The Observer covers Blain DiDonna’s inaugural show and provides a little background on the Magritte market in the process:
Magritte, then, would seem to be an ideal fit. The works on display would appeal to anyone who walked in off the street—one, in fact, Le Domaine enchanté (II) (1953), is a mural from a casino in Knokke-le Zoute, Belgium. The show is playful, frequently nude and familiar. There’s a man with an apple over his face and a pipe that isn’t a pipe.
“The market is very strong for Magritte,” Mr. Di Donna said, walking through the gallery. “It’s an artist that, over the last 10 years, has increased enormously in value. … It’s also an artist that’s instantly recognizable. I think his imagery is fun, fresh, witty. There’s eroticism, there’s word play. I think a lot of the current marketing, all those images that you’re bombarded with every day, owe a lot to Magritte.”
According to Artnet, eight of the artist’s top 10 prices were achieved in the past five years. In this show, Mr. Di Donna has a work that’s in the same series as L’Empire des lumières (1952), which set the artist’s highest price in 2002 when it sold for $12.7 million at Christie’s. Mr. Di Donna’s 1954 version shares its name.
Of the 29 paintings, six are for sale, with prices that range from $700,000 to $7 million. The show marks Mr. Di Donna’s first curatorial effort and came together in some 10 months (“It is easier when you know an artist very well and you know the collectors,” he said). He stopped before the exhibit’s signature piece, Les Liaisons dangereuses (1935), which features a naked woman holding a mirror that displays her bare midsection going in the opposite direction. The painting hasn’t been displayed publicly for 25 years, and Mr. Di Donna’s enthusiasm for it is obvious.
You’re So Blain (Observer)