The Expert Edit: Artnet’s Specialists Select Their Top Picks from the Post-War and Contemporary Sale, Live Now

Our specialists unveil personal highlights from our leading Post-War and Contemporary Art auction of the season, live now for bidding.

Fernando Botero, Standing Woman in a Bedroom (2004). Est. $800,000–$1,200,000.

From Fernando Botero to Yayoi Kusama, the Post-War and Contemporary Art sale by Artnet Auctions—live for bidding through May 23, 2024—features highlights by some of the most famous and sought-after artists of the 20th- and 21st-century.

Marking the launch of the online auction, we reached out to the Artnet Auctions Post-War and Contemporary team to learn about their own top picks. Here, they delve into six inimitable lots and describe why they’re so special both to them and to art history.

Fernando Botero, Eve (2007)

Artnet Auctions top post-war and contemporary pick work by Fernando Botero showing a voluptuous nude statue in white marble of a standing woman.

Fernando Botero, Eve (2007). Est. $1,000,000–$1,200,00.

“I have loved Fernando Botero’s voluptuous figures for a long time, and it is always a joy to work with these pieces—whether it’s men proudly parading, couples dancing, or women in their everyday life. Standing Woman in a Bedroom (2004) is an intimate scene of a gorgeous nude perching at the very end of her bed, hair coiffed to perfection. While with some artists the nude may appear overtly lascivious, there is something endearing with Botero’s handling of the carnal and the tonality of the form. This is even more visible in the marble sculpture Eve (2007), with the incredibly smooth skin of the woman about to commit the original sin: not that we can judge that from the expression of her calm face or any tension in her body. The only clue is seeing the apple in her right hand which—we assume—she is about to offer to the unsuspecting Adam.

Botero’s mastery in pulling us into his artistic universe has made him one of the most beloved and collected artists of the 20th and 21st centuries, and the love and admiration for his work has only intensified following his death last year at the age of 91.” —Martina Batovic, Co-Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art

Damien Hirst, Purity (2020)

Artnet Auctions top pick of an abstract painting in predominantly white with built up paint and dots of pale colored hues.

Damien Hirst, Purity (2020). Est. $450,000–$650,000.

“Every generation has a small number of cornerstone artists that stand out by their breadth of creativity and productivity. Damien Hirst can easily claim one of those spots for his generation. Evolved from a large group of likeminded visual artists, the infamous YBA (Young British Artists) in the ’90s, Damien Hirst can now look back on over 35 years of art making, polarizing the art crowd and its market with provocative works and actions. We’re thinking formaldehyde shark tank, diamond skull, multicolored pills on shiny shelves and, not to forget, butterflies—many of them. Hirst’s retrospective at Tate Modern in 2012 featured an entire closed-off room filled with living, flying butterflies, touché.

Hirst’s arsenal of creative outlets and surprising variations of his practice seem to know no end. In the present series Hirst makes use of one of the most traditional elements of picture making since the Middle Ages: gold leaf. The shiny metal sparkles through this sizable canvas amid color blotches that might just remind us of Niki de Saint Phalle’s shooting paintings from the 1960s. Hirst’s market remains strong with recent works reaching seven figures frequently at auction. His work is here to stay.” —Johannes Vogt, Co-Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art

Jean Dubuffet, Boule Chantourne juillet (1970)

Jean Dubuffet, Boule Chantourne juillet (1970). Est. $180,000–$220,000.

“Where does one look for inspiration? It is said the inspiration for Dubuffet’s ‘L’Hourloupe’ series began with a doodle created while on the telephone in 1962, and from this ordinary occurrence, an extraordinary world was born. Characterized by bold black outlines encompassing formless and flat shapes that interlock like a jigsaw puzzle, this body of work sustained the artist in his alternative universe for over a decade. This stylized approach encompassed drawing, painting, printmaking and eventually shifted to sculpture, allowing his two dimensional observations to exist as three-dimensional objects.

In creating sculptures from the ‘L’Hourloupe’ series, such as the present lot, Boule Chantourne juillet (1970), the artist would cut soft polystyrene forms with a hot wire, then cast these objects in plaster, and finally pour polyester into the plaster mold. The process became known as ‘transfer’ to polyester, a pourable resin with increased durability, as the artworks ascended to monumental scale. Other sculptures within the ‘L’Hourloupe’ series include the 43-foot-tall, site-specific Groupe de Quatre Arbes (Group of Four Trees), commissioned by David Rockefeller and unveiled in 1972 at Chase Manhattan Bank Plaza, and Le Jardin d’Hiver (Winter Garden) (1968–70) at Centre Pompidou, a “cave” that entraps the viewer in a world of irregular surfaces and distorted architecture, challenging the perception of reality, and perhaps transforming each of us into a doodle.” —Jason Rulnick, Senior International Specialist, Post-War and Contemporary Art

Yayoi Kusama, Genesis (1992)

Artnet Auctions top pick of a silver box with polymorphous silver objects inside.

Yayoi Kusama, Genesis (1992). Est. $50,000–$70,000.

“Yayoi Kusama’s work has become extremely popular and commercialized over the years because of how digestible it is: vibrant yellow and black polka dots on plush pumpkins or social-media-friendly mirrored rooms with bright and twinkling lights. Her long career has allowed her art to transcend Pop into contemporary. However, Kusama’s work holds so much meaning and speaks a lot about her struggles with mental health. This sculpture stands out to me because it may not be the iconic Kusama work everyone (including myself) knows and loves, but it is still undeniably of the artist. The creepy, fluid nature of the intestine-like interior contrasted with the neat corners of the box and a shiny silver finish is a dynamic masterpiece that is scaled well to go on your mantelpiece!” —Lily Greenwald, Senior Associate, Post-War and Contemporary Art

Salvo, Dicembre (2008)

Salvo, Dicembre (December) (2008). Est. $50,000–$70,000.

“The eternal optimism in the paintings of the Italian artist Salvo is something which he always relished in, but which admittedly took a while for the rest of the (art) world to get enthusiastic about. The artist loved depicting atmospheric changes in the time of day, often returning to the same vista multiple times with a different angle or color palette—much like the Impressionists did, a century before him. The result, as we can see in Dicembre (December) (2008), is a brightly-colored style from which light seems to emanate, even in the coldest wintry sunsets. In this beautiful work, the pink and red skies bathe the whole landscape in their warmth and delicate hues, inviting the delicate snow to serve as a blank canvas and a backdrop to a magical scene in front of us.” —Martina Batovic, Co-Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art

Artnet Auctions Post-War and Contemporary auction is now live until May 23. Browse and bid in the sale here.


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