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  • Mar 19, 2018

Lévy Gorvy to Present USD 35 million Willem de Kooning Painting at 2018 Art Basel Hong Kong

WILLEM DE KOONING, Untitled XII, 1975, oil on canvas, 202.6 × 177.2 cm. Copyright

Lévy Gorvy has announced that the gallery’s presentation at the upcoming 2018 Art Basel Hong Kong will include Willem de Kooning’s Untitled XII (1975). The piece is priced at USD 35 million, making it one of the highest valued works in the fair’s history.

For the past 17 years, the vibrant canvas, with fragmented forms and brusque brush marks, has been a part of Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen’s private art collection. Allen, who purchased the painting privately, has been known to sporadically release pieces from his body of works to make room for new acquisitions.

In a phone conversation with ArtAsiaPacifc, Danqing Li, Lévy Gorvy’s recently appointed senior director, Asia, explained that a work like this would normally be presented in New York, where the market for post-war contemporary art has been focused, and where, in 2017, the gallery held the extensive exhibition “Willem de Kooning | Zao Wou-Ki,” which spanned three floors. The gallery’s decision to debut the work at Art Basel Hong Kong stems from the fact that they are “highly confident in the Asian art market.” Brett Gorvy, the gallery’s co-founder and former Christe’s chairman and international head of Post-War and Contemporary Art, is also familiar with Hong Kong’s interest in the Dutch abstract expressionist artist as, back in November 2016, he presented a major private selling exhibition titled “The Loaded Brush” at Christie’s Hong Kong, showcasing paintings by artists including de Kooning, Francis Bacon, and Joan Mitchell—all of which were well received by collectors and viewers.  

Untitled XII was created during de Kooning’s most prolific period, when he moved from Broadway in New York to East Hampton and shifted the focus of his abstractions from figures to scenes inspired by nature. The canvas was exhibited in 2016 in the touring show “Seeing Nature: Landscape Masterworks from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection,” alongside works by Paul Cézanne, Gustav Klimt, Claude Monet, and J.M.W. Turner, among others.

The 2018 edition of Art Basel Hong Kong is poised to launch on March 29 with 248 galleries from 32 countries, and will be on view until March 31.

Sophie von Wunster is an editorial intern at ArtAsiaPacific.

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