See 11 Highlights From artnet Auction’s Exceptional Premier Sale, With Work by Basquiat, Banksy, and More

artnet Auctions Head of Prints Conner Williams highlights some of the most important works on offer in the Premier Prints & Multiples Sale.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Rome Pays Off (1984/2004). Courtesy of artnet Auctions.

It has often been said that editions provide the perfect gateway into collecting art. While that is certainly true, it is seldom explained that editions can also offer an opportunity to acquire works that are completely different from artists’ drawings, paintings, and sculpture. Artists like David Hockney, Joan Mitchell, Richard Diebenkorn, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Sol LeWitt, Vija Celmins, and Richard Serra—all of whose work is featured in our current Prints & Multiples: The Premier Salehave uniquely experimented in print, creating some stunning works which are only available in editions. Such prints can be found in our major sale of the fall season, with many of them having rarely (if ever) come to market previously, and hailing from collections all over the world, including Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

We’re thrilled to offer nearly $1.5 million in prints and multiples in our largest and most impressive editions sale to date—live now for bidding through Thursday, October 4th.

Below are a few highlights.

Richard Diebenkorn, Indigo Horizontal (1985)
Est. $50,000–70,000


One of Richard Diebenkorn’s best prints, Indigo Horizontal speaks directly to the artist’s California roots: the colorful palette and abstracted forms recall the artist’s residency in Santa Monica along Ocean Park. This example, in very good condition, comes from a private collection in California and is priced attractively at $50,000 to $70,000. The major auction houses have pushed their estimates for this print to as high as $100,000.


Joan Mitchell, Trees III (1992)
Est. $20,000–30,000


Enjoying a recent and well-deserved wave of attention that is only just beginning—since the artist will be the subject of an upcoming retrospective at the Baltimore Museum of Art and SFMoMA), Joan Mitchell has finally caught up to the male counterparts of her generation in the marketplace, with reported sales of her paintings exceeding $15 million. What makes her work so desirable and spectacular is the physicality of paint and color, which transfers well from canvas to printmaking. Trees III is a beautiful example of the artist’s work and one of her largest lithographs, printed on two sheets of paper.


Robert Longo, Paths of the Mind (2018)
Est. $12,000–18,000


Continuing his fascination with such natural imagery as animals, flowers, and the ocean’s waves, Longo produced this stunning work of a majestic tree’s sprawling branches, which easily recalls the infinite paths of the mind. This large and beautiful print makes its auction debut in our sale, at a very reasonable estimate.


David Hockney, Caribbean Tea Time (1987)
Est. $60,000–80,000


The British artist David Hockney will likely be written in the history books as one of the most experimental postwar artists. Throughout his career he has embraced the near-impossible, utilizing the many talents of master printer extraordinaire Ken Tyler to produce an ambitious project like Caribbean Tea Time, a folding screen that houses eight sheets of irregularly-sized paper with hand-coloring and collage. This work truly pushes the medium to its fullest extent, occupying three dimensional space with ingenuity—even the backside of the folding screen was designed by the artist and screenprinted in his characteristically dynamic and effusive squiggles of color. 


Ed Ruscha, 51% Angel / 49% Devil (1984)
Est. $20,000–30,000


Produced in a very small edition of 25, this print is a rarity on the market—only one example of this print has ever come to auction. This example is an artist’s proof and was traded by Ed Ruscha to another artist for her work. It was from this artist that artnet Auctions & Private Sales sold it to the current owner, who, after enjoying it for several years, is now offering it for sale.


Banksy, Family Target (2003)
Est. $100,000–150,000


As the anonymous street artist Banksy has become a household name, his work has become more and more sought-after by new and seasoned collectors. This intrigue has certainly driven up prices for his work, bringing early and uncommon works to market. Family Target is a perfect example of such a work, having remained in the same private collection since it was acquired from a London Gallery in 2003, the year the work was created. Treating a macabre subject, this work exemplifies Banksy’s hard-biting social criticism and irony: a lovely family portrait of a family running hand-in-hand turned into target practice.


Tom Wesselmann, Big Blonde With ChokerGrisaille (1992)
Est. $15,000–20,000


The colorful version of this print (from an edition of 90) regularly comes to auction, but this example comes from a much rarer edition: the grisaille version, which was produced in a very small run of only 10. The present example has remained tucked away in the same private collection since it was published in 1992 and has never been framed. While it may be odd to associate rarity with a prolific artist like Tom Wesselmann, this is indeed a rare work.


Jean-Michel Basquiat, Rome Pays Off (1984/2004)
Est. $30,000–50,000


Basquiat produced very few prints during his short lifetime and career. Several years after the artist’s death, the estate produced two portfolios of four screenprints, each after major paintings by the artist. Rome Pays Off is one such print, produced in 2004 and emblazoned with the artist’s iconic golden crown. The last example of this print to come to auction was in 2015 with artnet Auctions.  


Robert Indiana, ZERO (1980–1996)
Est. $80,000–120,000


Since Robert Indiana’s passing earlier in the year, there has been rejuvenated interest in his work, especially in his iconic subjects. Among these are his numbers, made famous in sculpture. This painted aluminum sculpture, produced in a very small edition of 8, comes from the complete series NUMBERS ONE through ZERO, and is an early casting from 1980-1996. Conceived in 1980, this example (number 2 from the edition of 8) was cast in 1996 and is the earliest casting to come to auction, with most being fabricated in 2003.


Roy Lichtenstein, Reflections on the Soda Fountain (1991)
Est. $50,000–70,000


This work holds a special place in the body of prints produced by the artist, gracing the cover of The Prints of Roy Lichtenstein: A Catalogue Raisonné, 1948-1997. It’s an especially wonderful example of the artist’s work, incorporating a classic cafe subject in Lichtenstein’s iconic Ben-Day dots, with which he’ll forever be associated.


KAWS, Paper Smile (2012)
Est. $10,000–15,000


Few artists have been hotter on the art market than urban-contemporary-art darling KAWS. While his recent switch in representation (from Perrotin to Skarstedt Gallery) may have something to do with the very strong upswing, his early appeal with street art collectors and his larger crossover into the contemporary art world has made it abundantly clear he is here to stay. The desire for his editioned work has been especially strong, including Paper Smile, which was produced on the occasion of his 2012 exhibition “Down Time at the High Museum of Art.



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