The November sales will be inaugurated at Christie’s on Tuesday night with a 75-lot Impressionist & Modern auction at their Rockefeller Center location in New York. Seventy-one lots will be offered at Sotheby’s New York on Wednesday evening, and the two sales are expected to fetch close to $400 million. This round of auctions follows closely on the heels of the Frieze Art Fair and the concurrent and comparatively smaller sales of Contemporary art in mid-October. Little has changed between then and now to make buyer’s less anxious about the financial markets, but the auction houses managed to secure a handful of top-tier consignments that may bolster the results of their sales.
The cover lot at the Christie’s sale is a Degas ballerina that was last sold at Sotheby’s in 2000. Another edition of the sculpture last sold at Sotheby’s in 2009 for $18.8 million. This version of Petite Danseuse carries a presale estimate of $25-35 million. The bronze is embellished with a real muslin skirt and a satin hair ribbon – inclusions that anticipate the art movements of the 20th century and that shocked the public when the sculpture was first exhibited in 1881 at the Sixth Impressionist Exhibition.
Reminiscent of the Impressionist and Modern sale at Christie’s London in June, two Picasso portraits are amongst the top five lots at Christie’s. The top two lots at the summer sale were portraits of Dora Maar and Marie Thèrése -Walter, which brought in $29 million and $21 million, respectively. Both portraits on offer Tuesday night carry estimates of $12-18 million and are being sold for the first time since the 1980s.
Two of the most valuable pieces included in Tuesday evening’s sale are works of sculpture. In addition to the Degas, Giacometti‘s Femme de Venise VII is being offered with a presale estimate of $10-15 million and carries a third party guarantee. The work is number one in an edition of six, and the fourth sculpture in the series sold for $10 million at Sotheby’s New York in May 2008. This version was acquired directly from the artist by the renowned Pierre Matisse Gallery in 1958, and the provenance should aid the lot’s performance.
The featured lot at Wednesday’s sale at Sotheby’s is a dazzling Klimt landscape being sold by an heir of the original owner of the painting, from whom it was seized during World War II. Litzlberg am Attersee once belonged to collector and iron magnate Viktor Zukerkandl, who acquired the painting directly from the artist. After Zuckerkandl died childless in 1927, much of the collection was sold, and the remainder, including the present work, was left to his sister, Amalie Redlich. The painting was taken from Redlich by the Gestapo in 1938 and had been on display at the Museum der Moderne in Salzburg since 1944. It was restituted to Zurkerkandl’s grandnephew earlier this year, and he plans to donate a portion of the proceeds of the sale to the Museum der Moderne. The estimate is unpublished, but the painting is widely believed to fetch at least $25 million.
Sotheby’s also has a high valued sculpture in its evening sale. Matisse’s monumental bronze of a woman’s backside is the first in a four part series of increasingly abstract depiction’s of this subject. A cast of the fourth sculpture brought in nearly $50 million against a presale estimate of $35 million at Christie’s last year. The present work is estimated to bring as much as $30 million, and is being sold by the Burnett Foundation in Forth Worth, TX. The foundation owns one of each in the Nu De Dos series and will be selling them at auction over the course of the next year.
An early Fauvist work by Wassily Kandinsky carries a presale estimate of $7-10 million. It sold to the present owner in 2007 for about $5.5 million. While the 1908 canvas may be removed from the artist’s signature work stylistically, the title of the work references another artistic form from which Kandinsky drew inspiration for painting throughout his life. Weisser Klang, or White Sound was created to illustrate Stefan George’s poem of the same name. Just as Kandinsky used the vocabulary of music to describe his painting, the German poet’s work is characterized by attentiveness to the musical qualities of words over their meaning.
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– J. Mizrachi
Christie’s e-Catalog [Christie's]
Sotheby’s e-Catalog [Sotheby's]
At Auction: $25 Million to Dance With Degas [WSJ]
Works by Lichtenstein, Degas lead NY art auctions [Reuters]
New York Sales Preview: Impressionist and Modern Art at Sotheby’s and Christie’s [Artinfo]