Red Tulips II

May 13, 2008


Sale Ahoy!

May 13, 2008

Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art sale is underway as I type. Seven or eight lots have sold so far, including a Warhol self-portrait at $3,513,000 (slightly above the upper estimate) and a work by Richard Prince that sold for $1,497,000, about 20% above the upper estimate.

What we are waiting for, of course the Lucian Freud sale and a couple of major works by Francis Bacon.

Things move fast! As I typed the last line, Francis Bacon’s “Three Studies For Self Portrait” went for $28,041,000, in line with estimates from $25m to $35m, and another Warhol, a monochrome edition of “Last Supper” pulled in $8,777,000, near the top end of pre-sale expectations.

Wow! Warhol’s “Double Marlon” screen print just went for $32,521,000 — above estimate! I think that we are looking good for a record with Lucian Freud. The high estimate mood has been set.

Gerhard Richter’s massive abstract “Abstraktes Bild” was sold for an incredible $14,601,000 — way above the pre-sale estimate 0f $7m to $10m. That makes over $100m of sales in the first 30-40 minutes of the sale. Christie’s must be pleased.

Peter Halley should also be feeling pretty good. His “Dream Game” (a rather off piece, I think) was estimated to fetch $90,000 to $120,000 but actually sold for $457,000. He has another piece in a later auction, the estimate for which will no doubt be raised after this evening. Adolphe Gottlieb’s “Cool Blast” (1960) has gone for double the high estimate at $6,537,000.

OK, now we are talking real money. Mark Rothko’s “Number 15” (see right) just made $50,441,000. The pre-sale estimate was private, but I suspect this was way above hopes.

De Koonig’s “Untitled IV” went for $12 million (within estimates) but Clyfford Still’s “1946 (PH-142)” broke through to $14,041,000, two million dollars above expectations.

Getting close to the Freud and another Bacon …

A Warhol soup can (“Pepperpot”) sold for $7,097,000, above estimate. I guess these old cans are like Old Masters in this market.

Roy Lichtenstein’s “Ball of Twine” was estimated at $14 million to $18 million. It is currently under the hammer, and seems not to have reached reserve.

Now, this is the one… Lucian Freud’s “Benefits Supervisor Sleeping” was snapped up at the high end of estimates for $33,641,000. This is almost exactly $10m higher than the previous price paid for a living artist (Jeff Koons, November 2007). Must make Freud’s in-the-wilderness days of the 1960s and 1970s seem so long ago.

Blogging a live auction was fun. I’ll see if I can do that again.

Update: Last night (Wednesday), Sothebys had a sale of contemporary art, with many of the same artists represented, and much the same high priced results.   The highlight was a massive triptych by Francis Bacon that sold for an incredible $86 million.  The grave disappointment (especially after #15 at Christies) was the withdrawal of Rothko’s “Orange, Red, Yellow” without a bid.


The Turner Prize

May 13, 2008

The four artists short-listed for this year’s Turner Prize have been announced by the Tate Gallery in London. Once again, the prize judges have decided that installations and film are the “emerging trends” (even though they seem to have been the “emerging trends” in the nominations for several years now.)

According to the bookies, the clear favourite is Mark Leckey and his obsession with Felix the Cat. The others are Cathy Wilkes’ installations, Runa Islam’s short movies, and Goshka Macuga, described as a “cultural anthropologist”, who creates theatrical installations.

The Turner Prize is always controversial.

Dr Stephen Deuchar, director of Tate Britain and chairman of the Turner Prize judges, said the prize did not exist to shock. “You never know what people are going to be shocked by – or say what they are going to be shocked by – so we will have to wait and see what emerges at the exhibition. I should think 50% of the art world will say they hate the list, and 50% will say they love the list,” he told the BBC News website. “The general public look to the Turner Prize to introduce them to what is new. It is not about giving good service medals to artists who have been around for a long time; it is about spotting emerging trends that are especially interesting.”

I don’t know much about these artists nor their works, which I have barely explored this morning. However, the previous winners have rarely been works that I appreciated or liked.