Kazuo Shiraga Steps Into the Big Time

Kazuo Shiraga, Zuisouhen (1986)
Kazuo Shiraga, Zuisouhen (1986)

Christie’s raised some eyebrows by including a Shiraga painting, BB56, in its evening sale with a $3-5m estimate. The painting had been bought in 2008 at Sotheby’s Paris for just a little less than €200,000 or about $300,000 on the day. Christie’s responds by confiding that their estimate is based upon private sales information.

Shiraga, BB56
Shiraga, BB56

Conveniently, news comes today that Mnuchin Gallery will be holding a show of Shiraga’s work in the late Winter of 2015. No doubt Robert Mnuchin is as curious to see what Christie’s Painting goes for as the consignor is:

Mnuchin Gallery is proud to announce an exhibition of major paintings by Kazuo Shiraga (1924 – 2008).  Tracing the evolution of Shiraga’s signature “foot painting” method over his entire career, it will feature 15 examples spanning more than four decades from 1958 to 2000.  It will be accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue authored by noted Gutai scholar Dr. Ming Tiampo.  The exhibition will be on view March 2 – April 18, 2015.

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Get Ready for the Biggest Week of Warhol Ever

Warhol, Elvis and Marlons

Kelly Crow totes up the Warhols on offer and comes up with a number that could be surprisingly low when its all said and done:

Andy Warhol also appears unstoppable: The two houses will offer 19 examples by the Pop master valued at an estimated $265 million combined in their evening sales alone.

By our math, the number is a bit higher. Sotheby’s has nine Warhols in the Evening sale for a high estimate of $86.5m or thereabouts. Christie’s has 11 Warhols in its Evening sale. But the numbers are shockingly higher. First there’s the two works being sold by a German casino that are estimated conservatively at $60m each. Earlier announcements from the firm had the two making $150m. With the other nine works at Christie’s, the high estimate would make $228.5m give or take a few mil. Throw in three Warhols at Phillips’s Evening sale and there’s a high estimate of $319m on the artist.

The day sales have an additional 51 works. Christie’s alone is looking at $14+m for their day Warhols. Put it all together and we get a potential $333m on the high side.

Say there’s market fatigue. Too many Warhols coming to market at once puts off some of the buyers. To give you a little perspective, we’ve had these kinds of Warhol orgies before. In May of  2011, all three auction houses sold 54 Warhols for a total of $179m. Eighteen months later, it was 65 Warhols making $200.8m.

To achieve that, we’ll need to see more than just the “iconic” Warhols set new spots in the top five, later works like Gunter Sachs’s Bardot portrait will have to set new benchmark prices too.

Warhol, Bardot (10-15m)

A Blue-Chip Glut at New York Fall Art Auctions  (WSJ)

Brant’s Apocalyptic Vision

Wool, Apocalypse Now

Carol Vogel describes Peter Brant’s latest show draws from a group of artists whose work was forged in the turmoil of the 1960s and 70s:

His forthcoming show, “Deliverance,” opening Nov. 10 (by appointment only), centers on four American artists from his collection — Larry Clark, Cady Noland, Richard Prince and Christopher Wool — whose work is rooted in American mythologies and, like Warhol and Lichtenstein, incorporated mass media from the 1960s and 1970s to comment on the world around them.

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Art Meets Fashion Retailing from Adrian Cheng’s K11 to Peter Marino’s Clients

Peter Marino Store

The Financial Times interviews Asian retail scion and art entrepreneur, Adrian Cheng, about his new Franco-Sino program to identify emerging artists in Europe and Asia. The FT focuses on Cheng’s use of art in Chinese malls which they chalk up to China’s lack of an art infrastructure even though there’s a steady trend in luxury retailing toward using art to enliven high-end stores:Continue Reading

Can Christie’s Build India’s Art Market Alone?


