Colin Gleadell gives us the back story on two Allan Kaprow paintings that were the surprise hits in last month’s Christie’s First Open sale:
There are not too many examples of the work of American artist Allan Kaprow at auction. Born in 1927, he started as a painter in the 1950s but by 1958 was a fully committed performance artist – the originator of Happenings. So two early paintings from 1956 that were offered by Christie’s last week were estimated at £2,000 and £5,000, without much knowledge of real market value. They had come from the highly esteemed collection of Hubert Peeters, one of the first collectors of American pop art and prefigured Kaprow’s performance art in their gestural immediacy. One, called Hysteria, is a large collage of silver foil and fabric with the phrase “Ha Ha” scribbled all over it. It sold for £140,000. Another small collage by Kaprow, Tobacco King, sold for £86,500, 25 times its estimate. For further insights into the Kaprow market visit Frieze Masters and Hauser & Wirth which handles the artist’s estate (he died in 2006), and will recreate a Kaprow performance later next month at the FIAC fair in Paris.
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