Superficie: world records and historic turnover at contemporary art auction

Dorotheum’s 10-11 June contemporary art auction generated the highest-ever turnover of any contemporary art auction in the history of the auction house, driven not least by an overwhelming interest in the Italian avant-garde lots.

Dorotheum had secured a strong line-up of works from important Italian avant-garde 1960’s artists, which proved highly popular with international clients at the Contemporary evening sale on 10th June.

Leading the sale was a work by Enrico Castellani, one of his striking and internationally acclaimed Superficie canvases, which sold for just under €1million.

The winning bid of €965,000 represents a new record price for a very early Superficie. Enrico Castellani was one of the main proponents of the avant-garde in Milan during the 1960s and is considered one of the most innovative artists of the post-war period – together with Piero Manzoni, Agostino Bonalumi, and Paolo Scheggi, whose works also achieved phenomenal prices at the auction. The four artists were all strongly inspired by the pioneering work of Lucio Fontana, who is considered a father figure to the distinct Milan avant-garde scene. Fontana himself was prominently represented at the auction with several early sculptures that all garnered great interest among the bidders. His “Female Bust” in particular was the centre of much attention and eventually sold at an impressive €588,533. Fontana’s small scale “Concetto Spaziale” from 1963 – 1964 found a new owner at the price of €405,600. Fellow Italian Fausto Melotti’s sculpture “Linee“, meanwhile, sold for twice the expected sum, at €369,000.

An untitled box with cut-outs and studded with nails by the ZERO-artist Günther Uecker found a buyer for €295,800, whereas Ilya Kabakov’s allusive painting “Landscape with Pioneer Camp” reached €491,000.

The Austrian artists included in the auction’s program also managed to tempt sufficient buyers’ interest to drive prices to unexpectedly high levels. Not only did a Max Weiler painting set a new international record of nearly €400,000, but also works by Erwin Wurm, Franz West, and Arnulf Rainer pushed the bids to startling heights.

Another world record was set on the second night of the Contemporary Art auction: Mauro Staccioli’s steel sculpture „Ellisse“ secured a final bid of staggering €204,300, the highest price to date paid for a work by the Italian artist. The auction highlights were too many to list here, but a few more artists that performed above expectations – namely Katharina Grosse, Cy Twombly and Keith Haring – deserve a special mentioning, nevertheless.

 

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