Robin Pogrebin outs the sale that Loic Gouzer has been talking about putting together for a few weeks now. The Sunday auction is significant not because Christie’s is continuing the strategy of the special sale or because Gouzer continues to carve out his own niche within the auction house.
This season—and possibly this sale—seems to mark a new strategy at Christie’s. The house has been the most aggressive guarantor in the business for nearly five years. The result has been huge headline numbers—and the innovation of Gouzer’s special sales which began as a way to clear out bought in works languishing on the company’s books in what was then perceived as the height of the market.
Gouzer’s new event is something different, an attempt to excite and give better visibility to the markets for artists with strong collecting bases at lower price levels. In other words, Gouzer seems to be capitalizing on the so-called middle market’s new status.
The star lot is Bruce Nauman’s “Henry Moore Bound to Fail:”
The Nauman, estimated at about $6 million, will anchor the May 8 sale — at the unusual time of 5 p.m. on a Sunday — which will include some 29 similarly unlikely auction lots: a crucified-frog sculpture by Martin Kippenberger, a distorted face by Jim Shaw, a butter stick by Robert Gober, potatoes mounted on a wood grid by Sigmar Polke.
“It is trying to showcase art that is not what one would normally expect to see, not only on a catalog cover, but in a sale,” Mr. Gouzer said, “to bring back artists who are important but who perhaps need more brain power or more time or more work to actually understand them.
”Adhering to this framework, Mr. Gouzer said, has forced him to ferret out the riskier Mike Kelley pieces or the Neil Jenneys, rather than the reliable Richters and Warhols. “I’ve been approached by a lot of people who want to consign works that we know would do well in terms of numbers, but I’m turning them down,” he said. “I really want to explore the more conceptual — or visceral — and difficult parts of what art can be.”
Christie’s Offers a Sale on the Theme of Potential Failure (The New York Times)