Tuesday, June 26, 2007




"Money talks; it has nothing to say about art," is the apparent bon mot of the summer, uttered by Venice czar Crocodile Robert Storr. But Storr has the equation wrongly reversed. The intriguing issue is what art says about money.

Damien Hirst summed it up succinctly in a recent Artnet Magazine interview with Joe La Placa, "Art is the most fabulous currency." From the celebrated Hirst to the failed painter in the garret, money constantly whispers in the ear of the artist. We all have known artists who squirrel away unwanted works, only to finally get a show. Then these artists wildly overprice their canvases so that nothing will sell.

That is the call of money, the fear of art as exchange value. Conversely, Claude Monet, the original Andy, would crank out his haystacks, take a small number to Marseilles, telling his buyers, "There are only a few, buy them while you can." Then he'd float another dozen stacks back in Paris.

This is more than making a living, or refusing to: It is the love call of currency at its most fetishistic. Steve Rubell famously showered Andy Warhol with buckets of bills at Andy's birthday bash. No artist was more the victim, and yet exploiter, of money lust than Warhol, wandering the souks of Soho with Stuart Pivar buying up everything in sight then dumping the unopened packages in his closets at night, full of unsatisfied shame. The pull of mammon was murderous even on someone so intelligent. For money is a form of behavior, abstract, hidden and irrational.

We in our world of art are currently amused by the hairy men of mystery bringing home the Bacons from London bazaars. The pounds are limitless and the Bacons scarce, and Bacon himself, he’s dead. What has changed in the relationship between art and money is time. Huge amounts hedged on art made last week are the symptom of a new art-world dynamic, the living buyers grasping at totems of life from living artists.

Like the blackest hole, this behavior must collapse upon itself, because, as the critic Peter Schjeldahl told me the other night, "The only time is the present." Parse that present like a hedged derivative into minutes, seconds and milliseconds and pretty soon, like the diminished spiritual significance of overpriced art, nothing is there.

Better to quote the ancient Sanskrit saying, "For today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope. Such is the salutation of the dawn."

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Idemitsu Petroleum Norge AS to Sponsor Research

Idemitsu Petroleum Norge AS to Sponsor Research


Scream by Edvard Munch.

OSLO, NORWAY.-The Munch Museum and Idemitsu Petroleum Norge AS have signed a sponsorship agreement where Idemitsu will support the Munch Museum with an amount of NOK 4 million over a period of two years for research. The research pertains to the paintings "Scream" and "Madonna" and for the conservation of the works, with the end result being an exhibition in 2008. For more on the actual restoration process.

The parent company, Idemitsu Kosan Co. Lt., which is an independent Japanese petroleum company, has already been a generous sponsor to the Munch Museum. In 1991 an agreement was signed by which the Munch Museum benefited approx. NOK 57 million towards the refurbishment of the original museum building as well as for the building of a large extension. As a return service the Munch Museum lent a substantial number of works for an exhibition in Japan. In addition to this the Munch Museum committed to lend three Munch paintings every year for a period of fifteen years to the Idemitsu Museum of Arts in Tokyo. The thirteenth selection of works for this circulating exhibition will be sent to Tokyo in autumn 2007. A separate Munch Exhibition - "The Decorative Projects" opens at the National Museum of Modern Art in Ueno, Tokyo in autumn. More on this here.

Idemitsu, as a subsidiary of Idemitsu Kosan, has benn present in the Norwegian section of the Continental Shelf since 1989. Idemitsu now wishes to strengthen its cultural profile by contributing financially to the research and conservation pertaining to "The Scream" and "Madonna".

Andy Warhol's 30 Colored Maos Sells at Sotheby's

Andy Warhol's 30 Colored Maos Sells at Sotheby's


Andy Warhol silkscreen entitled 30 Coloured Maos (Reversal Series) was sold in Sotheby’s Evening Sale of Contemporary Art for £1.25 million.

LONDON.-An Andy Warhol silkscreen entitled 30 Coloured Maos (Reversal Series) was sold in Sotheby’s Evening Sale of Contemporary Art last night for £1.25 million after being consigned for sale by the Art Loss Register (ALR) on behalf of insurers. The acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas, which sold to a European private collector for a price comfortably within its pre-sale estimate, was stolen in 1980 while on exhibition in Paris and its whereabouts had remained unknown for some 27 years. The missing painting was recovered earlier this year by the ALR, after it was brought into Sotheby’s London for valuation in November 2006.

The Sotheby’s specialist who received the work late last year noted gaps in the painting’s provenance and – as part of his initial research – contacted the ALR, the world’s largest private international database of lost and stolen art, antiques and collectibles. Through its recovery and research services, the ALR was able to track the history of the missing work and resolve an unanswered case for the insurers. Following settlement of the claim, the Warhol became the property of the insurers and was subsequently sold yesterday on their behalf.

Julian Radcliffe OBE, Chairman of the Art Loss Register, commented: “The recovery of this silkscreen after 27 years demonstrates the importance of the Art Loss Register’s central database of stolen art and the rigorous checking of all artworks offered for sale against the database pre-sale. We are thrilled to have played a part in bringing to light this long lost work and we were delighted to see it sell so successfully at Sotheby’s last night.”

Tom Christopherson, Sotheby’s Counsel in Europe, said: “The recovery of the Warhol in the present case is a text book example of how training staff to a heightened awareness of provenance issues combined with the remarkable effectiveness of the Art Loss Register’s database and research services can successfully recover stolen and looted art.”

Commissioned by Bruno Bischofberger for an exhibition at his gallery in Zurich in 1980, 30 Coloured Maos (Reversal Series) is a rare masterpiece from Warhol’s hugely important Reversals series. Signaling a new period of productivity in the artist’s work, the Reversals series – alongside the contemporaneous Retrospectives – introduced a new conceptual vigour to Warhol’s artistic practice. The work revisit’s the iconic images of the Chinese Communist leader painted by Warhol in the early 1970s. Instantly recognisable throughout the Western world thanks to a press-fuelled Cold War preoccupation with the Eastern superpower, Mao Tse Tung’s official portrait was a widely disseminated icon of Communism.

30 Coloured Maos (Reversal Series) was one of six works by Warhol sold in last night’s Contemporary Art sale at Sotheby’s. All together the works fetched a combined total of £4,432,000.

Highest Price For Living Artist At Auction: Hirst $19.2 M

Highest Price For Living Artist At Auction: Hirst $19.2 M


Damien Hirst's Lullaby Spring sold for $19.2 million. Highest price for a work by a living artist. ©Sotheby’s.

LONDON.- Sotheby’s week of sales concluded today, having realised a total of £204,766,360 – the highest total for any series of sales ever staged by the company in Europe. Robin Woodhead, Chief Executive, Sotheby’s International said: “This was the highest totaling week of sales London has ever seen – confirming beyond all doubt London’s rapid ascent as a central hub in the art market. The vigour of the activity in the salerooms this week was tremendous, especially with the highest price for the work of a living artist set at Sotheby’s for Damien Hirst’s Lullaby Spring. The extraordinary prices achieved this week at Sotheby’s, particularly those for Francis Bacon’s Self Portrait and Claude Monet’s Nymphéas, – at £21.5 million and £18.5 million, respectively the two top prices of the week – are testament to the fact that today's collectors want the very best the market has to offer, and they are prepared to fight hard to get it. Bidding across the sales was truly global. New buyers locked horns with long-time collectors in a bid to secure top masterpieces.”

New benchmarks were set as the average price of the works sold was higher than ever before (£2.17 million for works in the Impressionist & Modern evening sale, versus a previous London high of £1.5 million, and £1 million for works in the Contemporary evening sale). Six works were sold for over £4 million; 33 works were sold for over £1 million; 60 works were sold for over $1 million. No fewer than 13 artist’s auction records were established at Sotheby’s, many for works by leading artists such as Damien Hirst and Henri Matisse, others for Contemporary Chinese artists such as Yue Minjun and Liu Ye. The sales were characterized by truly global bidding, with activity from Asia, Russia, the US and Europe. Bidding was particularly strong from the UK. The week was punctuated with moments of particular excitement, for example, the moment when…

Auction history was made as Damien Hirst’s pill cabinet Lullaby Spring soared to £9.6 ($19.2) million, making Hirst the most expensive living artist at auction. The work had been estimated at £3–4 million.

The Contemporary evening sale brought the highest price of the auction week in London, when Francis Bacon’s Self Portrait sold to a private American collector for the spectacular price of £21.58 ($43) million – double its estimate of £8-12 million. Its dramatic sale followed fast on the heels of the unprecedented success of Bacon’s Study from Innocent X, which was sold at Sotheby’s New York in May 2007 for a world record price of $52.6 million.

Claude Monet’s Nymphéas of 1904, realised £18,500,000 ($36,724,350) – the second highest price ever achieved for a work by the artist at auction and the second highest price of the entire week of London sales. The price achieved fell just short of the record of £19.8 ($33 million), achieved for Bassin aux Nymphéas of 1900 at Sotheby’s London in 1998.

