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Four works by contemporary heavyweights Fred Tomaselli, Takashi Murakami, Mickalene Thomas, and Gilbert & George will be offered by Christie’s to benefit the artistic activities of the Brooklyn Museum. Profits from the sale, which will be held during the Post-War and Contemporary auction on November 15, will go towards the preservation and presentation of the museum’s collection, exhibitions, and a variety of public programs. The four works were made especially for the auction.

The sale marks the beginning of BKLYN: A Celebration of the Brooklyn Museum, a multi-year collaboration between Christie’s and the museum that will include additional sales benefitting the institution. Housed in a 560,000-square-foot Beaux-Arts building, the Brooklyn Museum is one of the oldest and largest institutions in the country. Its permanent collection features everything from ancient Egyptian pieces to contemporary art.

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Christie’s kicked off their highly anticipated fall auctions with a lackluster Impressionist and Modern Art sale on Wednesday evening. While there were many outstanding circumstances (i.e., Hurricane Sandy, the presidential election, the Dow Jones’ drop) that may have contributed to the sale’s inability to reach its low estimate of $210 million, the auction garnered $204,800,000 but left 21 of its 69 lots unsold. Other factors that may have contributed to the uneven sale were too high estimates and an inconsistence in quality as it was the mid-level works that went without buyers.

The top sales were high with six works selling for over $10 million. Wassily Kandinsky’s early and rare Studie fur Improvisation 8 brought $23 million and a set a record for the artist at auction while just breaking its low estimate of $20 million. Claude Monet’s Nymphaes, a watercolor from his water lilies series, was the evening’s top lot at $43,762,500. Other top lots included Pablo Picasso’s Buste de Femme that sold for $13,074,500, Constantine Brancusi’s white plaster Une Muse that brought $12,402,500, and Joan Miro’s Peinture (Femme, Journal, Chien which fetched $13,746,500.

Sotheby’s sale begins today after three days of delays due to Hurricane Sandy.

Published in News
Wednesday, 07 November 2012 19:59

Christie’s Predicts a Blockbuster Contemporary Sale

After a monumental postwar and contemporary auction that totaled $386 million this past spring, Christie’s expects an even bigger sale this November. Taking place November 14–15 in New York, the auction house estimates that the Post-War and Contemporary Art Sale could garner more than $441 million.

The 74-lot evening auction includes Andy Warhol’s Statue of Liberty canvas expected to bring in around $35 million and one of his silkscreens of Marlon Brando estimated at $15-$20 million. Other major draws include Jeff Koons’ balloon tulips for $25 million, a Rothko painting for $15-$20 million, and works by market darlings Alexander Calder, Gerhard Richter, Franz Kline, Ellsworth Kelly, and Jasper Johns. Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled (1981) is expected to set records for the artist with an estimate of $20 million.

Christie’s has already brought in $928 million in contemporary art sales this year.

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Considered one of the world’s most groundbreaking contemporary artists, Cy Twombly evaded classification while remaining culturally and artistically relevant from the early 1950s to the present. On Thursday, Gagosian Gallery mounted the dual tribute exhibitions, Cy Twombly: Last Paintings and Cy Twombly: A Survey of Photographs 1954–2011. The show will remain on view through December 22, 2012.

The eight untitled paintings are closely related to the Camino Real group that appeared at Gagosian Paris’ inaugural exhibition in 2010. Featuring bold colors and sweeping, gestural brushwork, the paintings exude the raw energy that typified Twombly’s work. Last Paintings opened in Los Angeles earlier this year and traveled to Hong Kong before opening in New York.

A Survey of Photographs features everything from early studio images taken in the 1950s to a group of landscapes taken in St. Barths in 2011, the year of Twombly’s death. While mainly regarded as a painter, Twombly’s photographic work has been the subject of a number of major exhibitions since 2008. Gagosian’s exhibition is the most comprehensive of its kind to take place in the United States to date.

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David Hickey, one of America’s foremost art critics is known for his acerbic commentary, but his latest tirade against the world of modern art is downright scathing. Hickey, a professor, curator, and author, told the Observer that he will be walking away from contemporary art, a genre he says has been ruined by rich collectors who are more concerned with money and celebrity than quality.

Hickey claims that art editors and critics have lost their edge, spending more time catering to the wealthy people who hold the reigns on the contemporary art market than surveying the actual work (which he says is also lacking). Hickey is not alone in this claim. A number of contemporary art curators, museums, and galleries have deemed the work of such artists as Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, and Antony Gormley bloated and empty – the result of too much fame and not enough criticism. While the notion of the artist as celebrity is not new, today’s market is saturated with it and gaining status has taken precedence over making revolutionary, ground-breaking art.

A former dealer, Hickey is attuned to considering art in monetary terms but his objections stem from his belief that contemporary art has become too broad, too elitist, and lacks discretion. Hickey’s retirement will remove an important critical voice from the equation. He plans to complete a book on the pagan roots of America, aptly titled Pagan America, as well as a book of essays titled Pirates and Framers.

Published in News
Wednesday, 31 October 2012 12:01

New York City’s Art World Feels the Wrath of Sandy

After Hurricane Sandy battered the east coast, art institutions from the Lower East Side to upstate New York felt the effects. Art galleries including R 20th Century in SoHo, Rachel Uffner Gallery on the Lower East Side, the New Museum on the Bowery, Postmasters Gallery in Chelsea, and Storm King Art Center upstate in Mountainville were without electricity as of yesterday. Eyebeam and Zach Feuer in Chelsea suffered serious flooding. Water levels reached above five feet inside Feuer’s gallery, destroying the entire exhibition on view. Most of the gallery’s permanent inventory is kept on storage racks higher than five feet so Feuer has hope that those works will be salvageable.

