NEW YORK — A large painting from one of Willem de Kooning’s most productive periods is going on the auction block in the fall. Christie’s is offering “Untitled XXV” in New York on Nov. 15, where it believes it could realize around $40 million.
The auction house sold the same painting in 2006 for $27.1 million. At the time it set an auction record for any work of post-war and contemporary art.
Christie’s predicts that the exuberant work that bursts with color and textural brush work will set a new auction record for a work by the abstract expressionist. It was executed during a burst of creativity in the mid-1970s — following a dry spell in the late 1960s — when de Kooning produced a series of large paintings that were inspired by the landscape of Louse Point in Springs, New York, a bucolic hamlet in East Hampton where he moved in 1963.
“In the ’70s he found new love … and that gave him inspiration, but also his arrival in Springs where he designed and built his own studio. He had fabulous light and he was madly in love,” said Brett Gorvy, Christie’s head of post-war and contemporary art.
“He suddenly found his voice again. He described this 1977 period almost like a gambler throwing dice, and each time he was a winner,” he added.
“Untitled XXV” measures 77 inches by 88 inches and is the artist’s largest painting.
“When you stand in front of it, it has amazing unity and wholeness despite that fact that it has so much variance in the way the paint has been applied,” said Gorvy.
Experts consider the body of work during this period “his most successful,” Gorvy said. “It was a phenomenal period of creativity where he basically produced the best paintings since the work he was doing in the 50s.”
“Untitled XXV” is being sold by a European collector who purchased it privately in 2008. The current auction record for a de Kooning is $32 million for another painting from 1977. That record was set in 2013.
“Untitled XXV” will be on display at Christie’s in London from Oct. 1-6. It coincides with an exhibition on Abstract Expressionism at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.
De Kooning died in 1997.