Sotheby’s Contemporary Evening sale exceeded its top estimate by 26%, realizing £72,427,600, against a top estimate of £57.1 million

The average lot value in the Impressionist evening sale hit £2.17 million – an average price that is unprecedented in any auction ever held in London.

The average lot value in the Contemporary evening sale hit £1,097,387 – the first time average lot value in a European Contemporary sale has exceeded £1 million.

Over 66% of works sold in the Contemporary evening sale realized prices in excess of their top estimate, while over 50% of works sold in the Impressionist evening sale realised prices in excess of high estimate.

The sales attracted large crowds: tickets for seats at the Impressionist evening sale were oversubscribed – despite the addition of two auxiliary auction rooms (each with an additional auctioneer – relaying bids into the main auction room) to accommodate overflow. At the Contemporary evening sale, the auction room was filled to capacity.

An unprecedented number of telephone bids were registered: 40 telephone lines were installed for the Impressionist evening sale – with almost every work carrying multiple telephone bids; 60 telephones lines were installed for the Contemporary evening sale; a total of 274 bids were left on 73 lots in the Contemporary evening sale.

£1,520,400 ($3,029,549) was raised for the NPSCC – over three times the top expectation for the group of five works that had been donated by Damien Hirst, Keith Tyson, Tracey Emin, Antony Gormley and Grayson Perry to benefit the NSPCC’s Treatment and Therapeutic Services. Tracey Emin attended the auction to rally the bidding, with great success. Her neon work entitled Keep Me Safe sold for £60,000 ($119,556), a record for the medium. Meanwhile, Keith Tyson’s Nature Painting, sold for £216,000 ($430,402) – a record for the artist.

Further demonstrating the international appeal and continued demand for Chinese Contemporary Art, seven works by some of China’s most important contemporary artists performed exceptionally well in the contemporary evening sale. Together, the works realised a combined total of £4,861,600 ($9,687,224), against pre-sale estimate of £1.5-2 million. The top-selling work among them was Yue Minjun’s The Pope, which sold for £2,148,000 - more than twice its pre-sale high estimate, £800,000 more than the previous record, and the highest price for a work of Chinese Contemporary Art at auction. Interest in these works was tremendous: a total of 81 absentee bids were left on these 7 works alone, with 22 bids registered for Liu Ye’s Untitled.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Freud Sells For $15.6 Million at Christie's London

Freud Sells For $15.6 Million at Christie's London


Portrait of Bruce Bernard by Lucian Freud (b.1922) which sold for £7,860,000 ($15,625,680/ €11,624,940). © Christie's Images Limited.

LONDON, ENGLAND.-Christie’s record-breaking auction of Post-War and Contemporary Art on 20 June 2007 realised £74,072,800 / $147,256,726 / €109,553,671, a record total for any auction in this category in Europe. The top lot of the sale was a portrait of Bruce Bernard by Lucian Freud (b.1922) which sold for £7,860,000 ($15,625,680/ €11,624,940), a world record price at auction for any work by a living European artist and a world record price for the artist at auction.

The fast-paced sale saw auction records broken, including those for Lucian Freud, Piero Manzoni, Michael Andrews and Antoni Tàpies among others, as international clients competed for the works on offer. Buyer activity at the auction was 25% United Kingdom, 37% rest of Europe, 27% Americas, 10% Asia and 1% Middle East (by lot). The auction was 91% sold by value and 89% by lot against a pre-sale estimate of £54 to £76 million.

Pilar Ordovas, Director and Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art at Christie’s in London, said: “This evening’s record results demonstrate Christie’s continuing leadership of the Post-War and Contemporary art market. In the last six months at Christie’s in London, we have sold over £165 million of Post-War and Contemporary Art and established a record total for the category in Europe on two successive occasions, firstly in February and then again tonight. This demonstrates a confident market which responds with strength when works of quality and freshness are offered at Christie’s. We are particularly pleased with the result realized by Lucian Freud’s exceptional portrait of Bruce Bernard which drew interest from a huge number of international clients and was subject to fierce competition in the saleroom before selling for £7.86 million. We look forward to tomorrow’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Sale.”

This evening’s auction is one of a series of five sales of Impressionist and Modern Art and Post-War and Contemporary Art at Christie’s this week. With a combined pre-sale estimate of between £172 and £241 million, this is the most important and valuable week of auctions ever held in Europe. This evening’s results build on the success of Monday’s auction of Impressionist and Modern Art which realized £121 million ($240 million / €178 million), a record total for any auction ever held in Europe. The Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Sale will take place on 21 June 2007 from 10am at Christie’s King Street salerooms.

Highlights of this evening’s sale:

- Lucian Freud’s (b.1922) portrait of Bruce Bernard sold for £7,860,000 ($15,625,680/ €11,624,940), a world record price at auction for any work by a living European artist and a world record price for the artist at auction. Painted in 1992, this work was a highlight of The Elaine and Melvin Merians Collection, from which a selection of nineteen works were sold at this evening’s auction for a total of £16,815,600 ($33,429,412 / €24,870,272). Bruce Bernard, who died in 2000, was a close friend of the artist for many years and a highly respected picture editor of The Sunday Times Magazine. Bruce wrote a number of books on photography and painting and was the author of one of the most important monographs on Freud’s work; he was also the brother of the legendary columnist and Soho bon vivant Jeffrey Bernard.

- Three Marilyns, 1962, by Andy Warhol (1928-1987) realized £5,620,000 ($11,172,560 / €8,311,980). One of the first multiple images that Warhol made of the deceased star Marilyn Monroe, this work is particularly rare in its vertical form: of these Marilyns from 1962, only one other is recorded with a single strip of vertical images, and in that case there are only two, in black and white. Here, though, with the triple repetition, Warhol manages to give this silk-screened image of Marilyn Monroe a filmic appearance, as though it were itself related to the strips of celluloid of her cinema career.

- Two Men Working in a Field, 1971, by Francis Bacon (1909-1992) realized £5,060,000 ($10,059,280 / €7,483,740) while Landscape with a car, 1939-1946, also by Francis Bacon (1909-1992) sold for £4,276,000 ($8,500,688 / €6,324,204). This is one of the very few paintings made by the artist during the Second World War to have survived both the ravages of the period and the destructive violence of the artist’s ferocious self-criticism. A mere twenty six paintings from this era remain today, of which Landscape with a car is one of the scarce and important survivors which can also be positively ascribed to the first twenty years of Francis Bacon's career.

- Still Life with Stretcher, Mirror, Bowl of Fruit, 1972, by Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997) sold for £4,052,000 ($8,055,376 / €5,992,908).

- A selection of eighteen works from the CAP Collection sold for a total of £6,602,000 ($13,124,776 / €9,764,358). Assembled since 1996 by Anthony Pilaro, founder of Duty Free and BriteSmile and CAP Foundation Chairman, the majority of sale proceeds will benefit the Ron Brown Scholar Program, which annually awards scholarships to academically talented, highly motivated African-American high school seniors. The top lot of the Collection was Grosse Geister No. 9 and No. 14 by Thomas Schütte (b.1954) which sold for £1,400,000 ($2,266,320 / €1,686,060), a world record price for the artist at auction.

Record prices at auction were established for 15 artists at this evening’s auction: Kara Walker (lot 1), Thomas Schütte (lot 6), Rosemarie Trockel (lot 11), Christopher Wool (lot 15), Piero Manzoni (lot 23), Paulo Rego (lot 27), Michael Andrews (lot 33), Lucian Freud (lot 35), John Wonnacott (lot 37), R. B. Kitaj (lot 41), Christopher Bramham (lot 43), Craigie Aitchison (lot 44), Antoni Tàpies (lot 71) and Pei-Ming (lot 89).

Sotheby's Sells Francis Bacon's Self-Portrait For $43M

Sotheby's Sells Francis Bacon's Self-Portrait For $43M


Auction shot. Francis Bacon’s Self Portrait was sold to a private American collector for the spectacular price of £21.58, ($43) million. ©Sotheby’s London.

LONDON.-Tonight, Sotheby’s achieved its highest Contemporary Art sale total in Europe, when it sold £72,427,600 ($144,319,236) worth of art. It also made auction history when Damien Hirst’s exquisite pill cabinet Lullaby Spring soared to £9.6 ($19.2) million, making Hirst the most expensive living artist at auction. The sale also brought the price of the auction week in London, when Francis Bacon’s Self Portrait was sold to a private American collector for the spectacular price of £21.58 ($43) million. On both occasions, the room broke out in spontaneous applause.

Oliver Barker, Senior Director, Senior International Specialist, said: “Tonight’s extraordinary results, which we are absolutely thrilled with, are testament to a Contemporary Art market being driven by masterpieces and serious collectors who are prepared to bid high in order to secure coveted pieces for their collections. The sale presented a near-unique opportunity to acquire a large-scale self portrait by Francis Bacon and one of the Four Seasons cabinets by Damien Hirst - both masterpieces in the artists’ oeuvres. Long time collectors of their work competed against each other to acquire these exquisite and rare pieces.”

