The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Thursday, June 30, 2022

Jitters before New York's art 'gigaweek'
An exceedingly rare witness to a critical period in Bacon’s life and career, Pope is estimated to sell for $6/8 Million. Courtesy Sotheby's.

by Scott Reyburn

NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE ).- New York’s biannual billion-dollar “gigaweek” of sales, whose latest series started Monday, is the glittering pinnacle of the auction market for Impressionist, modern and contemporary art. But is instability in the wider world taking off some of that shine?

The week’s various auctions at Christie’s, Phillips and Sotheby’s (which in June returned to private ownership) are estimated to raise at least $1.2 billion. But the world’s wealthy will have to be in a free-spending mood to match the $2 billion raised in May at the equivalent spring sales, when Jeff Koons’ stainless steel “Rabbit” sculpture fetched $91.1 million, an auction high for any work by a living artist. This time around, there are few museum-quality works by the most famous artists to tempt billionaires — no painting or sculpture is estimated to sell for more than $45 million.

“First, there isn’t a major estate — this cycle doesn’t have a Rockefeller,” said Diana Wierbicki, global head of art law at Withers Bergman LLP, referring to Christie’s 2018 record-setting auction of the Peggy and David Rockefeller collection. Second, she pointed out, sellers and buyers are confronting the global economic uncertainty from a looming presidential election in the United States, riots in Hong Kong and a Brexit-traumatized Britain.

And owners who could sell are thinking twice about offering trophy works at auction because the 2017 federal tax law removed art from the assets eligible for 1031 exchanges — the strategy that allows investors to defer paying capital gains tax on property when it is sold, as long as a similar property is purchased for the same amount. “Now people are asking, ‘Does it make sense to sell if I’m facing a federal capital gains tax of 28%?’ ” Wierbicki said.

A report by the French database Artprice that global auction sales were down 17.4% in the first half of 2019, as well as the closure in July of Pace gallery’s branch in Beijing, have also sobered the mood.

Yet there could be a silver lining for buyers with a more modest amount to spend on younger artists and representative pieces by established names.

“For most buyers, there’s comfort in a season lacking superlatives,” said Doug Woodham, managing partner at Art Fiduciary Advisors, based in New York. “Inexplicable prices can diminish the confidence of some collectors.”

This week about 2,050 works will come under the hammer at the three auction houses, the biggest such offering in New York since November 2015, according to data supplied by Artnet.

“These are low risk auctions. There won’t be the fireworks we’ve seen in the past,” warned Helly Nahmad, a New York gallerist specializing in high-end Impressionist, modern and contemporary art.

Here is a selection of works from the coming week that might ignite bidding.

‘La Ménagerie’

Ever keen to give a fresh twist to its “20th Century Week” series, Christie’s will hold a day sale of sculpture and design inspired by animals. “La Ménagerie,” the 31-lot auction, will include this singular welded brass and copper “Hippopotame I” which unfolds to reveal a sink, vanity, and full bathtub. It was made by François-Xavier Lalanne, husband of fellow French designer Claude Lalanne.

The quirky creations of “Les Lalanne,” melding art and design, have since the 1960s been collected by such influential tastemakers as Gunter Sachs, Yves Saint Laurent, Peter Marino and Tom Ford. Last month at Sotheby’s in Paris, the Lalannes’ private collection proved a $100 million sellout. Christie’s hippo bath, made in 1969, was acquired by its East Coast owner at auction in 2006 for $169,000. It is now estimated at $1 million to $1.5 million.

David Hockney

For many, the one out-and-out trophy of the season is David Hockney’s rediscovered acrylic on canvas, “Sur la Terrasse,” offered at Christie’s Wednesday night postwar and contemporary auction. The $25 million to $45 million estimate makes it the most highly valued lot of the week. (At the time of writing, it hadn’t been guaranteed.) The luminous, 9-foot-high composition, suffused with sunlight and a melancholy sense of a fading relationship, depicts Hockney’s then-lover, Peter Schlesinger, on the balcony of the couple’s room at the Hotel La Mamounia in Marrakesh in 1971. They broke up later that year.

This little-known work has emerged from an unnamed European private collection and was last exhibited in public in 1973. The $90.3 million achieved at Christie’s last November for Hockney’s 1972 “Portrait of an Artist (Pool With Two Figures)” — which also featured Schlesinger — has encouraged owners to part with major works by Britain’s most expensive living artist at auction.

“I knew of its existence, but this is the first time I’ve seen it,” said Offer Waterman, a London-based dealer in modern and contemporary art, who in 2015 sold “Peter on the Balcony,” a crayon-on-paper study for the latest Hockney trophy. “Obviously it’s a very ambitious painting,” Waterman added. ‘‘There’s no question it’s a great work.”

Derek Fordjour
Earlier Wednesday, Phillips will hold its day sale of contemporary art, which tends to be the week’s clearest indicator of which younger artists are most in demand. It will include a 5-foot-high panel painting from 2014 by Harlem-based artist Derek Fordjour. A nocturne showing two male figures standing at the edge of a circus ring, the painting had been acquired directly from the artist and is estimated to sell for between $50,000 to $70,000. That valuation reflects the $40,000 to $90,000 asked for Fordjour’s latest paintings at a sellout show at the Josh Lilley gallery in London during Frieze Week.

Many buyers are looking to auctions to acquire Fordjour’s works, and resale “secondary” market prices are rising steeply. Last month, a 2017 painting sold at Phillips in London for $169,000. “The auctions reflect where the speculation is,” said Candace Worth, an art adviser based in New York. “There is a clutch of younger artists that have become flash points,” added Worth, who singled out Fordjour, Julie Curtiss, Tschabalala Self and Loie Hollowell.

Francis Bacon

Sotheby’s 51-lot evening sale of contemporary art contains impressive large-scale abstracts by Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning that are each estimated to raise at least $25 million. The auction also includes a full-length Francis Bacon “Pope” painting from about 1958, sold by the Brooklyn Museum in order to “support museum collections.” The work had been donated to the museum in 1981 by American businesswoman and collector Olga H. Knoepke. It is certain to sell for at least $6 million, courtesy of a guarantee from Sotheby’s.

According to the catalog, the painting was made in Tangier during his violent love affair with ex-fighter pilot Peter Lacy. Most of the paintings from that chaotic period were destroyed, but this was one of six given by the artist to his friend Nicolas Brusilowski, on the understanding that the canvas would be reused.

“Brusilowski did not paint over them, but instead preserved them,” Sotheby’s catalog entry said, adding that this Brooklyn Museum gift is included in the artist’s catalogue raisonné.

However, Sotheby’s did not mention that Martin Harrison, in his complete catalog of Bacon’s works, quotes from a letter the artist wrote in 1982 to the Brooklyn Museum. “It was a throw-out and it depresses me he did not destroy the image as he undertook and that it has years later found its way onto the art market and I would prefer if it were not exhibited,” wrote Bacon.

Sotheby’s relatively modest seven-figure estimate seems to confirm the artist’s assessment. At their best, Bacon’s Velasquez-inspired “Pope” paintings are among his most celebrated works. In 2007, another full-length example sold at Sotheby’s for $52.7 million.

Yoshitomo Nara
Back in July, as protests continued to disrupt Hong Kong, Sotheby’s managed to produce a remarkable auction result. “Knife Behind Back,” an unusually large, characteristically stylized painting of a menacing-looking young girl in a red dress by Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara sold for $25 million. The acrylic on canvas, from 2000, sold for more than five times the artist’s previous auction high.

“It was an extreme symptom of the buildup of interest in his art over the last year,” said Robert Manley, deputy chairman and worldwide co-head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art at Phillips. “He’s always been quite popular and you just can’t get them,” added Manley, who pointed out that the six highest auction prices for paintings by the cartoon-influenced Nara have all been achieved this year.

On Thursday, Phillips’ evening contemporary sale will include a painting by Nara from the same date, titled “Little Thinker,” showing the same girl with dark bobbed hair, wearing the same white-collared dress.

The Phillips painting is less than half the size of the Hong Kong record-breaker, but with demand for Nara riding high, the $3 million low estimate could quite quickly attract incendiary bidding.

© 2019 The New York Times Company

Today's News

November 12, 2019

Asheville Art Museum re-opens after major three-year expansion project

The National Gallery launches public appeal to save Orazio Gentileschi's The Finding of Moses for future generations

Jitters before New York's art 'gigaweek'

Centuries old warships linked to 'Vasa' found in Sweden

Louvre Abu Dhabi marks two years, without da Vinci

Marsden Hartley's Birch Grove, autumn leads Bonhams American Art sale in New York

Sotheby's to offer property from Spetchley Park, one of Britain's great Regency houses

Lyon & Turnbull's MODERN MADE auction will turn the spotlight on the West Cornwall fishing town

Works by Margaret MacDonald, Josef Hoffmann and Alphonse Mucha come under the hammer at Dorotheum

Meadows Museum announces a new collaboration with Fundación ARCO

A sculpture for Brooklyn's new golden age?

Morphy's gallery resonates with sounds of antique coin-op and gambling machines in run-up to November auction

Stephen Dixon, author of experimental novels and stories, dies at 83

Thai convent weaves 'beautiful' robes for Pope Francis visit

Syria puppeteer offers Idlib children breathing space

Vivaldi reworked to 'make climate change audible'

Christie's to offer the David Little Silver Collection of Early English Silver

Keith Flint Collection surpasses expectations

Teresa Iarocci Mavica appointed commissioner of the Russian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

J. Garrett Auctioneers' November 2nd-4th auction grosses over $2 million

Diana Greenwald named new Assistant Curator of the Collection at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Major survey of Barry Le Va's early work on view at Dia:Beacon

Phillips names Lori Spector as Regional Director for Switzerland

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful