Rothko No. 17 Comes to Auction

NEW YORK, NY.- Leading Christie’s Evening Sale of Post-War & Contemporary Art on May 10, is Mark Rothko’s pivotal 1957 canvas, No. 17 (estimate: $30-40million).

Art collectors of ArtKabinett social media network believe that this Rothko masterpiece could actually fetch double its pre-sale estimate.

With its vibrant, verdant hues, No. 17 is emblematic of the experiential nature of Rothko’s art—a manifestation of what one critic called the “immediate radiance” of the paintings from this period of the artist’s career.

One of the artist’s rare “blue” canvases, this work belongs to a select group that marked the culmination of a short period during which he executed a number of brightly hued works and just a few months before he embarked on a series of paintings that have become widely regarded as the pinnacle of his career, the Seagram Murals (Tate Gallery, London).

No. 17 was exhibited in the retrospective of Rothko’s work that was organized by the International Council of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

This painting was featured in this vital 1961-1963 Rothko retrospective, which traveled across Europe championing the cause of Abstract Expressionism and confirming Rothko’s status as one of its vanguards.

The retrospective’s first stop in Europe was the seminal exhibition at The Whitechapel Art Gallery in London, which was where much of the British Public first encountered Rothko’s work.

Following the retrospective, No. 17 was acquired by an important private Italian collection, where it remained unseen by the public for the next several decades. However, it reemerged into the public eye in 2001 when it appeared as a central part of a major exhibition mounted by the Fondation Beyeler. It was there that the curator described No. 17 as “a fine example of…his virtuoso paint handling…” Following the exhibition, the painting was acquired by a private collection, where it has remained until today.

Brett Gorvy, International Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art, remarked:

"No. 17, is a strikingly beautiful canvas that comes with an exhibition history that places it within the canon of Rothko’s most important paintings of the late 1950’s. We are particularly pleased to be presenting this work to the marketplace at a time when there is such tremendous demand for examples by Rothko of this remarkable quality. With its vibrant, enveloping surface, and its freshness to the auction market, we are confident that No. 17 will appeal to a broad global audience."

No. 17 is being sold on the heels of the tremendously successful sale of Rothko’s 1958 painting, No. 10, which realized $81,925,000 against a high estimate of $60 million at Christie’s New York, in May 2015.

No. 10’s strength at auction demonstrated the tremendous demand for works of this quality by Rothko in the global marketplace, which continues to exist in full force today.

No. 17 was produced at the height of Rothko’s painterly powers.

• Produced at the dawn of his mature period, and just a short time before he embarked on what would become his magnum opus, the Seagram Murals, this painting encapsulates all of the drama and psychological intensity of an artist who became one of the most celebrated and influential artists of the twentieth century.

• Sandwiched between both these blocks is a strip of high-keyed azure blue, the active edges of this thin strip increasing their impact by bleeding into the neighboring areas with intoxicating results. Rothko always insisted that it was here, where the edges of his painterly passages meet, that the true essence of his paintings could be witnessed.

This painting encapsulates all of the drama and psychological intensity of an artist who became one of the most celebrated and influential artists of the twentieth century.

Photo above : Mark Rothko (1903-1970), No. 17, oil on canvas, 91 1/2 x 69 1/2 in. (232.5 x 176.5 cm.). Painted in 1957. $30-40million. ©1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.