May’s Spring Auction Season, combined with Frieze and other fairs, means 2 weeks straight of 24/7 events, shows, openings and parties.
Spring Auction Season in May has, for the last several decades, served as the benchmark for international markets sales. Since Frieze NY arrived on the scene in 2012, the two most important weeks of auctions got longer, with a “fair week” preceding the Post-War and Contemporary Art Sales. The sheer breadth of activity during these two weeks, including both blue-chip auctions, middle-market auctions, fairs, VIPs events and satellite fairs, is vast and can be overwhelming.
Here are some of my best moments, art epiphanies (both good and bad), and anything else that resonated.
Part I: ART FAIR FRENZY
Frieze In its 2nd Year, By Most Accounts, A Resounding Success
Clockwise: Paul McCarthy, “Balloon Dog,” 2013; Fair Structure Design by SO-IL Architects (image courtesy of Iwan Baan, archdaily.com)
Left: Paul McCarthy’s riff on Koons at the Northern Entrance of the tent
Lower right: Frieze Sponsored Artist-Curated Meals (Worst Ever goes to Matthew Day Jackson who should stick to art)
Standout Booths included:
Bjarne Melgaard, Theresa starting to know she will die, 2013
Bjarne Melgaard,Theresa starting to know she will die, 2013 (full room)
Regen Projects, Los Angeles
Liz Larner, iii (caesura), 2013
Andrea Zittel, A-Z Aggregated Stack #12, 2012
Damien Hirst, Pharmacy, circa 1992, offering $5,000,000
Pulse NY This Year Disappointed Many, Including Myself
A Few Noteworthy Works:
Arnulf Rainer, Sin titulo, 2000 at Galeria Nieves Fernandez, Madrid; Ted Larsen, Same Difference, 2012 at PanAmerican ArtProjects, Miami. Offering price: $7,200
Julie Oppermann, TH1223, 2012 at Galerie Stefan Ropke, Germany
At its new location at Basketball City, Pier 36, the fair space was both refreshing and lively - a great context for young artists, which had a relaxed but serious tone to it. At the Opening VIP Preview, most good works were sold within 1 hour (or less) and it was a successful fair. The fair featured 75 exhibitors this year and coincided with Frieze for the first time. Many dealers reported extremely good sales - especially for emerging art below $20K - which is really their niche market.
David Brooks, Stress Tests
Part II: Private Studio Visits with 2 Amazing Artists
Renauld Regnery, Brooklyn, represented by Elizabeth Dee Gallery. Renauld’s bio here.
Betty Tompkins, SoHo, represented by Galerie Rodolphe Janssen. Betty’s bio here.
“I am considering doing another series of pieces using images of women comprised of words. I would appreciate your help in developing the vocabulary. Please send me a list of words that describe women. They can be affectionate (honey), pejorative (bitch), slang, descriptive, etc. The words don’t have to be in English but I need as accurate a translation as possible. Many many thanks.” (Excerpt from artist statement, 2002)
Clockwise: Betty Tompkins, untitled painting #1, 36 x 36 in.; 10, 2013, 4 x 4 in.; vamp #1, 2013, 4 x 4 in.; hana-yaka, 2013, 4 x 4 in.
Part III: POST WAR AND CONTEMPORARY ART AUCTIONS
Sotheby’s Evening Sale and Highlights
Totally packed saleroom on Tuesday night where people stood for 1.5 hours as the sale included incredible works to raise funds for the Whitney Museum. Barnett Newman’s Onement VI sold for a record $43,000,000 at block.
Sotheby’s Evening Sale, May 14. Barnett Newman’s Onement VI in the background
Other highlights included this Richter which sold for $37M (wow, what a price!), establishing a new benchmark for any living artist at auction. And some surprises, like this Donald Judd, which sold for $5.7M - a steal!
From left to right: Gerhard Richter, Domplatz, Mailand [Cathedral Square, Milan], 1968; Donald Judd, Untitled (91-2 Bernstein), 1991
Also of note was this Cy Twombly, which sold for $15,000,000.
Cy Twombly, Untitled (Bolsena), 1969
Christie’s 11th Hour
Christie’s partnered with the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation in this charity auction to benefit wildlife and the environment. The sale set records: all 33 works sold for a total of $38.8M, 13 world auction records were set, 9 works of art sold for over one million dollars, and many lots exceeded their pre-sale estimates. Highlights included Mark Grotjahn’s Untitled, which sold for $6.5M and Zeng Fanzhi’s The Tiger, which fetched $5M.
From left to right: Andreas Gursky, Ocean V, 2010. Price Realized: $630,000; Sterling Ruby, SP231, 2013. Price Realized: $1,785,000
Bharti Kher, The Skin Speaks A Language Not Its Own, 2006. Price Realized: $1,785,000
Adam McEwan, Untitled, 2012. Price Realized: $315,000
Happy to see a similar work to the ones featured in the show and book I curated, Input #4: Second Skin (Summer 2012).
Christie’s Evening Sale Highlights
Christie’s Evening Sale of Post-War and Contemporary Art set a new benchmark for the art market on May 15th, becoming the highest sale total in auction history at $495 million. The sale set 16 new world auction records for artists including Asawa, Basquiat, Guston, Lichtenstein, Manzoni and Pollock. Click here to see a video of Basquiat’s record-setting Dustheads (sold for $48,843,750) in the saleroom.
Other notable works:
From left to right: Jean-Michel Basquiat, “Danny Rosen,” 1983. Price Realized: $4,939,750; Jackson Pollock, “November 19, 1948.” Price Realized: $59,363,750
Christie’s Afternoon Sale Highlights
Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled, 1981. Price Realized: $999,750
Alighiero Boetti, I Vedenti, 1977
Cady Noland, Four in One Sculpture, 1998. Price Realized: $68,750
David Hammons, Untitled, 1969. Estimate: $150,000-200,000
This work going unsold is a complete tragedy. Hammons is amazing artist, the work was just overpriced but is great and rare.
George Condo, The Harlequin, 2004. Price Realized: $114,150
Phillips de Pury Evening Sale Highlights
Andy Warhol, Four Marilyns, 1962. Price Realized: $38,245,000
Auctioneer Alexander Gilkes with Warhol’s Four Marilyns, which sold for $38M against a presale estimate of $35-45M. Overall it was a muted sale for Phillips — Carol Vogel, as usual, was brutally accurate and truthful as to the turnout in her NYT roundup!
And lastly, the weeks ended with on a very sad note with a tribute to Daniel Reich, hosted by Nada @ Henry Street Settlement, see our post here.