Sotheby’s Old Master Drawings sale has big surprises; Singapore recovers from Art Stage setback; Phillips 2018 sales = $916m; Ari Emmanuel’s art collection; Jake Gyllenhall’s art world horror story.
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Big Surprises at Sotheby’s $15m OM Drawings Sale
Peter Paul Rubens, Nude Study of a Young Man with Raised Arms ($2.5-3.5m) $8.2m; Italian School, 16th Century, The Fight for the Standard (The Battle of Anghiari), After Leonardo ($25-35k) $795k; Att. to Agostino Carracci, Portrait of a Youth ($35-45k) $1.45m.
Sotheby’s Old Master drawings sale hit a whopping $15.05m in total with $6-7m of surprise revenue coming from three works that sold well above estimates. The top lot was Peter Paul Ruben’s Nude Study that exceeded the previous $5.5m record for a drawing by the artist when it sold for $8.2m. The drawing was owned by descendants of the Dutch Royal family. An unattributed work depicting the famous central image of Leonardo’s Battle of Anghiari was estimated at $25-35,000. At least two bidders must think there’s more to the work because it was eventually hammered down for $795k. (The highest price paid for a recognized Leonardo drawing is $11.5m, that is until—or if—Tajan ever sells its rediscovered Leonardo drawing.) Just above that work in the top three lots in the sale was a drawing cautiously “Attributed to Agostino Carracci” with an even more timid estimate range of $35-45,000. It eventually went to a bidder willing to spend $1.45m.
Singapore Art Week Rallies to Recover
The South China Morning Post reports on the aftermath of Lorenzo Rudolf’s still unexplained last-minute shuttering of the ailing Art Stage Singapore fair that was meant to anchor Singapore’s Art Week. The S.E.A. Focus fair soldiered on to anchor the event but, the SCMP writes, “there was concern that the smaller events and last-minute exhibitions organised by other Art Stage victims would be too spread out and fail to attract attention.”
Instead, local collectors responded with national pride to stage showcases in their homes and accommodations were made around the city state to house foreign galleries left stranded by Rudolf:
- “It was the large number of pop-up events filling the gap of Art Stage that really showed the sense of community in Singapore’s art world. People with spare space in their galleries, art studios, offices or even private homes answered a social media appeal to help stranded artists and galleries.Within days, three government agencies which had backed Art Stage came up with a partial rescue plan. The ARTery, initiated by the National Arts Council, the Singapore Tourism Board, the Economic Development Board and educational non-profit Art Outreach, managed to house 14 (largely foreign) galleries at Marina Bay Sands, where Art Stage would have taken place.”
Phillips Does $916m In 2018
Phillips released its 2018 sales this afternoon through Bloomberg. The firm sold 29% more art and design objects than the year before to hit a $916.5m total. Auction sales were $794.3m—up 27%—and private sales reached $122.2m, up 40%. Contemporary art accounted for 74.5% of those auction sales or $592.9m. That was also an increase of 40% over 2017’s tally.
Ari Emmanuel Collects African American Artists
The site Culture Type, which tracks “art by and for people of African descent,” has discovered through a real estate listing that Endeavor’s Ari Emmanuel owns several works by African American artists like Mark Bradford, Sam Gilliam and Kara Walker:
- “The living area boasts a huge triptych by Kara Walker, featuring her signature narrative silhouettes. […] The untitled work was created in 2014 and exhibited in the Sikkema Jenkins booth at the Art Basel Miami Beach art fair the same year. […] Across the room, a draped painting by Sam Gilliam is displayed and nearby there’s a painting by Los Angeles-based Mark Bradford. In one of the bedrooms, a painting featuring two figures looks like the work of Noah Davis (1983-2015), who co-founded The Underground Museum in Los Angeles.”
“Art Is More Than a Commodity”—It’s a Horror Story
The Netflix movie Velvet Buzzsaw was screened at Sundance a few days ago. It will be available to the rest of us on Netflix this Friday. The trailer, above, will give you some idea of whether you want to bother with this art world satire with horror elements.
Here’s the Guardian’s synopsis:
A confounding combination of satire and the supernatural, it feels like the sort of mid-budget gamble that only Netflix would make at the moment. It’s a mess, but a mostly enjoyable one, wildly careering between farce and frights, never risking boredom along the way. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Morf, the most respected and feared art critic in LA, who finds himself edging away from his personal trainer boyfriend and closer to Josephine (Zawe Ashton), who works for the devious Rhodora (Rene Russo), a punk rocker turned gallery owner. When a neighbour dies, Josephine finds an apartment filled with “otherworldly” art that soon becomes the talk of the town. But as the buzz builds, so do the bodies.
Or take this Uproxx take on the film:
I saw Netflix’s Velvet Buzzsaw with six or seven different film critics I know at its Sundance premiere this past Sunday, and to a person, we all began the movie with “Velvet Buzzsaw” written at the top of our notebook pages and left with the rest of the page still blank. What do you even say about this strange movie? I didn’t understand what I was watching while I was watching it and I still don’t. I’ve never seen a headscratcher quite like this one.
The truth of the matter is that the filmmaker and the star believe it is a comment on the commodification of art (which you can watch for yourself, below):
- Dan Gilroy: “The Contemporary art world is really interesting because it’s something that was originally designed to challenge and provoke. And it’s been utterly co-opted by big business and money. It’s a world that is off its axis.”
- Jake Gyllenhal: “It’s a parable about something—if I could narrow it down to one word: greed. […] It’s a prophetic tale.”