An impressive selection of post-war and contemporary art was offered for sale at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Day Auction held in New York on May 17. Among the highlights were the untitled work by Jean-Michel Basquiat (sold for $855,000), “The Only One with Waves” by David Hockney (sold for $2,175,000), “Nets – Obsession [Opr]” by Yayoi Kusama (sold for $2,535,000), and “Blue Reach” by Helen Frankenthaler (sold for $3,015,000). However, the top lot of Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Day Auction was an outstanding oil on canvas painting by Mark Tansey, entitled “Study for Push/Pull.”
Mark Tansey is a contemporary American painter, born in 1949 in San Jose, California. He is largely known for a series of amazing monochromatic paintings of landscapes and figures, many of which are inspired by old magazine clippings and the artist’s own photographs. The work put up for sale at Sotheby’s New York auction on May 17 is one of these fantastic surrealistic paintings, beautifully executed in ultramarine blue. Created by Mark Tansey in 2003, it depicts a desert landscape with a group of explorers trying to cross a deep abyss. However, if you take a closer look at this painting, you will also notice several hidden visual clues, such as the face of Lizzie Grubman in the background of the upper picture plane and the false reflection of an Egyptian sphinx below the explorers.
Mark Tansey’s “Study for Push/Pull” was estimated at $1,500,000 – 2,000,000. However, this outstanding work was sold for an impressive $3,135,000, more than doubling its low estimate and thus becoming the most expensive painting pushed under the hammer on May 17. Overall, Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Day Auction raised a total of $107,027,500, with many lots from the post-war period to the present sold at much higher prices than expected.