We are used to see all sorts of professional figures acting as "curators" (definitely one of the most abused terms in our modern vocabulary...) for assorted art events, but maybe not so many choreographers. Sotheby's changed this trend by opting for a radical figure to bring an innovative twist to its Contemporary Curated auctions - Michael Clark. The dancer and choreographer selected a series of works for the auction that took place today in London.
Since founding his own company in 1984 after his experiences at the Rambert Dance Company in 1979, Clark performed at venues all over the world, including galleries and museums.
Influenced by music, art and fashion, his performances are famous for being technically and physically challenging pieces usually performed on visually stimulating bold graphic sets.
Quite often in his performances, Clark combined art and dance: throughout the years he has collaborated with artists, musicians, designers, filmmakers and performers, among them Leigh Bowery, Peter Doig, and Alexander McQueen.
In 2001 he teamed up with Sarah Lucas in "Before and After: The Fall": for this performance Lucas created a mobile structure in the shape of an arm that interacted with the dancers on stage (in the past, Clark also worked for Lucas as assistant).
Between 2010 and 2011 Clark spent seven weeks in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern during his Yvonne Rainer-inspired residency, inviting members of the public to participate in his choreography; in 2012 he did a four-week takeover of an entire floor of the Whitney Biennial in New York.
Considering therefoe art as linked to dance Clark selected the pieces following his own personal criteria: power of the composition, dynamism, density, weight and abstraction were some of the parameters Clark followed to choose the pieces that went on auction.
His choices often reflected a heightened sense of physicality (see Sarah Lucas' "Ones Knob", an object made out of beer cans with cigarettes stuck to them) or proved visually strong (Tom Wesselmann's abstract drawing "Study for Sunset Nude").
"I relate Liam Gillick's work to that of Günther Förg, in terms of density," Clark stated on Sotheby's site. "Förg is pure abstraction if you like, and because he is using text, Liam's work has a different specificity to it. I have chosen these works because they intrigue me. I've chosen Rebecca Warren, for example, because she is a friend – but I'm also intrigued by her very specific way of creating mystery."
There were 155 pieces in the Sotheby's auction, among them paintings, sculptures, mixed media works, drawings, sketches and photographs by both established and emerging artists.
The list was long, surprising and intriguing, and included among the others Yayoi Kusama, Sol LeWitt, Victor Vasarely, Sterling Ruby, Anish Kapoor, Andy Warhol, Niki de Saint-Phalle and Jeremy Deller, Ugo Rondinone and Gerhard Richter.
Clark seems to have chosen pieces with the mind of an art dealer, since he also picked currently trendy artists such as Alighiero Boetti (the auction featured one of his colourful embroidered piece "Cinque X Cinque E Venticinque") Chun Kwang-Young (famous for his mesmerising three-dimensional aggregations of materials) and Oscar Murillo. The latter's "Untitled (Drawing Off The Wall)" painting was among the highest-valued items: estimated to sell for between 120,000-180,000 GBP it went for 143,750 GBP.
It looks like this tradition of picking unusual auction curators will go on at Sotheby's: for future versions of "Contemporary Curated" the auction house is indeed considering having as special guests figures linked to the music industry, as well as models and fashion editors.