The art world’s market focus has split between London and New York this week, as Armory Week kicks off in New York, and a trio of major contemporary auctions hit the British capital. The week’s sales got its first indicator of health for the Contemporary and Post-War Market as Christie’s capped the first night of sales, closing a 65-lot offering with moderately strong results, ultimately achieving a final tally of £137,989,750 with only five lots going unsold.
The sale was a steady, consistent affair, moving slowly but surely through its works, while clocking in at under two hours. Kicking off with a series of steady sales of Robert Mapplethorpe photos, each meeting estimate and selling quickly, the evening quickly launched into high gear. A premier lot, Andy Warhol’s Fright Wig photos, sold quickly at its expected range, bringing a £22,621,250 final, while a Basquiat in the lot before met estimate for a final of £12,046,250. Moving procedurally through the lots, another spike of hot bidding occurred with a Lucio Fontana Concetto spaziale, Attese, which met a bold estimate to finish at a final of £8,671,250. Sales continued to move briskly, with Jussi Pylkkanen fielding only a handful of offers on most lots before slamming down on the rostrum.
A Francis Bacon was one of the evening’s highlights, selling within estimate for a final of £10,358,750, while an Alberto Burri, Ferro T (1959), also performed to expectations at a final of £5,858,750, followed up by a Peter Doig that beat estimates handily to bring a final of £10,921,250. One of the less striking lots came from Jackson Pollock, as his drip painting undersold to a final of £9,346,250. Other highlights including new auction records for Mark Bradford (£3,833,750), Kelley Walker (£572,750), and Helena Vieira da Silva (£2,048,750).
The sale wound down quickly following these lots, as another Warhol work failed to sell, and a relatively quick close was at hand, winding down through the final 15 or so lots to finish at its given tally. The torch now passes to Sotheby’s, where another evening sale tomorrow night will look to test the market again.
— D. Creahan
Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Sale [Website]