Next week is going to be a big test of the market for Rudolf Stingel's work. Christie's has five works by the artist with a combined low estimate of $15.7m; Sotheby's has four works with an aggregate low estimate of $5.4m; and Phillips has a $2m gold carpet work in the Evening sale. Sotheby's and Christie's both have works from the same series as the record price paid at auction for a Stingel, the copper-plate versions of the Celotex works created during the artist's seminal 2007 Whitney show. These works, Sotheby's six panel version is above, are particularly market friendly as they combine the artist's ideas about authorship with a sturdy medium and the gold tone that has come to be associated with some of his most valued works.
Either this large six-panel piece or Christie's four-panel piece from the Zadig & Voltaire collection could easily top the $4.7m top price paid for another four panel piece (and for a instruction painting from 1993) two years ago in the same May sale cycle. Yet both works are dwarfed by the appearance of a massive self portrait of the artist that was also featured in that 2007 Whitney show. Priced at $10-15m, the 11-ft high work is one of four similar works. Two of those are now in the collections of the museums that showed his mid-career retrospective in 2007.
Since Christie's has a third-party guarantee on the work, it's safe to assume that not only will a new record be established next week but, also, that the week's total sales could equal or exceed all of 2016's sales.
With that in mind, let's look back at the last ten years of Stingel's auction sales as his market rose from $330k in sales in 2006 to more than $30m in 2015, paying careful attention to the bidding intensity as well as the price action.
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