Schnabel’s van Gogh Movie Opens; Christie’s $58m in Classics Sales; Günther Förg’s Market Grows; Jho Low Indicted; Alma Thomas’s Career; Warhol’s Business
This commentary by Marion Maneker is available to AMMpro subscribers. (The first month of AMMpro is free and subscribers are welcome to sign up for the first month and cancel before they are billed.)
Eternity’s Gate Opens
Julian Schnabel’s answer to Vincent Minelli’s Lust for Life, opens in less than two weeks. Vice spoke to Schnabel about the film which he likens to a different movie:
- “In a recent telephone interview with the director, I asked if the sense of gritty realism in the film was intended as a corrective to past Hollywood portrayals of the painter. ‘When you mention gritty realism,’ Schnabel remarked, ‘I was thinking of how the interaction of Willem Dafoe and Oscar Isaac in certain scenes is something like Harvey Keitel and Robert De Niro talking in Mean Streets. It’s the kind of relationship between friends that happens eternally. I loved Lust for Life when I was a child, but it’s got every cliché. It’s kind of the opposite of the film we made. I hope it opens up a different way to think about art.’”
Christie’s Does Good Business in Classic Week
Vilhelm Hammershøi’s Interior with an Easel, Bredgade 25 achieved $5,037,500 against the high estimate of $2,000,000. John William Waterhouse’s Thisbe sold for $3,732,500; James Jacques Joseph Tissot’s Triumph of the Will – The Challenge achieved $2,412,500; William Adolphe Bouguereau’s Récolte de noisettes got $1,812,500. Orientalist paintings achieved the top prices: Rudolph Ernst’s An Arab in a Palace Interior sold for $468,500 against a high estimate of $250,000; Adolf Seel’s Nacht Wache realized $372,500.
Günther Förg Gets Ready
Despite the weird invocation of the Class of 2014, “Zombie Formalists,” Artnet calls attention to Günther Förg’s growing market. As AMMpro subscribers know from our coverage of the Forg market in early 2017, the surge in Förg’s sales and prices started a few years ago culminating in 2016. We haven’t kept yearly figures since then but the auction activity in London remains strong. In 2017, there was £1.35m worth of Förg’s art sold during the Frieze auctions; this year the figure was 50% higher at £1.998m. The average prices for Frieze were £150k in 2017 and £285k this year. The Frieze auctions aren’t the entire market but they’re a good gauge of where an artist stands. Although there were 9 works presented in 2017 and only 7 this year, there was more dynamic bidding on the four works that made prices above the high estimates this year than the four works from last year.
As Artnet points out, the estate is now represented by Hauser + Wirth who will hold a big show in New York next year. There’s currently a museum show taking place in Dallas. Both developments bode well for Förg’s market to continue to grow.
Jho Low, Goldman Bankers Indicted in 1MDB Case
The Wall Street Journal reports that Federal prosecutors have brought the first criminal charges against figures in the 1MDB fraud that was source of Jho Low’s spending spree on parties, yachts, luxury real estate in Manhattan, backing Martin Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street and buying a substantial amount of art privately and at auction and privately:
- “Tim Leissner, a former partner for Goldman in Asia and once among its highest paid employees, pleaded guilty to conspiracies to launder money and violate foreign antibribery laws for his role in helping raise money for the fund, known as 1Malaysia Development Bhd, or 1MDB. Mr. Leissner, 48 years old, will forfeit $43.7 million. Roger Ng, the other former Goldman banker, and Mr. Low, who allegedly masterminded the fraud, were indicted on three conspiracy counts to violate foreign antibribery laws and launder money. Mr. Ng, 51, was arrested in Malaysia on Thursday, while Mr. Low, 36, is at large and was last seen in China, according to Malaysian authorities.”
There’s an Alma Thomas Retrospective Coming
The DCLine has a long discussion of Alma Thomas’s career in the nation’s capital where she taught in the DC public schools for 30 years before turning back to her art full time upon her retirement. Despite her late-ish start, Thomas quickly (for an artist) achieved an important show at the Whitney a dozen years after devoting herself to the work. DCLine points out, after the 2016 show of Thomas’s work at the Studio Museum of Harlem, that there is a retrospective in the works:
- “From an outside perspective, Thomas’ ‘mature’ style seems to have appeared out of nowhere, when in fact she worked very hard to get to where she got,” said Jonathan Walz, director of curatorial affairs and curator of American art at The Columbus Museum in Georgia and co-curator of an Alma Thomas retrospective currently in development jointly with the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Va. “She deserves all the credit she received and then some. She definitely paid her dues, just in a quieter way than many other artists.”
Gopnik: Warhol’s Business Was a Work of Art
Warhol biographer and art market antagonist—”A handful of mega-galleries, and their oligarch-artists, hold the purse-strings and power, making price tags matter more than profundity”—wants to have it both ways. In the New York Times, Gopnik praises Warhol’s sometimes goofy business schemes emanating from the factory. He mistakes Warhol’s willingness to run a large studio and cupidity for a fundamental change in the artist’s role. That would be news the numerous artists before Warhol who made financial and social successes of themselves from their art often employing significant numbers in their studio. In fact, you don’t need Warhol to get Hirst, Murakami or Koons no matter what the artists themselves say.
Establishing Warhol as the originator of “Business Art” leaves Gopnik boxed in. Here is how he struggles to free himself :
- “To many eyes today, Warhol must look like more of a sellout than ever. His iconic imagery can now be seen on moneymaking products including baby buggies and $14 “limited-edition” socks. But those don’t necessarily cancel out the artistry in Warhol’s Business Art. They are more like posthumous reperformances of it, or maybe they are this art’s latest “exhibition” — the way Warhol’s Marilyns and Brillo boxes are being put on view at the Whitney so we can come to grips with them once again.”