Francis Bacon’s sublime Self Portrait, an iconic image of one of the most influential figurative painters of the late 20th century sold for an incredible £21,580,000 ($43,000,308) after a protracted bidding war between up to four determined collectors, some bidding in the room, and some on the telephones. The work had been estimated at £8-12 million. Following on from the unprecedented success of Bacon’s Study from Innocent X, which was sold at Sotheby’s New York in May 2007 for a world record price of $52.6 million, Sotheby’s has truly affirmed itself as the market leader for works by Francis Bacon.

With his exquisite pill cabinet, Lullaby Spring, from 2002, Damien Hirst took on one of the most enduring allegorical themes, the Four Seasons. Executed in 2002, the work, measuring almost 3 metres in width and containing 6136 hand-crafted and painted pills, is one from a series of four unique stainless steel cabinets, sold tonight for the phenomenal sum of £9,652,000 ($19,232,575), making Hirst the most expensive living artist at auction, taking over the mantle from Jasper Johns. This fantastic result comes in the light of the current exhibition of Hirst’s work at the White Cube Gallery in London. Entitled Beyond Belief, the show is highlighted by the infamous platinum skull studded with thousands of diamonds and entitled For the Love of God.

The evening began on a euphoric note when a group of works whose proceeds are being donated to the NSPCC’s Treatment and Therapeutic Services. Generous donations were offered by five leading British Contemporary artists - Damien Hirst, Keith Tyson, Tracey Emin, Antony Gormley and Grayson Perry. With Tracey Emin present at the auction, the five-lot section of the sale not only raised £1,520,400 ($3,029,549) for the charity (against a pre-sale estimate of just £380,000-535,000), but a record was also established for Keith Tyson’s Nature Painting, which sold for £216,000 ($430,402). Tracey Emin’s neon work entitled Keep Me Safe, which sold for £60,000 ($119,556), a record for the medium.

European art fared extremely well, with Lucio Fontana’s Concetto Spaziale, Attese. This lyrical and elegant work, dated 1965, is one of the largest examples ever to have come to auction, and justly made a record for the artist of £2,484,000 ($4,949,618), against a pre-sale estimate of £1.5-2 million. Further demonstrating the international appeal and continued demand for Chinese Contemporary Art, seven works by some of China’s most important contemporary artists, including Yue Minjun and Zhang Xiaogang, performed exceptionally well. The group realised a combined total of £4,861,600 ($9,687,224), against pre-sale estimate of £1.5-2 million. The top selling lot of the group was Yue Minjun’s The Pope, which was intensely competed for by three bidders, finally selling to a buyer on the telephone for £2,148,000, more than twice its pre-sale high estimate and smashing the previous record by £800,000 and setting the highest price for a work of Chinese Contemporary Art at auction.

Said Francis Outred, head of the Evening Auction: “We were lucky enough to source some remarkable material for the Chinese Contemporary section of the sale. Our buyers clearly responded to the exceptionally high quality works on offer.”

Tonight’s total brings the amount raised thus far this week at Sotheby’s to £177,645,440. Sales continue tomorrow, with the combined estimate for the Morning and Afternoon sessions at £15,810,500-21,903,500.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

New World Recor Set For Joan Miró at $13.

New World Recor Set For Joan Miró at $13.


Joan Miró (1893-1983), Le coq, 1940. New World Record for the artist at auction. Estimate: £3,500,000-4,500,000. Sold: £6,628,000 / $13,130,068 / €9,789,556. © Christie's Images Ltd. 2007.

LONDON.- Le Coq by Joan Miró (1893-1983) realized £6,628,000 ($13,130,068 / €9,789,556), exceeding its pre-sale estimate of £3,500,000-4,500,000 and establishing a record price for the artist at auction. The work was sold at Christie’s evening sale of Impressionist and Modern Art held on 18 June 2007.

A press officer from Christie´s said: “This is a new world record for the artist." The previous record was $12.6 million dollars at Christie’s New York for the work Portrait de Mme K (1924) sold in 2001.

Claude Monet's Waterloo Bridge Sells For $35.5 Million

Claude Monet's Waterloo Bridge Sells For $35.5 Million


Lot 11: Claude Monet (1840-1926), Les arceaux de roses, Giverny (Les arceaux fleuris), signed `Claude Monet' (lower left), oil on canvas, 32 ¼ x 37 in. Painted in 1913. Estimate £9,000,000 – 12,000,000. Sold: £8,980,000/ $17,789,380/ €13,263,460. © Christie's Images Ltd. 2007.

LONDON.- Christie’s evening sale of Impressionist and Modern Art held on 18 June 2007 realised £121,127,200/ $239,952,983 / €178,056,984, a record total for any auction ever held in Europe. The top lot of the sale was Waterloo Bridge, temps couvert, 1904 by Claude Monet (1840-1926) which sold for £17,940,000 ($35,539,140 / €26,497,380), the second highest price for the artist at auction. Buyer activity at the auction (by lot) was 22% United Kingdom, 56% rest of Europe, 21% Americas and 1% Asia.

Jussi Pylkkänen, President of Christie’s Europe and auctioneer for the evening (pictured above), and Olivier Camu, International Director and Head of Impressionist and Modern Art at Christie’s, London said: “This evening’s sale at Christie’s was a landmark event in the history of the art market, realising the highest total for any auction ever held in Europe. The international art market congregated at Christie’s saleroom in London this evening as an ever increasing international group of collectors fought for the exceptional selection of works. The top work of the sale was bought by a private American collector, with 6 of the other top 10 works were won by private European collectors.

Today’s results reflect the continuing confidence and depth of the art market, with thirty works selling for over £1 million and forty-six works over $1 million. The results underlines Christie’s position as the world’s leading art business as we continue to present the best works of art and to invest in the new markets of Russia, Asia and the Middle East, as well as the traditional markets of Europe and North America. We look forward to tomorrow’s Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sales as well as to Wednesday’s Evening Sale of Post War & Contemporary Art.”

Highlights of this evening’s sale:

Waterloo Bridge, temps couvert, 1904 by Claude Monet (1840-1926) sold for £17,940,000 ($35,539,140 / €26,497,380), the second highest price in pounds for the artist at auction and the highest ever price in US dollars. A painting from the artist’s most celebrated series of paintings which depict various views of the Thames, it nearly tripled its pre-sale estimate of £6,000,000-8,000,000 and was sold to a private American collector on the telephone. Painted from his room in the then newly-built, luxurious Savoy Hotel, the work captures Waterloo Bridge with the morning sun glinting on the blue and purple water between the arches.

Les arceaux de roses, Giverny, 1913, also by Claude Monet (1840-1926) sold for £8,980,000 ($17,789,380 / €13,263,460). A very rare and beautiful depiction of Monet’s water-lily pond which demonstrates the artist’s virtuosity at using all the colours of his palette, this work shows the artist’s rose bower and its dazzling reflection on a water surface strewn with water-lilies in full bloom.

Mousquetaire et nu assis, 1967, by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), a large and bold rendition of a female nude seated with a comical musketeer, sold for £6,740,000 ($13,351,940 / €9,954,980).

Le Coq by Joan Miró (1893-1983) realized £6,628,000 ($13,130,068 / €9,789,556), exceeding its pre-sale estimate of £3,500,000-4,500,000 and establishing a record price for the artist at auction.

Picking Apples by Russian artist Natalia Goncharova (1881-1962) far exceeded its pre-sale estimate of £1,000,000-1,500,000, eventually selling for £4,948,000 ($9,801,988 / €7,308,196), a world record price for the artist at auction and a world record price for a female artist at auction. This work is one of a series of highly important paintings of Russian peasants made by the artist between 1908 and 1911 that proudly announced the awakening of a new indigenous spirit in Russian art and laid the foundations of its avant-garde.

Further highlights of the sale included Constantinople (Corne d’Or) by Paul Signac (1863-1935) which realized £4,836,000 ($9,580,116 / €7,142,772) against a pre-sale estimate of £1,500,000-2,500,000, Le sabbat by René Magritte (1898-1967) which sold for £4,500,000 ($8,914,500 / €6,646,500), L'escalier rouge à Cagnes by Chaïm Soutine (1893-1943) which realized £3,940,000 ($7,805,140 / €5,819,380), and Un disque dans la ville, 1919 by Fernand Léger (1881-1955) which sold for £3,380,000 ($6,695,780 / €4,992,260).

New auction record prices were set for 7 artists at this evening’s sale: Emile Othon Friesz (lot 7), Natalia Goncharova (lot 19), Jean Metzinger (lot 25), Giorgio Morandi (lot 27), Alberto Magnelli (lot 29), Lasar Segall (lot 47) and Joan Miró (lot 54).

