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    Mark Rothko (1903-1970) No. 17 (c) 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Courtesy Christie's Images Ltd., 2016

    Mark Rothko (1903-1970)
    No. 17 (c) 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd., 2016

    Mark Rothko’s pivotal 1957 canvas No. 17  will lead Christie’s evening sale of  Post-War & Contemporary Art in New York on May 10.  It is estimated at $30-40 million One of the artist’s rare “blue” canvases, this work belongs to a select group that marked the culmination of a short period during which he executed a number of brightly hued works.  This was just a few months before he embarked on the Seagram Murals which have been at the Tate Gallery, London since 1970, the year of Rothko’s suicide.

    It was featured in the 1961-1963 Rothko retrospective which championed the cause of Abstract Expressionism in Europe in a variety of different venues. The  first stop was the Whitechapel Gallery in London.  Afterwards it travelled to Amsterdam, Brussels, Basel, Rome before finishing at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in January 1963.

    After the retrospective No. 17 went into a private Italian collection and remained unseen by the public for the next several decades. In 2001 it was the central part of an exhibition at the Fondation Beyeler near Basel in Switzerland.  After that exhibition it went into another private collection, where it has remained until now.

    Brett Gorvy, International Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art, at Christie’s said: “No. 17, is a strikingly beautiful canvas that comes with an exhibition history that places it within the canon of Rothko’s most important paintings of the late 1950’s. We are particularly pleased to be presenting this work to the marketplace at a time when there is such tremendous demand for examples by Rothko of this remarkable quality. With its vibrant, enveloping surface, and its freshness to the auction market, we are confident that No. 17 will appeal to a broad global audience.”

    No. 17 is being sold on the heels of the tremendously successful sale of Rothko’s 1958 painting, No. 10, which realized $81,925,000 against a high estimate of $60 million at Christie’s New York, in May 2015. No. 10’s strength at auction demonstrated the tremendous demand for works of this quality by Rothko in the global marketplace, which continues to exist in full force today.

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