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.
beeswax, wood, oil and, yes, human hair
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.
acrylic and enamel on blanket mounted on tied wood supports with twine
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.
fiberglass sculpture, master cassette tapes, 2 DVDs, DVD player and projector
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.
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.
Do You Know What I Like About You?
household gloss and butterflies on canvas
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.
To be titled
rock and acrylic paint
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.
Buste de femme (Dora Maar)
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.
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.