This evening’s auction was the first in a series of 5 sales to be held at Christie’s this week. With a combined pre-sale estimate of between £172 and £241 million, this week is the most important and valuable week of auctions ever held in Europe. The auctions of Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale and Impressionist and Modern Works on Paper will take place on Tuesday 19 June 2007. The Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale will take place on Wednesday 20 June and is highlighted by Lucian Freud’s Bruce Bernard, 1992 (estimate: £4,500,000-5,500,000) which is expected to set an unprecedented world auction record for the artist and potentially a new world auction record for any work by a living artist. The Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Sale will take place on Thursday 21 June 2007. All auctions will take place at Christie’s King Street salerooms.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Art 38 Basel: Meeting Place of the International Art World

Art 38 Basel: Meeting Place of the International Art World


Tim Rollins and K.O.S., Mass in a time of war – Gloria (after Haydn), 2005/ 06, 116.8 x 157.5 cm (Courtesy Galleria Raucci/ Santamaria, Napoli).

BASEL.- The 38th edition of Art Basel, the international art show, takes place in the city of Basel (Switzerland) from June 13 through 17, 2007. The over 300 leading galleries selected by the Art Basel Committee come from all continents and will be showing works by over 2,000 artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. Over 20 galleries will be making their first appearance at the international art show. The «Art Statements» and «Art Premiere» sectors have been expanded. Further exhibition platforms feature editions, cultural institutions and magazines, art projects in urban spaces, and film work.

The «Art Unlimited» hall offers artists and galleries a platform for showing large-scale works such as can be seen and purchased at no other art fair. There will also be a special presentation of artist records. At «Art Basel Conversations» interested visitors can meet leading exponents of the international art world. For the first time, official cooperation has been established between Art Basel, the Venice Biennale, the documenta in Kassel, and Skulpturenprojekte Münster.

The 38th edition of Art Basel, the international art show, runs from June 13 through 17, 2007. The show opens on June 12 with a Vernissage for invited guests. «Professional Day», aimed at museum professionals, dealers, and collectors, will be held on Friday, June 15. Over 55,000 art collectors, gallerists, artists, curators, and art lovers from all over the world are expected.

Art Basel is regarded as the most important annual reunion of the art world and is indisputably the world’s biggest and most important fair for modern and contemporary art. Art Basel’s excellent reputation is founded both on the high quality and unique diversity of the exhibited works and on the international audience attracted by the event. Taking place during the same period as the Venice Biennale, the documenta in Kassel, and Skulpturenprojekte in Münster, Art Basel is ideally positioned between the openings of these three exhibitions. This year, for the first time, these four majors events will be engaging in official cooperation.

Van Gogh. The Last Landscapes. Auvers-sur-Oise

Van Gogh. The Last Landscapes. Auvers-sur-Oise


Vincent Van Gogh, Bank of the Oise at Auvers, The Detroit Insitute of Arts, Legacy of Robert H Tannahill.

MADRID, SPAIN.-On 20 May 1890, Vincent Van Gogh got off the train in Auvers-sur-Oise, a small village an hour from Paris. A week before, he had left the asylum in Saint-Rémy after a year spent there as a patient. Van Gogh came in search of a tranquil, rural place in which to recover his health and peace of mind. He hoped to begin a new life and a new phase of work as a painter. Just two months later, however, on 27 July, in the fields near the château of Auvers, he shot himself with a revolver and died two days later after great suffering in the early morning of 29 July.

The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid presents the first exhibition to be devoted entirely to the works executed by Van Gogh in the last three months of his life spent in Auvers. This was a very brief but extraordinarily creative period, and during these last weeks of his life, Van Gogh also became more conscious of his artistic debt to his predecessors. The exhibition is sponsored by Banco Caixa Geral and Fidelidade Mundial.

Van Gogh. The Last Landscapes, promoted with the collaboration of Consorcio Turístico de Madrid, brings together 29 works (26 paintings and 3 drawings) lent from museums and private collections world-wide. It also includes 6 paintings by Van Gogh’s great predecessors - Daubigny, Pissarro and Cézanne - who had painted in Auvers before him and whose presence the artist felt in its landscape. All the works by Van Gogh in the exhibition belong to his Auvers period and they include one of the Museum’s own masterpieces: “Les Vessenots” in Auvers.

The Auvers period: In a period of only 70 days, Van Gogh produced around 72 paintings, 33 drawings and a print. It was as if the artist was aware that his days were numbered and that little time remained to him. He got up at five in the morning and spent all day painting in the fields or in the village streets. In a letter, he wrote: “These days I work a lot and quickly; in doing so I try to express the desperately fast passing of things in modern life”. This frenetic rhythm was at times expressed in a bold and rapid manner of execution, but we also find remarkably serene works of this date. It has always been acknowledged that the Auvers period resulted in a number of masterpieces but overall these months have sometimes been seen to mark a decline in Van Gogh’s work. Up to now, little attempt has been made to compare its particular characteristics with those of other phases in the artist’s career.

After his time in Provence, Auvers represented for Van Gogh a return to the landscape of the north, to which he had devoted so much thought. In Auvers he rediscovered the rural subjects and life of his youth, which he had lost when he left Neunen. By thinking about the Dutch fields he also rediscovered the gaze of the great 17th-century Dutch landscape painters whom Van Gogh had always profoundly admired.

Stylistically, the Auvers period did not mark a break with the previous one, but the artist’s style was clearly evolving. The roots of Van Gogh’s style continued to be his training as a draughtsman during his Dutch phase of 1880-1882. The entire graphic repertoire which he developed since that time, specifically his vocabulary of dots, long and short strokes, either broken or undulating and first tried out with pen, would subsequently be translated onto canvas; drawing with colour is the key feature of all his late work. In Auvers, Van Gogh focused less on naturalistic details and his strokes became more numerous and twisting, producing arabesques in the trees and houses, waves in the cornfields and curving movements and rhythms of enormous dynamic vitality.

From Saint-Rémy to París: Between February and April 1890, Van Gogh suffered the longest of his mental crises in the asylum at Saint-Rémy-de Provence. Following his recovery, he was convinced that he should not remain there as he felt that the treatment was not helping his state of mind and that living with other mentally ill patients was increasing his own problems. After a last conversation with Dr Peyron, the asylum’s director, he was given permission to leave. On 16 May Van Gogh took the train to Paris, despite the doubts of his brother Theo, who was anxious about the risks of a lengthy journey alone. Van Gogh only spent three days in Paris in his brother’s house, during which time he met Theo’s wife Johanna and their son, the young Vincent Willem. Johanna left an account of those days in which she noted that she was surprised by Van Gogh’s appearance as he seemed strong and healthy rather than sick and wasted. The artist would go out every day to buy olives and insisted that his brother and sister-in-law eat them with him. He made contact with various artist friends and visited exhibitions. The short time spent with his family was a peaceful, untroubled one and Saint-Rémy was not mentioned.

For Van Gogh, however, the most important element of those three days in Paris was the chance to see all his paintings together in Theo’s apartment and in Père Tanguy’s shop. In his letters Van Gogh had always maintained that to judge a single work by an artist it was necessary to know his entire oeuvre. Now, thanks to the improvised exhibition in his brother’s apartment, Van Gogh could gain the first overall impression of his entire output. As a result, the work produced in Auvers was a sort of recapitulation, an epilogue to his entire career. Van Gogh did not move forward blindly; for the first time he knew where he came from and where he was heading.

Auvers-sur-Oise and the Tradition of Landscape: Theo had spent three months looking for a place for his brother to live, preferably a peaceful, rural spot not too far from Paris where he could lead an independent life but under the watchful gaze of a trustworthy person. Camille Pissarro declined to be responsible for Van Gogh but suggested the name of Paul-Ferdinand Gachet, a doctor and amateur artist and an old friend of some of the Impressionist painters including Pissarro himself, Cézanne and Guillaumin. Gachet saw patients in Paris three times a week but lived in Auvers-sur-Oise, about thirty kilometres to the north-west of the capital.

Auvers has remained remarkably unspoiled over the years, despite the presence of numerous tourists, particularly Japanese ones, who come to visit the room in which the artist lived and died, his tomb next to that of his brother and the locations that appear in his last works. The rather sprawling village extends about eight kilometres along the bank of the river Oise, nestling in its course. Above the slopes of the small valley, however, is a flat plain with a spreading landscape of extensive cornfields.

