Last week, leading contemporary works brought in high numbers in the marquee evening auctions, a sign that market is still meeting global demand for expensive works. The last major market test of the season will come with Christie’s upcoming global hybrid evening sale titled ONE scheduled to take place on July 10.
Among the works recently announced is contemporary painter Cecily Brown’s dynamic Carnival and Lent completed between 2006-2008. The work carries an estimated value between £4 million to £6 million ($5 million to $7.5 million) and will go up for sale in the London session of Christie’s relay-format evening auction. If the work reaches its high estimate, it will be the most expensive work by the artist to sell both at auction and privately.
The guaranteed painting, standing at 97 inches by 103 inches, takes cues from Pieter Brueghel the Elder’s 1559 work The Fight Between Carnival and Lent. Brown’s painting was originally purchased by the seller at Gagosian following the artist’s Fall 2008 solo survey, and has been in the hands of a private American collector since.
In the same neutral and lavender palette as Brueghel’s painting, Brown’s work reimagines the original arial view scene as a densely compact abstract featuring hidden figures. Brueghel’s rendering shows an allegorical figures Prince Carnival and Lady Lent. It has previously been on loan to the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
Brown’s work comes to sale at a time when the demand for works by historically significant female painters is surging. “Cecily Brown was recently included in the Whitechapel Gallery’s group exhibition ‘Radical Figures’ which focused on those pushing the boundaries of representation” said André Zlattinger, Christie’s Deputy Chairman of Post-War and Contemporary Art in Europe in a statement. “Her sources are hugely varied and Carnival and Lent places her work in dialogue with Old Masters.”
The sale also comes on the heels of Gagosian’s recent sale of Cecily Brown’s Figures in a Landscape 1 (2001) at Art Basel’s online fair in June carrying a price of $5.5 million, the highest price ever paid publicly for one of her works made after 1999. The British painter’s auction record was established at Sotheby’s contemporary auction in May 2018 with the sale of Suddenly Last Summer (1999), which doubled its high estimate and sold for $6.7 million.
Browns work is included in various prominent international collections including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the Tate Gallery, London.