November 17, 2009 / 4:36 PM / 9 years ago

Sotheby's hopes "Zero Art" sale will raise plenty

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Sotheby’s is hoping its February sale of 49 works from the so-called “Zero Art” movement will raise plenty of cash, and confidence is high after a recent New York contemporary auction that eclipsed expectations.

The works from the private collection of Gerhard and Anna Lenz are expected to fetch more than 12 million pounds ($20.2 million) and will form part of the auctioneer’s London contemporary art sale in 2010.

The pieces on offer include works by leading contemporary and post-war artists including Yves Klein, Lucio Fontana, Piero Manzoni and Guenther Uecker who are all associated with the European movement Zero.

“The paintings being offered for sale have been heartfelt acquisitions, picture by picture,” Gerhard Lenz said in a statement.

“My wife and I have now reached an age where we are compelled to tighten up the collection and make ready for it to be passed on.”

The couple have collected around 600 works, concentrating on a movement set up in the 1950s which sought to abandon the art of the past, and by extension the sins of the past generation which brought fascism and world war, and start from scratch.

Their 1963 manifesto statement read: “Zero is stillness. Zero is the beginning.”

The movement began in April 1957 with a series of exhibitions around the studios of Heinz Mack and Otto Piene in Duesseldorf, Germany, and eventually incorporated the work of Klein, Fontana, Manzoni and others.

The top lot on offer at the London sale is “Feu 88” by Klein, one of a series of Fire Paintings by the French artist completed a year before he died in 1962 aged 34.

It is expected to fetch 3.5-4.5 million pounds.

Also on offer is his “MG 25,” part of his Monogold cycle of paintings which is forecast to raise 800,000-1.2 million pounds. Klein’s larger “MG 9,” from the same series, sold for $23.6 million in 2008.

Sotheby’s has been encouraged by the resilience of the art market to recent financial turmoil, with its New York contemporary auction this month raising $134.4 million, well in excess of expectations.

Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato

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