Sotheby’s announced its New York auction of Important Prints & Multiples will take place on 26 & 27 April. Featuring exemplary works by Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary artists – including Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol – the sale is a beautiful representation of the diversity of this field. The New York exhibition opens to the public 22 April.

The auction is led by Jasper Johns’s Flags I (ULAE 128), carrying an estimate of $1/1.5 million. An ambitious project that required the production of 31 screens, the screenprint has an intricate and heavily-layered surface of red, white and blue impastos, underlaid with flatter areas of greens, oranges and blacks. One of Johns’s signature subjects, the American flag has been revisited over 100 times over the course of his career.

Following last October’s fantastic price for a complete set of Campbell’s Soup I, the spring auction will feature Andy Warhol’s complete set of Flowers (F. & S. 11.64-73). Estimated at $700/1,000,000, the group of ten screenprints in colors from 1970 are each signed on the verso and individually framed.

Sotheby's New York Announces Highlights from the Prints & Multiples sale
Richard Diebenkorn, Blue Surround. Aquatint printed in colors with etching and drypoint, 1982, initialed in pencil, dated and inscribed ‘TP’, a trial proof aside from the numbered edition of 35, on Rives BFK paper, framed. Sheet: 888 by 670 mm., 35 by 26 3/8 in. Estimate $80/120,000

Henri Matisse’s Océanie, la mer is a magnificent wall hanging that captures the artist’s foray into his signature cut-outs (above). Created in collaboration with accomplished textile maker Zika Ascher, the work is noteworthy for its size – stretching over 5 by 12 feet – as well as its symbolism; the distinctive shapes of coral and algae as well as the very particular beige color of the background are direct references to Matisse’s momentous trip to Tahiti. In fact, it has been recorded that over 30 paints were sampled before he settled upon this specific shade in order to emulate the Tahitian sands. The striking work, only the sixth to be available at auction, will be offered with a pre-sale estimate of $500/700,000.

Mary Cassatt, a pioneer of American Impressionism, also makes an appearance with Baby Charles Looking Over His Mother’s Shoulder (No. 2) (estimate $250/350,000). A beautiful and heartwarming example of the artist’s favorite subject, mother and child, the detailed counterproof highlights the maternal bond of protection and adoration that dominates Cassatt’s best works.

Sotheby’s will also feature Max Ernst’s Fiat modes pereat ars (Spies & Leppien 7) (estimate $80/120,000). One of very few known examples, this rare portfolio is the artist’s first lithographic work and the first Dada artwork commissioned by a civil authority – sponsored and begun with Verlag Arbeitsgemeinschaft Bildender Künstler, Cologne and completed with Schlömilch Verlag, Cologne. Featuring mannequin-like figures, illogical diagrams and impossible equations, the eight lithographs from 1919 exemplify Ernst and Dada’s philosophy of rejecting logic and reason in favor of nonsense and irrationality.


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