Why Is Sotheby’s Francis Bacon So Different From the Real Francis Bacon


Sotheby’s has two different films (above) on their website promoting the artist Francis Bacon’s work, a double self-portrait estimated at $22m to $30m, coming up in the Evening sale. In two of the videos Sotheby’s has actors reading Francis Bacon’s words dramatically. Yet the Francis Bacon Sotheby’s wants to present us is not remotely like the real Francis Bacon. Watch the short videos (above) and then compare them with interviews in the videos (below) of Bacon himself.

What’s so puzzling is that Jeremy Irons could easily (indeed has done) have read much more like the real Bacon had Sotheby’s wanted him to.

Frieze Would Consider a Fair on the West Coast of America, If Galleries and Collectors Want It

Matthew Slotover and Amanda Sharp Picture: Jonathan Hökklo courtesy of Frieze / Jonathan Hökklo

The Financial Times takes a different tack with Frieze and their new investment from WME-IMG. Although the article mentions the idea of cracking “the digital side of art,” it veers off in another direction entirely:

The more practical question many are asking is about the new partners’ West Coast base. With the increasing pull of the art world towards California, and galleries and museums busily opening and reopening in both LA and San Francisco, are we to expect a Frieze West Coast fair soon?

In answer to this, the Frieze duo are — as always — perfectly and courteously non-committal. “If the galleries and collectors we’ve worked with over the years tell us they want another fair,” says Slotover, “we’d certainly think about it.” And Sharp simply adds, “Never say never …”

Interview: Frieze’s very discreet co-founders  (FT.com)

The Freeport Scandal That Isn’t … a Scandal

Geneva Freeport

Bloomberg has a scandal mongering non-story on reforms at the Geneva Freeport which is NOT losing customers despite the headline. It is getting some beefed up measures to track visitors to the freeport and inspect antiquities stored there.

Also, the new head of the freeports in Geneva, David Hiler, is the former finance minister:

“Today, the image is still deteriorating,” the 61-year-old said. “I don’t expect that things will improve quickly: this will take time.”

Losing a few nervous clients, however, may be the price to pay to improve that image, he said.

“Today, in terms of customers, the greater risk lies in not doing anything,” he explained.

Except that Bloomberg’s own story says very few owners are moving their property from Geneva. And if they are moving, it is to another freeport like Frederick Dietl’s in Delaware:Continue Reading

Sotheby’s American Sale Stars Sargent’s Poppies

John Singer Sargent, Poppies (4-6m USD)

Sotheby’s May 18 sale of American Art will include:

  • John Singer Sargent’s striking Poppies (estimate $4–6 million) was painted while Sargent was at work on Carnation Lily, Lily, Rose, one of his most important works now in the collection of the Tate Britain. In the wake of the scandal caused by his daring portrait of Madame X, Sargent departed for England from Paris. He sustained a head injury while swimming on a boat trip along the Thames, and a friend brought him to Broadway, a nearby village in the English Cotswolds, to recuperate. He began working on Carnation Lily, Lily, Rose almost immediately, painting with a newfound freedom to portray anything that inspired him. The present work is likely the only surviving depiction of the splendid poppies he observed in a garden there, and was most recently included in the museum exhibition Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse, co-organized by the Royal Academy of Arts and the Cleveland Museum of Art.
  • Sargent’s Staircase in Capri (estimate $1.8–2.5 million), inspired by the artist’s travels to the Mediterranean island in the summer of 1878. The painting was first owned by Auguste Hirsch, a French artist with whom Sargent shared a studio in Paris in the late 1870s.  It was later acquired by Pamela Harriman, who served as the United States Ambassador to France in the mid-1990s.
  • Norman Rockwell’s remarkable 1949 Post cover Road Block (estimate $4–6 million): demonstrates the artist’s distinctive sense of humor and unparalleled gift for storytelling–two of the qualities that have incited comparisons between Rockwell’s work and filmmaking. Regarding his 1949 painting, Norman Rockwell bemoaned: “Why, oh, why do I paint such involved and complicated pictures?”
  • Rockwell’s Hobo and Dog (estimate $1.5–2.5 million), sold by The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Appearing on the cover of The Post on October 18, 1924, it features one of Rockwell’s favorite models of the period: James K. Van Brunt.
  • Andrew Wyeth, The Prussian (estimate $2.5–3.5 million) is one of the best works in a series of images that depict the now famous Helga Testorf.
  • Thomas Wilmer Dewing, The White Birch (estimate $2–3 million) is a sumptuous landscape that he painted while staying in the artists’ colony of Cornish, New Hampshire. It comes to auction in an original frame designed by Stanford White, also boasts an impressive exhibition history, having been shown extensively across the United States, Russia and Japan.
  • A Milton Avery being offered by the Art Institute of Chicago. Pink Cock (estimate $500,000–700,000), was completed in 1943, as the artist developed what is now considered his mature aesthetic.  Lanky Nude (estimate $150,000–250,000), painted in 1950, represents Avery’s thoroughly modern interpretation of the traditional theme of the reclining nude. Both paintings showcase the unique manner in which Avery transforms a representational subject into an evocative, semi-abstracted arrangement of shape and color.
  • Georgia O’Keeffe’s 1955 painting, Black Patio Door–Small, the only work from this important series still in private hands (estimate $500,000–700,000).

