A painting by renowned modern artist CY Twombly will finally see the light of day, after 25 years hidden away in a private collection. The distinctive graffiti-like work entitled Leda and the Swan – painted in 1962 – along with a sister painting will be offered at auction for the first time. The works will make up the star lot at an auction on 17 May, at Christie’s post-war and contemporary evening sale. Leda and the Swan, which has only had two owners in its history, has a pre-auction estimate range between US$35 million and US$55 million.
“Impregnated with paint passionately and poetically applied with the hand, brush and stick, Leda and the Swan is one of the most vital canvases created during this transformative period in the artist’s career,” said Koji Inoue, international director of the auction house’s contemporary department. “Given its tremendous importance within the context of both Twombly’s oeuvre and the canon of post-war art, we are honoured to offer this work to the market after nearly 30 clandestine years.”
If the estimates are anything to go by, the work could conceivably break the record for a Twombly work at auction. The current record price for a work by the American painter stands at US$70.5 million, set when Untitled (New York City), was sold in November 2015. The 1968 painting is one of Twombly’s famous ‘blackboard’ works.