It’s a busy week in London for art visitors who would have leapt round from Jeff Koons’ exhibition at Alime Rech’s new Gallery to Berkeley Square where there was an opportunity to bid for Jeff Koons’ “Dom Perignon BALLOON VENUS”, from an edition of 650 for an estimate of only £25,000 to £35,000, one of the medium-priced artworks at Phillips 20th Century and Contemporary Art Sales, where the reserve values sometimes seem to defy logic. Why does Andy Warhol’s screen print of “Pink Mao’s” (1979) demand an estimate between £4 million to £6 million while Anthony Gormley’s sculpture “Mountain and Sea” (1987-88) is only £200,000 to £300.000? This is the fickle art world.
Many of the best known modern and contemporary artists are here including Ai Weiwei with a huge coloured jar from 2006 and “Fairytale – 1001 Chairs” (2007), both showing traditional Chinese influences, Anselm Keifer’s characteristic lead ship “Odi Navali” (1997) and Ugo Rondinone’s smiling but sinister “SUNRISE.east.march” (2007).
Several artists have works from different periods of their career, in particular Andy Warhol including his silvered Coca Cola bottle “You’re In” (1967) and Damien Hirst with his large 1998 installation “Figures in a Landscape”, his recognisable “Spot Painting” of 1992 and his lesser-known “17 sausages” (1993) plus one of his Biopsy Series with the complex inclusion of scalpel blades, shattered glass and religious medals (2008). There is a wealth of other artists including Keith Haring, Bridget Riley, Alexander Calder, Dan Flavin, Gerhard Richter, Tim Noble and Sue Webster with their illuminated dollar sign (2004) (Warhol also has one of his dollar signs in the sale), Georg Baselitz, Elizabeth Frink, Yoshitomo Nara’s amusing “I think, Therefore I am…a Dog” (2003) and KAWS oversized Chinese toy “Companion Black” from 2007, Subodh Gupta’s “Black Thing” made from stainless steel pincers (2007) and David Noonan’s shadowy figure from 2008.
The preview exhibition for the auction shows the huge variety of work and media in which 20th century and contemporary artists have worked and continue to work. The guide prices, determined by the market, however remain a fascinating and mysterious art in their own right.