Sotheby's London sale of Contemporary Art on Tuesday will showcase three of the key movements which have shaped the contemporary art scene of the past 15 years. Broadly, these movements are represented by the rise of photography as a contemporary art form, the Young British Artists, and the German painters who have come to prominence following the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Coinciding with the unveiling of his sculpture of a handicapped nude in Trafalgar Square, Marc Quinn's DNA Garden ( 80,000- 120,000) is perhaps the most important of his works ever to come to auction. Taking the traditional form of landscape as its basis, Quinn here presents 75 strands of plant DNA alongside those of the artist and his wife to create a most genetically realistic Garden of Eden.
Also included is a Damien Hirst Spot painting ( 60,000- 80,000); a Tracey Emin embroidered blanket ( 30,000- 40,000); two early Sarah Lucas self portraits ( 18,000- 25,000 and 30,000- 40,000 respectively); and a Sam Taylor-Wood photograph ( 30,000-40,000).
Following the sale of his first million-dollar painting at an auction in May this year, and coinciding with the announcement of his appointment as artist in residence at the National Gallery in London, the appearance of one of Chris Ofili's finest works on paper, Afro Daze ( 50,000- 70,000), may result in another landmark moment at auction.
The October sale also includes important large-scale works by the key artists from the hugely influential generation of German photographers. Andreas Gursky's Singapore Borse of 1997 ( 120,000- 150,000) is one of the artist's celebrated series of stock exchanges.
The scenes of Thomas Demand are neither nature nor urban, but are built by the artist himself from cardboard and paper. Tribune ( 45,000- 65,000) isolates a tension between the fabricated and the real. By distancing his photographs from reality, Demand knowingly subverts the traditional role of photography and throws his subject's originality and authenticity into doubt.
The biggest recent development in the international contemporary art scene has been the revival of painting by a group of former East German artists. Initially schooled in the Socialist Realism of the East, all are technically gifted and have adapted their ideas to the capitalist cultures of the West. Represented with important works by Eberhard Havekost (Untitled DD 00, 40,000-60,000); Thomas Scheibitz (Untitled No. 304 60,000- 80,000); Frank Nitsche (Lag 12 15,000- 20,000 and Untitled 10,000- 15,000); and Neo Rauch (Untitled 10,000- 15,000), despite their stylistic differences, together reveal painting as a medium pertinent to expressing the complexity and speed of our times.
TEL AVIV'S NEW auction house, Montefiore, was due to hold its second auction of Israeli and international art at the Tel Aviv Dan Hotel yesterday evening. Unfortunately, the handsome catalog of 210 lots, many by Israeli masters, reached me too late to make last week's column, but we hope to tell you more about it when we obtain the results.