One of the featured items from Barney Ebsworth’s estate in this November’s sales at Christie’s is Joan Mitchell’s 12 Hawks at 3 O’Clock has already drawn a great deal of interest. Yesterday, Christie’s revealed the estimate for this work at $14-16m. It will only take a few bids above the low estimate for the work to total above $16.6m, the record price set in May.
Phillips announces a major Joan Miró work painted during World War II and acquired by Pierre Matisse. Like the celebrated Constellations, these works passed through Matisse and were featured later at Acquavella. There’s a good case that the work is a bit of an event in the Colin Gleadell had the news of the consignment first. He commented on the market for these works:
Other examples are in museum collections in New York, Buffalo, Dusseldorf and Madrid. This one has been in the same private collection in Switzerland since the Seventies, and is only the third from this series to appear at auction since 1986, when another Femme dans la Nuit, 1945, sold for a record $2.3 million.
Phillips press release gives more background on the work:Continue Reading
It’s not every day that you see the New York Times, which has a deeply ingrained antipathy towards the art market, use its Op-Ed page to promote a potential art market record price. Today, Mary Gabriel writes about the booming market for Ab-Ex painters who happen to be women. In it she reveals that Christie’s has a 10-ft Helen Frankenthaler, Red Square, that is poised to break her $3m auction record set during a day sale earlier this year. The estimate is between $3 and $5m.
The proceeds of the sale will go to Frankenthaler’s alma mater, Bennington College, to fund scholarships.
Gabriel spoke to Christie’s Sarah Friedlander about the appeal of artist’s like Frankenthaler:
“From the market perspective, when you have 15 mediocre [Willem] de Koonings come to market in a season and one amazing Joan Mitchell painting come to market in a season, the market is going to gravitate toward quality,” said Sara Friedlander, international director and head of postwar and contemporary art at Christie’s New York. “When the quality is really there, the market just explodes.”
Tracey Emin was the surprise performer at Guy Laliberté’s One Drop auction held at Phillips. Nicolas Party’s Sunset also significantly out-performed among the top lots as did Carol Bove’s Young Lovers, made this year like the Party. Works by Jennifer Guidi and Adam Pendelton were very strong performers too.
The sale of four of Pablo Picasso’s women from the collection of Washington, DC real estate developer Sam Rose and his wife, Julie Walters is Christie’s novel entry into the November sales cycle. The bulk of the value of the four works on offer representing one of Picasso’s wives and three of hisvcompanions—Marie-Thérèse Walter, Dora Maar, Françoise Gilot and Jacqueline Roque—is in the Marie-Thérèse pictured above. The combined low estimate for the four works is $28m. Behind the $15m Marie-Thérèse are two works with $5m low estimates, the Dora Maar and Jaqueline Roque, followed by Françoise Gilot’s portrait at $3m. Gilot, still living at 96 years of age, has experienced something of a surge in late-life interest in her own art works.
Here’s Christie’s release on the collection:Continue Reading
While the rest of the Contemporary art world is fixated on Frieze and the London sales accompanying the influx of art collectors to the UK, New York’s Swann Galleries will another African-American art auction. Long the pioneer in this market, Swann had it’s best sale in April making $4.5m in the category, or as much in a single sale as Swann was able to generate in three sales during the breakout year of 2015.
With all of the talk today about African-American artists, which undoubtedly presages a big push from Sotheby’s to make more sales of African-American Contemporary artists this November, it’s good to remember the historical category has shown great strength.
Here’s Swann’s release for the sale featuring the work of Hughie Lee Smith (above):
African-American Fine Art sales at Swann Galleries offer the opportunity to see marketplace history happen, and the October 4 auction is no exception, with a significant selection of works by Elizabeth Catlett, Eldzier Cortor and Hughie Lee-Smith, among others.
A timely run of works by Charles White features the significant and powerful Nobody Knows My Name #1, 1965, a mid-career drawing that was exhibited extensively in the late 1960s (Estimate: $100,000 to $150,000). The title was likely inspired by James Baldwin’s Nobody Knows My Name: More Notes of a Native Son, 1961–White’s composition shows a young African-American man’s head in a swirling, atmospheric space, a deeply symbolic response to the height of the Civil Rights movement. Prints by White includethe linoleum cuts Young Farmer (Young Worker), 1953, and Solid as a Rock (My God is Rock), 1958 ($12,000-18,000 and $20,000-30,000, respectively).
