Frieze 2018 Opens

The buzz from Frieze; LAMA has $5.17m sales; Hotels and art; the Women of Abstract Expressionism

The Fun Begins at Frieze

Galleries have begun to announce the sales from their packing lists. Fair goers are beginning to take note of some of the more interesting works appearing on booths. Craig F Starr Gallery has a Brice Marden work owned by a prominent museum trustee. The official line is the work is not for sale. At Acquavella Gallery, a Jean Dubuffet with a $15m asking price has gotten a lot of attention. Once owned by MoMA life trustee Richard Zeisler, who made numerous gifts to American museums, the Voyage en auto (1946) was deaccessioned through Acquavella. The gallery placed the work with the consignor who is now selling. Dickinson’s Barbara Hepworth garden brings the outdoors into Frieze Masters. The firm has been rewarded with a good sale of a River Form. There were other surprises like this great Ad Reinhardt at Barbara Mathes Gallery.

Among the sales that have been reported are: Four (possibly five) François Morellet works at Lévy Gorvy; Three Günther Förg works at Hauser + Wirth; a Daniel Richter, among other works at Galerie Ropac. Our comprehensive sales report is updated as the galleries inform us. New reports are free briefly. The whole report is available to AMMpro subscribers. More to come.


Triangulating Sotheby’s Hong Kong Scores

In Bloomberg’s follow up to Sotheby’s Zao Wou-ki sale in Hong Kong we get some dealer messaging on the Zao market even though the works sold on the low estimate (presumably to the guarantor):

  • “At $65 million, Zao Wou-Ki joins the ranks of his postwar American contemporaries like de Kooning, Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman," Pascal de Sarthe, a Hong Kong-based dealer who has been selling Zao’s works for 35 years, said after the sale.

The other much-watched lot was the pair to the well-known ‘Bainbridge’ Qianlong vase that was sold five years ago for £20m (after having an earlier, higher Chinese bidder default.) This time, the Japanese consignor smartly set a very low estimate and found that the market was willing to pay £14.6m, a solid confirming price.


Los Angeles Modern Auctions = $5.17m

Helped along by a Sergio Camargo owned by the consignor for 48 years which made $1.16m, LAMA’s Fall sale was a record for the firm at $5.17m. All the top lots exceeded their estimates but Mary Coarse, Ed Ruscha and Sam Gilliam performed with even greater strength:

  1. Sergio Camargo, Untitled (Relief No. 261), lot 144, est. $500,000-700,000. Realized $1,165,000

  2. Vija Celmins, Untitled (Shoes), lot 211, est. $80,000-120,000. Realized $175,000

  3. Andy Warhol, Apple, lot 276, est. $40,000-60,000. Realized $118,750

  4. Andy Warhol, Chanel, lot 275, est. $70,000-100,000. Realized $175,000

  5. Mary Corse, Untitled, lot 164, est. $5,000-7,000. Realized $31,250

  6. Ed Ruscha, Zoo, lot 204, est. $15,000-20,000. Realized $51,250

  7. Carole Feuerman, Bibi on the Ball, lot 239, est. $60,000-80,000. Realized $118,750

  8. Sam Gilliam, Untitled, lot 40, est. $3,000-5,000. Realized $37,500


Hotel Art Are Playing a Significant Role in Art

Hotels and art seem to be an inexhaustible subject. This podcast from Slate’s Decoder Ring delves into the history of hotels, why they need art as a differentiator, and how the demand for art in hotels has become a viable means for some artists to build a career. The podcast is more detailed but if you don’t have the time to listen, you can read a synopsis here.

The point here is that although we hear a lot about high end hotels using art to create a ‘luxury’ experience, the trend goes much deeper. The art you see in US motel chain has been transformed too:

  • “If you walk into a Super 8 today, instead of seeing, say, a kitschy, impressionistic sailboat, you’ll see two huge, chunkily framed, very polished black-and-white photographs above the bed, serving as both room art and headboard. These images are not just of anything—they’re related to the specific location of that specific Super 8.” 


Ninth Street’s Women’s Ten-Year Party

Claudia Roth Pierpont has a review essay in the New Yorker of Mary Gabriel’s Ninth Street Women about the intertwined lives and careers of Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Helen Frankenthaler and Joan Mitchell. Pierpont makes a fascinating case that the period from 1949 to 1959 was liberating moment for these five women artists who were among the 11 women included in the famous Ninth Street show organized by Leo Castelli that captured the New York School and launched Abstract Expressionism:

Five of the women went on to have international careers, their work collected by major museums and subject to ever-expanding bibliographies: Grace Hartigan, Helen Frankenthaler, Joan Mitchell, Elaine de Kooning (who was married to Willem), and Krasner—the oldest of them but the last to bloom, coming into her own only after Pollock’s death, in 1956, a painful loss yet the start of a remarkably productive twenty-eight years of widowhood. […T]his piece of the art-world story happens to be very exciting, as brought to life in the balance of Gabriel’s rich, serious-minded, and (in a good way) sometimes gossipy book. It was Elaine de Kooning, after all, who characterized the era under consideration, roughly 1949 through 1959, as a “ten-year party.” […] So how did these artists—continually discouraged, derided, and attacked—do it? How did they keep working, in the face of so many obstacles, and keep believing in themselves? The simplest answer, beyond talent (which the six other women in the Ninth Street Show, now forgotten, also had), is a will of iron, an intense need for that talent to be expressed, no matter the cost, even if it meant giving up one’s child. 


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