Top 10 Portrait Picks From The London Auctions

Top 10 Portrait Picks From The London Auctions

By Bruce Helander for The Huffington Post - 27 June 2011

Next week, London hosts contemporary auctions organized by Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips de Pury. While there are gems on the docket like Warhol’s brilliant Electric Chairand works by other very iconic American figures like Basquiat and Calder, the collection is overwhelmingly European. 

There is an unusual vintage selection of Lucian Freud drawings and paintings, as well as great examples of works by German Neo-Expressionists like Gerhard Richter, Georg Baselitz and Sigmar Polke. Britain also is well-represented with the likes of Damien Hirst, Francis Bacon, David Hockney and Jenny Saville. All it takes is money. If there is a common denominator inherent in the imagery it surely is representation with a heavy dose of figuratism, especially when it comes to examining the human face on canvas. The catalog covers from Sotheby’s and Christie’s feature a hauntingly beautiful portrait by John Currin, Francis Bacon’s Study for a Portrait and a stunning Warhol painting of Debbie Harry as a homogenized and pasteurized Blondie. This unusual promotional positioning of images sets the stage for a delightful and abundant array of portraiture interpretations. My list focuses its attention on the best of the lot without regard to estimated value, hype or pedigree. The following are my ten personal favorite picks for the most interesting portraits on the block next week. (...)

Donald Baechler's Onion Eater is a stylish, pensive caricature outlined in black that could serve as a handmade Haitian Barber school sign that offers no-nonsense grooming. Here the artist has patched together sections of the canvas that take on a traveling circus sideshow billboard aroma. The purposeful naïve depiction of the subject is full of unbalanced charm.

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Donald Baechler, Onion Eater, 1989, acrylic, oil and collage on canvas, 190 x 190 cm