Lots to Love: Spotlight on Postwar Italian Art at Sotheby’s

Works by notable names go under the gavel in London October 5.

“It’s always a thrill to place Italian art under the spotlight in London during Frieze, but this year we’re particularly excited to be showing the Italian postwar greats alongside their international counterparts, with whom they shared an artistic vision and language,” says Claudia Dwek, Europe chair for contemporary art at Sotheby’s, of the upcoming October 5 Frieze Week offering.

Indeed, 10 of the 45 lots included in the Frieze Week sale are by artists influenced by postwar Italian art, among them Zero movement visionaries Heinz Mack, Günther Uecker, and Yves Klein.

Standout lots include Alighiero Boetti’s rare and monumental embroidered tapestry Addizione, 1982, tagged at £1.7–£2.5 million ($2,186,200–$3,215,000); Lucio Fontana’s vibrant red slash canvas Concetto Spaziale, Attese, 1968, which carries an estimated £1.5–£2 million ($1,940,000–$2,580,000); Uecker’s 1964 nail work Rose, pegged at £500,000 to $700,000 ($643,000–$900,200); and Mack’s aluminum relief Untitled, 1965-66, estimated at £80,000 to £120,000 ($102,880–$154,320).

“In a market where collectors thrive on art-historical connections,” Dwek says, “it feels like the moment had come to shine a light—not just on Italian art but on Italian art in an international context.”

Within the overall contemporary art market, postwar Italian art has been on the rise in recent years. Since 2014, artist records at auction have been set for many of the more formidable figures in the genre—Lucio Fontana ($29.2 million for Concetto spaziale, La fine di Dio,1964, at Christie’s New York in November 2015); Alberto Burri ($13.3 million for Sacco E Rosso, 1959, at Sotheby’s London in February 2016); Enrico Castellani ($6.1 million for Superficie Bianca, 1967, at Sotheby’s London in October 2014; and Michelangelo Pistoletto ($4 million for Amanti [Lovers], 1962, at Christie’s London in July 2014).

The October 5 Italian sale at Sotheby’s in London fell a bit shy of its £19,520,000 to £27,190,000 ($26,125,568–$36,391,096) presale expectations, bringing a total of £18,401,750 ($24,403,500). 31 of the 45 lots on offer sold for a buy-in rate of 32 percent.

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