From 10-17 October Christie’s presents an online auction of work executed in or inspired by New York City. Here are some of the highlights, including works by Ai Weiwei, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Willem de Kooning and more
Executed with graphic precision, rich colour and dramatic shadows, Richard Estes’ large-scale print from 1988, D Train, above, depicts the interior of a subway train, crossing the Manhattan Bridge from Brooklyn against the backdrop of the city’s iconic skyline.
Drawing on the bold calligraphic style that was a hallmark of his practice, Franz Kline’s striking 1950/51 work, Untitled, is rendered on an emblem of New York’s past — a page from a telephone book.
When it sold for $57.2 million at Christie’s in May 2016, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s 1982 Untitled became the artist's most expensive work sold at auction. Also depicting a human skull — one of the Brooklyn native’s recurrent motifs — the above work on paper, Untitled from 1980, is a vibrant prelude to the later record-breaking work and other large-scale paintings created in Basquiat’s breakthrough year, 1982.
Executed in 1961, Helen Frankenthaler’s Untitled coincided with the development of her unique Colour Field technique, solidifying her position as a leading figure of post-war New York painting.
A pioneering photographer and chronicler of New York life, André Kertész turns his lens on the United Nations headquarters, zooming in on the façade of the landmark building until the image approaches abstraction.
Willem de Kooning
Willem de Kooning, originally from the Netherlands, became a crucial link between New York School painting and European modernism. In Untitled, a dynamic, colourful painting on paper, the artist fuses figuration and abstraction in his typically paradoxical style.
After fleeing Nazi Germany for the United States in 1939, Friedel Dzubas eventually settled in New York and shared a studio with Helen Frankenthaler, a fellow adherent of the Colour Field movement. With its dramatic palette and deep black passages, Traverse is a prime example of lyrical abstraction and Colour Field painting.
Alexander Alland, a Russian émigré, arrived almost penniless at Ellis Island in 1923 and became an active proponent of the social value of photography. In Untitled, children dive into the East River, the Williamsburg Bridge visible in the background. Like much of Alland’s work, the photograph offers a window onto life in post-war New York.
Taken between 1983 and 1993, these photographs document a distinct New York era as seen through the eyes of Ai Weiwei, in those years a prominent member of a community of Chinese artists and intellectuals living in the East Village. The images depict poetry readings; riots in Tompkins Square Park; drag queens at Wigstock; and portraits of filmmaker Chen Kaige, composer Tan Dun and fellow artist Xu Bing. Ai Weiwei returned to live in China in 1993.