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    TWOMBLY AND BACON EACH MAKE MORE THAN $50 MILLION AT CHRISTIE’S

    Thursday, May 18th, 2017

    Cy Twombly (1928-2011) – Leda and the Swan

    The top lots at Christie’s Post War and Contemporary evening sale in New York last night were Cy Twombly’s  Leda and the Swan ($52,887,500) and  Francis Bacon’s Three Studies for a Portrait of George Dyer ($51,767,500).

    The 68 lots sold brought in $448 million and Christie’s say that the results rank among the strongest ever for this category in New York.  A total of 71 lots were offered and five sold for over $20 million.

    La Hara by Basquiat made $34.9 million, Red White and Brushstrokes by Lichtenstein made $28.2 million and Big Campbell’s soup can with can opener (vegetable) by Warhol made $27.5 million.

    (See posts on antiquesandartireland.com for February 24 and March 21, 2017)

    IN a post sales roundup Christie’s reported that the spring auction series totalled $842.5 million.   The week scored the highest total for an Impressionist and Modern evening sale at Christie’s since May 2010 and the strongest sell-through rates for a Post-War and Contemporary evening sale in a decade.

    A WORLD RECORD PRICE FOR BRANCUSI AT CHRISTIE’S

    Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

    CONSTANTIN BRANCUSI (1867-1957) La muse endormie

    Constantin Brancusi’s La Muse Endormie sold for a world record price of $57.3 million at Christie’s in New York last night. It went to a client in the room after a nine minute bidding battle.

    Pablo Picasso’s Femme assize, robe bleue made $45 million. A total of 43 of the 55 lots offered at the Impressionist and Modern Art evening sale found buyers.  The sale brought in $288.1 million.

    (See posts on antiquesandartireland.com for April 20 and March 30, 2017)

    BRANCUSI’S LA MUSE ENDORMIE AT CHRISTIE’S, NEW YORK

    Thursday, April 20th, 2017

    CONSTANTIN BRANCUSI (1867-1957) La muse endormie , patinated bronze with gold leaf, Length: 10 ½ inches  UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR $57.3 MILLION, A WORLD RECORD

    Constantin Brancusi’s sculpture La muse endormie will be a highlight  at Christie’s evening sale of Impressionist and Modern Art on May 15 in New York. Estimated at $20-30 million La muse endormie counts among the greatest achievements in sculptural history. Its drastic purification of form and emotional resonance mark the dawn of a new sculptural language.

    First conceived in marble in 1909-1910, La muse endormie was cast by Brancusi in six bronze versions by 1913. Four bronzes today are housed in museums—The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, The Art Institute of Chicago, and two examples in the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris—while two, including the present work, remain in private collections. This one was acquired by the distinguished French collector Jacques UImann in the 1950’s and has remained in his family to this day.

    Jessica Fertig, Senior Vice President, Head of Evening Sale, Impressionist and Modern Art, said: La muse endormie has a magical amplitude — displaying a formal genius and wondrously modulated patina. Brancusi considered each of his La muse endormie bronzes a unique work of art, rather than as part of a uniform edition. He therefore oversaw the patination process during casting to ensure variations between every bronze. Brancusi delighted in the varying effects of color and finish, always aware of the diversity of expression he could achieve through patination. The present sculpture has a rich, warm patina that Brancusi heightened by gilding sections, a contrast he described to the legendary American collector John Quinn as enhancing the expressive power of his art.”

    IMAGES OF BOWIE EVOLING INTO CHARACTER BY BRIAN DUFFY

    Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

    BRIAN DUFFY (1933-2010)
    David Bowie, Aladdin Sane, Contact Sheet, 1973 – CHRISTIE’S IMAGES LTD. 2017

    A contact sheet by late London Irish photographer Brian Duffy (1933-2010) documenting David Bowie evolving into the character Aladdin Sane for the 1973 album of the same title is part of Christie’s Photographs auction on May 18.

