Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Sale is going on as I blog.
Lucian Freud’s small painting of “Girl Reading” just about reached its estimates, selling for $3.8million. And his iconic portrait of “Francis Bacon” barely crept over the lower estimates to fetch $9.4 million. A third work, “Susie” didn’t sell. Francis Bacon’s own “Portrait of Henrietta Moraes“, with pre-sales estimates between $9.5 million and $13 million, also appears not to have sold.
A number of Warhols are being left on the shelf; presumably they didn’t meet their required minimums, and two Gerhard Richter’s also failed to sell.
The three new Chinese artists who were on display had mixed fortunes. Yang Pei Ming failed to sell his “Autoportrait“, and a work by Yue Minjun sold for a few points less than the anticipated minimum. However, Zeng Fanzhi almost doubled his estimate, selling an untitled work for $500,000.
To set my teeth on edge, it seems that Lucio Fontana is going to be the star of this show. One of his la fine de Dio series just sold for an astonishing $15.6 million! I really must be missing something. The Inflated Phrases for this one include:
“Lucio Fontana’s Fine di Dio are a series of thirty-eight oval-shaped oil paintings made between March 1963 and February 1964 for three different exhibitions of his work held in Zurich, Milan and Paris. The supreme encapsulation of the ‘Spatialist’ art that he pioneered in the 1950s and ’60s, these works now stand as mystical icons that since their creation have proved themselves to be strangely prophetic of much about the way that modern physicists now view the cosmos. Strange, mysterious and imposing, these punctured monochrome canvases in the shape of an egg are more than mere paintings. They are ‘Spatial concepts’ that invoke the fundamental mystery of the cosmos…”
On the other hand, I love Richard Prince’s “Dude Ranch Nurse #2” and I’m glad to see it reach $5.5 million. I wonder if that is a record for him?
Almost at the end, a Damien Hirst medicine chest called “Untitled AAAAAAA” was left unsold after pre-sale estimates of around $400,000.
In all, the show had a value of around $50million. But 19 of the 45 lots were left unsold, and I am sure that must be a disappointment. Was it just the quality of the auction? Or is this a sign that money is tighter than it has been? Hard to say yet.