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Auction Records for Helen Frankenthaler, Joan Mitchell Could Fall at Christie’s Evening Sale in November

Helen Frankenthaler, Red Square , 1959.


At Christie’s postwar evening sale in New York in November, pieces by Helen Frankenthaler and Joan Mitchell could set new auction records for those artists.

Frankenthaler’s sprawling Red Square (1959) has been estimated at between $3 million to $5 million, meaning it could eclipse the high mark of $3 million for her work on the block, a figure reached made when the painting Blue Reach (1978) sold at a Sotheby’s day sale back in May. Red Square is being sold by Bennington College to benefit its Art for Access program, which involves selling artworks to raise scholarship funds.

Joan Mitchell, 12 Hawks at 3 O’Clock, 1960.


The chairman of the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Clifford Ross, said in a release, “When Helen gifted Red Square to the school, it was a measure of her belief in Bennington’s educational mission and focus on the visual arts—from which she benefited enormously. Helen looked back on her time at Bennington with joy and maintained a close connection with the college throughout her career. She would be so pleased that her gift has taken on new life in this way.”

Red Square will be sold alongside Joan Mitchell’s 12 Hawks at 3 O’Clock (1960), estimated at $14 million to $16 million. If the piece sells at the top end of that estimate, along with buyer’s premium, it could exceed her existing record at auction of $16.6 million, which was set in May at a Christie’s postwar and contemporary art evening sale. 12 Hawks at 3 O’Clock is being sold from the collection of Barney Ebsworth; the first owner was painter Sam Francis, who kept it until his death in 1994.

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