    The sale will showcase the broad spectrum of those practising in the medium from icons of 20th century photography such as Richard Avedon, Guy Bourdin and Erwin Blumenfeld, to the fashion photographers Steven Meisel and Patrick Demarchelier as well as contemporary artists Richard Mosse, Taryn Simon and Julie Cockburn. Highlights include Helmut Newton’s Private Property Suites I, II and III, the complete set from his personal collection, that capture familiar faces from the worlds of art and fashion – Andy Warhol and David Hockney and the models Charlotte Rampling  and Raquel Welch (1984, £200,000-300,000).  Prices range from £2,000 to £200,000. The Bowie contact sheet is estimated at £10,000-15,000.

    William Eggleston
    Untitled – CHRISTIE’S IMAGES LTD. 2017

    Erwin Blumenfeld
    Solarized Profile with Jewelry, New York
    1946 – CHRISTIE’S IMAGES LTD. 2017

    OPERA MEMORABILIA FROM THE MET AT CHRISTIE’S

    Monday, April 10th, 2017

    Rare musical manuscripts and memorabilia from the Metropolitan Opera Guild collection will come under the hammer at Christie’s in New York on June 15.  Highlights, including the sole surviving autograph musical manuscript by Schubert for his Piano Sonata in A flat Major ($350,000-500,000), will be previewed in London from April 19-27 and in Hong Kong from May 26-29.  In addition two pieces of jewellery will be sold in the Magnificent Jewels auction on June 20. The sales will benefit the Opera Guild and the Metropolitan Opera.

    Among around 90 lots is a selection of autograph material from some of the most important composers of the Western classical tradition from the Baroque to the 20th-century. Additional highlights include annotated manuscripts and letters by Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. Also included is Enrico Caruso’s Cartier gold eyeglass case with glasses and Arturo Toscanini’s Gubelin open-faced pocket watch. Most manuscripts come from the carefully assembled gift of Edwin Franko Goldman (1878-1956), renowned American composer and trumpeter with the Metropolitan Opera.

    SCHUBERT, Franz (1797-1828). Autograph manuscript signed for his piano sonata in A-flat major, D. 557, May 1817 ($350,000-500,000)

    AN ART DECO CORAL AND DIAMOND TIARA, BY CARTIER ($200,000-300,000)

    A GUINNESS FAMILY GUARDI FOR £25 MILLION

    Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

    FRANCESCO GUARDI (Venice 1712–1793), The Rialto Bridge with the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi.

    A painting by Francesco Guardi handed down through generations of the Guinness family will lead Christie’s Classic Week Old Masters evening sale in London on July 6.  The Rialto Bridge with the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi is being sold for only the second time since it was painted in the mid 1760’s.  It is expected to make around £25 million.

    It is one of a pair of Venetian views by Guardi, one looking north and the other south, first acquired in 1768, probably from the artist, by a young English grand tourist called Chaloner Arcedeckne. Both paintings stayed in his family until 1891 when they were sold privately for £3,850 to Edward Cecil Guinness, the chief executive and then chairman of the brewing company.  He was the first Earl of Iveagh.  The two Guardi’s were kept by the Guinness’s and hung at Pyrford Court in Surrey.  They were separated in 2011 when Rialto Bridge from the Fondamenta del Carbon, was sold to an anonymous bidder at Sotheby’s for £26.7m–a record for a Venetian view painting. A temporary export bar failed to keep the work in the UK.

    Henry Pettifer, Head of Christie’s Old Master Paintings EMERI said: “This majestic view of Venice is one of the great masterpieces of eighteenth-century view painting. Painted in the mid-1760s, at the height of the artist’s career, this is a monumental tour de force displaying the full range of Guardi’s technical virtuosity and his unique ability to capture the atmosphere and sensuous experience of being in Venice. After the record-breaking Old Master sales at Christie’s in 2016, with the Rubens Lot and his Daughters and the pair of Rembrandt portraits sold by private treaty, we are confident this great Guardi will arouse enormous interest from global collectors of masterpieces, from Old Masters to Contemporary, this July.”

    The Rialto Bridge with the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi will be shown at Classic Week in New York from April 22-26 before returning to Venice for the first time for an exhibition at the Aman Hotel (May 8-15) to coincide with the Venice Biennale. It will then travel to Hong Kong for exhibition from May 26-29 before returning to London.

