Andy Warhol, Banksy, and Damien Hirst Shine at Auction

Damien Hirst, Untitled aaaaaa 1992, glass, painted MDF, ramin, steel, plastic, aluminium and pharmaceutical packaging 61 by 101.5 by 23 cm. Image: Bonhams Auctions

Untitled aaaaaa 1992 by Damien Hirst was a major highlight at Bonhams Post-War and Contemporary art auction where Andy Warhol art led sales. Image: Bonhams Auctions

AUCTION NEWS: Artworks by Andy Warhol, Zao Wou-Ki, Banksy and Hirst were top lots at Bonhams Post-War and Contemporary sale.


Andy Warhol, Mao ,1973. acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas 30.5 by 25.4 cm. 12 by 10 in. Image: Bonhams Auctions

LONDON- A spectacular Andy Warhol painting of Chairman Mao was the major highlight at Bonhams Post-War and Contemporary art sale in London Wednesday.  Estimated at £580,000-780,000,  the painting sold for £1,070,500 (US$ 1,437,954) inc. premium.  Considered the finest version of the subject ever executed by artist, it helped Bonhams achieve more than £3.8m.

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Fresh to the market, Chairman Mao by Andy Warhol was originally handled by the artist’s legendary dealer Leo Castelli in the 1970s. With a distinctive coloration and clarity of composition, it ranks as one of the finest of the series ever to appear at auction. The stunning, densely-textured painting has an unusually thick impasto. The kinetic wave of subtle blue hues  cascading through Mao’s coat converge with the acid green background in a glorious encounter of cool schemes. The dash of vivid scarlet and expressive brushwork finalize the uniqueness of this painting.

Chairman Mao by Andy Warhol was not the only work that made great impression at the Bonhams Post-War and Contemporary. Damien Hirst Untitled aaaaaa, 1992,  also captivated collectors as it come up for auction.  Appearing on the market for the first time, this signature medicine cabinet carries an important history. Created at the most innovative period of Hirst’s career,  it represents one of a small core of works that engendered the Young British Artists (YBA) wave in the early 1990s.

The 1990’s was a significant  point in  Hirst’s career.  With an obsession  for the idea of medicine, he drew parallels between the pharmaceutical industry and the art world. For several years, he wondered why medicine was more relevant than art.   He notes: ‘I cannot understand why some people believe completely in medicine but not in art, without questioning either. I was with my mum in the chemist’s; she was getting a prescription. And it was like, complete trust on the sculpture and organizing shapes.’

Damien Hirst’s preoccupation with the idea of medicine led to the opening of a concept restaurant in Notting Hill called Pharmacy.  Frequented by celebrities such as Kate Moss , the restaurant lasted for only a few years. The failure of Pharmacy did not dissuade Hirst. In early 2016, he opened a second restaurant, Pharmacy2, at his Newport Street Gallery.

Beyond opening restaurants, Hirst also created several sculptures with the theme of pharmacy. Untitled aaaaaa, 1992, is one them.  Almost a quarter of a century after it was first created, the piece has not lost its aura at all. Estimated at  £180,000-250,000, it sold for £314,500, surpassing it pre-auction estimate.

Banksy: SWAT Van, 2006. Sold for £218,500 (US$ 293,501) inc. premium. Estimated: £200,000-300,000.

Banksy’s SWAT van which was shown for the first at the artist’s debut solo exhibition in America.  The van spray painted in Banksy’s irreverent, insouciant style, depicts heavily armed Special Forces agents being hoodwinked by a small boy.

Yayoi Kusama: Stamens Sorrow, 1986, sold for £120,100 (US$ 161,324) inc. premium. Estimated: £65,000-85,000.

Yayoi Kusama, Stamens Sorrow 1986. Stuffed fabric, acrylic and mixed media on board. 40.5 by 40.5 by 10 cm. Image: Bonhams Auctions

Stamens Sorrow,  a painting by the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, displays many of the wild and wonderful motifs for which the celebrated artist is best-known. Imbued with chaotic blast of colour and movement, Stamens Sorrow is a slice of quintessential Kusama. An exhibition of Yayoi Kusama’s work is currently being held at the Victoria Miro gallery in London.

Zao Wou-Ki: Untitled, 1949, sold for £542,500 (US$ 728,715) inc. premium. Estimated: £80,000-120,000

Zao Wou-Ki, Untitled 1949. Oil on board laid on panel 38.2 by 55 cm. 15 1/16 by 21 5/8 in. Image: Bonhams Auction

Untitled, 1949,  by Zao Wou-Ki  was one of the important works at this auction.  Sold to a bidder on the telephone, it provides an important insight into Zao Wou-Ki’s emerging style in its earliest form. Untitled illustrates how  the contrasting influences of Chinese tradition and European avant-garde collided with dramatic results.  While in Paris in 1948, Wou-Ki  moved into a hotel next door to Alberto Giacometti and found himself fraternising with a vast array of artists. The result is an exciting challenging and provocative styles evident in Untitled.

The Post-War and Contemporary art auction realized more than £3.8m.  Bonhams Senior Director of Contemporary Art, Ralph Taylor was delighted by the result of the auction.  He said: “Bonhams is delighted to continue its vertiginous rise in Post-war and Contemporary with today’s sale. With results of 96% by value and 86% by lot we have cemented our place as the most effective sale in our field. This result is proof that curated sales with fresh works to market and quality presentation can deliver stunning results to a global audience even in challenging times.”

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