It’s time for the semi-annual Impressionist and Modern Art auction at Christie’s. Obviously, I cannot afford to spend tens of millions of dollars on art, but what I can do is attend the auction preview and, best of all, pass judgement on the work.
The vast majority of these pieces are being passed from one private collector to another. They’ve never been seen in public and after the auction, they won’t ever be seen again. They’ll hang above some swell’s mantelpiece. I’ve provided the pre-auction estimates and have included the prices realized where available. There’s lots to cover so let’s get busy!
Two by Edward Hopper. I like Hopper a lot. I know a lot of art aficionados sneer and lump him in the “pretty picture” category, but does anyone depict sunlight better than Hopper? Nay. I don’t see many Hoppers at these auctions. There’s always a gaggle of Warhols, Lichtensteins, Picassos, etc., but not so many Hoppers.
Blackwell’s Island. $15,000,000 – 20,000,000. That’s a lot but it’s a big piece. 35 x 60 in.
Sold for $19,163,750
Kelly Jenness House. $2,000,000 – 3,000,000. The master of shadows, too. Sold for $4,155,750
Look at this beauty by Matisse. The red! You won’t see this in any Matisse exhibit catalogue.
Jeune femme assise en robe grise. I’ll say. $5,000,000 – 7,000,000. Sold for $4,939,750
Here’s the obligatory Monet. If you press your face close to the painting, you can see that he did a very nice job with the surface of the water. The frames on these Monets are always quite gaudy.
Argenteuil, fin d’apres-midi. $5,000,000 – 7,000,000. Sold for $6,059,750
Here’s a delicious sculpture by Degas. It took my breath away when I turned the corner. She’s not attached to the wall. That’s a shadow trick. She’s on a pedestal, where she belongs.
Grande erabesque, troisieme temps. $600,000 – 800,000. Is that ALL? Where’s my paddle? Sold for $1,203,750
There are several works by Picasso being offered. Boy, was that guy prolific! Here are two that I like. Please don’t ask me why I like some Picassos, but not all. That’s a question to be explored by the boors who write for ARTNews.
Broc et Verre. $2,000,000 – 3,000,000. I like the piano keys. Did not sell.
Buste d’homme a la pipe. £900,000 – 1,200,000. It’s painted on a piece of corrugated cardboard. The ribbing looks cool. Vibrant.
Here’s another Picasso—oh, no…wait—that’s Roy Lichtenstein ripping off Picasso. That guy ripped off a lot of people. He ripped off the entire comic book industry. Made a bazzillion dollars doing it, too. Pretty fucking lazy, but I don’t mind too much.
Woman with Flowered Hat. Estimate on Request, but an internet search turned up $12,000,000 – 16,000,000. Why the big secret? Sold for $56,123,750. Ripping off other artists pays.
Nude with Yellow Flower. $12,000,000 – 16,000,000. I think she’s a shot of hot pop. Sold for $23,643,750
Speaking of pop, here’s a quarto of Andy’s flowers.
Flowers. $6,000,000 – 9,000,000. Sold for $8,411,750
These haunted, hollow eyes are by Kees Van Dongen. I dated this girl once. I’m not kidding. She was a firecracker in bed but I was paranoid that I’d wake up one morning to find her standing over me clutching a Ginsu knife in her fist, so I had to break it off.
La femme au collier vert. $3,000,000 – 5,000,000. Sold for $2,587,750
Finally, here’s something by Clyfford Still. Man, I love this piece. This photo doesn’t do it any justice. It’s more vibrant in person and you can’t see all the beautiful textures that are layered on the canvas.
PH-1. $15,000,000 – 20,000,000. $20 mil! That’s what I’m talking about! You’d think for that kind of money he’d have put some thought into the title. Did not sell.
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Now for the fun part. The crap. I’ll go easy this time. This is the stuff that I wouldn’t hang in Coco’s sleeping crate. Proof positive that tremendous wealth is a lousy barometer for good taste.
Here’s some very large, very expensive CRAP-OLA by Jean-Michel Basquiat. I have tried over and over again to understand and appreciate his work but the well of comprehension is bone dry. Here, he tries his hand at using pretty colors.
Dustheads. $25,000,000 – 35,000,000. Not a typo. Sold for $48,843,750. Not a typo.
Ribs Ribs. $3,000,000 – 5,000,000. Ach. So ugly and lifeless. Sold for $5,163,750. Suckers.
William DeKooning, once again, pulling the wool over the eyes of the art world. Gross.
Woman (Blue Eyes). $12,000,000 – 16,000,000. Sold for $19,163,750
I like Francis Bacon. I always have. Baroness Thatcher called him “that horrible man.” That’s good enough for me! But just because you admire someone’s work, it doesn’t mean you have to love EVERY piece. I don’t see any merit in this one.
Study for Portrait. $18,000,000 – 25,000,000. Did not sell. Told ya.
Ditto Picasso. Nice stuff, but not this one. She has flounder eyes.
Femme assise dans un fauteuil. £4,000,000 – 6,000,000. I’m so fickle. I posted this pic early in the day. Now that I’ve taken a second look while doing the captions, I’ve changed my mind. I like it.
I think I’m getting sick of looking at these Warhol Mao paintings. In fact, I think I might be getting sick of Warhol.
Mao. $3,000,000 – 4,000,000. Sold for $6,283,750
Gerhard Richter. Abstrakts Bild, Dunkel. $14,000,000 – 18,000,000. Pure SHITE. Sold for $21,963,750. Suckers part deux.
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Let’s imagine you can take one of these home with you. Which one? Remember, you have to look at it every day.