With the opening of the doors for this year’s edition of Frieze London, the opening notes of the fall auction season can’t be far behind. This week, the major auction houses will get their chance to make a mark on the fall calendar, launching a series of Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sales that will see a number of marquee works trade hands, and offer a first perspective on just how the auction houses are responding to a particularly turbulent global political picture. As London braces for an increasingly cloudy Brexit outlook, the market conditions in the capital could definitely be better, but tricky economics have been bucked by eager buyers in the past, and the series of works on hand this year could in fact do well to staunch the bleeding caused by a border between the UK and EU that seems to be getting harder by the minute.
Sales begin Thursday at Christie’s, where a 56-lot auction carries a series of strong works for buyers’ consideration. Among the lots highlights are a commanding Gerhard Richter still-life, Schädel, which carries an estimate of around £20 million, and carries the potential to push well beyond that initial figure. Also of note is Figure in Movement, a Francis Bacon canvas priced at £15,000,000 to £20,000,000, and which could easily stand out as one of the evening’s highlight sales. A polished steel Cracked Egg by Jeff Koons is also one of the evening’s prized lots, and carries an estimate of £10,000,000 to £15,000,000. Also of note is Georg Baselitz’s Interieur PD Fuss, an evocative, perhaps even disturbing collection of paintings of feet, which carries an estimate of £6,000,000 to £10,000,000.
The following evening, a pair of auctions caps off the brief run of sales, with the first kicking off at 5PM at Phillips’s 30 Berkeley Square location. The 37 lot sale includes a solid series of works with few distinct stand-outs that might draw buyers to linger too long before heading over to Sotheby’s across town, but look for a Joan Mitchell work at lot 13 to turn some heads, as recent market demand and some initial indications of smashed records for upcoming works in the artist’s catalog may make this work an unexpected surprise. A lively Christopher Wool at lot 19 is also a highlight, boasting an estimate of £2,000,000 to £3,000,000.
The week concludes just a few hours later, with a 41-lot sale at Sotheby’s that features an offering of works that will do little to challenge the few marquee pieces on offer at Christie’s, perhaps speaking to a shortage of works available on the current market. Nevertheless, some strong works are on offer, including a pair of Lucio Fontana works estimated at £2,400,000 — £3,000,000, and a striking Roy Lichtenstein work, Pyramids, which carries an estimate of £2,000,000 — £3,000,000.
— D. Creahan
Read more :
Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale [Exhibition Site]
Sotheby’s Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale [Exhibition Site]
Phillips 20th Century and Contemporary Evening Sale [Exhibition Site]