beeswax, oil and human hair

Anyone interested in what rich folks spent in the fall Impressionist and Contemporary art auctions at Christie’s?

The pickings were slim this season. The theory is that the the U.S. election caused uncertainty among sellers. Nobody wanted to risk cosigning their most valuable pieces in a potentially disastrous economic downturn due to a Trump victory. The stock market has set records since the election so they all guessed wrong. Next spring you’ll see more compelling pieces.

Let’s start with my nemesis. This guy does more to give contemporary art a bad name than anyone else.

Robert Gorber
beeswax, wood, oil and, yes, human hair
Est: $2,500,000-3,500,000
Did not sell


In order to be a successful, wealthy artist, you need proper gallery representation. There isn’t a gallery rep on earth who could convince me this has any artistic merit whatsoever.

Jean-Michael Basquiat
acrylic and enamel on blanket mounted on tied wood supports with twine
Est: $5,000,000-7,000,000
Sold for $5,847,500


Basquiat is another guy I don’t respect. He held the world in the palm of his hand and threw it away on an O.D. Idiot. I find most of his work overly-simplistic and sophomoric, but I like his use of a blanket instead of canvas. I like the textures. His balance of black and red are perfect. He could’ve gone too far in either direction but it works for me.

Are you ready to get creeped out? I walked into a darkened corner of a gallery on Christie’s second floor and was greeted by this beauty:

Isn’t she scrumptious? They’re three white orbs with images projected on each.

Tony Oursler
fiberglass sculpture, master cassette tapes, 2 DVDs, DVD player and projector
Est: $30,000-40,000
Did not sell

It’s a shame it didn’t sell. I think it’s a creative use of new media. My daughter turned away and couldn’t watch it.

Here’s the big ticket item. God, it was beautiful. It really glowed in person.

Claude Monet
Estimate on Request (thought to be +/- $45,000,000)
Sold for $81,447,500


Works from Monet’s haystack series rarely come to market. And this is a particularly striking example. They’re as iconic as his water lily series. While typing this section of the post, I kept mistyping “Monet” as “Money.”

Back to the present.

Damien Hirst
Do You Know What I Like About You?
household gloss and butterflies on canvas
Est: $900,000-1,2000,000
Sold for $1,039,500


When I first encountered these butterfly paintings I thought it was cruel to kill these beautiful living things for the sake of commerce and art.


I still don’t approve but I’ve made peace with it.They’re pretty. He has some pieces with just the wings that are fashioned into cathedral windows that are particularly fetching.

Dan Colen
To be titled
rock and acrylic paint
Est: $7,000-9,000
Sold for $5,000


A rock painted like a green peanut m&m for $5,000. Go ahead. Have your say.

This is a nice Picasso. Its weirdness is easy to decipher.  It’s just different views of the same face. Click on it and look at how thick, bright and juicy his brush strokes are. That’s Picasso’s girlfriend. “Look, honey! I painted a picture of you!” No cuddles that night.

Pablo Picasso
Buste de femme (Dora Maar)
Est: $18,000,000-25,000,000
Sold for $22,647,500


This guy is a favorite of my brother. I didn’t see the merit in Kandinsky’s work until a big retrospective at the Guggenheim a few years ago. I can’t explain it but you occasionally get these ah-ha moments whereby a body of work suddenly makes sense.

Wassily Kandinsky
Rigide et courbe
oil and sand on canvas
Sold for $23,319,500


You read that right. He used SAND. it gave the piece a beautiful depth and texture. I’m thinking he must’ve worked with the canvas resting on the floor. How else could’ve he achieved these fine separations?



I was in Disney World over the election. You barely knew anything political was happening. Disney works HARD to keep the outside world outside. They don’t want the happy bubble they’ve cultivated ruptured by reality.

On election day, we inadvertently found ourselves inside the Hall of Presidents. We hadn’t planned on going but we were inside the Magic Kingdom with time to kill and there was no line, so we went in.

One by one, the audio-animatronic ex-Chief Executives spoke of the gravity of the office and their love of our country. With the weight of election day pressing down, I found myself unexpectedly deeply moved by all this (as opposed to bored to sleep, which is what I anticipated). There were representations all the way up to President Obama. Think what you want about Obama, that guy is a hell of a speaker.

Do you realize they’re going to have to make an animatronic Donald Trump? His words and voice are going to pour from it. Can you imagine? I hope that guy surprises everyone. It can happen.

66 thoughts on “beeswax, oil and human hair

  1. I really liked the eye and mouth orbs. The eyes moving independently of each other gives it a souped up creep factor. So glad the ass music didn’t sell. $5000 for a rock painted like an m&m is outrageous even if it was supposed to have an imaginary peanut inside.

  2. I still struggle with the value of these things – it’s like the premiership footballers who cost their clubs £50million plus… I just think what else could be done with that money frankly. I’ve always admired Eric Clapton continually selling off his guitars to fund his drug rehab. He was a bit like – it’s just a guitar I bought some years ago but if people want to pay a fortune I’ll use it for something of benefit.

