As the Mid-season Contemporary Art sales scheduled for the first week in March edge closer, there are a host of provocative lots leading interest around the middle-market auctions at Christies, Sotheby’s and Phillips. Typically, these mid-season contemporary auctions hold lower estimates than both Day and Evening sales. For veteran collectors, these sales can signal which upcoming artists’ works have the potential to perform in the secondary market Day and Evening sales slated with higher estimates.
The top lots in Sotheby’s sale include Wayne Thiebaud’s urban landscape Civic Center (1986), estimated at $2.5 to 3.5m, and Lee Bontecou’s untitled metal and fiberglass work estimated at $900,000 to $1.2m. Last year, the March Contemporary Curated sale achieved a total of $36.8m, surpassing the sale volume in the London Contemporary Day sales. Last year Sotheby’s was able to sell Kerry James Marshall’s Untitled (Painter) for a sum far in excess of its high estimate. The work sold for $7.3m over a $2.5m high estimate; that would be an impressive price in any Evening sale.
Christie’s Postwar to Present sale on March 5th will feature 217 middle-market pieces by 20th Century icons including Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and Robert Indiana, as well as emerging artists such as Julie Curtiss and Eddie Martinez, who have found recent success in the winter season London Evening sales. In the top echelon of estimates are two of Robert Indiana’s classic LOVE paintings sourced from the artist’s estate—each estimated at $1-1.5m—and Alma Thomas’s Flash of Spring estimated at $450,000-$650,000. Warhol’s Jackie (1964), a blue silkscreen carries an estimate of $600,000-800,000, following the sale of a trove of Warhol portraits of celebrity athletes from the collection of Richard L. Weisman that surged the market in the February Christie’s London Evening sale. Additionally, Agnes Gund donated Donald Judd’s Untitled (1978), reasonably estimated between $50,000-70,000, to be sold for the benefit of BOMB Magazine’s Endowment Fund.
A painting by Eddie Martinez titled Keys to a Defunct Castle (2015) will also be offered at an estimate of $480,000-680,000. In 2015, the work was sold to a Chinese collector at Art Basel Hong Kong by Mitchell-Innes & Nash around $80,000.
Keith Haring’s Untitled (1984) from the collection of Warhol confidant Jon Gould will also being offered at $200,000-300,000 at Christie’s. This follows the £3.2m sale of a massive Haring tarp that opened the Phillips February Evening auction. A glass sculpture by Rachel Whiteread, who enjoyed a retrospective at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. last year, will be offered at an estimate of $70,000 to $90,000 in the Postwar to Present sale.