Past Auction

1989 Tondo by Martin Wong Achieves a Record $137,000 at Doyle New York's November 11, 2014 Auction of Post-War and Contemporary Art

Tue, Nov 11, 2014 at 11am EST |
New York
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Almost Triples Prior Auction Record for the Artist of $47,500

  • Almost Triples Prior Auction Record for the Artist of $47,500
  • Paintings and Sculpture by Prominent American, European, Latin American and Asian Artists of the 20th and 21st Centuries
  • We Invite You to Contact Us for a Complimentary Auction Evaluation of Your Post-War and Contemporary Art

On November 11, 2014, Doyle New York held an auction of Post-War and Contemporary Art. The sale offered a wide range of paintings and sculpture from around the world by prominent and emerging artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. Works by American, European, Latin American and Asian artists encompass Abstract Expressionism and various other abstract movements that follow, including Pop Art, Minimalism, Op Art, Fluxus and Street Art, as well as representational imagery from the years after World War II through the present day.

Martin Wong

One of the sale’s highlights was a 1989 large-scale tondo by Martin Wong (American, 1946-1999) titled Liberty Mourning the Death of Her Sister – Beijing. This powerful painting attracted international attention, and the resulting competitive bidding sent the work soaring past its estimate of $20,000-40,000 to achieve a stunning $137,000, a world auction record for the artist. The price almost tripled the prior record for the artist of $47,500 set in February 2013.

A Chinese-American artist living in New York’s Lower East Side, Martin Wong famously championed the pre-gentrified landscape of his decaying neighborhood, as well as the heroes of his heritage. This work, created for inclusion in the Asian American Arts Centre's group show, “CHINA: June 4, 1989 An Art Exhibition,” was his sobering reaction to the Tiananmen Square massacre that had become an international incident just a few months prior. To the cheering of 100,000 onlookers, student protestors wheeled a 33-foot high papier-mache sculpture they dubbed "Lady Liberty," their embodiment of the Statue of Liberty. In Martin Wong's work, the Statue of Liberty collapses in sorrow, reacting to the existential death of the protestors' Lady Liberty, and in kind, the death of their hopes for democracy, freedom of speech and much more.

Martin Wong arrived in the Lower East Side from the San Francisco Bay Area in 1978, setting up a studio for his self-trained painting in a crowded apartment. His work documents the Lower East Side of the 1980s and ‘90s -- the fire-trap tenements, rusty gates and spray-paint encrusted handball courts. He was beloved in the New York art world and an essential figure in Downtown art history. He attended every key art event in Manhattan and even secretly gave his artist friends free supplies while working at Pearl Paint.

As famed for his own artwork as for his intense collecting habits of other artists’ work, Martin donated his legendary collection of Graffiti art in 1994 to the Museum of the City of New York. The Museum’s 2014 blockbuster exhibition, “City As Canvas,” and its accompanying book by Rizzoli, celebrated this remarkable collection assembled by Martin.

Martin succumbed to the AIDS virus in 1999, just one year after a career retrospective of his work at New York’s New Museum.

Works by Other Artists

In addition to the record-setting work by Martin Wong, the sale also set a new auction record for Israeli/American artist Boaz Vaadia (b. 1951). A 1999 sculpture by Vaadia titled Yigal and Amarya and estimated at $10,000-15,000 achieved $28,125.

Other noteworthy offerings in the sale featured a 1965 oil on paper by Willem de Kooning (Dutch/American, 1904-1997) from the Estate of the Honorable Roy M. Goodman that fetched $209,000. A 1977 abstract by Manoucher Yektai (American/French, b. 1922) from the Estate of Julian Koenig achieved $81,250, many times its estimate of $10,000-15,000. Another work by Yektai from the same estate, Pineapple Table (1968) sold for $34,375, far surpassing its estimate of $6,000-8,000.

The auction offered a group of works on paper by Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976), all of which exceeded their estimates. L'Ile Verte (1974) achieved $112,500, A Rainy Day (1969) sold for $65,625, Come to the Zoo at Noo Noo! (1943) fetched $62,500, and Soup Stock (1966) sold for $40,625. A silver and steel wire goat pin from 1943 achieved its high estimate of $50,000.

Also achieving strong prices in the auction were works by Anselm Reyle, Wolf Kahn, Keith Haring, Robert Edward Klippel, Lester Johnson, Art & Language and Baltasar Lobo, among others.

International competition from bidders in the saleroom, on the telephones, and on the Internet resulted in a sale total of $1,474,125 with 64% sold by lot and 79% sold by value.

All prices include the Buyers' Premium.

NEXT POST-WAR & CONTEMPORARY ART AUCTION: Spring 2015

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  • Estate of Julian Koenig
  • Estate of the Honorable Roy M. Goodman
  • The Spanierman Gallery, LLC

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