Sotheby’s is prepping for the Fall when it will have an interesting collection of 200 works from Frank Dunphy, who is best known as the former business manager to Damien Hirst. It is no surprise that Dunphy is selling through Sotheby’s with whom he organized the (in)famous Beautiful Inside My Head Forever sale a decade before. The Dunphy sale, which includes a great deal of material from the YBA artists, comes as bookend to the decade of Hirst’s muted market in the wake of the big bang of the BIMHF sale. Here’s Sotheby’s on the sale:Continue Reading
Bloomberg previews the Rockefeller sales this week with a teaser article about the online sales action but the most interesting part of the piece is the way it ends with Christie’s Rebecca Wei outlining the tastes of her Chinese clients. It’s rare to see a Senior figure at an auction house say something anything but upbeat about one the top lots coming up for auction. But in the case of Gertrude Stein’s Picasso, there may be no need for caution. There’s been a lot of talk in the trade, some of it coming from the owner of a number of Picassos that the Rose period Picasso could sell for a great deal more than the $100m low estimate.
That interest is likely to come from buyers in the Gulf States or the owner a private museum than from Chinese clients. Christie’s Rebecca Wei explains why:
“The big whale clients want the top-top pieces only by Tier 1 artists,” said Wei, listing Picasso, Matisse, Claude Monet, van Gogh, Gauguin and Paul Cezanne. “They like bright colors. Women need to be beautiful in the paintings.”
Top on their list, she said, is a sensual 1923 Matisse canvas, “Odalisque couchee aux magnolias.” Estimated at $70 million, it will probably set an auction record for the French artist, whose current high is $48.8 million.
Picasso’s 1905 “Young Girl with a Flower Basket,” which depicts a pale, nude teenage girl with a basket of red blossoms, may be a tougher sell, Wei said.
“I had so many top collectors looking at the piece, saying ‘Mmm… I don’t know, she has a haunted look — I like the Matisse much better.’”
During Christie’s Evening Sale of Impressionist and Modern Art on May 15th the auction house will sell for the first time Constantin Brancusi’s, La Jeune fille sophistiquée (Nancy Cunard) which carries a whisper estimate of $70m. This Brancusi is a unique sculpture, cast in polished bronze in Paris in 1932. It comes from the collection of Elizabeth Stafford and her husband Frederick Stafford who bought the work directly from Brancusi during a visit to his studio in 1955. It has been in their collection ever since:
An extraordinarily rare and important work, La Jeune fille sophistiquée is the only existing bronze example of Brancusi’s stylized portrait of the Anglo-American heiress and writer Nancy Cunard. The work retains the artist’s original hand-carved marble base, a factor of immense significance given the importance Brancusi attached to the interaction between materials and the interplay between his sculptural subjects and the pedestals upon which he placed them.
Conor Jordan, Deputy Chairman, Impressionist and Modern Art, New York, remarked: “A daring and exquisite work of art, the Brancusi from The Collection or Elizabeth Stafford represents one of the vanishingly small number of the artist’s bronzes with its original carved base not in a museum collection. Its appearance on the market will be an exciting event for the world’s foremost collectors of Modern art.”
By the 1920s Brancusi enjoyed a near mythic status among the Parisian avant-garde. He was the author of a revolutionary visual language, who had famously arrived in Paris on foot from Romania in 1904, from “beyond the mountains and beyond the stars” as he liked to say. From his studio in Montparnasse, guided by instinct, he carved works of increasing radical simplicity, often using the ovoid form as the starting point.
In La Jeune fille sophistiquée (Nancy Cunard), Brancusi’s purity of line renders the famous cool beauty of Nancy, with her striking waved hairstyle and sylph-like proportions. Cunard was a major patron of artists and writers in Paris between the wars, counting Tristan Tzara, Marcel Duchamp, Ezra Pound and James Joyce among her circle. In this context Nancy encountered Brancusi, whom she described as “a fine bearded-old- shepherd of a face and to my mind, one of the great
sculptors of our time.”
Brancusi met Nancy Cunard in 1923 through the Dada poet Tristan Tzara, one of her many paramours. The profoundly iconoclastic heiress, who openly flouted sexual, racial, class, and national boundaries, struck Brancusi as the very embodiment of the liberated Twenties—a figure of and for the moment. “Everything about the way she behaved,” he recalled, “showed how truly sophisticated she was for her day.”
Cunard never posed for Brancusi and in fact was unaware until many years later that he had sculpted a figure that bore her name. However, with superbly distilled volumes, Brancusi succeeded in capturing Cunard’s elegance and stylized presentation, creating a precise, individualized characterization that simultaneously transcends the particular personality to
arrive at a universal, essential form.
