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BY RAYNALD C RIVERA
DOHA: A masterpiece by Gerhard Richter, considered by many to be the world’s greatest living painter whose painting recently fetched a record $34.2m-the highest price ever for work by a living artist, highlights Sotheby’s Contemporary Art expo which opened yesterday at the Katara Galley Building 5.
Estimated in excess of $16m, Richter’s masterwork titled Abstraktes Bild (712) on display at the two-day expo is one of the most elegant and fully resolved abstractions by the octogenarian German artist.
Alexander Rotter, Senior Vice President and Head of Contemporary Art Department in Sotheby’s New York, said Richter is famous for having successfully traversed figuration and abstraction in his decades-long prolific career and for his unique technique in creating his masterpieces.
Looking closely into the 1990 oil painting, one can feel a sense of rhythm as various colours are revealed in many layers creating an exceptional texture which goes beyond what meets the eye.
Richter’s prized painting is only one of the 16 pieces by some of the leading American and European contemporary artists of the post-war era featured in the travelling show which previews the upcoming auction of contemporary art in New York on November 13.
“The forthcoming auction is one of the most impressive in terms of value perspective. It is the biggest sale of contemporary art since the market experienced difficulties in 2008,” said Rotter.
Each painting is worth millions of dollars and the entire body of work provides every lover of contemporary art the best in abstract expressionism and pop art.
Artists represented in the expo include Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Francis Bacon, whose screaming Pope painting is the most expensive in the collection priced between $18m and $25m.
The vision of screaming Popes emerged from the desolate shadows of the Second World War as humanity tried to make sense of the horrors that had been committed during those years. This version was painted circa 1954 and is closely related to the artist’s Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X.
“Bacon paints similarly with Picasso in such a way that the subject seems in motion through shifting layers of paint,” explained Rotter. The expo also highlights 20th century masterworks from the extensive collection of Sidney and Dorothy Kohl which feature prime examples by the titans of the American Abstract Expressionist movement.
They include Franz Kline’s Shenandoah (est. $6.5/8.5m), Joan Mitchell’s Untitled (est. $6/8m), Adolph Gottlieb’s Transfiguration (est. $3/5m) and Nirvana by Hans Hofmann (est. $5/7m).
Paintings by American Pop Art legend Andy Warhol on show include The Kiss (Bela Lugosi) (est. $4.5/6.5m), Cagney (est. $4.5/6.5m), Green Disaster (Green Disaster Twice) (est. in the region of $12m), Suicide (est. $4.5/6.5m), Martinson Coffee from 1962 (est. $3/4m) and Flowers (est. $1.5/2m).
Other paintings on view include two works by Jean-Michel Basquiat: Onion Gum from 1983 (est. $7/9m) and John Lurie (est. $1/1.5m).