    • These are, clearly, not worth the many millions paid. Party of the reason I do these semi-annual auction posts is for the outraged factor. Also, they are proof positive that wealth is poor barometer for good taste.

      Coincidentally, Clapton sold a Gerhard Richter he owned for $22 million. He bought it in 2001 for $3.4 million. No word on how he plans to manage the proceeds.

  3. There’s a web series here in Quebec called “Têtes à claques.” The eyes and lips have that same creepiness to it. I don’t know if you’ll be able to understand this but listen to that sound. That’s real Quebecois French there, none of that Parisian fanciness.

  4. Only $5,000 for the green rock? That’s got to be a bargain, right? Look how much cheaper than than the Picasso it was!

    I wasn’t horrified by Miss Woo. I can think of far more horrifying sights than big eyes and big lips.

    Trump has got to be heading for some kind of nemesis – I just hope he doesn’t take the country with him.

    • It’s absurd but in lieu of these other pieces, $5K seems downright reasonably, doesn’t it? Maybe he needs a better gallery rep.

      Not only might he take the country with him, there’s s good chance Trump might drag there entire planet down.

  5. These auctions are a real glimpse into the world of the 1% where, as it’s been said, money don’t buy class or taste! As to the audio-animatronic former presidents at Disney, once cheetobabyman is installed, I’ll take a pass on the exhibit. xoxoxo

    (thanks for stopping by today!)

    • The outrage is the reason why I do these posts. It’s a good thing they don’t give that money to poor people. There just blow it on stupod stuff.

      I’ll bet he complains about how he’s depicted as a robot. Not handsome enough.

  6. Do you think the butt might have sold if it was mde with beeswax, oil and dog hair? Cause I can become a supplier.

    Love Ross’ videos. Hilarious in an incredibly creepy way.

      • What you learn on the internet may not be real, but it IS always entertaining!

        And I prefer to just collect the dog hair on the floor. It gives an angora feel to the whole house.

      • I miss my cats but I don’t miss cat hair. We selected our dog because it’s hypoallergenic and doesn’t shed. We didn’t count on it being a brute who bites. At this point, I’d take the hair.

      • Duncan is a shedding maniac. He is sweet-natured most of the time. But he was a serious pain in the butt over Thanksgiving, when he kept getting rowdy and jumping on people and apparently forgot all his training and his manners. Of course, they usually bring their dog and this time they didn’t; I think he was mad at them.

      • But having an aggressive biting dog can be challenging. If it’s real biting, that’s a huge problem. If it is mouthing roughly, you can work on it. (That’s what Duncan does. Makes me want to throttle him. Instead I spray him in the face with water, which is not nearly as satisfying.)

      • She only bites me. Sometimes my wife. We have her on two different medications and it seems to be helping. We can’t re-house a biting dog so it was either medication or a long walk off a short pier. When I think of what that dog has put us through it makes my blood boil. Filthy beast.

      • Oh dear. Glad the meds are helping, though. It’s a tough choice. I’ve had to wrestle with that question when my beloved dog Goliath accidentally bit a little girl (her hand got in the way when he went for the ball she was bouncing in front of his face). It was terrible.

        But if you can’t trust your dog, that’s a problem. Good luck on the meds. We use water spray and time-outs in his crate when Duncan goes nuts. It mostly works.

  7. A painted rock M&M candy for $5000? Now that’s the kind of candy that’s really bad for your teeth!
    List of X
    “Untitled joke”
    Digital media, English alphabet on
    Estimate by request.

  8. The Tetes a claque videos held my attention to the point I forgot to say that I could live with the Picasso or the Kandinsky, but the rest leave me cold. Monet? Nope. His life was interesting and some of his early stuff, but for me, he never pushed the right buttons.

  9. Thank you for the Art pics with description & prices. Was there any Jeff Koons for sale. I also saw Kandinsky at the Guggenheim back in 2009. Nothing is going to change in the next 4 years. We will still have crime, murder and terrorist attacks all under the shadow of political correctness and denial. Can’t we all just get along and stop the hate.

    • You’re welcome! There was no Jeff Koons, which was a big surprise. His work is perennial. They always show up at these auctions. Hopefully in the spring. I do like his work even though it’s hard to take it seriously.

      Throughout history mankind does not have a very good track record of getting along and stopping the hate. I think we can look forward to more of the same. I’m not even sure a different electoral outcome would’ve changed that.

  10. These posts you do inspire me artistically. I like the red and black piece and the yellow one because they seem more expressive to me. I wonder if the artist who uses the butterflies gets flack from animal rights groups… or are the lives of the butterflies not significant enough?
    When you discover what the song is on the beeswax “piece,” let me know!

    • It’s funny where you can find inspiration. Some people look at this stuff and see foolishness and waste. Surely, there’s some of that. But doesn’t it take at least of modicum of artistic sensibility to come up with this? Let’s celebrate that and ignore the $5,000 painted rocks.

