Zao Wou-ki's 90s Masterpiece Sold for RMB 45.6m in Shanghai

The frenzy for Chinese abstract artist Zao Wou-ki continues as his masterpiece 13.02.92 led Christie's 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale in Shanghai. The painting was sold for RMB 45.6m (US$6.65m), almost three times its pre-sale estimate RMB 16m.


13.02.92 at the viewing in Shanghai

Zao Wou-ki in his Paris studio

Created by Zao Wou-ki in 1992, 13.02.92 is a dream-like painting that conjures up images of water and wind, deep pools and shifting clouds. The artist has skillfully applied washes of pigment around a central space, framing the composition in a way that showcases the radiance of the work's natural energy.

Zao’s best works from the 90s show an influence of impressionism as he was fascinated by the Impressionist idea of transience and sought to capture nature’s most fleeting of moments like sunlight glinting off a water, a plume of rising smoke, or the hazy shape of a monument glimpsed at sunset.

Zao Wou-ki's Homage to Claude Monet. Triptych, 1991. Private Collection.

Claude Monet's The Seine at Giverny (1897). Collection of the Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia

A year before he created 13.02.92, Zao spent almost half a year working on a large triptych entitled Homage to Claude Monet to pay tribute to Monet’s paintings of the lakes and water lilies at Giverny. The present lot, 13.02.92, was painted barely a year later. It is imbued with the same romantic rhythm as its predecessor. The layers of lavender, lime, pale yellow and cerulean emphasize the rich blues that dominate the composition.

Measuring 200 x 162cm, 13.02.92 was hammered down at RMB 38m and sold for RMB 45.6m (US$6.65m) after premium, far exceeding its estimate RMB 16m - 26m.


Andy Warhol's Flowers

The evening sale achieved a total of RMB 108m, selling 29 of all 30 lots offered. The only lot that failed to sell was Andy Warhol's Flowers, estimated at RMB 9.5m - 12m.

Piano Surréaliste

Surrealist Master Salvador Dalí

The second highest price was realised by a bronze sculpture Piano Surréaliste, created by Surrealist master Salvador Dalí. By replacing the traditional wooden legs of the grand-piano with the shapely legs of a female dancer, Dali transformed the instrument into a strange hybrid creature that can not only play music, but also dance to it. Estimated at RMB 2.2m - 3.5m, the sculpture was sold for RMB 9m (US$1.31m) with buyer's premium.

Rouge bleu jaune

Ranking in the third place was Rouge bleu jaune by Russian-born French modernist painter Serge Poliakoff. The painting carried a pre-sale estimate of RMB 2m - 2.4m and was sold for RMB 7.56m (US$1.1m). Rouge bleu jaune is an ensemble of irregular shapes, energised by an assortment of pastel hues, interlock like pieces of a collage or mosaic.

Top three lots

Zao Wou-ki (1920-2013). 13.02.92

Lot no.: 304
Created in: 1992
Size: 200x162 cm
Galerie Jan Krugier, Geneva, Switzerland
Private Collection, Europe
China Guardian, Beijing,15 May 2012, lot 4824
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner
Estimate: RMB 16,000,000 - 26,000,000
Price realised: RMB 45,600,000

Salvador Dalí (1904-1989). Piano Surréaliste

Lot no.: 316
Size: 249 × 183 × 114 cm

  • IAR Art Resources, Balerna
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2007

Estimate: RMB 2,200,000 - 3,500,000
Price realised: RMB 9,000,000

Serge Poliakoff (1900-1969). Rouge bleu jaune

Lot no.: 316
Size: 97 x 130 cm

  • Collection Dr Franz Meyer, Zürich
  • Thence by descent to the present owner

Estimate: RMB 2,000,000 - 2,400,000
Price realised: RMB 7,560,000

Auction summary

Auction house: Christie's Shanghai
Sale: 20th Century and Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Sale date: 2018/9/21
Lots offered: 30
Sold: 29
Unsold: 1
Sold by lots: 97%
Sale total: RMB 108,336,000