Just as Frieze closes its doors on a week of contemporary sales, the New York auction houses are opening theirs for a second week of major U.S. market activity. Spreading the offerings across a marathon series of sales in the coming days, the New York spring/summer auctions will mark the last test of buyer interest before the summer recess.
The proceedings will begin this coming Sunday at Christie’s with an unorthodox weekend sale, and equally unorthodox subject matter. Bound to Fail, a curated sale organized by Loic Gouzer, will place the idea of the artist’s struggle and physical limitations, both within the work and in its execution, as its center, and is lead by a Jeff Koons Equilibrium piece. The floating basketball sculpture plays expressly on the precariousness and balance of the works throughout the show, and is expected to exceed a $10,000,000 estimate. It is joined by Maurizio Cattelan’s striking sculpture, Him, featuring a miniature version of Hitler, and priced at $10,000,000 – $15,000,000. The sale’s namesake, Henry Moore Bound to Fail, by Bruce Nauman, rounds out the top lots of the sale at $6,000,000 – $8,000,000.
The evening will also see a Contemporary Sale further south at Phillips. The sale is topped by works by Jeff Koons and Brice Marden, both priced at $5,000,000 — $7,000,000, while a Mark Bradford work hints at toppling the artist’s auction record once again (no doubt helped along by the recent announcement of the artist’s U.S. Pavilion at next year’s Biennale. Bradford’s top lot carries an estimate of $3,000,000 — $5,000,000.
The sales will shift gears the following evening, when Sotheby’s opens its sale of Impressionist and Modern masterworks, looking to change the pace rather than match Christie’s recent inclinations towards more focused sales and curated evenings. Its first entry of the week is led by a glowing André Derain seascape, which carries an estimate of $15,000,000 — $20,000,000, while a Maurice de Vlaminck piece is not far behind at $12,000,000 — $18,000,000. An impressive Claude Monet portrait is also offered, carrying an estimate of $9,000,000 — $12,000,00.
Sales turn back towards Christie’s the following evening, when the auction house will present its Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale, furthering its early week focus on more recent works and artists. Despite alarms over a cooling market, the auction house has picked a quite impressive selection of works, among them a massive Jean-Michel Basquiat piece from early in the artist’s career. The swirling abstracted canvas, topped off with one of the artist’s signature skeletal figures, is hinting at a new auction record for the artist (his current record sits at just under $50 million), while a deep blue and green Mark Rothko will look to reach its estimate of $30,000,000 – $40,000,000. A powerful Clyfford Still work is also on the block, estimated at $25,000,000 – $35,000,000.
The next evening returns attention to Sotheby’s, where the auction house will match the previous evening’s Contemporary offerings with its own 44-lot sale. This evening’s proceedings sees the auction house doubling down on Cy Twombly works, with a pair of vivid pieces set at undisclosed sums, likely to both exceed $20 million, while a powerful diptych by Francis Bacon will also round out the auction’s top end with an estimate of $22,000,000 — $30,000,000. A Christopher Wool piece at the top of the auction will also look to push towards the artist’s auction record, carrying a pre-sale estimate of $14,000,000 — $18,000,000.
The week’s proceedings conclude with a final evening at Christie’s, and the second entry of the week’s Impressionist and Modern sales. The auction house is leading with a strong series of works, among them a Monet water lilies piece, priced at $25,000,000 – $35,000,000, alongside a vividly expressive Modigliani portrait, which carries an estimate of $12,000,000 – $18,000,000. A Pablo Picasso piece from 1969 is also being sold, estimated at $8,000,000 – $12,000,000.
— D. Creahan
Bound to Fail Curated Sale at Christie’s [Christie's]
Phillips Contemporary Evening Sale [Phillips]
Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Evening Sale [Sotheby's]
Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale [Christie's]
Sotheby’s Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale [Sotheby's]
Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Evening Sale [Sotheby's]