      Hirst catches all kinds of hell from animal rights activists. This is the same guy who floated giant great white sharks in tanks of formaldehyde and called it art.

      • Yeah, the rock definitely needs to be ignored!
        I found a mouse in a trap in the basement this morning… it had been eating Christmas decorations down there. Maybe I should paint the trap around its body and add a little bling… what do you think?! lol

  11. So many things to comment about. Thanks for the art show, Mark. I still marvel how anyone can buy these things. The rock, no. There always has to be one of those in a show I bet. The one that makes you think, I could have been somebody. Hope you’re well. Sorry I’ve been out of the picture.

    • I marvel at it, too. That’s why I post this stuff. I need people to validate my confusion. And you are right. The rock, no.

      I’m well. What’s with the ‘sorry’ routine? I think everyone is kind of out of it, myself included. I sense a great contraction in the blog world. It loses its luster and needs to be set aside.

      • I’ll celebrate (or something more demented and sad) ten years of the Lounge next month. Contraction? surely you jest… or maybe i’m a lover of the futile and a master of failure, either way, i’ll take it, i’m to damn lazy to do anything else…

  12. 5G for a rock painted like a M&M? brilliant!!! I’m gonna rip that idea off and see if i can get $50, hell i’ll take $10! how much can a few small tins of paint cost? If i sell 5 at $50 i’m doing good, i can con the suburbanites into thinking it’s the next big thing and that they need one before their neighbor…

    I wouldn’t read too much into the market, the orange one hasn’t taken power yet, give him a few months and then see but since he seems more interested in making money than running the country i think the Wall Street boys are salivating at the prospect of unbridled and unregulated scamming, that said this man is ridiculously unprepared for the job, i think he knows it but his gigantic ego won’t let him admit it, what we’ll really find out is if all the lifers in Congress believe that shit they spout about upholding the Constitution or if they just like to wear flag pins and talk shit, so far the orange one looks like a fucking disaster when it comes to civil liberties, than again i think Huxley said it best, we have an illusion of freedom but the Masters will do what they do and put their puppets in power…

    • Ideas like painting a rock seem so obvious when it sells for $5,000 but you have to come up with that bit of brilliance. And then the sell job, which is the REAL art.

      People wanted to vote for change well, boy howdy, they’re going to get it. You’re 100% correct about those folks on Wall Street. They’re they happiest bunch around. And the base? The people who put him into office? They’re fucked. Now, THERE’S a lump of coal in their stocking.

      • Yep the people who voted Trump there, as their voice, will get shafted. He only serves the rich elite under a guise of anti-authoriitarianism.

  13. There is at least some justice in the world then…the M&M and the arse music didn’t sell.

    As our resident art correspondent, did you hear anything about a Munch piece coming up for sale last month? The one with the girls walking over the bridge?

    • I, too, felt a sense of relief when I typed ‘did not sell.’ But you don’t have to look very far to see examples of madness. I’m equal parts outraged and jealous. Not that someone can afford to pay $5,000 for a rock. That I can’t SELL one.

      That Munich piece did make a bit of splash at Sotheby’s. It was estimated to sell for +/- $5M and actually fetched $54M. But it sold to the guarantor, which means in order to get the seller to sell it at Sotheby’s, they guaranteed a certain amount of money. So while it sold for a big pile of money, it might’ve actually been bought by Sotheby’s, which is kind of like kissing your aunt.

      • Well there you go — I didn’t realise that could happen at an auction. I’ve just read a New York Times article about the Sotheby’s sale and it sounds like a pretty opaque process and makes you wonder about the reliability of the 54 million price tag.

        Never mind — it’s an absolutely beautiful picture though.

  14. Those eyes and lips are just too creepy for words. My brain can’t handle it.

    Then again, they kind of remind me of the Trumpet’s (Strumpet? He does like to sell himself.) comments about his daughters. Yikes. Unfortunately, I think that you folks are in for a few difficult years with that guy. I just hope the damage can be contained. Check for an off switch. Maybe he really is a robot.

  15. That hairy, musical arse is dreadful. Ewww.

    Those videos are as creepy as hell. How is that art? How?

    I’m with you on the Monet. I totally get that. The modern world has gone to the extreme.

    I can paint a rock green and stick an M on it. I tell you what, I’ll sell it for a mere 1000 quid. Any takers?


    Am now going to get my paints out. Easy money.

    • Extra dreadful when you consider it’s made with actual human hair. Whose, I wonder?

      An interesting factoid is that Monet’s work, along with the other impressionists, were seen as extreme at the time.

      You can paint a rock green but you didn’t do it first. Remember, the M has to look like a logo. Not just any old M.

  16. Oh, I love the detail in the Kandinsky piece!

    The projected one reminds me of what would happen if those laser light things they sell for holiday decor now would go very, very wrong.

    • The Kandinsky painting was particularly beautiful. I wanted to reach out and caress the surface but I’m sure that would’ve gotten me a beat down from security.

      The most appropriate holiday for the video installation would be Halloween. Super creepy, don’t you think?

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