Clarion List Expands to London

Clarion List logo

The art world’s Yelp! is expanding across the US and into Europe with the launch of London listings according to their press release this morning:

In the three months since its launch, The Clarion List has accelerated the growth of its art services database to cover 24 U.S. art markets, plus London, adding 66% more listings for a total of more than 4,000. The platform now comprises 35 distinct categories of art services, double the number of categories the partners included in beta version released a year ago.

Building on its foundation of the top U.S. art markets—New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami and Palm Beach—the database now covers art service providers in 18 additional U.S. markets: Boston; Philadelphia; Washington; Atlanta; Charleston, S.C.; Charlotte, N.C.; Cleveland; Columbus, Ohio; Houston; Dallas/Ft. Worth; Denver; Seattle; Portland, Ore.; Westchester County, N.Y.; northern New Jersey; Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire. Plus, The Clarion List has added London, with more than 480 listings, its first market in Europe.

The Clarion List

Pinault’s New Museum in Heart of Paris Marks Turning Point in French Gov’t Attitude Toward Culture

Screenshot 2016-04-27 07.27.48

The Economist offers some interesting details during its take on Francois Pinault’s newly announced museum set to open in 2018 at the former Bourse de Commerce:

The central location, says Mr Pinault, was part of the site’s appeal, since he wants the museum to be not just a Paris cultural landmark but opened up to “those who are usually far from visiting contemporary art”. He was particularly moved to do something after the terrorist attacks in Paris last year, and wants the museum to be a living space: “a museum in movement, not a museum in stagnation”.

Besides offering the chance to view Mr Pinault’s collection on French soil, the new museum marks something of a new era. The French have long sought to protect culture from commercial interests by guarding it in the public sphere. Unlike in America, private museum patrons are rare. But, with budgets squeezed, this view is shifting. At the unveiling of the museum at the Paris town hall this week, it was a Socialist mayor who warmly applauded the multi-billionaire business magnate.

Contemporary art: A new cultural gem for Paris (The Economist)

SFMoMA’s Re-Opening: a Harbinger of Silicon Valley’s New Place in the Art Market?

SFMoMA new buildingThe Guardian took a tour of the new SF MoMA and came away impressed with the way the Fisher collection has transformed the museum. But lurking behind the scenes is another story. Two of the San Francisco area’s great collections now available to the public—the Andersons’ at Stanford and the Fishers’ at SFMoMA—collecting leadership is moving away from retail and services fortunes toward wealth generated from virtual companies.

Here’s the Guardian paying particular attention to a surprise guest at the opening:

SoMa, in which the museum stands: as recently as the early 90s it was, Benezra points out, “not a place where polite company would go looking for culture. Today it is one of the centres of the tech industry, dynamic and lively.” Another aspect is the availability of great wealth. “Entrepreneurship is a big thing in San Francisco, and the visual arts are particularly amenable to it,” investment mogul and chair of the SFMOMA board Charles Schwab said in 2000. “The art world moves … quickly … It reflects our changing society.” According to Benezra, the city has, outside of New York, “the greatest body of private collectors of contemporary art” in the US.

