CURRENT ART MARKET
New York's Spring Contemporary
Nu Coche by Amedeo Modigliani (1917) ▪ Oil on canvas, 35 x 58 in
New York's Spring Modern and Contemporary auctions opened in a blaze, then fizzled, then sizzled. All three auctions, Sotheby's, Christie's and Phillips, had sales to crow about. Overall, sales were strong with few disappointments.
Sotheby's opened the week with Modigliani's large horizontal nude Nu couche fetching $157 million, the highest priced painting ever sold by Sotheby's. Despite its high price, the sale came with some disappointments. There was a single bidder who was a prearranged irrevocable bidder. The house offered an unpublished presale estimate of $150 million and without competitive interest in the piece, the sale was anticlimactic. Nevertheless, it was the highest price ever received at Sotheby's and the fourth most expensive work ever sold at auction. It was not the highest Modigliani sale with the honor going to Christie's which another nude in 2015 for $170 million.
The rest of the sales for the evening were lackluster with thirteen of the 45 lots not finding buyers and no individual artist records were accomplished. Picasso's Le Repos pulled in $36.9 million just over the high estimate of $35 million. Most other lots sold with their estimate range without any true surprises. All toll, total sales reached $318 million, on the lower end of projected sales.
Later in the week at Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Art sales brought in $397 million with over 90 per cent of the lots sold. None of the lots rivaled the Modigliani piece with Francis Bacon's Study for Portrait fetching $49.8 million. Andy Warhol's Double Elvis silkscreen took second honors at $37 million. A host of world records were achieved for other artists including, George Condo, Richard Diebenkorn, Robert Gober and Joan Mitchell.
Books for Artists and Collectors
Phillips 20th Century
At Phillips May 17 Evening Sale of 20th Century & Contemporary Art Jean-Michel Basquiat was the star with estate offering several pieces. His Flexible (1984) was the top-selling piece at $45 million easily surpassing the high estimate of $30 million. The painting was placed by the artist's estate along with several other lesser pieces.
Total sales for the show was $131 million with the only real disappointment was that Gerhard Richter's, Abstraktes Bild with estimates of $12-18 million failed to find a buyer.
Flexible by Jean-Michael Basquiat
Going Home, John Phillip Falter
John Phillip Falter was American artist, who like Norman Rockwell, made his mark as cover illustrator for The Saturday Evening Post. He produced over 120 covers for the Post from 1943 to 1968, when the Post switched to photographed covers. Falter was born in Nebraska and attended the Kansas City Art Institute. Although most of his adult life was spent on the East Coast,his personal paintings reflected his Midwest upbringing. Going Home is a fine example of this work, combining nostalgia with humor.
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