Paris auction house Artcurial closed its modern and contemporary art sale on Wednesday, bringing in $10.2 million across 25 lots, with a 76 percent sell-through rate. Leading the sale, which was directed by auctioneer Francis Briest, was a monumental black steel sculpture from 1963 by Alexander Calder, which sold for $5.6 million. The work nearly doubled its estimate to establish a new record price for a Calder sculpture of this scale.
After protracted telephone bidding, the work placed with a European collector. The 11½-foot-tall metal structure was initially installed at La Colle-sur-Loup, a village in Southern France. In recent months, demand among international collectors for large-scale outdoor sculpture has come to light, with blue-chip dealers offering high-value works via virtual salesrooms during Art Basel and Frieze, and big numbers achieved for standing works by foremost names like Louise Bourgeoise across top auctions.
Alexander Calder, Sans titre, 1963. Courtesy Artcurial.
Works on paper by American artists Ed Ruscha and Jean-Michel Basquiat failed to find buyers, but postwar abstract masters performed well in the modest offerings. Alongside the record set in the auction, a black 1981 painting by French centenarian Pierre Soulages featuring the artist’s heavy impasto technique sold for €877,000 ($990,000), hammering at the low end of its estimate, €800,000 to €1,200,000.
Elsewhere in the sale, a 1986 lavender ground abstract landscape by French-Chinese master Zao Wou-Ki came to auction for the first time, selling for €777,800 ($878,000). With rising global acclaim, Zao Wou-Ki’s market in Paris is expanding. A neutral triptych by Spanish abstract painter Antoni Tàpies placed within estimate at €294,200 ($332,000). The work last came to auction in a Christie’s Paris sale in May 2012.