In 1955, at a friend’s suggestion, budding collectors, Elizabeth and Frederick Stafford visited Brancusi’s studio. Mr. Stafford, who had emigrated from Romania in the 1930’s, relished the opportunity to meet Brancusi as a fellow Romanian and learn about his work. When the couple arrived at his studio, they were astounded by the beauty of his work. Mr. Stafford returned
the next day and purchased La Jeune fille sophistiquée as a 28 th birthday gift for Mrs. Stafford. This sculpture would come to define the couple’s collection. And over 62 years, the Staffords generously loaned it to prominent institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Guggenheim, Centre Georges Pompidou and New Orleans Museum of Art among others.
Art Basel in Hong Kong is kicking off a season of seventies de Koonings as several works come to market in the wake of the record price set two years ago when a much-traded work from 1977, Untitled XXV sold for $66.3m.
Lévy Gorvy announced today that it would be offering Paul Allen’s six-and-a-half-foot tall Untitled XII from 1975 with an asking price of $35m. Previously, Sotheby’s announced that it would be holding a private sales exhibition in Hong Kong that same week with a smaller (four-and-a-half-foot by five-foot) untitled work from 1977.
Bloomberg’s Katya Kazakina also toted up the de Koonings that will follow on during the New York sales in May:
Some lower-priced de Kooning paintings will be offered during the May auctions in New York: a 1976 “Untitled XVIII” from the estate of billionaire couple Joan and Preston Robert Tisch […] at Christie’s; and a 1978 “Untitled VI” sold by the Mandel Foundation at Sotheby’s.
The Nightly Business Report does a feature on the upcoming Rockefeller sale at Christie’s slated for this May. David Rockefeller Jr. talks about the sale and his family’s emphasis on using the proceeds to support social institutions.
Sotheby’s announced the $75m collection of Cleveland auto parts billionaires Morton and Barbara Mandel will be offered in their May sales in New York to benefit the Mandel family’s foundation. The lead lot is a Joan Miró late work estimated at $10-15m, a Barnett Newman work on paper estimated at $800k to $1.2m; a Mark Rothko late work on paper with a $7-10m estimate; a de Kooning from 1978 with an $8-12m estimate; Roy Lichtenstein’s work from the 1970s with a $7-10m estimate; a Donald Judd stack with a $8-12m estimate and a 1964 Warhol flowers painting with a $2-3m estimate.
Here’s Sotheby’s release on the collection:
As Mr. Mandel has said, he and his wife “collected to enrich their lives” and the result is a powerful and personal collection that has remained largely unseen by the public until now. Inspired by the legendary Leo Castelli, who encouraged the couple to focus on a core group of artists, and Arne Glimcher of Pace Gallery, the Mandels carefully assembled their collection over decades. The works have been thoughtfully installed in their homes – creating dynamic juxtapositions of Joan Miró with David Smith, and Roy Lichtenstein with Willem deKooning – and enjoyed each and every day.
Women’s Wear Daily announced the death of fashion designer and art collector, Hubert de Givenchy. A member of Christie’s board, Givenchy sold €32m of Diego Giacometti’s design objects and furniture last year:
Count Hubert James Marcel Taffin de Givenchy, the 6’6” French aristocrat who founded the house of Givenchy in 1952, died on Saturday at the age of 91, his family said on Monday. […] With his perfect manners and old-school discipline, Givenchy had a distinguished presence that colored the fashion industry for over fifty years. A consummate collector with an impeccable eye for objects as well as the interior decoration of houses, he leaves behind a fashion house that defined the very notions of refinement and elegance.
Here’s Nick Foulkes in the Financial Times’s How to Spend It magazine describing him:
Givenchy is a survivor of the golden age of haute couture. He clothed the most beautiful women of an elegant time: Gloria Guinness, Babe Paley, Daisy Fellowes and Mona von Bismarck among them. Nicknamed the Tarzan of fashion because of his towering frame, he worked for Jacques Fath, Lucien Lelong and Schiaparelli, before founding his couture house in 1952, aged just 25. A couple of years later, the newspaper L’Express told its readers that he was to haute couture what Françoise Sagan was to literature and Bernard Buffet to painting: successful, glamorous, gorgeous and very, very French. Givenchy famously dressed Audrey Hepburn on and off screen and lived up to the image of the dashing French aristocrat that he was, never less than impeccable in a Huntsman or Cifonelli suit and sky-blue shirt with white collar and cuffs from Charvet. He was such a shoo-in for the Vanity Fair Best Dressed List that he was kicked upstairs into the Hall of Fame to give others a chance. He travelled the world surrounded by beautiful women, promoting an empire of fashion, fragrances and accessories – and by the time he sold his business to LVMH, he was richer and more famous than those who had been his customers.
An exclusive interview with Hubert de Givenchy (How To Spend It)
James Tarmy has an interesting story on Bloomberg about the Rockefeller estate which will come to market at Christie’s over the next few months. David Rockefeller had a good eye and a keen trading sense. As Tarmy points out, the success of Rockefeller’s Rothko sold at the pre-credit crisis peak of the market for $73m was bought for $10,000 53 years earlier.
The capital gains on that sale caused Rockefeller to make plans to dispose of his art in a way that would maximize the value to charity. The subsequent competition between auction houses became legend within the industry. Rockefeller’s representatives were the toughest of customers. They drove a very hard bargain which has left some bruised feelings even years later.
