Orson Welles
signed, titled and dated 'Orson Welles herold 90' (on the stretcher); signed and dated 'herold 90' (on the reverse)
caviar, ink and lacquer on canvas
3112 x 3938in. (80.1 x 100cm.)
Executed in 1990
Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2005.
A. Renton, (ed.), Cranford Collection 02, St Peter Port, 2009, p. 140 (illustrated in colour, pp. 68-69, 70-71 & 84).
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Lot Essay

Christie’s is pleased to present Ambassadors of the Now, an exceptional selection of works from a leading collection which will be offered across our First Open and Day sales in London and online.

A sublime confetti of dots surges across George Herold’s O. Welles, 1990; the title of the painting is a nod to the esteemed actor Orson Welles. Characteristic of an artist who often rejects more conventional materials, O. Welles is composed of caviar and lacquer. Herold previously has been known to use vodka bottles, buttons, baking powder, and mattresses, among other unexpected substances. The work is part of the artist’s Caviar Paintings, a series in which he uses the sturgeon’s roe in portraits of celebrated writers, scientists, actors, and musicians. As a lifeforce, a food substance, and an investment, caviar both suggests hedonistic consumption and, under Herold’s hand, a Beuysian materiality. The portraits ‘resemble Arte Povera relics,’ writes critic Mark Prince, ‘siblings to Yves Klein or Piero Manzoni’s art – but what could be more of an oxymoron than Arte Povera made of caviar?’ (M. Prince, ‘Georg Herold’, Frieze, 1 June 2011, Herold’s work refutes easy interpretations, preferring instead to operate in the in-betweens. These are charged canvases that confound a viewer’s expectations and a historical specificity.

Ambassadors of the Now represents the efforts of an important private collection whose mission concentrates on raising arts awareness, supporting and lending to institutions, and nurturing London’s artistic community. Since the 1990s, the collection has constantly evolved, responding to new ideas and movements in art and growing with the artists and institutions it has supported.

Indeed, this collection understands the role of art within the everyday and, over the past two decades, it has worked to represent and amplify a diversity of voices and experiences. Drawing from the significant movements of the 20th and 21st centuries, the art of the collection is united by a courageous aesthetic thesis. Conceptual works such as Dining Scene (Two Greys) with Disruption at Source (Red, Yellow, Blue) by John Baldessari, Richard Prince’s Untitled (My Boyfriend married a girl), Rosemarie Trockel’s Untitled, and Untitled (Social Pudding Corner) by Rirkrit Tiravanija + Superflex make clear the devotion to the vanguard. Such considerations are transmitted through the innovative vocabularies found in the more recent works of Wade Guyton, Wilhelm Sasnal, and Abraham Cruzvillegas, among others. Yet the collection has always been invested in figuration, as seen in Elizabeth’s Peyton’s delicate portrait John Lydon or the dreamy expanses of Justine Kurland’s photographic terrains.

Across the collection, colour is decadent, vibrant, and powerfully emotive. In works by Valeska Soares, Tim Gardner, Clement Rodzielski, it is a sweeping almost structural force. A similar expressive intensity can be seen in the collection’s considerable photographic holdings by artists such as Jeff Wall, Damián Ortega and Shirin Neshat. Like these images, the collection too is forward-looking, connected, and incandescent. Coming together in a vivid ensemble, Ambassadors of the Now presents a vision of art’s place in the world and its role as a vehicle of personal expression.

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