Christie’s has announced it will stage a new online series this summer via the firm’s private sales department titled “Dream Big”. The auction house will offer a total of fifty works of large-scale sculpture across a series of digital sales by contemporary names like Ai Wei Wei, Jeff Koons, Richard Serra, and Fernando Botero among others carrying values between $100,000 to $10 million. The selling exhibition will run online from 25 June through August.
The sale—the first initiative of its kind to bring monumental sculpture to private sales— is meant “to bridge the gap between a real and a virtual exhibition” offering works under themes surrounding human and natural forms.
The series comes on the heels of a new era of innovation with novel sale formats reaching outside of the traditional constraints of modern and contemporary auctions. The private sale show brings this new kind of selling to art on an industrial scale; with the majority of works intended to be display outdoors, these works typically present logistical challenges that prohibit their installation in the urban locations in which auction houses are typically found.
One of the stand-out works on offer in the exhibition is an interior sculpture, Paul McCarthy’s Tomato Head from 1990. McCarthy’s hybrid sculptures have been compared to that of postwar assemblage artists as well as surrealists. The same work, Tomato Head (Green) from 1994 sold at Christie’s in a contemporary evening sale for from the collection of Peter Norton after a bidding war going for for $4.6 million, a record for the artist. According to the work’s catalogue, two remaining variants of the piece are in the collection of Athens-based Dimitris Daskalopolous, (Burgundy) and the Ydessa Hendeles Art Foundation in Toronto (Black).
“Tomato Head is particularly iconic given in its date, scale and subject matter” said Vivian Brodie, Associate Director of Private Sales, Post-War and Contemporary Art at Christie’s. “McCarthy’s work, and Tomato Head in particular, explores the myths surrounding consumerism and pop culture in the United States, which resonate strongly today” added Brodie.
Among the other works on offer is Barbara Hepworth’s Ultimate Form, which hails from her 1970 series The Family of Man which comprises nine assembled standing figures installed outdoors. Alexander Calder’s aluminum and painted steel, The Spiral (No! to Frank Lloyd Wright from 1966, formerly exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. is also on offer. A key figure in the 1960s Earthworks movement, Walter de Maria‘s 5 Continents, an indoor installation featuring a back-lit marble, quartz and steel structure from 1987, which was acquired directly from the artist the year it was produced, is also available for sale.
According to Brodie, each of the works was sourced globally during the coronavirus lockdown, a testament to the broad strength of the modern and contemporary. The works come from a range of collections across various regions including Australia, the U.K, the U.S. and Europe. Brodie notes the sale indicates an increasing adaptation among clients towards a flexible transactional method. “The selection of works indicates both a seller and buyer audience that is comfortable with both buying and selling works on an online platform in an ever-changing market” said Brodie.
According to Christie’s, the private sale segment has been active during the coronavirus lockdown. The auction house reports that sales are 113% higher than in 2019, with an increase in 18% of works valued at more than $1 million, with more than double the number of sales at $10 million and above.