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Tuesday, 09 April 2013 18:37

N.C. Wyeth Exhibition to Open in Maine

On April 26, 2013 an exhibition featuring 30 paintings by N.C. Wyeth (1882-1945) will open at the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, ME; the works are being loaned by the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, PA

Every Picture Tells a Story: N.C. Wyeth Illustrations from the Brandywine River Museum spans four decades and includes Wyeth’s early western paintings, paintings that were used as illustrations for Robert Louis Stevenson books, and later works that boast a more experimental style. Wyeth, an American artist and prolific illustrator, divided his time between Pennsylvania’s Brandywine Valley and coastal Maine. The Farnsworth often highlights Wyeth’s Maine-related works.

Every Picture Tells a Story will be on view through December 29, 2013.

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Monday, 07 January 2013 13:15

Andy Warhol Named Top Artist at Auction

American pop artist Andy Warhol (1928-1987) brought $380.3 million in sales in 2012, exceeding Chinese ink painter Zhang Daqian (1899-1983) as the world’s highest seller at auction. Warhol also surpassed modern master Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) and Gerhard Richter (b. 1932), who holds the record for top living artist at auction.

Warhol’s all-time sales reached $2.9 billion while Picasso, who is regarded as the world’s costliest artist at auction, hit $5 billion. Picasso’s total auction sales for 2012 were down to $334.7 million from $366 million. Officials blame lack of supply for the dip in Picasso sales; while works by Picasso remain in demand, there are currently fewer exceptional pieces on the market. Daqian took an even harder hit than Picasso, slipping from $782.4 million at auction to $241.6, most likely the result of the economic and political uncertainty that pervaded China in 2012, which affected the international demand for Chinese art.

The restructuring that occurred last year knocked Daqian from first to fourth place in terms of selling power, a reflection of the increased demand for western postwar and contemporary works in the art market. A testament to contemporary art’s dominance, auctions in that category raising a record $1.1 billion in November 2012 through sales at Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Phillips de Pury & Co.

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Held in New York on September 25th, Christie’s American Art sale counted two Norman Rockwell works on paper as the top lots. Study for ‘The Runaway,perhaps the artist’s most iconic image, brought in $206,500. The original estimate for Study at auction was $80,000–$120,000. In 1958, the completed work, which features a young boy at a diner in conversation with a policeman, was used as a Saturday Evening Post cover.

The other Rockwell that fared well was Keeping His Course (Exeter Grill) which had an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000 and ended up selling for $218,500. The work was originally conceived as an illustration for the book Keeping His Course (1918) by Ralph Henry Barbour. A less recognizable Rockwell, A Man’s Wife, didn’t quite reach it’s $30,000–$50,000 estimate and ending up selling for $27,500.

Edgar Alwin Payne’s Western painting La Marque Lake, High Sierra more than doubled its $25,000–$35,000 estimate when it sold for $80,500. Other works that exceeded expectations were Andrew Wyeth’s watercolor, Front Door at Teel’s (estimate: $50,000–$70,000), that realized $93,700 and Josef Mario Korbel’s Andante (Dancing Girls) (estimate: $30,000–$50,000), a bronze that brought in $62,500.

The auction offered over 160 lots including Impressionist and Modernist works, Western pieces, illustrations, and bronzes. Artists on the block included Stuart Davis, Milton Avery, Will Barnet, Edward Hopper, and William Merritt Chase. Expected to reach in excess of $2.5 million, the total sale realized for the auction was $2,649,475.

While the auction reached its estimate, only 63% sold by lot and 76% by value. Debra Force of Debra Force Fine Art, Inc. said, “63% is terrible but there are many reasons for the poor performance. September is too early in the season for a sale. People are just getting back from summer, putting kids in school, and it’s in the middle of the Jewish holidays.” Force added, “The important collectors don’t look at these mid-season sales. They should, but they’re waiting for the major sale.“

Gavin Spanierman of Gavin Spanierman Ltd. echoed Force’s sentiments. “63% is pretty scary if you’re a seller but that’s representative of mid-season sales. However, the fact that the two Rockwells did well considering they were not phenomenal, shows that there is strength in the market.”

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