At the time when Van Gogh knew it, Auvers had around 2,000 inhabitants (3,000 in summer) and was a rural village of farmers and livestock keepers with their own small-holdings. Auvers had one distinctive feature, however: since the mid-19th century it had attracted some of the great landscape painters including Daubigny, Pissarro and Cézanne. Daubigny, the leading name of the Barbizon school and a friend and forerunner of the Impressionists, built a studio-boat to travel along the Oise and paint on its banks. Around 1860 he purchased a house in Auvers and often received his artist friends from Paris, including Corot, Daumier, Dupré, Harpignies, Jacques and Berthe Morisot. In 1866 Pissarro moved to Pontoise, very close to Auvers, where he would spend lengthy periods of time over the following sixteen years. It was Pissarro who convinced Cézanne also to move to this area. Cézanne lived in Auvers between 1872 and 1874, painting dozens of landscapes of the area around Dr Gachet’s house at one end of the village.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Anne Madden Retrospective to Open at IMMA

Anne Madden Retrospective to Open at IMMA


Anne Madden, Aurora borealis, Snake of Light, 2006, oil on linen, triptych, 146 x 267 cm, Private Collection.

DUBLIN, IRELAND.-A major retrospective of the work of the acclaimed Irish artist Anne Madden opens to the public at the Irish Museum of Modern Art on Wednesday 27 June 2007. Spanning the artist’s entire career, Anne Madden: A Retrospective comprises some 60 works from the 1950s to date, including a number direct from the artist’s studio. The exhibition features some of Madden’s most important paintings, including early works inspired by the Burren and her series of Megaliths, Monoliths and Doorways, from the 1970s. The exhibition also presents early sculptural works, paintings from her Elegy, Pompeii , Odyssey and Garden series and new paintings from her Aurora Borealis series. The exhibition will be opened by the distinguished Irish artist and writer Brian O’Doherty (Patrick Ireland) at 6.00pm on Tuesday 26 June.

Although the exhibition covers Madden’s entire oeuvre, it was this new body of work – the Aurora Borealis paintings – which prompted IMMA Director, Enrique Juncosa , to stage the exhibition, the latest in a long line by leading Irish artists at the Museum, at this time. In the catalogue essay he describes the works, inspired by the glowing atmospheric phenomenon seen in the northern night sky, as “ambitious in scale, spectacular in their depiction of chromatic contrasts and highly accomplished in their technique”.

This assured technique is already evident in the very earliest painting in the show, the serene and confident Self Portrait, 1950. Perhaps more indicative of what was to follow, however, are Madden’s abstract landscapes from the late 1950s, the result of long periods spent in the strange and eerie landscape of the Burren in Co Clare. In Burren Land , 1960, for example, we see the beginning of that engagement with conceptual space which would become a constant feature of her work. Also being shown are some fine examples of a body of experimental work from the 1960s created by pouring paint over a horizontal canvas. The result, in works such as Mountain Sequence Red Quadripartite, 1967, seems to echo the chance nature of geographical formations.

In the 1970s the emphasis changed to man’s early intervention in the landscape in, for example, Megalith, 1971, and Elegy, 1975, derived from megaliths and other prehistoric monuments. Dark in colour and with strong vertical lines, their size determined by the artist’s height and reach, they mark a period of personal grief and, in some cases, the prevailing Troubles in Northern Ireland, the latter explicitly referenced in Menhir (Bloody Sunday), 1976.

By the 1980s Madden’s focus had moved to a series of window forms. These and her paintings of doors from the same period are in Madden’s words “thresholds between interior and exterior space, a reconciliation of opposites”. They include a beautiful series of paintings made in response to the frescos in the Villa of the Mysteries in Pompeii . She describes how Pompeii seized hold of her imagination “because of its apocalyptic destruction it was both a memory and a mirror, a condensation of our possible destruction by a nuclear holocaust. People and dogs were held and seized in their everyday gestures, a whole city snuffed out as it went about its business.”

The exhibition also presents some striking examples of Madden’s paintings of the sea and of nocturnal gardens, and of her 2001-02 series The Garden of Love inspired by lines from William Blake’s poem of the same name: “I went to the garden of love … and I saw it was filled with graves”. Described by Enrique Juncosa as “shimmering, dynamic and sumptuous spaces, filled with gold, silver, violet or red”, they, like Madden’s entire body of work, provide eloquent testimony to her understanding of art as “spiritual in its impulse and mysterious in its force … an essential … part of human experience”.

Anne Madden is particularly well known in both Ireland and France where she has divided her time for the past forty years. Of Irish and Anglo-Chilean origin, she spent her first years in Chile . The family then moved to Europe, where they lived in both Ireland and London , where Madden attended the Chelsea School of Arts and Crafts. In 1958 she married the Irish painter Louis Le Brocquy and moved to the south of France . In the 1980s Madden stopped painting for a time and devoted herself to drawing, this resulted in a series of large works in graphite and oil paint on paper. Madden then returned to painting on canvas and has continued to develop and produce a large body of work. She has exhibited widely in both solo and group exhibitions and her work is represented in many public collections. In 1965 she represented Ireland at the Paris Biennale and exhibited at ROSC ’84. Solo exhibitions include RHA Gallagher

Galleries, Dublin , 1991; Chateau de Tours Municipal Art Gallery, France, 1997; Dublin City Gallery: The Hugh Lane, Dublin, 1997; Taylor Galleries , Dublin , 2005, and Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris, 2005. The exhibition is curated by Enrique Juncosa , Director, IMMA.

Anne Madden: Painter and Muse, the widely-praised documentary film produced by Mind the Gap Films in 2006 and shown as part of RTE Television’s prestigious Arts Lives series, will be screened in the Lecture Room at IMMA at 11.00am and 4.00pm from 27 June to 10 July (excluding Mondays). Anne Madden will give the annual Winter Lecture at IMMA in December 2007.

A fully-illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition and features essays by Enrique Juncosa and the poet Derek Mahon; a poem by Derek Mahon and a short text by Marcelin Pleynet; Anne Madden’s important essay A quest: some reflections on being a painter; and a comprehensive illustrated chronology compiled by Karen Sweeney . It is published by the Irish Museum of Modern Art in association with Scala. Anne Madden: A Retrospective continues until 30 September 2007. Admission is free.

Spectacular Paintings By Monet & Matisse at Sotheby's

Spectacular Paintings By Monet & Matisse at Sotheby's


Henri Matisse (1869-1964): Danseuse dans le fauteuil, sol en damier, £8 – 12 million. ©Sotheby’s London.

LONDON.- Sotheby’s has led the field in Impressionist and Modern Art auctions in London since February 2006. Its auction in February 2007 was Europe’s highest value series of sales -- £122 million -- and the summer sales on June 19 and 20, 2007 (carrying a combined estimate2 of £80.1–114.5 million) are set to be similarly extraordinary. Almost all the leading names of late 19th- and 20th- century art will be represented – many by works from private collections which have not been seen in public for many years. With major paintings by Claude Monet and Henri Matisse at its core, the evening sale of Impressionist & Modern Art is set to be a landmark event. The pre-sale exhibition from June 14th-19th , open to everyone, will afford the public an opportunity to see a wide-ranging group of works from one of the most fertile and fascinating periods in art history.

Commenting on the sale, Simon Shaw, Head of Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art department in London, said: “The strength of recent sales has drawn some exceptional works onto the market, enabling us to put together a tightly curated sale. The evening sale on June 19th, which is concentrated in just 45 lots of uniformly high quality, is exactly the kind of sale the market wants today.”

Leading the sale is Claude Monet’s Nymphéas of 1904. Not seen in public since 1936, this arresting, richly-colored painting is one of the finest from Monet’s waterlily series ever to have come to the market. Monet’s paintings of waterlilies are among the most iconic images of Impressionism. Only a few such works remain in private hands, and as a result, whenever works from the series come to auction, they command premium prices: Bassin aux nymphéas et sentier au bord de l’eau of 1900 was sold at Sotheby’s London in 1998, achieving £19.8 million ($33 million), still the World Record Price for the artist. Estimated at £10-15 million ($20–30 million), the example to be offered in June marks a major turning point, both in Monet’s approach to the waterlily theme and to his art in general.

Although Monet’s renderings of waterlilies dominated his late career, this seminal work of 1904 is one of the earliest examples to focus almost entirely on the water surface: there is barely any horizon or other ‘anchor’ beyond the water, so that the surface of the canvas becomes an almost two-dimensional pattern – marking a crucial moment in Monet’s move towards an increasingly abstract treatment of space. The early movement towards abstraction demonstrated here was to culminate in Monet’s Grandes Décorations (now housed in the Orangerie in Paris). In his bid to depict atmosphere and colour rather than to record a specific scene, Monet reached a level of abstraction that was to play a profound role in the development of later twentieth-century art. This transforming achievement had its genesis – in part at least – in the Nymphéas of 1904.

Alongside the Monet is a bold, powerful work by Henri Matisse (1869-1964): Danseuse dans le fauteuil, sol en damier. Painted in 1942 in his room at the Hôtel Régina in Nice, the work is among the most confident and colourful in the artist’s oeuvre. It belongs to a group of remarkably strident works, in which the sinuous shapes of the models (in this instance the dancer Carla Avogardo) act as a foil to the strong, geometric patterns of the setting. In the wake of the world record price of $18.48 million achieved at Sotheby’s New York last spring for Matisse’s Nu Couché du dos of 1927, Danseuse dans le fauteuil, sol en damier comes to sale from an American collection with an estimate of £8 to 12 million ($16–24 million).

