Thiebaud, Ruscha, & Dumas: Major Works Available at Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated Sale

Shreeya Maskey
Published on

Works by Wayne Thiebaud, Ed Ruscha, and Marlene Dumas will go under the hammer this month. These influential artists who shaped the postwar art scene will take the lead in Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated auction. Contemporary art collectors will find 176 lots associated with Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Modernism, and more. The live auction will be held on March 12th, 2021 beginning at 10:00 AM EST (lots 1 – 59) and 1:00 PM EST (lots 101 – 176). 

Wayne Thiebaud, Dark Heart Cake. Image from Sotheby’s.
Wayne Thiebaud, Dark Heart Cake. Image from Sotheby’s.

Among the featured artists is Wayne Thiebaud, an American printmaker and painter known for his recurring still lifes of edible treats and everyday objects. Wayne Thiebaud’s oil on board piece titled Dark Heart Cake is offered in Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated auction (USD 1,800,000 – $2,500,000). Executed in 2014, this still life painting was created in the artist’s later career. It shows a cake shaped like a heart— a recurring subject in Thiebaud’s paintings. In this work, the cake’s pink frosting stands out against the rich magenta background.

Thiebaud often turns to food as an artistic subject because it holds emotional resonance from his childhood. “Most of the objects are fragments of actual experience. For instance, I would really think of the bakery counter; of the way the counter was lit, where the pies were placed but I wanted just a piece of the experience,” he says about his subjects. “Those little vedute in fragmented circumstances were always poetic to me.”

Marlene Dumas, Handy. Image from Sotheby’s.
Marlene Dumas, Handy. Image from Sotheby’s.

Another established artist featured in the upcoming Sotheby’s event is Marlene Dumas. The South African artist’s works often refer to current affairs and pop culture. Dumas uses themes of love, shame, sexuality, and death to address social oppression. Titled Handy, Dumas’ offered 1999 painting can be characterized by gestural brushstrokes and thin washes of paint. The painting’s estimate ranges from $600,000 to $800,000.

A text painting from Ed Ruscha will be available as well. Associated with West Coast Pop art, Ruscha offers a new perspective on postwar American culture. He frequently employs unusual typography to set the mood of his paintings. A great example is California Grape Skins, which carries a presale estimate of $2,200,000 to $2,800,000. Completed in 2009, this acrylic piece quotes Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (1957).

Ed Ruscha, California Grape Skins. Image from Sotheby’s.
Ed Ruscha, California Grape Skins. Image from Sotheby’s.

Interested collectors can also find Damien Hirst’s 2007 painting in Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated event. Titled Beautiful Windmill of Hypnosis Over Hippy Trippy Landscape, this piece is among Hirst’s iconic spin paintings ($350,000 – $450,000). Hirst created these works by pouring emulsion paint on a rotating canvas. This particular technique was widely popularized in the 1994 American art scene. 

The auction will include other major contemporary works by Joan Mitchell, Andy Warhol, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated sale will begin at 10:00 AM EST on March 12th, 2021. View the full catalog on Sotheby’s.

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