Saturday - 06 February 2016

Look up, look down, look out – South Kensington goes Pop

13 July 2004Written by ATG Reporter

DECADES before Damien Hirst’s formaldehyde sheep and the 1990s explosion of Britart, London was swinging to the rhythm of Pop Art’s movers and shakers. Forty years have now passed since the height of this international movement prompting Christie’s South Kensington (19.5/12% buyer’s premium) to host the first of what they hope will become an annual Pop Art themed sale on June 30.

"The idea of a Pop Art sale made complete sense," said CSK specialist Simon Andrews. "The 1960s was a highly creative period when the applied arts and the fine arts merged very thoroughly…The sale made art intellectual sense and the timing seemed right," he added.

Ten months in the planning, this diverse 168-lot auction with material from across the disciplines was a collaborative exercise between departments at King Street and South Kensington and fortuitously coincided with the opening of Tate Britain's retrospective This Was Tomorrow: Art and the Sixties.

The auction was also Christie's latest attempt in targeting new groups of wealthy young buyers. It succeeded in attracting a handful of fresh faces as well as regular collectors and dealers from America, UK, Europe, the Far East and the Middle East. There was also some cross-fertilisation of buyers purchasing both fine and contemporary decorative art but overall bidding was selective. Some 65 per cent of entries sold to the tune of £241,450.

Many of the most expensive lots were predictably the iconic posters, screen prints, drawings and paintings by artists such as David Hockey and Roy Lichtenstein with Andy Warhol's two canvases Fishes the top lot at £18,000. But other notable works included four US cinema door poster panels (two shown here) advertising James Bond's 1965 film Thunderball.

In excellent condition, they were included here rather than in a poster sale because of their American-inspired 1960s Pop characteristics. A sequence of four, employing lurid pink, green and orange colours, they feature the superhuman and irresistible Bond - in many ways a celluloid version of a comic strip character. They topped their upper estimate and sold to a UK private at £15,500.

An equally iconic Pop entry was the Andy Warhol-inspired c.1966 paper and cotton Souper Dress made as a throwaway promotional gimmick by Campbell's Soup. It fetched £1200.

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ATG Reporter

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