Amedeo Modigliani’s Jeune Femme (Totote de la Gaîté), circa 1917, is one of a group of late portraits which rank among the most refined and accomplished works in the artist’s oeuvre, all of which are notable for the depth of their emotional and psychological intensity. In spite of their strong stylisation, the portraits from this period are all intensely individual, capturing with remarkable skill the likeness and inner life of their respective subjects (most of whom, as here, were drawn from the bohemian community in Montparnasse where Modigliani then lived). The accomplishment of these late works is borne out in the prices they command: the top three prices for Modigliani’s work (all sold for over $30 million and all sold at Sotheby’s) were all for late works, including the record $31.36 million for Jeanne Hébuterne (Devant une porte) of 1919, sold at Sotheby’s New York in November 2004. Estimated at £3.5–4.5 million ($7–9 million), Jeune Femme (Totote de la Gaîté) last appeared at auction 25 years ago.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s (1841–1919) Réflexion of 1877 (est: £2.5–3.5 million/ $5–7 million) is an exquisite example of the artist’s work dating from the height of his Impressionist period, and captures the beauty of the sitter with all of his characteristic elegance and serenity. Portrayed in semi-profile, the portrait echoes those of the great 18thcentury masters Fragonard and Boucher – to whom he was deeply indebted.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s Le Coucher (est: £2-3 million/$4 – 6 million), of 1899, is a very different kind of painting. A portrait of Madame Poupoule - a Parisian prostitute who featured regularly in the artist’s late works - the painting belongs to the artist’s great series of brothel scenes. During the last decade of his life, Toulouse-Lautrec (1864 – 1901) spent weeks at a time in the brothels of Paris, observing every detail of the lives of the women who worked there. Fascinated by their daily rituals and instinctively empathetic with their outcast state, he painted them with an exceptional degree of understanding. Estimated at £1.5-2.5 million ($3-5 million), Die Sinnende (The Thinking Woman) of circa 1912 is a vibrant, powerful work by Alexej von Jawlensky (1854-1941). A remarkable example of Jawlensky’s portraiture, a genre that occupies a central position in his oeuvre, it shows the artist at the height of his Expressionist powers, abandoning naturalistic representation in favour of a highly expressive use of strong colours. Acquired by the Californian collectors and philanthropists Larry and Leah Superstein at Sotheby’s sale of the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection in 1984, the work has not been seen in public since then.

Painted in 1967, Pablo Picasso’s (1881-1973) Le Peintre (est: £2.2-2.8 million/ $4.4-5.6 million), belongs to a major series of paintings by Picasso on the theme of the musketeer – a subject that features large in the artist’s late career. A romantic, free, heroic figure from a past age, the idea of the Musketeer was one that held deep appeal for Picasso. Here, in Le Peintre, he depicts himself in the guise of this character from by-gone times in a way that echoes the fantastical self-portraits of Rembrandt – an artist whose work Picasso studied closely. The work has remained in the same private European collection for some 30 years.

Among a number of Surrealist works in the sale is a deceptively simple, powerful work by Joan Miró (1893 –1983). Painted in 1926, at the height of Miró’s involvement with the surrealist group, Peinture (est : £1.2–1.8 million/$2.4–3.6 million) is a powerful testimony to Miró’s central role in the evolution of Surrealist art. Whereas other members of the Surrealist group (Dalí and Magritte, for instance) used figurative elements in their work, Miro chose to eliminate representation from his canvases, preferring instead to employ seemingly whimsical, ambiguous forms (largely rooted in dreams and the unconscious) which –with their ambiguity and abstract nature –allow for multiple readings. Purchased i

Monday, June 11, 2007

Galerie Ernst Hilger Features Erró at ArtBasel

Galerie Ernst Hilger Features Erró at ArtBasel


Erró, Family Cosmos, 2006, 99 x 93 cm, oil on canvas.

BASEL.- Galerie Ernst Hilger will present Erró - Mao’s Grandchildren at ArtBasel 2007, June 13 - 17, 2007, Booth A2. Erró's most recent Chinese paintings are adorned with breathtaking, densely woven, and sensuous ornaments, linking the alluring beauty of details to an almost classical composition. This is a China depicted as a garden of pleasure and cheerfulness.

And yet the question that we ask ourselves is, What is this all about? Is this still about China, the country around which Erró's art has revolved since the early 1970s? Is it still the China that once both fascinated and frightened the world?

Erró depicts in his new Chinese paintings the irrevocably lost melancholy of our banal present history. Everything is offered, everything is within reach, everything can be bought. Rather than a joyful, sociable, and self-confident Mao, his grandchildren are offered for sale: smiling Chinese dolls, an odd mixture of cheerful Buddhas and good-natured, innocently smiling children. They are mass-scale products, manufactured to please as many prospective customers as possible. They are glad because they are ignorant of history. Their innocence is the price that must be paid for their cheerfulness and serenity. Their ornamental congeniality is the new simulacrum that may be even more seductive, even more compelling than the earlier clichés of global revolution: taking pleasure without incurring any risk.
Lóránd Hegyi, May 2007.

Further artists at ArtBasel 2007: Asgar/Gabriel, Daniele Buetti, Oliver Dorfer, John Gerrard, Flavio Favelli, Allen Jones, Keith Haring, Anastasia Khoroshilova, Jiri Kolar, Ángel Marcos, Brian McKee, Jacques Monory, Helmut Newton, Hermann Nitsch, Mimmo Palladino, Mel Ramos, Mimmo Rotella, Massimo Vitali, Andy Warhol.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Lowry Masterpice Sells For Record $7.4M at Christie's

Lowry Masterpice Sells For Record $7.4M at Christie's


L.S. Lowry, R.A. (1887-1976), Good Friday, Daisy Nook. Estimate: £1,000,000-1,500,000. Sold: £3,772,000 ($7,416,756.50). World Record Price for the Artist at Auction. © Christie's Images Limited.

LONDON.- Good Friday, Daisy Nook, a masterpiece by L.S. Lowry (1887-1976) sold today at Christie’s in London for £3,772,000, the highest ever price for the artist at auction. The picture was last seen at auction in 1970 when it sold for £16,800 and set a record price for the artist at the time. The auction of 20th Century British Art realized a total of £14,567,480, setting a record total for a sale in this category for the third successive time (June 2006, the sale total was £12.4 million / November 2006, the sale total was £12.5 million).

Good Friday, Daisy Nook highlighted the finest and most comprehensive private collection of pictures by L.S. Lowry ever to appear at auction. Factories, Lancashire, another work from the same collection, sold for £1,128,800, the fourth highest price for the artist at auction. In total, five paintings from the Collection sold today for a total of £5,972,000, doubling pre-sale expectations.

Today’s auction concludes British Art Week, a week of auction sales, events and lectures dedicated to the history of British art and furniture. A selection of paintings, watercolours, furniture and sculpture representing over 300 years of British art was sold over 4 sales held between 5 and 8 June. British Art Week included works by many renowned artists, including Bomberg, Lowry, Rossetti and Turner, as well as a selection of important English furniture, and realised a total of £27,580,220.

Good Friday, Daisy Nook eventually sold for £3,772,000 to Richard Green, London after a 10 minute bidding battle. This price represents the highest ever price for the artist at auction. Painted in 1946, the picture portrays the Lancashire town of Daisy Nook in festival mood. Traditionally, mill workers were confined to only two statutory days of holiday every year; Good Friday and Christmas Day. Every year on Good Friday, the town of Daisy Nook would stage a fair and provide entertainment to the local crowds. Managed by the Silcock family, whose name appears in the background of the painting, the fair regularly attracted huge numbers of people and still takes place to this day. The present painting depicts this annual fair in 1946, the year after the end of the hostilities of the Second World War. The Ashton Reporter stated at the time that there were ‘Record crowds at Daisy Nook’, as people celebrated a return to the fair and a return to normal life. The painting reflects post-war cheer and relief and depicts crowds of energetic, colourful characters, many holding whirligigs and flags. The work sold today at Christie’s was last seen at auction in 1970 when it sold for £16,800, a record price for the artist at the time.

Factories, Lancashire, dated 1947, is a more recognizable work by the artist. This industrial townscape, complete with numerous mills and smoking chimneys, is portrayed from an elevated angle which looks down on the crowds in an objectifying manner and shows the diminutive figures going about their business. This exceptional example of a Northern industrial townscape sold today for £1,128,800, the fourth highest price for the artist at auction. It was bought by Richard Green, London.

Beach and Promenade, dated 1948, realised £546,400 at today’s sale. Another example of Lowry capturing the spirit of recreation, this time at the seaside, the viewpoint for the picture is elevated once again. However, the figures of this work reach down to the foreground of the canvas, and it is possible to make out the faces of the characters at the front of the crowd. Lowry spent many of his childhood holidays by the sea, visiting Lytham St. Anne’s at Easter and Rhyl, on the North-West coast, in the summer.

