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Displaying items by tag: Modern Art

Friday, 09 November 2012 16:59

Picasso Painting Steals Sotheby’s Sale

The top sale at last night’s Impressionist and modern Art auction at Sotheby’s in New York was a 1932 painting by Pablo Picasso of his muse, Marie-Therese Walter. The suggestive Nature Morte aux Tulipes, estimated at $35 to $50 million, sold to a phone bidder for $41.5 million.

The sale at Sotheby’s took place just one day after Christie’s lackluster Impressionist and modern art auction and didn’t fare much better than its predecessor. While there were some notable sales, 31% of lots went untouched including mid-level works by Degas and Rodin. While many have been blaming the election and unfortunate weather for the mixed sales, the quality of the work featured has also in question. Many have taken note of the padded sales by both auction houses and during these delicate economic times, buyers want to spend money on exceptional works, not mediocre works by exceptional artists.

On a positive note, there were a number of impressive sales besides the Picasso portrait. Claude Monet’s 1881 landscape Champ de Blé estimated at $5 to $7 million fetched $12.1 million and a photograph of Marcel Duchamp taken by Man Ray sold for $2.4 million, well over it’s $1.7 million high estimate. Another work that exceeded expectations was Fernand Leger’s Les Contructeurs, which went for $1.37 million, more than double its low estimate. The sale brought in $163 million; it was expected to garner about $169 million in total.  

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Known for his massive environmental works of art that interact with the natural landscape, the Bulgarian artist, Christo (b. 1935), has been ordered by a federal judge to halt the installation of his latest project until a lawsuit involving the work reaches a conclusion.

Created by Christo and his late wife, Jeanne-Claude (they worked collaboratively under the moniker Christo), Over the River involves hanging long stretches of translucent fabric for two weeks above various parts of the Arkansas River in Colorado. Girded by steel cables that will be anchored on either bank, the project will consume almost seven miles of the river.

The environmentalist group Rags Over the Arkansas River Inc. (ROAR) brought the lawsuit against Christo as they fear the project will affect local fisheries and natural habitats and disturb the locals. Although the Bureau of Land Management approved the project in 2011, Christo will serve as a co-defendant alongside the Bureau in order to uphold his and Jeanne-Claude’s vision.

The couple’s iconic body of work includes The Gates, which was installed in New York City’s Central Park in 2005, and Running Fence, a 24 mile-long artwork that ran through California’s Sonoma and Marin counties in 1976. Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s projects often stirred up controversy based on their sheer scale, but it is also this otherworldliness that makes them visually unforgettable.

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Monday, 10 September 2012 16:04

A Sneak Peek at Art Basel Miami's Exhibitor List

Fall may have just begun, but Art Basel Miami Beach is already gearing up for December. The mother of all American art fairs has compiled its exhibitor list for its 11th edition, which runs December 6-9. Over 680 galleries competed for 257 spots -- slightly fewer than last year's total of 264. They hail from 31 countries and include new faces from New York, Paris, Berlin, and London. Meanwhile, some familiar dealers -- including Tony Shafrazi, Zach Feuer, and Marc Jancou, all of New York -- will not be returning.

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Wednesday, 08 August 2012 11:43

Time's Art Critic, Robert Hughes, Dies at 74

Robert Hughes, who brought a muscular, confrontational writing style to the genteel world of art criticism, and whose books and television programs on art and the history of his native Australia brought him a worldwide following, died Aug. 6 at a hospital in the Bronx. He was 74.

His wife, Doris Downes, released a statement saying her husband “had been very ill for some time.” His health had been somewhat precarious since a near-fatal car accident in 1999.

Mr. Hughes had wide-ranging interests and published a memoir, a book about fishing and biographies of artists, in addition to two monumental surveys of art history. His 1987 book about the settlement of Australia, “The Fatal Shore,” was considered a masterpiece and became an international bestseller.

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Saturday, 05 May 2012 03:39

Thrilling Week for Modern Art

The art market made a quantum leap this week when “The Scream,” a pastel drawn by Edvard Munch in 1895, sold for just under $120 million — $119,922,500 to be precise.

Some will argue that the pastel is such an unusual work that it would be unwise to draw general inferences from it. In art historical terms, this is true, bearing in mind that the Norwegian artist produced four variants — the other three are in museums.

Nothing else truly relates to this work. “The Scream” was so far ahead of its time that it could be the work of a contemporary artist. Never mind that the idea of conveying the deep emotions experienced by an artist in a visionary composition owes something to the French Symbolist school of the 1890s, or that the strong oranges, reds, blues and greens reveal Munch’s awareness of Van Gogh’s art from 1887 to 1891.

The reduction of natural scenery to streaks of color that zoom ahead and swirl around was graphically and conceptually revolutionary. So was the idea of a character swaying in unison with the landscape behind him.

As striking in color as in composition, the pastel hits you in the face from far away, and in today’s market that draws an immediate response from buyers whose attention span is becoming ever shorter.

Yet aesthetics are not the only reason for the price that made the pastel the most expensive work of art ever auctioned and allowed Sotheby’s to post a $330 million score on Wednesday, the highest ever achieved by the auction house in Impressionist and Modern art.

The very diversity of the works that triggered competition resulting in extremely high prices proved otherwise.

This phenomenon was already evident at Christie’s on Tuesday. The evening session was the most modest the company has ever held in New York, whether in numbers of lots — 22 pictures, four drawings, five sculptures — or in the quality of the offerings. It nevertheless turned into a huge success. The 28 lots that found takers added up to more than $117 million and only three negligible works remained unwanted.

Buyers jumped into the fray right from the beginning, often bidding with a fury utterly disproportionate to the art that was on the block.

The second lot at Christie’s was “Sur la Terrasse,” a drawing done by Picasso in a rare lighthearted mood on a fine summer day in Cannes, France. It swiftly doubled its high estimate at a stupendous $1.59 million. Next came a narrow horizontal picture by Picasso, “Le Repos (Marie-Thérèse Walter).” Painted in May 1932, the portrait of the young woman snoozing with her face resting on her arm has a dreamy quality not usually associated with the Baroque, violently distorted portrayals of humans from that year favored by present-day buyers. Even so, “Le Repos” sold for $9.88 million, well over the high estimate.

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