The Wall Street Journal’s coverage of the recently announced sale of works to benefit the Whitney Museum’s new building construction that will take place during Sotheby’s Evening sale of Contemporary art in May contains a little tension over expectations between consignor and auctioneer as well as between museum and artist:
Sotheby’s specialist Alexander Rotter estimates the auction will raise about $8 million, though the Whitney’s director, Adam D. Weinberg, said the museum is hoping for more. He said the sale will augment the $562.4 million it has already raised ($225 million of which is earmarked for its endowment), and that the Whitney is on track to open the new 200,000-square-foot downtown building, designed by Renzo Piano, in 2015.
“The Whitney has been there for these artists, especially early on in their careers before people really knew them,” said Mr. Weinberg. “I think for many of them, they feel that this is a way to give back.”
The Master, Judd Tully, has the list of works in his Artinfo.com report but none of the reports explain whether Sotheby’s will benefit from the sale as well or if it has decided to waive the buyer’s commission which has been common with museum sales:
led by the most expensive offering, Jasper Johns’s “Untitled” (2012), a color-saturated oil on canvas, chock full of the artist’s symbolic vocabulary (est. $1.5-2 million). Johns, who has had five solos and participated in more than 37 group exhibitions at the museum, expressly donated the painting for the cause.Other delectable evening sale highlights range from Jeff Koons’s playful silkscreen on stainless steel with polychromed edges, “Balloon Monkey Wall Relief (yellow)” (2011) (est. $800,000-1.2 million), to a densely text-patterned canvas in oil, coal dust, and charcoal from Glenn Ligon, “Stranger #64” (2012), executed a year after the artist’s, mid-career survey, “Glenn Ligon: AMERICA” was staged at the museum (est. $350-450,000).
The offerings are a virtual Who’s Who of major postwar artists, from John Baldessari and Andy Warhol to Rudolf Stingel and Ed Ruscha. A strong Cy Twombly work on paper, “Untitled,” from 1971, bristles with his graffiti–like markings (est. $500-700,000), while John Currin offers a freshly minted nude, “Lydian” (2013) (same estimate). Such works appear with modest, come-hither estimates, strategically assuring art-market appetite.
Anchoring the May 15 day sale is Mark Bradford’s “Is That What She Told You” (2013), a positively statuesque mixed media collage on canvas (est. $350-450,000).
Building on the Works of Its Artists (Wall Street Journal)