Once dealers have fully assessed and dealt with the damages to their galleries and inventories, they will be faced with increased insurance premiums. While many galleries have liability and short-term travel insurance, they do not usually insure art.

In addition, some of the city’s most anticipated galas were cancelled due to the hurricane. The Studio Museum, The Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Public Library, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and the New York Public Radio all put their galas on hold because of Sandy. Hopefully the hit to New York’s gala season won’t affect the fundraising efforts tied to such events.

Published in News
Monday, 29 October 2012 15:50

Prominent Art Review Gets a Second Chance

The publisher and art critic, Christian Zervos, founded the French art review, Cahiers d’Art, in 1926. The magazine ran without interruption from 1941 to 1943, until 1960 and featured artists such as Picasso, Matisse, Braque, Leger, Ernst, Calder, and Giacometti. Known for its striking layout and abundant photography, Cahiers d’Art also featured reviews written by the likes of Ernest Hemingway and Samuel Beckett. After being out of production for more than fifty years, Cahiers d’Art has been reborn.

Swedish collector and entrepreneur, Staffan Ahrenberg, bought the dormant publication after he walked by the still-operating Cahier d’Art gallery along the rue du Dragon in Paris. Ahrenberg re-launched Cahiers d’Art with former Art Basel director Sam Keller and the renowned curator Hans Ulrich Obrist as editors. The first issue features Ellsworth Kelly, Cyprien Gaillard, and Sarah Morris. As in the past, Cahiers d’Art will not contain advertisements nor will it follow a regular production schedule.

Major art world players including Larry Gagosian, Guggenheim boss Richard Armstrong, and Alfred Pacquement of the Pompidou Centre gathered in a tiny Left Bank gallery in Paris to celebrate the review’s return.

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Uzbekistan seems an unlikely venue for a rare Pablo Picasso exhibition, but Tashkent’s State Arts Museum currently has 12 “forgotten” ceramics by the artist on view. The works were first exhibited in Tashkent in the 1960s and have remained in storage since then. While it is not clear why the pieces have remained out of sight for so long, some suggest that they may have been forgotten.

Uzbekistan is known for its own pottery and ceramics industry and is well known for its art collection as it has long been used by wealthy Russians to house valuable artworks, many of which were taken there during World War II for safe keeping.

The French painter and close friend of Picasso, Fernand Leger, and his wife, Nadya, originally owned the 12 ceramic pieces. When Leger died in 1955, Nadya decided to donate the works to museums in the former Soviet Union.

While most people associate Picasso with his paintings and drawings, he produced more than 2,000 ceramic pieces between 1947 and 1948.

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When Gudmund Vigtel was named the High Museum of Art’s director in 1963, it was a sensitive time for Atlanta’s art world. More than 100 members of the Atlanta Arts Association and their family members had died the year before in a tragic plane crash. The city’s civic leaders hoped that Vigtel could turn the museum into a living monument of sorts.

Vigtel came to the High Museum from the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington where he served as the assistant director. Civic leaders turned to Vigtel to spearhead the fund-raising campaign they started with hopes of remaking the museum. As it turns out, they chose the right man for the job.

During his 28 years at the High Museum, Vigtel transformed it from an unsuspecting, modest institution to one of the U.S.’s most renowned art museums. Vigtel oversaw the museum’s move from a small brick building to an architecturally groundbreaking 135,000-square-foot postmodern structure designed by Richard Meier. While the relocation happened in 1983, Vigtel began fund-raising and seeking out an architect in the mid-1970s.

Vigtel tripled the size of the High’s permanent collection and implemented an art appreciation program for children. He also started one of the country’s first African-American art collections. The decorative arts collection he opened at the museum has gone on to become one of the finest in the country. After acquiring hundreds of works by 19th- and 20th-century American and European artists, Vigtel left the High Museum with a $15 million endowment, which has since grown.

Vigtel died at his home in Atlanta at the age of 87. His wife, two daughters, four grandchildren, and a profound legacy survive him.

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After twenty-two years, Nicholas Capasso will be leaving his post at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, MA. Capasso, who is currently the deCordova’s deputy director for Curatorial Affairs, has been named the new director of the Fitchburg Art Museum and will start his latest venture on December 3.

During his time at the deCordova, Capasso has overseen a permanent collection that included 3,500 objects, changing gallery exhibitions, and an outdoor sculpture park. He helped to bring recognition to the institution and to reposition it as an important contemporary museum.

While Capasso specializes in contemporary art, he is eager to work with the Fitchburg Art Museum’s collection that spans more than 5,000 years and includes American and European paintings, prints, drawings, ceramics, decorative arts, and Greek, Roman, Asian, and pre-Columbian antiquities. The Museum’s collection, which is housed between twelve galleries, includes works by William Zorach, John Singleton Copley, Joseph Stella, Edward Hopper, Charles Burchfield, Charles Sheeler, Walker Evans, and Georgia O’Keeffe.

Capasso will take over the role of director from the soon-to-be-retired Peter Timms who has held the position since 1973.

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