Miami, I love you but give me Park Avenue (at least during auction week)
2011 Contemporary Auction Week in New York City
Elaine Sturtevant, Lichtenstein, Frighten Girl, 1966
Oil and Graphite on canvas 45½ x 63¾ IN
signed “Lichtenstein, Frighten Girl”, E. Sturtevant, Antibes/Paris, 1966 on reverse
Estimate: $250-350,000 Sold: $540,000 Hammer, w/ Buyer’s Premium: $710,000
Philips de Pury & Company, 450 Park Avenue, New York, New York
My New York trip began at the plush new space of Philips de Pury auction house on Park Avenue and wended its way through Christie’s in Rockefeller Plaza, uptown to the Park Avenue Armory and ended at Maurizio Cattelan’s solo exhibition at Guggenheim Museum and a jewel of a show exhibiting René Magritte.
Born in Lakewood Ohio in 1930, Elaine Sturtevant's entire career has been devoted to making copies of other artists’ works. So I was somewhat caught by surprise at the Phillips de Pury Contemporary Art Auction Day sale to see what I believed to be a “Lichtenstein” going for only a half-million dollars. I asked my new associate, Alexa J. Coulton (also known as “AJ”) the year of the “Lichtenstein” work when she informed me that it was not Lichtenstein at all, but Sturtevant!
Roy Lichtenstein, 1961
I Can See the Whole Room!...and There’s Nobody in it!
signed “rfl” lower right, oil and graphite on canvas 48x48 IN
Estimate: $35-45,000,000 Sold: $38,500,000 Hammer
With Buyer’s Premium: $43,202,500
Christie’s, 20 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10020
What is also remarkable about Sturtevant aside from her technical skill in reproducing copies of identical works by her contemporaries, but also her clairvoyant ability to pick the artists who would become important. Sturtevant was honored this year with the Golden Lion lifetime achievement award at the 54th Venice Biennale.
The Christie’s Evening Sale raked in a whopping $220 million dollars and included a genuine Lichtenstein fetching over $40 million. This one sale raised the evening’s take 20 percent. Two other Lichtenstein’s were offered that evening. Still Life with Sculpture, with an estimate of $4.5-6.5 million, went unsold when the bidding stopped at $4 million; and Interior with Painting and Still Life sold at $4.5 million, one-tenth the price of I Can See the Whole Room.
François-Xavier & Claude Lalanne, Jean Royère, Ron Arad, Scott Campbell
Pavilion of Art & Design New York
Park Avenue Armory at 67th Street, New York, New York
Maurizio Cattelan, All
Guggenheim Museum, Fifth Avenue, New York, New York
Cristina Grajales exhibited and sold among the most expensive sofas in the world, Jean Royère’s Yo Yo sofa, 1950, for over $500,000 and Barry Friedman exhibited Ron Arad’s amazing steel and stainless steel bookcase, Restless, 2007 (Edition of 8) also for over $500,000. And speaking of money, the Zurich-based Galerie Gmurzynska on a pre-Art Basel-Miami Beach tour exhibited Scott Campbell’s Sworn to Fun, 2011 made of sheets of genuine United States dollar bills.
In one of the most highly anticipated exhibitions in contemporary art history, the Guggenheim Museum has once again outdone itself with All, Maurizio Cattelan’s retirement salvo of 128 works of art suspended in air in the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed rotunda in a Christmas ornament arrangement. Not since the Guggenheim’s exhibition of Cai Guo-Qiang’s Innopportune: Stage One, 2004 of seven Chevrolet Metro sedans meant to simulate the stages of a bomb explosion has the museum attempted such a daring feat. Mind you, these 128 sculptural works are not replicas of his original works but the actual works themselves; constituting virtually his entire artistic output of 21 years – all hanging by a thread. The owners’ willingness to lend their works by Cattelan with full knowledge of the risks (and the benefits of including a Guggenheim Museum show in the work’s Provenance) is a testament to the faith in the engineering expertise the Guggenheim possesses (along with a hefty insurance policy I’d hope).
René Magritte, Dangerous Liaisons
Blain Di Donnaat the Carlyle Hotel
981 Madison Avenue New York, New York
At the conclusion of the auction week and despite bidding fatigue on behalf of her clients, my friend and colleague, private art dealer Lillian Heidenberg, brought me to a hidden gem of a show tucked away in the Carlyle Hotel, the inaugural exhibition of a new Uptown gallery Blain Di Donna, Dangerous Liaisons, featuring a survey of paintings, gouaches and drawings on paper, and objects by Belgian Surrealist René Magritte. The title is drawn from Magritte’s sem