Sculptures by Elizabeth Catlett represent the beginning and end of the artist’s prolific career. Catlett’s carved Untitled (Head of a Man), circa 1943, is one of only two stone works on record from her significant 1940s period, and the earliest sculpture by the artist known to come to auction ($200,000-300,000). El Abrazo, carving in Guatemalan red mahogany of two figures embracing, is Catlett’s last sculpture: it was started by the artist in 2010 and posthumously completed by her son, David Mora Catlett, in 2017 ($150,000-250,000)
A beautiful mid-career painting by Eldzier Cortor–the most significant work by the artist to come to auction–will be offered. Sea of Time, 1945, is a haunting depiction of a female nude with rich symbolism and surreal elements, inspired by Gullah and African traditions. The oil on canvas is estimated at $200,000 to $300,000.
Other midcentury compositions include the earliest painting by Beauford Delaney to come to auction. The 1940 oil on canvas is a self-portrait of the artist in a studio-like setting with a young woman thought to be “Jessie,” a model and mutual friend of Delaney and James Baldwin ($200,000-300,000). Hughie Lee-Smith’s best-known and most widely published work, Man With Balloons, oil on canvas, 1960, will also be in the sale. A meditation on the isolation of modernity, Lee-Smith considered it an important painting: it carries an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000.
A riotous, recently rediscovered 1965 oil and charcoal on canvas by Al Loving, Variations on a Square, gives insight into the artist’s earliest work. The artist notes, in a letter included, that it was completed for his thesis show and was one his last oil paintings, remarking on it as a “forerunner to the geometric abstractions that started my career in NY” ($80,000-120,000).
A 1983 self-portrait by Robert Colescott: Down in the Dumps: So Long Sweetheart shows the heartbroken artist seated among an overwhelming, teeming pile of debris, his head in his hands, paintbrushes at his side ($35,000-50,000). Other works from that decade include a 1980 welded steel sculpture by Melvin Edwards, Lusaka ($30,000-40,000); Sam Gilliam’s Blood Legacy, acrylic, gel medium and canvas collage, 1983 ($80,000-120,000) and Spiral artist Emma Amos’s Arched Swimmer, acrylic with glitter and fabric on canvas, circa 1987 ($10,000-15,000).
Contemporary art from the Dr. Robert H. Derden Collection brings pieces by significant, current artists to the sale, with an emphasis on photographic works. Featured lots include Rashid Johnson’s Jonathan with Hands, a Van Dyke Brown photo-emulsion print, 1997 ($7,000-10,000); Alison Saar’s Dreamer, mixed media, 1988 ($3,000-5,000); Carrie Mae Weems’s Untitled (Woman and daughter with makeup), from the Kitchen Table Series ($3,000-5,000); and a monumental photogravure with screenprint by Lorna Simpson, Counting, 1991 ($4,000-6,000).
Sotheby’s held its most valuable Irish art sale in London since reviving the category three years ago. Like the renewed international interest in Modern British art, there seems to be a growing interest in Irish painters. The sale came in toward the high end of the pre-sale range of £2-3m. Its total was helped along by the collection of Joseph and Brenda Calihan which amounted to a little more than half of the overall figure at $1.8m.
If you can believe it, a Asian art dealer is the one who bought a portrait of George Bernard Shaw painted by Sir John Lavery in 1929. The top lots belonged to Jack Butler Yeats and John Luke (above.)
In a rather unexpected turn, Christie’s announced this morning that they too have a van Dyck portrait as their featured lot for the December Old Master Evening sales in London. More than that, the work comes from the same final year as the pair of portraits announced last week for Sotheby’s. Christie’s brighter, more opulent work is priced well above either or both of Sotheby’s van Dyck portraits of the princess and the Prince of Wales.
To recap from yesterday’s post, the van Dyck market has been in something of a holding pattern for the better part of a decade. This painting aspires to sell among the top works by the artist. If the low estimate of £5m is achieved as a premium price, the work would become the third highest auction price for the artist.
Here’s Christie’s press release:
Portrait of Princess Mary (1631–1660), daughter of King Charles I of England, full-length, in a pink dress decorated with silver embroidery and ribbons by Sir Anthony van Dyck, 1641, will be offered from a Distinguished Private Collection in Christie’s Old Masters Evening Sale on 6 December, duringChristie’s Classic Week (estimate: £5,000,000-8,000,000). Commissioned to celebrate the crucial alliance between the British crown and the House of Orange, this intimatead vivum (from life) portrait of Princess Mary, the finest portrait of the type, is remarkable for its royal provenance, the superb quality of its draughtsmanship and its exceptional condition. It is one of the most important European Royal Portraits to come to auction for a generation. The painting will go on public view for the first time, ahead of the auction, at Christie’s Shanghai on 19 until 21 September, later touring to New York where it will be on public view from 25 to 30 October and to Hong Kong between 23 and 26 November, ahead of the pre-sale public exhibition in London from 1 to 6 December.
