Artnet Auctions specialists choose their top lots from current post-war and contemporary art sales, from Martin Wong to Hernan Bas

Artnet Auctions’ current post-war and contemporary art sale presents a wide variety of hard-hitting works by famous artists from the post-war era to today. With such a wide range of works to discover, we asked our specialists to tell us about some of their favourites.

From a dreamy early piece by Yayoi Kusama to a masterpiece by Manolo Valdés, read on for the picks and place your bid on post-war and contemporary art before this big sale closes on May 18.

Hernan Bas
hoot hoot (2005)

hernan bass, hoot hoot (2005). Now available in post-war and contemporary art on Artnet Auctions. Est. $18,000-22,000.

Hernan Bas’ expressionist compositions are prized for their romantic quality, using rich areas of color to create a tilted perspective, oscillating between representation and abstraction. In 2005, Bas received a grant in Giverny, France, where he had the opportunity to paint on Claude Monet’s lavish, chromatic estate. Current work on paper, hoot hoot (2005), is inspired by the sight and sound of birds that Bas experienced during his morning walks through Giverny.

The grey-brown owl evokes the bird’s long tradition in art history. Bas’ bird, perched on a branch, is reminiscent of canonical works such as those by Vincent van Gogh Barn owl seen from the front (1887) and Albrecht Dürer’s The little owl (1506). Despite the familiarity of the bird and its environment, an element of mysterious abstraction, characteristic of Bas’s oeuvre, plays a role.

Michelangelo Pistoletto
Venus with a pipe (1973)

Michelangelo Pistoletto, Venus with a pipe (1973). Now available in post-war and contemporary art on Artnet Auctions. Est. $80,000 – 100,000.

Italian painter, performance artist and theorist Michelangelo Pistoletto is known for his stainless steel paintings that replace the traditional canvas with a mirrored surface, as a means of engaging the viewer and their surroundings with the artistic environment. In Venus with a pipe (1973), a woman lies naked, languidly smoking a pipe on a quilted bedspread. Like the odalisques found in classical portraiture, Venere, Italian for Venus, appears completely unconscious or unfazed by the eyes of the viewer. But Venere, with her eyes upturned, sardonicly engages in the traditionally masculine pastime of smoking.

Pistoletto is an important member of the Arte Povera movement and throughout his career he has been interested in elevating everyday objects and scenes. Specifically the 1966 . from the artist Min Objects series, which includes a series of columns and a two-dimensional table and chairs in addition to a series of mirror paintings, won first prize at the São Paulo Biennale.

Martin Wonga
Untitled (Brick Disc) (1994)

Martin Wong, Untitled (Brick Disc) (1994). Now available in post-war and contemporary art on Artnet Auctions. Est. $60,000 – 80,000.

Martin Wong’s signature subject, the brick wall, appears in Untitled (Brick Disc) (1994). The round canvas, or tondo, is the traditional format for Old Master portraits. But instead of a face, Wong presents a sassy assortment of red bricks with obvious marks of exposure and wear. Mottled in their hues of red, pink and yellow, Wong’s bricks form a line resembling a skin cell, both organic and inorganic. The rhythm of rectangular bricks is disrupted by black and gray paint applied to the painted wall with impasto. Untitled (Brick Disc) combines the artist’s interest in the convergence of identity and the city, possibly serving as his own version of a self-portrait.

Yayoi Kusama
As ripples form (1978)

Yayoi Kusama, As ripples form, 1978. Now available in post-war and contemporary art on Artnet Auctions. Est. $40,000 – 60,000.

As ripples form (1978) is a rare early work by Yayoi Kusama that is in pristine condition. The piece is made on a Shikishi board instead of traditional canvas, creating an extraordinary sense of layering. The composition is covered in Kusama’s iconic infinity netting pattern, which features in her early paintings and installations. Under this veil, the board is decorated with transferred images of autumn leaves, faded and weathered. Kusama weaves these objects in a swirl of bright blue, rust red, black and white, making familiar images feel strange and whimsical. Twisted and twisted, the composition drags the eye across the board in a curved motion, evoking the ripple effect that the title inspires.

Dan Graham
Swimming pool/Fishing pond (1997)

Dan Graham, Swimming pool/Fishing pond (1997). Now available in post-war and contemporary art on Artnet Auctions. Est. $40,000 – 60,000.

Throughout his career, the late Dan Graham has explored a variety of mediums, including photography, installation, performance, video and written word. He was known for his work as a curator, critic and cultural theorist whose musings on Sol LeWitt, Dan Flavin and Donald Judd shaped art history.

Some of Graham’s most celebrated works are his so-called pavilions: architectural structures of steel and glass. In Swimming pool/Fishing pond (1997), Graham continues to explore transparency and reflection while imagining an ideal space where both animal and human can occupy the same aquatic environment, separated only by an arched window.

Manolo Valdes
Face with hat II (2003)

Manolo Valdes, Face with hat II, 2003. Now available in post-war and contemporary art on Artnet Auctions. Est. $200,000 – 300,000.

Spanish artist Manolo Valdés is best known for his portraits of women, created in his iconic signature style, which brings together the aesthetic affinities of artists such as Diego Velázquez, Henri Matisse and Rembrandt. Face with hat II (2003) remembers Matisse’s Woman with a hatboth subject and title. The vibrant hues echo Matisse’s palette used in the groundbreaking 1905 masterpiece. The market for works by Valdés remains strong, as does his exhibition history and presence in museum collections such as New York’s Metropolitan Museum.

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