    A PORTRAIT OF DORA MAAR AT CHRISTIE’S IN MAY

    Thursday, March 30th, 2017

    Pablo Picasso, Femme assise, robe bleue UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR $45,047,500

    Femme assise, robe bleue by Pablo Picasso will be a highlight at Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Art evening sale in New York on May 15.  Painted on Picasso’s birthday on October 25, 1939 it is a searing portrait of Picasso’s lover, Dora Maar. This was just after the beginning of World War II.  Filled with the unique character, distortions and tension that mark Picasso’s greatest portraits of Dora there is at the same time a tender sensuality in the organic, curvaceous forms of the face which provides some insight into their relationship. This picture was formerly owned by G. David Thompson, to whom the great curator and art historian Alfred H. Barr, Jr. referred as, ‘one of the great collectors of the art of our time. It is estimated at $35,000,000-50,000,000.

    Giovanna Bertazzoni, Deputy Chairman, Impressionist and Modern Art, remarked: “We are bringing Femme assise, robe bleue to the market at a time when the demand for Picasso’s portraits of one of his greatest subjects, Dora Maar, is at an all-time high. The canvas is a powerful example of Picasso’s creative imagination and the passion which Dora inspired in him.”

    Francis Outred, Chairman and Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art, EMERI said: “Femme assise, robe bleue is a timeless icon of artist and muse which speaks to collectors across the centuries and continents.  Coming from a major European collection, the picture holds within it an incredible story.  It originally belonged to Picasso’s dealer, Paul Rosenberg but was confiscated in 1940 soon after its creation.  Later in the War it was intended to be transported to Germany but was famously intercepted and captured by members of the French Resistance, an event immortalised, albeit in fictional form, in the 1966 movie The Train, starring Burt Lancaster and Jeanne Moreau. In real life, one of the people who helped to sabotage the National Socialists’ attempt to remove countless artworks from France towards the end of the war was in fact Alexandre Rosenberg. The son of Paul Rosenberg, he had enlisted with the Free French Forces after the invasion of France in 1940.  The painting was subsequently owned by the Pittsburgh steel magnate and legendary collector, George David Thompson, from whose collection many works now grace the walls of museums in the United States and Europe.  We fully expect the romance and power of this painting and its remarkable story to capture the hearts and minds of our global collectors of masterpieces from Old Masters to Contemporary, this May.”

    GRETA GARBO’S EDUCATED EYE FOR A PAINTING

    Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

    Robert Delaunay
    La femme à l’ombrelle ou La Parisienne, Courtesy CHRISTIE’S IMAGES LTD. 2017

    Art from the Collection of Greta Garbo will come up at Christie’s evening sale of Impressionist and Modern Art in New York on May 15.  Among the collection are prime examples from artists including Jan Alexej Von Jawlensky, Chaim Soutine and Robert Delaunay. In the history of cinema, few individuals remain as enigmatic and iconic as the actress Greta Garbo. “Of all the stars who have ever fired the imaginations of audiences,” film historian Ephraim Katz wrote, “none has quite projected a magnetism and a mystique equal to [hers].”

    Derek Reisfield, Greta Garbo’s great nephew, remarked: “Greta Garbo had a real love of art and paintings, and she was very passionate about certain artists and pictures. She was particularly enamored with these three canvases, which offer a particularly modern representation of women, especially for their time. This was a concept that that really resonated with her. Another factor that drove her collecting tastes was color. She was absolutely entranced by the vibrancy of the Delaunay. It was the central focal point of her living room in New York, and all of the furniture that she chose to surround the canvas played into its incredible colors. In essence, when we talk about Garbo we call her the first ‘modern woman,’ and I think that these three works speak to both her fundamental strength and striking aesthetic.”

    Alexej Von Jawlensky
    Das blasse Mädchen mit Grauen Zöpfen Courtesy CHRISTIE’S IMAGES LTD. 2017

    Garbo successfully evaded the Hollywood publicity machine. From her earliest years in film to her death in 1990 she granted few interviews,  declined to sign autographs and avoided public functions like the Academy Awards. After retiring from cinema at 35 she transitioned to a life dedicated to fine art, scholarship and friendships. From the 1940’s she began to assemble a collection of paintings, sculpture, works on paper and decorative art. Among her friends were the Barnes Foundation visionary founder Albert Barnes and Alfred Barr, first director of the Museum of Modern Art.

    The evening sale of Impressionist and Modern art will encompass three canvases that exemplify Garbo’s sophisticated taste and proclivity for dazzling color. These works include Robert Delaunay’s La femme à l’ombrelle ou La Parisienne, 1913 ($4-7million), Chaïm Soutine’s Femme à la poupée, 1923-1924 ($3.5-4.5million) and Alexej von Jawlensky’s Das blasse Mädchen mit Grauen Zopfen, 1916 ($1-1.5million). Garbo’s grandniece, Gray Reisfield Horan, recalled her aunt’s profound love for the collection. “What are they talking about?” she would ask visitors about the pictures. “What do they say to each other?”

    In many ways, the collection both reflected and rebutted Garbo’s illustrious career: suffused with undeniable visual power, its boldness of color stood in contrast with the argent mystique of early Hollywood. “Color,” Horan recalled of her aunt’s acquisitions, “was always the essential component…. The works meshed and flowed in a wondrous explosion of enveloping hues…. Nothing was black and white.” Garbo herself, mesmerized by Delaunay’s vibrant La femme à l’ombrelle, would often remark of the canvas, “It makes a dour Swede happy.” If Garbo managed to enchant audiences via movement and gaze, so did the artists in her collection similarly capture the viewer through their pioneering use of brushwork and palette. “Color,” she enthused, “is just the starting point. There is so much more.”

    ANATOLIAN MARBLE IDOL FROM 3RD MILLENNIUM B.C.

    Friday, March 24th, 2017

    The Guennol Stargazer.

    The Guennol Stargazer is the top lot at Christie’s Exceptional sale in New York on April 28.   One of the finest and largest preserved Anatolian marble female idols of Kiliya type it dates from the Chalcolithic Period, c3000-2200 B.C.  It has a distinguished exhibition history and has been on loan at The Metropolitan Museum of Art at various periods from 1966 to 2007. It is from a private New York collection.

    “The Antiquities department is thrilled to be offering the Guennol Stargazer in the Exceptional Sale, an iconic work of art and one universally recognized as the finest Kiliya idol in existence. This extremely rare work, though dating to the 3rd millennium B.C., is widely appreciated across collecting categories, and was a source of inspiration for 20th century masters for its sleek and modern appeal,”  G. Max Bernheimer, International Head of Antiquities remarked.

    Stargazer” is the colloquial title derived from the slightly tilted-back angle at which the large head rests on the thin neck on the nine inch high figure. This creates the whimsical impression of a celestial stare. Only about 15 nearly complete idols survive. Fragmentary examples, particularly heads, abound. Most of the complete examples have been broken across the neck, as the present figure, suggesting that the sculptures were ritually “killed” at the time of burial. It was part of the Guennol collection formed by Alastair Bradley Martin and his wife Edith, the first modern owners.  Guennol is the Welsh word for Martin.  The last marble example of the Kiliya type at auction, The Schuster Stargazer, sold at Christie’s in New York in 2005 for $1.8 million.

    TWOMBLY’S LEDA TO HIGHLIGHT CHRISTIE’S NEW YORK CONTEMPORARY SALE

    Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

    Cy Twombly’s Leda and the Swan, 1962 will  highlight the May 17 Post-War and Contemporary Art evening sale at Christie’s in New York. One of two large format masterpieces to emerge from this unbridled subject, Leda and the Swan’s heroic sister painting of the same title is among the most popular works on view within the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. This unequivocal tour de force has been in a private collection for over 25 years. It has not been seen publicly in that time and has never been at auction before.  It is estimated at $35-55 million.

    Koji Inoue, International Director, Post-War and Contemporary Art at Christie’s remarked: “Hidden from public view for over 25 years, we are thrilled to present one of Cy Twombly’s absolute masterpieces in Leda and the Swan, 1962. This is a remarkable painting that has been pursued by collectors for decades. Impregnated with paint passionately and poetically applied with the hand, brush and stick, Leda and the Swan, is one of the most vital canvases created during this transformative period in the artist’s career. Given its tremendous importance within the context of both Twombly’s oeuvre, and the canon of Post-War art, we are honored to have the opportunity to offer this work to the market after nearly thirty clandestine years. This is also a particularly exciting time for the Twombly market, given its overlap with the Centre Pompidou’s groundbreaking retrospective of the artist’s expansive career.”

    UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR $52,887,500