David Hockney shows his class at Australian print auction

Of the international artists featuring in Menzies first timed online only auction finishing on September 23 and dedicated to prints and multiples, English painter David Hockney – considered one of the most influential artists of the 20th century – was the one with the most appeal.

His Untitled No. 20 from the Yosemite Suite 2010 (of which the total number of editions was just 25) and listed as lot 16 doubled its high catalogue estimate to be knocked down for $140,000.

The auction began with another of his works Pool Made with Paper and Blue Ink for Brook 1980, an iconic lithograph number 60 from 1000 editions. It also was successful, changing hands for $75,000 (including buyer’s premium) on a $30,000-$50,000 estimate.

Born in 1937, apart from painting Hockney has achieved a solid reputation as draftsman, printmaker, stage designer and photographer.

He held the record for the most expensive artwork by a living artist sold at auction, which he achieved on November 15, 2018 when his 1972 work Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) sold at Christie’s auction in New York for $90 million.

This was eclipsed six months later, again at Christie’s, when Jeff Koons Rabbit sold for more than $91 million.

However, other international artists at the Menzies sale were not so successful. Andy Warhol’s Queen Elizabeth II from the Reigning Queen Series of 1985 (lot 15) – at $800,000 to $1 million the highest estimated price in the sale – failed to sell and Banksy’s Christ with Shopping Bags (lot 14) was a similar disappointment.

The auction clearance rate was 62 per cent as only 34 of the 54 lots on offer sold. Among the Australian artists, iconic modern painter Brett Whiteley (1939-1992) was his ever popular self with three of his four prints selling.

The most significant was The Cat 1980 (lot 2), a large offset lithograph edition 25/100 – going under the hammer for $38,000 on a $15,000-$20,000 estimate and recording the highest stand-alone print price at auction for the artist.

Several other Australian artists sold within their auction estimates including Keith Haring’s screenprint Bad Boys (lot 5) for $12,000, Damian Hirst’s For the Love of God, Believe 2007 (lot 7 - $4800) and Beautiful, Galactic, Exploding Screenprint (Spin) 2001 (lot 18 - $8000), and Roy Lichenstein’s Fish and Sky, from Ten from Leo Castelli 1967 (lot 8 - $8000).

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