Roy Lichtenstein ‘s 1965 masterwork will be offered during Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction, which is scheduled to take place in the week of June 29 in New York.
“White Brushstroke I” is part of a series of 15 canvases that Lichtenstein executed between 1965 and 1966, which are now regarded as pivotal masterpieces of the Pop Art movement.
The “Brushstrokes” series was inspired by a motif drawn from a comic book story printed in “Strange Suspense Stories” in October 1964, in which a tortured artist battles a painting that appears to assume a life of its own.
Roy Lichtenstein first exhibited “White Brushstroke I” in 1965 in the historic debut of his “Brushstrokes” series at Leo Castelli Gallery, with the masterwork being then featured in numerous museum exhibitions throughout the years.
“White Brushstroke I” is now hitting the auction at Sotheby’s New York, where it is expected to sell for between $20 and $30 million.
This high pre-sale estimate is far from Lichtenstein’s record price of $165 million for “Masterpiece,” which was reportedly sold to billionaire hedge fund manager and art collector Steve Cohen through Acquavella Gallery in January 2017.
This painting is one of the few “Brushstroke” canvases remaining in private hands, with eight examples held in the permanent collections of museums like the Art Institute of Chicago, Kunsthaus Zürich and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
“‘White Brushstroke I’ is an icon of Pop Art, capturing in a single painting the rupture that this movement invoked in an entire generation of postwar picture-making,” David Galperin, head of Sotheby’s contemporary art evening auctions in New York, said in a statement.
Sotheby’s will also offer “Triptych Inspired by the Oresteia of Aeschylus” by Francis Bacon during its Contemporary Art Evening Auction, during which the three-panel work will likely exceed its $60 million estimate.
Sotheby’s live evening and day auctions of Contemporary and Impressionist & Modern Art, originally scheduled in May, will take place “pending the lifting of certain restrictions and confirmation from the relevant authorities that we can proceed.”
While the reopening of Sotheby’s galleries in New York and London is still uncertain, the auction house held several record-breaking online sales in recent weeks.
Most recently, the eighth edition of “Contemporary Curated” brought in more than £5.0 million (over $6.4 million), surpassing its pre-sale high estimate of £4.6 million ($5.7 million), and becoming Sotheby’s highest-ever total for an online sale.