Last year, Christie’s held its first auction in Mumbai, opening up a new market with a long-term strategy. The sale made $15.4m, twice the estimate, and featured top Indian Modern artists including Tyeb Mehta and Vasudeo S. Gaitonde who is currently the subject of a retrospective that just opened at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. The top three lots, a Gaitonde and two Mehtas, sold for well above the estimates.

Christie’s is gearing up for another sale in Mumbai this December. But there are some, including the noted Indian art market expert Kishore Singh, who see the first sale as more of an illustration of Christie’s might than a measure of the maturity of the Indian art market:Continue Reading

Stalking the Billion-Dollar Art Auction


There’s no way around it. The single question on the minds of everyone who follows the art market—accepting the thundering momentum of recent sales and the failure of the broader economic environment to restrain it—is whether Christie’s will be able to top last season’s record of $975,222,500 in Contemporary art across two evening sales and two day sales.

Of that total, the Evening sale proper brought in $745m on the sale of 68 lots or just shy of an average Evening sale lot value of $11m. This season, Christie’s will have 82 lots in the Evening sale estimated in the region of $600m. If Christie’s is able to match last season’s average lot value and sell-through, the sale will weigh in close to $850m. That’s still not what the auction house was able to achieve by holding a second sale.

How high is high? We won’t know until November 12th

Heffel Capitalizes on Canadian Art as Emily Carr Opens at Dulwich Picture Gallery

Emily Carr, Totem Poles, Kitwancool Village (400-600k CAD)
Emily Carr, Totem Poles, Kitwancool Village (400-600k CAD)

Canada’s Heffel is gearing up for it’s November 27th sale of Canadian art just as one of Canada’s most valuable artists, Emily Carr, gets a UK exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. Last year, Heffel sold Carr’s The Crazy Stair for a record C$3.4m. This year, the auction house has five works by Carr led by Totem Poles, Kitwancool Village (400-600k CAD), above.

Other highlights of the Heffel sale include (all quotes from Heffel’s press release):

“Jean Paul Riopelle is an undeniable favourite each season, with five works represented at the fall auction for a total combined estimate of between $1.3M to $1.9M. His 1955 masterpiece Ombrages was first sold at the Pierre Matisse Galle Aventure Picaresque comes from the private collection of Riopelle’s late Montreal dealer Gilles Corbeil, and Sanstitre is a fine example of his working method using the palette knife.”Continue Reading

Haring & Basquiat, Pioneers of Rogue Public Art

Keith Haring, Untitled (250-350k)

One of the biggest challenges facing the art market is finding new ways to educate buyers about artists. A good example of what the auction houses are trying to do comes in the form of Glenn O’Brien’s essay on Christie’s website that tries to situate Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat within a broader transformation of art. Although Basquiat has gone on to be the more valued artist—and one wonders how much longer that will last—Haring was an innovator who could teach someone like Banksy a thing or two about dealing with aggressive souvenir hunters:

Both artists were workaholics, creating in vastly diverse media virtually non-stop. Their lives were work. I don’t believe it had anything to do with ambition per se, or greed, or any kind of obsessive compulsive mental states, but with an almost magical desire to reclaim the power of the visual artist with the public. It’s no coincidence that both became close with the idol Andy Warhol, because he was another relentless worker who ranged seamlessly from painting, sculpture and prints, to film, video, theater and publishing, but also because Warhol seemed to want to make art itself bigger—to achieve the level of influence by the pop stars he knew like the Beatles and the Stones. […]

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The Modigliani Trapped in Legal Limbo

Modigliani, Seated Man with Cane

The story of Oscar Stettiner’s Modigliani has been around for some time, including the Nahmad family’s use of an arm’s length entity to assert that they are not in possession of the work. Why the Wall Street Journal is running their story now isn’t readily apparent. But the paper does provide this interesting reminder of the problems with restitution cases. The Journal provides a look at the provenance and how a good faith buyer can end up in a spot:Continue Reading