No one can confirm the final guarantee level (and it is said to include a toggle that gives the estate an additional advantage) but $750m is a safe number to work with on what the estate was expected to generate.
That’s a big number even for Rockefeller. Christie’s approached the market gingerly. In January, some of the top works—Picasso, Matisse and Monet—were released to the press with estimates of $70m, $50m and $35m respectively. Since then, Christie’s has clearly gotten good feedback from the market as it tours the works to Asia and Europe.Continue Reading
Sotheby’s have added an evening sale to Asia Week New York for The Chew Family Collection of Chinese Paintings & Calligraphy. The March 22 auction will feature seventy-six paintings and calligraphy assembled by two generations of the Chew family. The collection has the added luster of the Chew family’s friendship with Zhang Daqian and includes one of his works previously unknown to the public (above). In 2011, during the first year of exploding art sales among Mainland Chinese buyers, Zhang Daqian was the third most valuable artist by sales volume at the three major auction houses worldwide. Sotheby’s has a short but enlightening video on the artist that is worth viewing.
Proceeds from the sale will benefit two trusts established by Frances Chew prior to her passing to continue her mission and to benefit those in need. Here’s Sotheby’s release on the Chews and Zhang
THE CHEW FAMILY COLLECTION
In the 1930s, Joan Chew, daughter of famous revolutionary officer General Wu Luzhen, arrived in the United States to study music at the University of Southern California. There she met and married Thomas Chew, a fellow student at the business school; together they managed a number of businesses in import, export and Chinese antiquities, including the Great Wall Inc. in Los Angeles, China Commerce Co. in San Francisco and the China Art Center in Carmel. In Carmel, where Frances, Joan and Thomas put down roots, the Chew Family managed the Dolores Lodge, which became a favorite rest stop for the celebrated modern painter, Zhang Daqian, and his friends.
Frances Chew was a brilliant student and accomplished athlete, graduating from Mills College before travelling to the Sorbonne in Paris and Yale University to study and teach French literature. Following her father’s untimely passing, she returned to California to support her mother, to manage the China Art Center, and to become a mentee of Zhang Daqian. In her own words, “it was a way [Zhang Daqian] communicated – quick, deep insights on art and on life. It was not something to be analyzed or explained. For those who understand, no explanation was necessary, for those who didn’t, no explanation was possible.” In the 1980s, Frances left California to pursue a vocation with the Missionaries of Charity, founded by Mother Theresa to care for the sick and the poor; over the next decade, she, then known as Sister Asha, lived and worked in New York, Rome and Haiti, before returning home in 1992 to take care of her mother. Frances Chew passed away in early 2017.
ZHANG DAQIAN AND THE CHEW FAMILY
One of, if not the most, illustrious modern Chinese artist of his time, Zhang Daqian emigrated to the United States in 1967, living first in Carmel and later in Monterey. There, he befriended the Chew Family, staying at the Dolores Lodge whenever he travelled to Carmel. During these visits, Zhang Daqian and the Chews exchanged gifts including the artist’s own works such as Water and Sky Gazing after Rain in Splashed Color and Five Fortunes, which Zhang inscribed with wishes for the Chews’ 60th birthday. Zhang also inscribed paintings by other artists, including Yun Shouping’sLandscapes After Song and Yuan Masters, Tao Cheng’s Wild Rabbit Amongst Bamboo and Chrysanthemum, and Lin Liang’s Two Geese in an Autumn Lotus Pond and Two Pheasants Under a Wintry Willow Tree.
Christie’s rushed out an announcement this morning that the house had secured the art collection of Joan and Preston Tisch. Joan died late last year at 90 years old. Today, Christie’s is announcing a Miró and De Kooning for the May sales. There will be more works announced later:
Encompassing over 40 objects in total, The Collection of Joan and Preston Robert Tisch is expected to realize in excess of $80 million. The collection includes works by some of the leading names of the recent art historical canon. From strikingly modern bronzes by Alberto Giacometti and Henry Moore to boldly-colored canvases by Willem de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, Joan Miró, Fernand Léger, Pablo Picasso and others, it is a dynamic lesson in 20th century creativity.
Collection proceeds will go to the Tisch family foundations to continue the couple’s lifelong philanthropic mission. Joan and Preston Robert Tisch sought to share this same visual and intellectual delight in the public sphere. The couple continuously contributed leadership and substantial financial backing to institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, home of the Tisch Galleries, and the Museum of Modern Art, where Joan Tisch served as a trustee and posthumously donated works by artists including Léger, Braque, and Giacometti.
A selection of works will be on view in Christie’s King Street galleries from February 20 – March 8. Among the highlights being exhibited are Joan Miro’s Femme entendant de la musique, 1945 ($10,000,000-15,000,000) and Willem De Kooning’s Untitled XVIII, 1976 (estimate: $8,000,000-12,000,000). Further details on the collection will be available in the coming months.