On SFMOMA’s board are real estate magnates, venture capitalists and the CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer. The museum’s trustees have dug deep into their pockets and it has benefactors that represent really big money – the families behind the Hyatt hotel empire, for instance, and Levi Strauss retail. And when the museum held a party to celebrate its 75th birthday, Mark Zuckerberg came along.

SFMOMA’s reopening: a ‘game-changer for San Francisco’ – and contemporary art (The Guardian)

SFMOMA Set to Open with Blue Chip Blow Out

Clyfford Still, PH-971, 1957 SF MoMA
Clyfford Still, PH-971, 1957 SF MoMA

Christopher Knight tours SF MoMA’s new building with multiple shows, often anchored by the Fisher collection, of big name artists (though no California artists):

Individual rooms feature 24 hard-edge abstract paintings, drawings and reliefs by Ellsworth Kelly; 18 figurative and abstract paintings by Gerhard Richter; 14 silkscreens on canvas by Andy Warhol (most from the crucial 1960s); 11 Photorealist artist portraits in various media by Chuck Close; seven Agnes Martin grid and stripe paintings (installed in a heptagon-shaped room, recalling the sublime space at the Harwood Museum in Taos, N.M., where the artist once lived); five geometrically ordered Minimalist sculptures by Carl Andre; and five monumental mixed-media paintings of a decaying German mythos by Anselm Kiefer (plus one large model airplane in lead, an emphatically heavier-than-air machine conjuring the cruel historical weight of the failed Luftwaffe and its celebrated pilot artist, Joseph Beuys).

Elsewhere there’s a lovely glass-walled gallery with 11 delicate sculptures (mostly mobiles) by Alexander Calder; another with four Richard Serra sculptures of precariously balanced steel plates plus a classic site-specific piece in which he splashed molten lead into the gutter between a wall and the floor, as well as an enormous rolled steel labyrinth-sculpture in a new museum lobby; and a room of 26 distinctive Diane Arbus photographs of socially marginalized people navigating life in a new era dominated by homogenized mass media.

I lost count of the number of Sol LeWitt abstract wall drawings and Minimalist cube sculptures, both exploiting a predetermined structural idea to generate the art. Suffice to say: a lot.

And that’s just to start. Phew! It’s a blue-chip blow-out.

SFMOMA’s expansion offers a deep dive into a few artists’ works (LA Times)

How Correlated Are Art Returns to Other Assets ?

Deloitte SC 10 years

Buried in a US News story on art as an investment is some pretty astonishing stuff from Michael Moses of the Mei Moses Art Index which uses repeat sales to measure art asset values.

The assumption has always been that the the rise in art asset values during the overall economic slump of the global credit crisis was an anomaly. But Moses claims here that over the long term there is no correlation between art prices and financial asset prices:

The broad art market has provided compound annual returns of 5.7 percent in the last 30 years and 8.8 percent for the last 60 years, says Michael Moses, founder of consulting firm Beautiful Asset Advisors.

Better still, the index of broad art market prices is uncorrelated with those of other asset classes, such as stocks or bonds. “The stock markets went down in 2008 and our indexes were flat to a little up in 2008,” he says. The art indices “dropped substantially in 2009,” as the stock market rebounded. He pegs the long-term correlation at close to zero. That lack of correlation reduces overall volatility when art is part of a larger portfolio. The lower the volatility, the lower the risk. How much art should be in a portfolio? Moses says it depends on individual circumstances, but 10 to 20 percent is reasonable.

Why Fine Art Can Beautify Your Portfolio (US News)

Artelligence Podcast: Heritage Auctions’s Leon Benrimon

Leon Benrimon is spearheading Heritage Auction’s expansion into Modern and Contemporary art and sales in New York. He speaks here about his focus on the middle market of works ranging in value from $10,000 to $1m, why he thinks that market is going to expand dramatically and Heritage’s unique use of the web for bidding and selling.