Helped along by a clutch of School of London works, Bonhams racked up a strong £5.285m Post-War and Contemporary art sale in London this week. Auerbach led the way with a sale that was more than four times the high estimate. Leon Kossoff also demolished expectations. The sale was helped along by Anish Kapoor, Banksy, Sigmar Polke, and Serge Poliakoff.Continue Reading
Over the weekend, Francis Outred announced over Instagram that Christie’s would be selling a small Jackson Pollock drip painting in its London sale of Contemporary art. The work carries an estimate in line with the sale in New York two and a half years ago of Number 12, 1950 for $18.2m. One of the unanswered questions in this somewhat quiet launch is why the work is being sold in London instead of New York where it would be expected to do well. Is this an indication of interest from Europe and Asia or a signal that Christie’s has fair amount of traffic in May or simply a feather in Francis Outred’s cap.
Only time will answer those questions. Until then, we have Christie’s catalogue information:
Jackson Pollock – Number 21, 1950 (1950), Estimate: £10,000,000-15,000,000
With its opulent, marbled galaxy of dripped, splashed and spattered paint, Number 21, 1950 is a beautiful and important work from the peak of Jackson Pollock’s iconic ‘drip period’. It was included in the artist’s seminal third solo show at the Betty Parsons Gallery, New York, which opened on 28 November 1950. Now recognised as the crowning moment of Pollock’s career, this exhibition contained several of his greatest large-scale masterpieces, all of which were painted that year: Number One, 1950 (Lavender Mist) (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.); Number 27, 1950 (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York); Autumn Rhythm (Number 30) (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York); One: Number 31, 1950 (Museum of Modern Art, New York); and Number 32, 1950 (Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf). Number 21,1950 was among thirteen square-format works in the exhibition. Each roughly 22 x 22 inches in size, these were painted on the reverse sides of Masonite boards given to Pollock by his elder brother Sande McCoy, a commercial screen printer who had a stock of panels left over from the manufacture of a baseball board game in 1948. Other examples of this singular, jewel-like series are held in major museum collections worldwide, including Number 15, 1950 (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), Number 16, 1950 (Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro), Number 17, 1950 (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York), Number 18, 1950 (Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York), Number 20, 1950 (University of Arizona Museum of Art, Tucson), and Number 22, 1950 (Philadelphia Museum of Art).
The Wall Street Journal’s Kelly Crow plugs Gagosian’s show of Tom Wesselmann’s large, late still lifes:
The gallery has gathered nine still lifes that the artist created between 1967 and 1981 but never showed together. MoMA lent one ofthe pieces from 1969-70, “Still Life #57,” but most of the others went unsold when they were initially shown and have remained in the artist’s estate.
Gagosian declined to say what it plans to ask for the still lifes in its show, but … a smaller, preparatory painting for one of the … pieces on view at Gagosian, 1981’s “Still Life with Belt and Sneaker,” sold at Sotheby’s in 2010 for $650,500.
A smaller, single-panel work from 1981, Still Life and Blue Jar and Smoking Cigarette, sold at Phillips in May 2015 for $1.385m which gives those interested a better sense of the pricing for these works.
Phillips held its Spring Hong Kong sale over the weekend making $17.7m between the two sales:
Phillips’ Evening Sale of 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design in Hong Kong realised HK$129,761,250, selling 91% by lot with bidders from 22 countries participating. New world auction records were set, including those for a work by Christine Ay Tjoe, as well as a sculpture by KAWS. The sale was preceded by the standalone auction Warhol in China, which achieved HK$6,421,250.
Jonathan Crockett, Head of 20th Century and Contemporary Art & Deputy Chairman for Phillips Asia, said: “The outstanding result of tonight’s sale further establishes Phillips’ presence and rapid growth in and across Asia. Leading the sale was Yoshitimo Nara’s Last Warrior / The Unknown Soldier which sold for HK$21,680,000. The electric pace was set with fierce bidding for the opening lot by Jonas Wood, selling for three times the estimate. The momentum continued throughout, and after a nine minute bidding war, a new world auction record was set for Christine Ay Tjoe, more than doubling the previous record, and demonstrating Phillips’ ability to source and sell the most desirable works for record breaking prices. The international flavour of this sale was highlighted by works from as far away as Latin America, with Fernando Botero and Miguel Covarrubias achieving strong results.”
Kenny Schachter, who is no stranger to the Stingel market, was paying attention last week when three major Rudolf Stingel pieces and six other works made $28m. If you’re an AMMpro subscriber, you’ll know already the significance of that number. (Here’s a hint: last week, more money was spent on Stingel than in all of 2016, his second highest dollar volume year.)
Here Schachter is talking about the Zadig & Voltaire collection which mostly underperformed:Continue Reading
Kenny Schachter is entranced by the guarantee game. He peppers his Contemporary auction report with several comments on the third-party guarantees. One of the big questions Schachter raises is the relationship between Lévy Gorvy (which Schachter says signed up for a number of Christie’s lots) and Francois Pinault who has often acted as a guarantor to Christie’s sales and has been close to both of the principals at the firm.
Pinault’s balance sheet may not have been necessary. After all, an expanded Lévy Gorvy serving the “masterpiece market” is going to need a few masterpieces in inventory. There’s also competition for that inventory in the form of guarantees as Schachter points out. Filtering the industry gossip, Kenny fingers David Geffen for the guarantee on Basquiat’s La Hara which was being sold by Steven Cohen but went to a buyer above the estimate range instead of the guarantor.
Not so at least one of the major lots which Schachter discovered but doesn’t comment upon. Pay attention to the round number on the Warhol which suggests the buyer was the guarantor:Continue Reading
Colin Gleadell has done a little arithmetic on last week’s sales. He counts a total for the week of $1.6bn which was $500 million more than the year before but $1.14bn less than the high water mark set in 2015.
Gleadell breaks it downfurther into Impressionist and Modern art at $537.6m and Contemporary out-shining with $1.064bn.
As is his wont, Gleadell also has some big scores to report:Continue Reading
Just before the beginning of Phillips Evening sale last Thursday, an uncharacteristically dressed-down Tobias Meyer stood in the middle of the sale room waiting to wish his former lieutenant Cheyenne Westphal luck in her first sale at Phillips.
Turns out, she didn’t need luck. Smart sale management showed that Phillips has moved up a weight class and is now a light heavyweight. Judiciously withdrawing two lots—one a high-priced Richter abstract that had been shopped around (and shared the green color scheme of one withdrawn a few years ago in London)—allowed Phillips to sell everyone one of the lots on offer even if, at times, compromises had to be made.
The house’s big bet on Peter Doig paid off with a $28.8m sale. The late de Kooning from 1980 got out alive after Christie’s withdrew an earlier work with a similar title from its sale. The de Kooning sold below estimates but made $13.1m with fees.Continue Reading