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Art Market Watch:

Apr. 22, 2011 

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A daisy by Andy Warhol, a single Calla Lily by Robert Mapplethorpe, a butterfly by Damien Hirst, an ice cream cone by Donald Baechler -- which of these charming images says "spring" to you?

Or perhaps it is LeRoy Neiman's masterful abstract impressionist image of the great Willie Mays in the midst of his mighty swing. Guys, is that the essence of spring, or what?

The Artnet Auctions Spring Sale is upon us, a collection of over 100 lots by 40 artists, with estimates ranging from $2,000 to $150,000. The sale launched on April 19, 2011, and runs through Tuesday, Apr. 26.

Warhol is perhaps best known for his poppies, but few of his images have a purer impact that his Daisy, a pink, lavender and deep-red colored image of the most simple of all flowers, presented here like a sun in the sky. This screenprint from ca. 1982 is stamped and certified by the Warhol Foundation, and carries a presale estimate of $70,000-$80,000.

Robert Mapplethorpe's Dark Sepia Calla (1987) depicts a single flower and -- as is usual with the artist -- behind the innocent and even spiritual façade is a carnal sexuality, an image emphasizing the bloom's phallic stamen as well as its feminine curves. Number three of five artist’s proofs, the picture measures a focused 19 inches square. It carries a presale estimate of $15,000-$20,000.

Hirst's butterfly -- called in pure Hirst style The Souls ( (Turquoise / Oriental Gold / Fuchsia Pink) -- was originally made for an exhibition titled "Souls," and it is easy to see the artist's fancy that this exquisite little creature could embody a spirit in transit. This example, lovely in color, has layered foil and embossing; it dates from 2010, and bidding begins at $5,500.

Baechler's Chocolate Cone (2007), one of the artist's signature simple images rendered on a background that makes witty reference to both Bridget Riley and Jasper Johns, was printed by Alexander Heinrici for Pace Editions in a small edition of 69 copies. It's signed and numbered by the artist in pencil. The opening bid is $3,000.

Neiman's 1978 serigraph of Willie Mays presents a double explosion, as brilliant yellow, aqua, pink and lavender limn the image of a ball singing out towards center field. Done in an edition of 300, the print is signed and numbered in pencil, and has an opening bid is a mere $2,500.

Finally, we cannot let this review of the Artnet Auctions Spring Sale end without a mention of a work by Mr. Brainwash that is new to auction, a mixed media portrait on paper of the British fashion model and artist's muse Kate Moss. Now, Kate may not have much to do with spring at first glance, but look at that imperious gaze, and see something more than flowers and even baseball -- see the imperious stare of the goddess of the seasons. Bidding on the work starts at $8,890.

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