The Mansion, Pendlebury, dated 1944, is set in Lowry’s home town and sold for £344,800 at today’s auction. The Lowry family had moved to Pendlebury in 1909 when L.S. Lowry was 22 years old, and he was to continue living there for almost 40 years. The current depiction of a mansion house reflects the artist’s fascination with solitude as the lone mass of a building dominates the canvas. A crowd can be seen to huddle around the front door of the residence, echoing Lowry’s words that ‘where there’s a quarrel there’s always a crowd…. It’s a great draw.’

Whitehaven, dated 1954, offers an alternative depiction of a seaside view. The artist would often depict human forms isolated in industrial landscapes. In the present painting, three people and a dog, standing on the shore, are confined by a wall on one side and the sea to the other, with the looming presence of a mill dominating the skyline. This picture sold at today’s auction for £180,000.

L.S. Lowry, R.A. (1887-1976) was a curious character, dedicated to his art but always restrained by the Industrial movement that he portrayed. Lowry worked a ‘9 to 5’ job with Pall Mall Property Company in Manchester until his retirement in 1952, and painted only in his spare time. Despite this restraint, he was hugely successful even within his lifetime; the Manchester City Art Gallery purchased An Accident in 1930, he was signed up to the Lefevre Gallery in London in 1939, he was elected an R.A. in 1962 and by 1967, the General Post Office issued a stamp reproducing one of his paintings. Lowry had been appointed official artist at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. He went on to turn down an O.B.E., a C.B.E., a C.H. (twice) and a knighthood on the grounds that he saw little point in receiving awards after the death of his mother.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Asian Art at Sotheby's in Paris

Asian Art at Sotheby's in Paris


Katsushika Hokusai, Kanagawa Oki nami Ura, From the serie 36 views of Mount-Fuji. Estimate : €15.000/20.000.

PARIS, FRANCE.-On June 14 Sotheby’s will stage their first-ever sale in Paris devoted exclusively to Asian art, featuring 182 lots from (mainly European) private collections – some in the same family since the late 19th century – and covering the arts of Japan, China and South-East Asia.

This inaugural sale will begin with 33 lots comprising over 200 prints by the greatest artists of the 18th and 19th centuries. Highlights include portraits of Kabuki actors by Katsukawa Sunsho (1725-92), notably Otani Hiroemon III (1726-90), estimate €2000/3000 (lot 14); and portraits of courtesans by the celebrated Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806), one showing Kasugano (Seiro series) with the fan painted with one of her poems (lot 14, estimate €5000/7000).

There will also be a number of prints by Japanese landscape masters, notably the iconic Great Wave at Kanagawa from the famous Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), shown in Paris at Galerie Berès in 1974 and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in 1912 (lot 22, estimate €15,000/20,00); and an album containing 62 prints from the Hundred Famous Provincial Views (1859-60) by Hiroshige II, that has remained in the same French collection since the end of the 19th century (lot 33, estimate €30,000/40,000).

One of the most popular Japanese lots should be a pair of 17th/18th century six-fold screens whose beautifully preserved decoration, inspired by the famous 11th century tale by Lady Murasaki, shows bijin engaged in a variety of activities amidst trees, rocks and houses (lot 41, estimate €80,000/100,000).

CHINESE ART - The second part of the sale will be devoted to Chinese and Sino-Tibetan art (140 lots), starting with a fine array of Qing and Ming jades. The most in-demand will probably be the rust-toned celadon jade Ming crested bird (1368-1644) with its head on its wing and a peach-tree twig in its beak (lot 45, estimate €8000/12,000).

Several cloisonné enamel pieces are sure to attract the interest of international collectors. A Ming ‘Champion Vase’ formed by two adjoined tubular vases, connected by fantasy creatures in gilt-bronze, has decoration of remarkable quality (lot 55, estimate €8000/12,000).

A rare Ming Zun vase (Xuande Period, 1426-35), based on the form of archaic bronzes (estimate €150,000/200,000, lot 58), has naturalistic décor and is the sort of piece keenly sought-after by collectors. Just four similar examples are known today, one in the Palace Museum in Beijing.

A monumental Qing incense-burner with cover (Qianlong Period, 1736-95), on four feet with carved chimera heads, reflects the mastery of the cloisonné enamel technique attained by 18th century Chinese artists (lot 88, estimate €80,000/100,000). Despite the absence of a hallmark, this is unquestionably an imperial commission.

The sale will also offer a rich panorama of 16th-18th century Chinese imperial porcelain. Outstanding examples include a Qing falangcai glazed bowl on a ruby ground, bearing the Yuzhi hallmark (Kangxi Period, 1662-1722), consigned by a Japanese private collector. This was doubtless a prototype made in the imperial Beijing workshops, and combines subtle colouring with a free-flowing peony pattern (lot 161, estimate €150,000/200,000 ).

Other major pieces include a Ming 16th century blue-and-white porcelain ewer, with dragon and phoenix decoration, featuring the chang sheng bu lao symbol of ageless longevity (lot 142, estimate €60,000/80,000); and a pair of small 18th century Qing jars with the Chenghua hallmark, estimate €50,000/70,000 (lot 156).

A series of monochrome items reflect the style of porcelain prevalent under the three most important 18th century Qing emperors: a Kangxi covered potiche vase and dish in yellow glaze porcelain, respectively estimated at €8000/10,000 and €1500/2000 (lots 132 et 133); a bottle-vase with the Yongzheng hallmark, with the blue glaze typical of that emperor (estimate €6000/8000, lot 124); and four pieces (bowls, plate and bottle vase) with sang de boeuf glaze and the Qianlong hallmark, owned by the same family for several generations, with estimates starting at €1000 (lots 128-130).

A classic Qing bianhu pilgrim flask in blue-and-white porcelain (Qianlong Period, 1736-95) is likely to fire fierce bidding, and has an estimate of €60,000/80,000 (lot 182).

One of the stand-out Chinese works of art should be a monumental Tang stone sculpture portraying a seated Buddha in a traditional monk’s robe (height 3ft 9in/1.15m). The finesse and precision of the facial traits, and the naturalistic folds and relief treatment of the wavy hair, make this a rare example of the Tang style (lot 71, estimate €300,000/350,000). The story of Buddha and his miracles brought new iconographical and artistic conventions to China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.). Buddhist sculpture developed its own style, inspired by Indian codes; figures became incredibly natural and well-proportioned, in contrast to the rigid, static appearance of earlier Buddhist statuary.

The sale also includes a number of 16th-19th century Sino-Tibetan gilt-bronze statuettes, including a finely detailed 17th century Tibetan figure of a Dharma king in multi-layered robes, seated on a platform with his hands joined together, bearing the inscription Indian God Dharma, happiness, glory, virtue, prosperity (lot 123, estimate €60,000/80,000).

A 19th century Qing imperial embroidery, that has belonged to the same family since the sack of the Summer Palace in Beijing in 1860, is expected to bring €30,000/50,000 (lot 79). It is in perfect condition and will enchant all those who love the building – listed as a UNESCO world heritage site thanks to its ‘exceptional expression of the creative art of Chinese landscape gardening.’

The sale ends with a superb album of twenty 18th century engravings commemorating Emperor Qianlong’s conquests in Central Asia: an imperial commission evoking battle scenes, sieges, camps and banquets, as well as processions and ancient rituals (lot 181, estimate €15,000/20,000). This rare ensemble, owned by the same French family for several generations, is the smaller, second edition (1783-86) of the version commissioned by Emperor Qianlong from the engraver Helman. The original version (1783-85) ran to 16 prints, while the third (1783-88) comprised 24.

In 1765 Qianlong sent to France to order copper engravings based on drawings of his Oirat campaign (1755-59). Charles-Nicolas Cochin (1715-90), a member of the Royal Academy of Painting & Sculpture, was put in charge of the project; his engravings, produced in sets of 100 from 1767-74, were made from drawings and paintings by Europeans living in Peking: Giuseppe Castiglione (1688-1766), Jean-Denis Attiret (1702-68), Jean Damascene (?-1781) and Ignace Sickelpart (1708-80).

The commission was of great importance to France in its attempts to steal a march on the Dutch, British and Portuguese. Special precautions were taken after the printing to protect the emperor’s exclusive rights, with no copies allowed to remain in the hands of the engravers or printers in France. The ‘100 printed copies were sent to China, with only a handful reserved for the Royal Family and King’s Library, making the suite of the greatest rarity.’

After the success of the first edition, Helman produced a reduced version with extra plates, tapping into contemporary enthusiasm for China among Europeans by offering several pictures adapted from Chinese originals. Public awareness of China was considerably boosted as a result.