John Stainton, Deputy Chairman, Old Master Paintings, Christie’s EMERI:“This beautifully-preserved full-length portrait of Princess Mary, eldest daughter of King Charles I of England, and future mother of King William III of England, was one of the last commissions executed by van Dyck, in the summer of 1641, only months before the artist’s premature death at the age of forty-two. It bears many of the hallmarks of his remarkable genius – in the subtle rendering of the sitter’s physiognomy, the masterful depiction of the shimmering drapery, the brilliance of the palette, and the assured draughtsmanship and deft handling of the paint. A work of the finest quality, it represents the culmination of all that van Dyck had learnt from his master, Peter Paul Rubens, and from his Venetian predecessors, notably Titian. By developing his own distinctive style of portraiture, characterised by a calm authority and supreme elegance, van Dyck both revolutionised portraiture in Europe and left a legacy for future generations of artists from Gainsborough and Lawrence, to Sargent and Freud.”
ROYAL PROVENANCE: Identified by Sir Oliver Millar as one of two portraits commissioned from van Dyck for the court at The Hague, this painting would originally have formed part of the prestigious collection of the Princes of Orange, Stadtholders of the United Provenances of the Netherlands. It would likely have been displayed in one of their principal palaces, possibly at Binnenhof Palace in The Hague, where Princess Mary lived with her husband William, alongside works by many of the principal Dutch and Flemish painters of the seventeenth century.
VAN DYCK IN ENGLAND: In July 1632, van Dyck was appointed ‘Principal Painter in Ordinary to their Majesties’ by King Charles I of England. A passionate collector and patron, the King had long hoped to attract a painter of such exceptional status and renown to his service, and found in van Dyck an artist not only capable of fulfilling his desire for magnificent portraits and paintings, but also one who shared his tastes, especially for Venetian pictures. The style, refinement and brilliance of van Dyck’s portraits was unprecedented in England; the artist instilled in his sitters a new sense of vitality and movement and his bravura technique allowed him to enliven the entire surface of his works with light, assured dashes of paint, as exemplified in the present portrait.
PRINCESS MARY AS SITTER: Van Dyck first painted the sitter in the weeks immediately following his arrival in London in 1632, when the young Princess Royal was shown with her parents, King Charles I and Queen Henrietta Maria, and elder brother, the future King Charles II. The monumental group portrait, known as ‘The Greate Peece’, dominated the King’s Long Gallery in the Palace of Whitehall (The Royal Collection). The earliest single portraits of Princess Mary, which show her full-length in a blue dress, with her hands linked together across her stomach – a pose that echoes van Dyck’s earlier portraits of her mother – were painted in or before 1637, and are now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and at Hampton Court. Four years later, she sat again to van Dyck with her fifteen-year-old husband, Prince William of Orange, for the double portrait now in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, as well as for the present work.
JEWELS AND ATTIRE: In both the present work and in the Rijksmuseum double portrait, Mary is shown wearing her wedding ring and the large diamond brooch given to her by her husband on 3 May 1641, the day after their marriage. Her spectacular coral gown, decorated with silver thread trim along its border, is thought to be similar to that worn for her wedding, rather than the cloth of silver-gold she wears in the Rijksmuseum picture. The apparent weight of the fabric, falling in broad, heavy folds, along with the bright highlights along the creases, suggest the fabric may have been cloth of silver. Shimmering highlights, applied in swift, cross-hatched strokes, were used as a form of shorthand by artists, mimicking the lustre of metallic threads as the textile caught the light. In accordance with the fashion of the period, her gown is open down the front, revealing a stiffened stomacher across the chest and a matching skirt beneath. The ribbons, which would at one time have been functional, lacing the skirt and stomacher to the bodice, were applied purely as adornment. One ribbon, however has been pinned or stitched flat to disguise the seam between the bodice and skirt. Details such as the Princess’s brooch, the string of pearls and ribbons on her shimmering dress are rendered with remarkable precision and delicacy, characteristics that defined the artist’s finest late works.
There’s a show that just opened at Nahmad Contemporary that is as surprising as it is successful at attracting attention. The exhibition is called (UN)COVERED: Miró | Hammons and features the Catalan master’s late body of work called Sobreteixims paired with David Hammons’s Tarp paintings. Paired together, the artists have a strange and unexpected overlap that seems to be exciting a number of gallery goers. The show will run from Sept. 12 to Oct. 27, 2018.
The first to present the works of Catalan master Joan Miró (1893–1983) alongside postmodern American artist David Hammons (b. 1943), the exhibition illuminates the parallel iconoclastic practices of these two seemingly divergent artists whose careers only briefly overlapped. (UN)COVERED: Miró | Hammons highlights the analogous artistic strategies used to subvert traditional aesthetics in Miró’s visceral Sobreteixims (1972-73) and Hammons’ tarp-cloaked canvases (2000s–present). Whether “uncovering” alternative materials or “covering” conventional aesthetics, the works illustrate each artist’s unique formal innovations and conceptual undertakings.
Notably, the exhibition will be the first to present Miro’s Sobreteixims in the United States since Pierre Matisse Gallery’s presentation in 1973 and will feature esteemed works on loan from the Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona. A fully illustrated catalogue with scholarly texts by Jordana Moore Saggese and Linda Weintraub will accompany the show.
Joan Miró’s pursuit of artistic liberty was fueled by the major historical events of his time, from World War I and II to the Spanish Civil War and Franco’s regime. As early as 1927, the artist famously declared an “assassination of painting,” and he committed himself thereon to unrestricted expression. He protested aesthetic norms and rejected technical mastery by rendering disorderly compositions and grotesque figuration, and utilizing unconventional media and supports, such as tar and rope or Masonite and Celotex. In 1970, when Miró began using ready-made materials to create his Sobreteixims, an old Catalan word for a small piece of fabric used as a patch for larger fabrics, he was 77 years old and lived on the island of Mallorca in permanent exile from the Franco regime.Harnessing the automatism of surrealism, he transformed the fibers of found supports—from traditional woven textile to industrial burlap sacks—through systematic destruction and alteration: puncturing and patching, tearing and stabilizing, and burning and extinguishing. The artist applied a range of media and objects to the transformed surfaces, such as acrylic, felt and string in Sobreteixim-sack 12 (1973) and buckets in Sobreteixim 14 (1973). Undulating between the treatment of support and ground, Miró emphasized the “un-covered” background material as much as the foreground. He confounded the customary figure-ground relationship by equating two traditionally hierarchical constituents of painting. Furthermore, Miro democratized his method of construction to defy the canon’s notion of the individual “artist genius”. Precociously postmodern, his Sobreteixims signify the process of their creation through incorporation of the objects used to produce them: brooms, buckets, or skeins of string.
A figurehead in postwar art, Miró established many of the formal innovations of modernist painting and presaged the tenets of postmodernism during the last decade of his career. His spontaneous gestures established the principles of abstract expressionism, a movement that by the time David Hammons began his career had already been recognized as the new standard. It was this newfound canon that Hammons’ work defied as he commenced his career in 1960s America, a period marked by the civil rights movement and parallel sociopolitical upheavals. With particular critique of the art world and its history of racial exclusiveness, Hammons used nontraditional media, from chicken bones to sweatshirt hoods, and charged subject matter, such as slavery and racial slurs, to subvert the institutions perpetuating societal inequalities.
Similar to Miró, Hammons asserted his general disdain for art, proclaiming in a 1989 interview, “I can’t stand art actually. I’ve never, ever liked art, ever.” Palpably rejecting the canon of postwar painting, his ongoing Tarp series, created in his Harlem, NY studio, consist of painted canvases shrouded with frayed and tattered industrial fabrics that he found in the streets. Only through the tears and holes of these dilapidated materials, such as in Untitled (2015), or through the rumpled meshed cloth, seen in Untitled (from Dirty Money series) (2014), does Hammons allow glimpses of painterly brush strokes underneath. He defies the hierarchical preciousness of the medium, covering that which is traditionally exposed and elevating as the focus that which is discarded. Similar to Miró upending the principals of painting, Hammons quite literally denies the canon its traditional viewership.
Multidimensional in form and connotation, Miro’s Sobreteixims and Hammons’ Tarp paintings originate from distinct historical perspectives. Yet, when presented together, striking analogies are evidenced. Through parallel strategies of “uncovering” or “covering” institutional norms with ready-made fabrics, both series merge the material forays of found art with the critical commentary of conceptualism.