Once again, it is time to begin our Art Market updates … and quite a bit has happened since the end of last year.
In January, New York hosted the Old Master sales and when the dust settled, over $122 million worth of ‘old’ art changed hands. Top honors went to Rembrandt’s Saint James the Greater (1616) … a work that left me rather unimpressed with this master’s greatness, but a number of people were definitely eager to have a Rembrandt and in the end it sold for $25.8 million. Another work that was recently reattributed to Rembrandt was offered in the same sale with an estimate of $3 - $4 million – it sold for $9 million.
A truly wonderful painting, Portrait of Robert Shone Milnes, by Joseph Wright of Derby was offered and sold for $7.2 million; while Francisco Zurbarán’s Christ and the Virgin in the House of Nazareth made $3.51 million and a beautiful still life by Pierre J. Redouté made $2.5 million … all three were auction records.
One of my personal favorites was El Greco’s rather impressive and somewhat ‘modern’ looking The Annunciation (estimate $600 - $800,000) that sold for $4.18 million. A small (16 x 22.5 inch) Pieter Brueghel made a strong $3.28 million; a rather ugly Sandro Botticelli titled Profile portrait of a woman (19.5 x 14 inches) made $4.74 million (I guess beauty is in the eyes of the beholder); a double-sided drawing by Francisco de Goya was snapped up by the Prado Museum for $1.048 million; and a Hans B. Grien drawing titled Head of a Man, in Three-Quarter Profile to the Left (one of the more creative titles) made an auction record $3.712 million.
In February attention turned to London for the Impressionist, Modern & Contemporary offerings … and the fireworks were as beautiful as ever.
First up were the Impressionist and Modern works and here top honors went to Chaim Soutine when his L’homme au foulard rouge made an auction record £8.756 million ($17.2 million); a fairly attractive Renoir titled Les deux soeurs brought £6.85 million ($13.49 million); Fernand Leger’s Les maisones dans les arbres made £6.29 million ($12.34 million); Raoul Dufy’s large La foire aux oignons and Claude Monet’s Maison du jardinier or Bordighera, la Méditerranée each brought £4.052 million ($7.97 million); five early works by Maurice de Vlaminck were offered and all did exceedingly well - Symphonie en couleurs (Fleurs) made £3.04 million ($5.99 million), Le remorqueur à Chatou made £2.48 million ($4.88 million), Le pésage à longchamps fetched £2.148 million ($4.23 million), Chatou, paysage à l'arbre rouge brought £1.588 million ($3.13 million), and Les pêcheurs garnered £1.36 million ($2.68 million); Alfred Sisley’s Le Loing à Moret, en été made an impressive £2.93 million ($5.76 million); a small gouache by Matisse made £2.26 ($4.44 million) while a small pastel by Picasso (18 1/2 x 12 inches), done c.1902-03, brought £2.036 million ($4.007 million); and Eugene Boudin’s Bénerville, la plage brought £468,000 ($921,000).
In the end, over £228 million ($450 million) worth of art moved from one home to another.
That same week saw a large offering of important Contemporary works and the results were once again staggering. Here, top honors went to Francis Bacon for his 1956 Study for Portrait II which brought £14.02 million ($27.55 million) and Peter Doig’s White Canoe (1990-1) which sold for an out-of-this-world price of £5.73 million (that is over $11 million and a record for a living European artist)!! Andy Warhol continues to be one of the more popular artists and among the works offered were his Brigitte Bardot - £5.39 million ($10.62 million), Three Women - £4.44 million ($8.75 million), Dollas Sign (1981) - £1.98 million ($3.9 million), and a small Mao (12 x 10 inches) that made £1.005 million ($1.98 million); Gerhard Richter’s Abstraktes Bild (1991) made £2.82 million ($5.55 million) … an auction record for an abstract work by the artist; Mark Rothko’s Untitled – Black, Red, Black on Brown (a somewhat small oil on paper) brought £3.38 million ($6.65 million); Roy Lichtenstein’s Still Life with Oysters, Fish in a Bowl and a Book (1973) made £2.7 million ($5.33 million); Cy Twombly’s Capitoli (1962) made £2.15 million ($4.23 million); and there were a number of Lucio Fontana works offered, all from his c.1964 Concetto Spaziale, Attese series. Two of the works were identical in size (28 x 36 inch) and both had 8 vertical slashes in the canvas. The only difference appears to have been the color of the canvas … one was red and the other blue. The red canvas brought £1.812 million ($3.56 million) while the blue one made just £636,000 ($1.25 million) … humm, I am still trying to determine if it was the color or the angle of the slashes that made the difference!
When the festivities ended over £151 million ($297 million) worth of Post War and Contemporary works of art changed hands. That brought the weeks total to just shy of $750 million … and 2007 just started.
By the end of the month, the action moved back to New York when the sale rooms offered a selection of the mid-range Contemporary works; sales that usually consist of the ‘less important’ works (including works on paper) by many of the 'Blue Chip' and 'New Chip' artists. In years past, these sales usually went unnoticed and never made the news; however, today even these sales created some fireworks.
The stars of these offerings were Andy Warhol’s Somebody wants to buy your apartment building - $964,000; On Kawara’s Apr. 3, 1990 - $1.94 million; Paul McCarthy’s Bear and Rabbit on a Rock (a 1992 work made of mascot heads, acrylic fur, metal armature and foam rubber) - $1.5 million; and Alexander Calder’s Untitled (1947) - $336,000.
Among the real surprises were John Wesley’s 1967 Armenian Question (est. $30 - $50,000) which brought $288,000; Romare Bearden’s Manhattan Suite, one of an edition of 24 and estimated at $30 - $40,000, brought $240,000; Sean Scully’s Distillation of Squares (1973), estimated $20 - $30,000, brought $132,000; and Carl Andre’s 1958-63 Untitled, estimate $8 - $12,000, brought $216,000. I could continue with this, but I think you get the picture … the Contemporary market is still ON FIRE!
When all was said and done, just over $45 million worth of mainly ‘average’ art found new places to reside. And if you are keeping a tally that is over $900 million for the sales we have reviewed … 2007 should be another record year.
Gallery Updates: Among the many works passing through the gallery this month were Eugene Boudin’s Trouville, le port; Stanislas Lepine’s Navires au Port; Louis Valtat’s – Le rocher dans la mer, and Vue de Ouistreham; Joseph Caraud’s The Pet Canaries; Fritz Zuber-Buhler’s Portrait of a Young Girl; Henry Victor Lesur’s Le Billet Doux; George Clare’s Still Life with Flowers, Bird’s Nest and a Basket; Eugene H. Cauchois’ Still Life of Roses and Dahlias; Edouard Cortes’ Les Trois Quartiers; Antoine Blanchard’s Notre-Dame, Quai St. Michel, and Omnibus on the Place de la Madeleine; Allan Banks’ The Blue Silk Scarf, Gregory Frank Harris’ Evening Light and April Moon; and John Kuhn’s Birds.
Web Site Updates: We just added a Virtual Exhibition featuring a few of the early works by Daniel Ridgway Knight that the gallery has sold; the direct link is as follows: