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    Saturday, May 14th, 2022
    Paul Cezanne – Clairiere (The Glade) at Sotheby’s in New York next Tuesday

    THE big game hunters of the global art world are out in force right now.  There are rich pickings for the super rich in a stellar round of May sales in New York sales showcasing major artistic movements of the 20th and 21st centuries. At Christie’s last Monday evening Andy Warhol’s Shot Sage Blue Marilyn from the collection of Thomas and Doris Ammann of Zurich sold for a record $195 million (€184,421,250). The 40 square inch canvas became the most expensive 20th century artwork ever sold. In 1964 Warhol developed a time intensive new process and used it to create a limited number of portraits – including Shot Sage Blue Marilyn – before abandoning the technique.  The painting has been exhibited at galleries including the Guggenheim, New York, the Pompidou in Paris and Tate Modern in London. The 36 works from this collection realised $317.8 million (€300,610,198),  All proceeds will directly benefit the Ammann Foundation’s global efforts to create healthcare and education programmes for children.

    With everyone from Monet and Degas to Balthus and Wayne Thibaud Christie’s delivered in style this week. At this stage the running total for their Marquee Week spring sales is $1.36 billion. The Post War and Contemporary art day sale yesterday achieved $97 million.

    Next it is the turn of Sotheby’s.  Their six sales with 800 lots carry a combined estimate of over $1 billion (€950,800,000) on a level with their record setting season last November.  Then the Macklowe Collection of 35 artworks made $676 million (€642.9 million) after real estate mogul Harry Macklowe and his wife Linda were ordered by a judge to sell their collection and split the proceeds during their 2018 divorce trial. Another 30 works from their collection come up next Monday evening with artists like Mark Rothko, Cy Twombly, Sigmar Polke, Donald Judd, Cy Twombly, Gerhard Richter, Jeff Koons, Anselm Kiefer, Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti and Andy Warhol.

    The Modern evening auction on Tuesday is the most expensively estimated in the category at Sotheby’s for 15 years.   It will feature one of Monet’s finest Venetian works, a 1932 portrait of Marie Therese Walter by Picasso and The Glade by Paul Cezanne.  These three works alone are expected to bring in around $150 million (€142.6 million).

    On Thursday the Now evening auction and the Contemporary evening auction will bring this months series of marquee evening auctions to a close.  The Now sale will open the evening with ten consecutive works by women artists including Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Christina Quarles, Jennifer Packer and Tracey Emin.
    Highlights of the Contemporary evening auction are Study for Red Pope 1962, 2nd version 1971 by Francis Bacon, Cy Twombly’s large scale Untitled from 1969, a silkscreen of Elvis by Andy Warhol and Cold Beer Beautiful Girls, a quintessential text painting by Ed Ruscha.  Who could ask for anything more?

    Francis Bacon Study of Red Pope 1962, 2nd version, 1971 at Sotheby’s, New York next Thursday evening.


    Thursday, February 10th, 2022
    Francis Bacon – Triptych 1986-7. UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £38,459,206,

    ONE of Francis Bacon’s last great paintings, Triptych 1986-7, will come to auction for the first time at Christie’s 20th/21st Century on March 1. The London evening sale is a key auction within the 20/21 Shanghai to London series. This triptych, an extraordinary meditation on the passage of time and the solitude of the human condition, is estimated at £35-50 million. The suited figure in the left-hand panel is based on a press clipping of the US President Woodrow Wilson, stepping forward as he was leaving the Treaty of Versailles negotiations in 1919; the right-hand panel was inspired by a photograph of Leon Trotsky’s study taken after his assassination in 1940. In the centre sits a figure resembling Bacon’s then-partner John Edwards, his pose reminiscent of the artist’s beloved George Dyer in the haunting eulogy Triptych August 1972 (Tate, London). Widely exhibited throughout its lifetime, Triptych 1986-7 was most recently seen in the Centre Georges Pompidou’s acclaimed exhibition ‘Bacon en Toutes Lettres’(2019-20).

    The year after its creation, Triptych 1986-7 was one of 22 paintings shown at the Central House of Artists’ Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow: the first exhibition by a well-known artist from the West to take place in Soviet Russia. Many viewers did not recognise the Trotsky photograph as a source, but to those who did, the painting’s presence heralded a sea-change in the country’s political attitudes towards art: the Iron Curtain, notably, would fall the next year. It is one of a rare number of large-scale triptychs by Bacon to remain in private hands. Between 1962 and 1991, the artist produced just 28 such works measuring 78 by 58 inches, nearly half of which reside in museums worldwide. 


    Saturday, October 10th, 2020

    Given that 2020 vision turned out foggy it is good to see postponed Irish art going ahead.  At the eleventh hour Whyte’s had to reschedule their sale of Irish and International Art scheduled for September 28.  It is due to take place at Freemason’s Hall, Molesworth St. on October 19.  The highlight  is A Sunny Day, Connemara by Paul Henry (€150,000-€200,000).and there is work by artists like Roderic O’Conor, William Orpen, William Leech, Mary Swanzy, Mainie Jellett, Norah McGuinness, Maurice MacGonigal, Harry Kernoff, Francis Bacon, Colin Middleton, Gerard Dillon, Dan O’Neill, Louis le Brocquy, Tony O’Malley, Camille Souter, Donald Teskey and many others.  The sale is on view at Whyte’s from October 12 and both the catalogue and the auction are online.

    Coastal Report. by Donald Teskey. UPDATE: THIS MADE 23,000 AT HAMMER


    Wednesday, October 7th, 2020

    The re-scheduled Irish and International Art auction at Whyte’s on October 19 will be a virtual sale. It will be conducted by an auctioneer in the auction room with absentee, telephone and online bids and no public attendance. Under Level 3 restrictions to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus no indoor public events can take place in Ireland. This includes public auctions. The sale will be broadcast at and Viewing at Whyte’s on Molesworth Street, Dublin will be by appointment from October 12-19. Among the lots on offer is Triptych by Francis Bacon, a lithograph numbered 98 from an edition of 180 with an estimate of 15,000-20,000.

    FRANCIS BACON (1909-1992) – TRIPTYCH, 1983-84 UPDATE: THIS MADE 44,000 AT HAMMER


    Tuesday, June 30th, 2020

    Francis Bacon’s Triptych Inspired by the Oresteia of Aeschylus sold for $84.6 million at Sotheby’s live streamed global sale overnight. There was a ten minute bidding battle between an online bidder in Asia and a client bidding by phone with Gregoire Billault of Sotheby’s in New York. It went to the phone bidder for a price surpassing the $80 million high estimate.

    The sale, which totalled $363.2 million, was conducted remotely by auctioneer Oliver Barker in London taking bids from phone banks in New York, Hong Kong and London and online bidders.

    There were auction records for Mario Carreño, Vija Celmins, Leonor Fini, Helen Frankenthaler, Wifredo Lam, Alice Rahon, Remedios Varo, Matthew Wong and Jean-Michel Basquiat for a work on paper. The auctions offered a strong selection of works by women artists, with all 25 works offered by 16 artists selling for a total of $86.1 million, and setting five new world auction records.

    BACON TRIPTYCH SOLD FOR $84.6 million


    Friday, March 6th, 2020
    Francis Bacon – Triptych Inspired by the Oresteia of Aeschylus

    Francis Bacon’s large-format Triptych Inspired by the Oresteia of Aeschylus will highlight the Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby’s in New York on May 13. It will be offered with an estimate in excess of $60 million.

    Inspired by Aeschylus’s trilogy of Greek tragedies dating to the 5th century B.C. this dates to 1981. The artist revisits the same classical text that inspired Three Studies for Figures at the Base of the Crucifixion at the Tate Collection, London. It is one of the 28 large-format triptychs Bacon created between 1962 and 1991 and reveals in a single work the entire range of an iconography developed over three decades of painting. Sotheby’s describe it as one of his most ambitious, enigmatic, and important works.

    Acquired in 1984 by the Norwegian Collector Hans Rasmus Astrup the triptych has been in the care of Astrup Fearnley Museet in Oslo since 1993. Hans Rasmus Astrup explained that the museum; “is meant to be a lasting resource for the public, as it builds on the existing collection and grows beyond it. With this single sale we can ensure that the museum and collection are here in perpetuity.”

    Bacon’s theme of divine punishment is found in Aeschylus’ most famous trilogy, The Oresteia, in which Clytemnestra murders her husband Agamemnon in revenge for the sacrifice of their daughter, Iphigenia. When the son Orestes finds out, he kills his mother to avenge his father’s death, provoking the avenging Furies, also called the Eumenides, who determine to drive Orestes insane as punishment.


    Friday, April 26th, 2019

    Viewing gets underway in Dublin today for Morgan O’Driscoll’s Irish and International art evening auction at the RDS on April 29. This sale has already been on view in New York, London and Cork. The catalogue lists 161 lots and is online. Here is a selection:

    (See posts on for April 18 and April 2, 2018)

    THOMAS ROBERTS (1748-1778) The Weir in Lucan House, Demesne (40,000-60,000) UPDATE: THIS MADE 46,000 AT HAMMER
    FRANCIS BACON (1909-1992) Second Version of Painting 1946 (1971) (10,000-15,000) LITHOGRAPH NUMBER 101 OF 150. UPDATE: THIS MADE 11,000 AT HAMMER
    JOHN BEHAN (B.1938) The Emigrants (1,750-2,500) UPDATE: THIS MADE 2,100 AT HAMMER


    Thursday, March 14th, 2019

    An online auction of affordable art by Morgan O’Driscoll runs until March 19. The catalogue is online. Here is a small selection:

    MAURICE HENDERSON Unloading the Catch, Beara (1991) (600-900) UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR 1,400 AT HAMMER
    FRANCIS BACON (1909-1992) Pope Series signed in the plate lower right – limited edition lithograph published by D & P, 1997 edition – numbered 39 from an edition of 100 (300-500) UPDATE: THIS MADE 650 AT HAMMER


    Wednesday, March 6th, 2019

    Francis Bacon – Study for Portrait. Signed, titled and dated 1981 on the reverse ($12-18 MILLION)

    Francis Bacon’s Study for Portrait – the last of the artist’s famed portraits of his lover and muse George Dyer – is to come up at Sotheby’s in New York.  It is among the highlights from the Gerald L. Lennard Foundation Collection at the May  marquee auctions of Contemporary and Impressionist & Modern Art.  Other works include Willem de Kooning’s Untitled X from the group of works created in 1975 that marked the artist’s transition from a period of radical experimentation to the lush abstracts which are among his most celebrated and sought after works today; the most comprehensive group of late works by Philip Guston ever to appear at auction, including Legs, Rug, Floor from 1976 andRed Sky from 1978; and signature portraits by Frank Auerbarch depicting his wife Julia Wolstenhome and his friend Catherine Lampert.

    The Gerald L. Lennard Foundation’s interests include helping to promote programs involving visual and performing arts, healthcare, education and environmental sustainability.  Proceeds from the sale of the 37 works presented will help to benefit the Foundation’s mission now and in the future.

    Philip Guston Legs, Rug, Floor Signed, titled, and dated 1976 on the reverse ($6-8 MILLION)

    Willem de Kooning Untitled X Executed in 1975 ($8-12 MILLION)


    Monday, September 24th, 2018

    Bacon, Richter, Koons and Grotjahn are among the greats whose work will feature at Christie’s  Post War and Contemporary art evenign sale in London on October 4.  The season will be led by Francis Bacon’s Figure in Movement (1972)(£15,000,000-20,000,000), a seminal work which creates a vivid sense of the transition from life to death, and Gerhard Richter’s Schädel (Skull) (1983)  unveiled for the first time in 30 years.

    Alongside these are masterpieces by American Contemporary artists Jeff Koons and Mark Grotjahn, as well as the finest examples of European Post-War Abstraction with works by Lucio Fontana, Piero Manzoni, Yves Klein, Jean Dubuffet and Pierre Soulages, and German artists such as Georg Baselitz, Anselm Kiefer, Martin Kippenberger, Albert Oehlen and Sigmar Polke. Three works from the personal collection of Paul Maenz and 12 works by Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud will be offered.  This is the largest and most diverse selection of works by these artists ever at auction.

    Francis Bacon (1909-1992)
    Figure in Movement © Christie’s Images Limited 2018

    Gerhard Richter (b. 1932)
    Schädel (Skull) courtesy CHRISTIE’S IMAGES LTD. 2018

    Mark Grotjahn (b. 1968)
    Untitled (Yellow and Green Low Fall Face 41.80 courtesy CHRISTIE’S IMAGES LTD. 2018

    Jeff Koons (B. 1955)
    Cracked Egg (Blue) courtesy CHRISTIE’S IMAGES LTD. 2018