction house: Phillips London
Sale: 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale
Sale date: 27 June 2018
Lots offered: 31
Lots Sold: 31
Sold by lot: 100%
sale total: £34,811,000