For one New Yorker who attended the 1965 event, the key revealed a Roy Lichtenstein drawing that Christie’s auction house estimates will fetch around $1 million at its May 11 auction.
“Kiss V” is a study for one of Lichtenstein’s major paintings of the same name, which is in a private collection and belongs to his dream-girl series created between 1961 and 1965. Measuring 6 inches by 6 inches, the study is a comic book-inspired close-up of a man and woman, executed in graphite and wax crayon.
The artist, who died in 1997, was famous for his cartoon-inspired style that helped launch — along with Andy Warhol, Jasper John and others — the pop art movement.
“Happenings,” spontaneous and fun arts and performance events, sprung up all around the city during the heady days of the 1960s.
The March 1965 one was organized by a group of emerging pop artists. It invited participants to come to the Hotel Chelsea — home to numerous legendary writers and artists — to enter into the $10 lottery for a key to about 20 lockers at the old Penn Station, which was then being torn down.
Thirteen artists participated in the Artists’ Key Club event. Besides Lichtenstein, they included Warhol, Christo and Arman.
“It was a large party for artists and people who were part of a hip downtown group having fun,” said Christie’s postwar and contemporary art expert Brett Gorvy. Later, he said, the group partied at a restaurant on the proceeds from the event.
Participants did not know which key opened which locker. And not everyone was as lucky as the woman who claimed the Lichtenstein drawing.
“One artist put up a group of very pungent cheeses” for his conceptual piece and another “had spices and herbs as his art work,” said Gorvy.
In 1965, the Lichtenstein drawing would probably have been valued at about $50. The current owner, who declined to be identified, decided to sell it because she had it recently appraised and was shocked to find out how much it was worth, Gorvy said.
Gorvy said Lichtenstein’s “Crying Girl,” a drawing of similar size and from the same series, sold at Christie’s in 2007 for $1.7 million. He said he expected “Kiss V” to surpass its pre-sale estimate of $800,000 to $1.2 million because of its unique provenance.
Lichtenstein was a “marvelous draftsman, who took the comic image and made it very much his own,” said Gorvy.
The auction record for Lichtenstein is $42.6 million for his “Oh … Alright,” a comic book image of a forlorn woman clutching a telephone. It sold at Christie’s in November.
Source: The Associated Press.
Gagosian Gallery presents “Richard Prince: de Kooning” an exhibition of paintings and works on paper. This coincides with “Richard Prince: American Prayer” at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, an exhibition of American literature, ephemera and artworks from Prince’s personal collection.
Prince’s “de Kooning” series is a process of interaction with the canonic imagery of the Abstract Expressionist idol Willem de Kooning. The idea for these edgy Oedipal works came to him when he was leafing through a catalogue of de Kooning’s Women series. He started sketching over the paintings, sometimes drawing a man to de Kooning’s woman. As time went on, he began applying fragments of male and female torsos, genitalia, thighs, and facial features, cut and pasted from catalogues and vintage porn magazines, as well as drawing with graphite and oil crayon, adding outlines, silhouettes and textures to the original figures that further blur the distinction between de Kooning’s imagery and Prince’s own.
From these intensely worked drawings evolved a series of paintings that are, similarly, montages of elements from de Kooning’s original paintings with figures cut from printed matter. The results are blown up onto large canvases via ink-jet printer, then the original material all but painted over. From the resulting abstract grounds, Prince then conjures up crude figures that recall de Kooning’s savage female subjects. The resulting hermaphroditic creatures are hybrids on several levels, merging male with female, painting with photography and print, and the refinement of modernist art with the vulgarities of mass cultural representation. Both homage and desecration, the de Kooning paintings exemplify Prince’s vision of a “Spiritual America,” a historical consciousness fueled by a pervasive desire for rebellion and reinvention.
Mining images from mass media, advertising and entertainment since the late seventies, Prince has redefined the concepts of authorship, ownership, and aura. Applying his understanding of the complex transactions of representation to the making of art, he evolved a unique signature filled with echoes of other signatures yet that is unquestionably his own. An avid collector and perceptive chronicler of American subcultures and vernaculars and their role in the construction of American identity, he has probed the depths of racism, sexism, and psychosis in mainstream humor; and the mythical status of cowboys, bikers, customized cars, and celebrities. His most recent work is an explosive mix of pulp fiction, soft porn, and high art.
Richard Prince was born in 1949 in the Panama Canal Zone. His work has been the subject of major survey exhibitions, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1992); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1993); Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam(1993); Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Basel (2001, traveled to Kunsthalle Zurich and Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg); Serpentine Gallery, London (2008). The retrospective “Richard Prince: Spiritual America” opened at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 2007 and traveled to The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis in 2008. “Richard Prince: American Prayer”, an exhibition of American literature and ephemera from the artist’s collection, will be on view at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris from March 29 – June 26, 2011.