Claude Lorrain Opens at The National Gallery of Art

Claude Lorrain Opens at The National Gallery of Art


Claude Lorrain (1600 - 1682), Landscape with the Voyage of Jacob, 1677, oil on canvas. Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts.

WASHINGTON, DC.-The art of one of France's greatest landscape draftsmen and painters, Claude Lorrain (1604/1605–1682), traveled to the National Gallery of Art, when Claude Lorrain—The Painter as Draftsman: Drawings from the British Museum opened in the West Building, through August 12, 2007. The exhibition includes 80 drawings from the extensive and important holdings at the British Museum. In addition, a selection of paintings and etchings broadens the representation of Claude's achievement as an artist. Many of the works have never before been seen in the United States.

Claude was renowned for exquisitely balanced and composed landscapes that present a serene, timeless vision of nature. He laid the groundwork for the development of ideal landscape painting in Europe—and later in America—influencing artists as great as J.M.W. Turner in 19th-century England.

Previous venues for this exhibition include the Legion of Honor, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, October 14, 2006 through January 14, 2007, and the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, February 4 through April 29, 2007. The last major exhibition of Claude's art in the United States was presented nearly 25 years ago at the National Gallery of Art.

"Claude had an extraordinary ability to capture the natural world with a poetic wink," said Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art. "His works influenced many future artists and took nature one step further, making the beautiful even more beautiful."

Exhibition Organization and Support: This exhibition at the National Gallery of Art is organized by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in association with the British Museum. It is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

The Artist: Claude Gellée became known early on as Claude Lorrain, for the region in France where he was born. He traveled to Italy, where he studied in Naples and Rome, notably with the landscape and perspective painter Agostino Tassi (1578–1644). Claude soon developed his own reputation as a painter of landscapes and seaports, which were celebrated for their strong impression of nature and their exquisite sensitivity to effects of light. Claude's naturalism derives from his almost daily excursions into the countryside around Rome, where he contemplated the light and made numerous drawings from nature; such drawings are richly represented in the exhibition. This close study of nature laid the basis for his oil paintings, executed back in his studio.

Claude's success reputedly led other artists to imitate his work, which may be why he began his Liber Veritatis (Book of Truth), an album of drawings that record his oil paintings and in many cases the names of their buyers. The album could also have functioned as a catalogue of models to show future patrons. It was so carefully assembled that it clearly took on a greater meaning for Claude than as a mere catalogue of his works. Some of the greatest drawings from the album are in this exhibition.

The Exhibition: The exhibition is divided into six rooms, each featuring a particular theme. Visitors will first encounter drawings taken from nature, followed by seaports and shipwrecks, views of Tivoli and the Roman countryside, pastoral landscapes and Roman landmarks, biblical and mythological subjects, and late heroic landscapes.

The selection includes many of Claude's most beautiful drawings in a rich variety of media. The exhibition explores all aspects of his style and subject matter, from informal outdoor sketches of trees, rivers, and ruins, to formal presentation drawings and elaborate compositional designs for paintings.

Among the highlights are A Study of an Oak Tree (c. 1638), the surprisingly abstract view of The Tiber from Monte Mario Looking Southeast (c. 1640/1641), A Grove of Pine Trees with a Ruined Tower (1638/1639), and the many drawings from the Liber Veritatis, including the luminous Coast View with Aeneas and the Cumaean Sibyl (1673), which is drawn on rich blue paper.

The exhibition curators are Philip Conisbee, senior curator of European paintings and curator of French paintings, and Margaret Morgan Grasselli, curator and head of old master drawings.

Exhibition Catalogue: The exhibition catalogue, Claude Lorrain—The Painter as Draftsman: Drawings from the British Museum, written by Richard Rand, senior curator, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, is published in association with Yale University Press. It includes a foreword by Michael Conforti, director, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute; a preface by Antony Griffiths, keeper, department of prints and drawings, The British Museum; a biographical outline of Claude's life; an extensive bibliography; and a map of Rome during the time that Claude was in the region. The 228-page publication with 137 illustrations is currently available from the National Gallery of Art by phone at (202) 842-6002 or (800) 697-9350 ($55.00 cloth, $29.95 softcover).

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Everybody loves Claude MONET



"Claude Monet (1840-1926): A Tribute to Daniel Wildenstein and Katia Granoff," Apr. 27-June 15, 2007, at Wildenstein & Co., 19 East 64th Street, New York, N.Y. 10021

Forget auction records. You can gauge an artist’s popularity by the number of people waiting in line to visit an exhibition at a museum or an art gallery. One top candidate? Claude Monet. His enormous appeal was evident more than a decade ago when almost a million hardy souls braved a devastating heat wave in Chicago to catch the majestic retrospective Charles Stuckey organized at the Art Institute. For the past few months, ever since the Orangerie in Paris reopened, art lovers have queued in the Tuileries Gardens to reacquaint themselves with Monet’s restored Water Lily decorations splendidly reinstalled beneath skylights as was the artist’s intention. And, for several weeks, tony collectors and grungy art students alike have stood outside Wildenstein & Co. on East 64th Street in Manhattan to gain admittance to a glorious mini-survey installed in the art gallery’s second floor showrooms. Once inside, everyone seems to be oohing and aahing.

There are more than 60 paintings on view. You may remember some of them from recent survey shows ("The Origins of Impressionism," "Impressionists in Winter," "Monet and the Mediterranean") or the Chicago retrospective. But for the most part, they are newbies.

Many of these fabulous, unfamiliar pictures have never -- or hardly ever -- been exhibited in the U.S. Lent anonymously, many once belonged to Michel Monet, the artist’s son, and then to Katia Granoff, a European-based dealer and fervent champion of the painter.

"Claude Monet (1840-1926): A Tribute to Daniel Wildenstein and Katia Granoff" is a benefit for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. It’s worth the price of admission -- $10 -- to see just one painting, The Weeping Willow, Giverny (1920-22), the only artwork displayed on the ground floor. You see it coming and going. I almost cried in front of this large, shimmering, semi-abstract scene. Cascading strokes of yellow, green, Chinese red, blue and white are simultaneously descriptive and imprecise, animated yet clearly made from paint applied with a loaded brush. The horizontal marks careening across the base of the picture suggest dappled light and shade without denying their origins on an artist’s palette. The same goes for the swirls in the sky. Ever wonder why trees like these are called weeping willows? Here’s your answer.

Upstairs, you’ll be tempted to start at the room at the head of the stairs where early landscapes and still-lifes are installed. Instead of proceeding chronologically, I’d go to the right to view six other late works executed between 1914-24. Two represent water lilies; four, the Japanese footbridge in the gardens at Giverny. Three that depict the walkway over the pond are cloaked and clotted with oil pigment. One is so dense it looks as if Chaim Soutine tried to a copy a Monet. Teetering on the edge of abstraction, these six pictures depict a pantheistic world. Imagine. As Cubism was evolving, Dada hijinks proliferating, and the seeds of Surrealism being sown, Monet was alive and kicking. His late style is a visual poet’s epic response to nature and seasonal change. Isn’t this an exhibition waiting to be mounted?

The gallery displaying work of the teens and ‘20s also features paintings Monet executed during the 1890s and the first decade of the new century. Because this is a compact show, many of the artist’s most beloved series, including the Haystacks, Rouen Cathedral, Poplars on the banks of the River Epte, and views of London and Venice, are only seen in one or two examples. Nevertheless, this change of pace allows you to savor the merits of each painting rather than feeling compelled to compare and contrast differences.

The last room is also notable for mixing scenes of manmade structures (bridges in London, the facades of palazzos in Venice) with renderings of nature. These works are not as dissimilar as they may sound: lots of water, lots of sky, assertive brushstrokes, muted tones. To be sure, one startling canvas, Leicester Square, Night (1901) links them all together. Once owned by Michel Monet, this hasn’t been seen in America since 1960 when it was exhibited in the revelatory Museum of Modern Art exhibition, "Claude Monet: Seasons and Moments." It’s easy to be fooled by this agglomeration of slithery lines and dabs of color. Walk past it too quickly and you will think you’ve just glimpsed water lilies floating in a pond. Slow down and you will notice the lights of the busy London square (on theatre marquees and horse-drawn carriages) glimmering through rain at dusk. This is the sort of amazing picture that makes the show a must see.

As you backtrack, you’ll find many other treasures. Several of these are atypical Monets that don’t ordinarily get included in survey shows or retrospectives because they are oddballs. Yet, they round out our impressions of this masterful artist. Others are well known classics that greet us the way old friends do. And don’t miss the display of photographs and hand-written love letters that Monet sent to his wife every day, full of endearments and fretting whether his dealer had sent money as he had instructed.

Monet died at the top of his game in 1926. He was 86 years old. Months later the giant waterlily decorations, still drawing crowds today, were installed in the Orangerie, just off the Place de la Concorde. A few weeks from now, a radical new interpretation of the Impressionist’s career, "The Unknown Monet: Pastels and Drawings," opens at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown , Massachusetts. So the saga continues.