New York – Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sales, November 4th and 5th, 2014

November 3rd, 2014

Alberto Giacometti, Chariot (1951-52), via Sotheby's
Alberto Giacometti, Chariot (1951-52), via Sotheby’s

As temperatures begin to drop and the art world looks to begin winding down the Fall 2014 Season, the major auction houses are opening their doors for two consecutive weeks of major sales, beginning on Tuesday with Sotheby’s Evening Auction of Modern and Impressionist Masterpieces, and followed close behind with Christie’s sale of Impressionist and Modernist works the next night.  Initial estimates for the week’s sales are already promising major dividends for both auction houses, with several important works expected to break major auction sales records.

Vincent Van Gogh, Nature Morte, Vase Aux Marguerites et Coquelicots (1890), via Sotheby's
Vincent Van Gogh, Nature Morte, Vase Aux Marguerites et Coquelicots (1890), via Sotheby’s

The sales will begin Tuesday with at Sotheby’s York Street headquarters, a sale which boasts one of the week’s most newsworthy auction items, a 1951-1952 Alberto Giacometti that is boasting a presale estimate of over $100 million, a figure that will easily boost the work over the artist’s previous record of $103 million, and which will place it in early contention for a place among the most expensive works in auction history.  Similarly, the auction house is offering an Amedeo Modigliani sculpture, Tete, for the presale estimate of $45 million, which would put it in contention to set another major auction record.  Also of note is a late Van Gogh, one of the artist’s last great still lifes.  The work is boasting a presale estimate of $30 million to $50 million.  The sale will total 74 lots in all, and is expected to exceed $300 million for the evening.

Amedeo Modigliani, Tête (1911-12), via Sotheby's
Amedeo Modigliani, Tête (1911-12), via Sotheby’s

Rene Magritte, Mesdemoiselles de l’Isle Adam (1942), via Christies
Rene Magritte, Mesdemoiselles de l’Isle Adam (1942), via Christies

Christie’s is also offering a strong selection of works at its Impressionist/Modern sale, but lacks the fireworks that Sotheby’s is so intent on promising in its pre-auction press releases.  The 40 lot auction is lead by Edouard Manet’s Le Printemps, a strong work from 1881 that is estimated at $25 to $35 million, and is already the subject of major anticipation that it will break the artist’s auction record.  The sale will also offer a mid-20th century composition by Fernand Léger, executed in bold primary colors and depicting construction laborers at work.  Also of note is a trio of works by Rene Magritte, offered in an effort to meet growing demand for key surrealist works, led by Mesdemoiselles de l’Isle Adam, which is anticipated to sell between $5 and $7 million.

Fernand Léger, Les constructeurs avec arbre (1949), via Christies
Fernand Léger, Les constructeurs avec arbre (1949), via Christies

Art Observed will be on site during the auctions this week, and will be covering for our social media accounts.  Interested parties are encouraged to follow us on Instagram and Twitter.

Edouard Manet, Le Printemps (1881), via Christies
Edouard Manet, Le Printemps (1881), via Christies

— D. Creahan

Read more:
Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Evening Sale [Christie’s]
Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Evening Sale [Sotheby’s]
Expectations high for record spending at New York art auctions [Reuters]
Van Gogh, Warhol Star in $1.8 Billion New York Auctions [Bloomberg]
Manet’s ‘Le Printemps’ poised to reach record auction price [Reuters]