MARKET BLOOMS AT SPRING AUCTIONS
Spring art auctions in New York began in earnest this week, with extensive sales of prints at both houses May 1-4 (a report on these sales is forthcoming). Sotheby's and Christie's roll out their big-ticket Impressionist and modern works for presale viewing today, May 3, with the auctions themselves scheduled for May 7-9, 2002.
Christie's is up first with its Impressionist and modern evening sale on May 7, 2002, featuring some 46 lots with a total presale estimated value of $74 million-$103 million. The May 8 day sale carries a presale estimate of $23 million-$31.4 million.
Among the star lots is a vulgarly expressive painting of five overdressed ladies at the racetrack painted in 1901 by Pablo Picasso, Les courses (est. $4,500,000-$6,500,000), which was possibly exhibited in the 19-year-old artist's first show at Ambroise Vollard's gallery.
Another is Danseuse by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (est. $4,000,000-$6,000,000), an exquisitely painted, 6½-foot-tall oil of a busty dancer waiting in the wings, done in 1895-96 near the end of the artist's life (the last dancer he would depict). The painting has been frequently exhibited, including in Lautrec exhibitions in Chicago in 1979 and Paris in 1992.
The most expensive lot in the sale is Danaïde (est. $8,000,000-$10,000,000) by Constantin Brancusi, a gold-leafed and patinaed head of a woman that was cast ca. 1913 and exhibited in 1914 at Alfred Stieglitz' 291 gallery in New York and, more recently, on long term loan at the National Gallery of Art, 1974-85. Six other casts of this work are extant, all housed in museums.
Another important sculpture in the sale is The Forest (est. $7,000,000-$8,000,000) by Alberto Giacometti, a group of seven standing figures and a bust cast in an edition of six in 1950.
At Sotheby's, the Impressionist and modern art evening sale is scheduled for May 8, with some 57 lots going to the block. After a couple of rough years, thanks to both the recession and the auction price-fixing scandal, Sotheby's fabulous art-market machine is apparently up and running on all cylinders.
The sale includes several important bronzes, including a ca. 25-in. tall Grande Tete de Diego by Alberto Giacometti (est. $5,000,000-$7,000,000) and a late cast of Henri Matisse's 1908 Figure Decorative (est. $9,000,000-$12,000,000).
Among the top pictures are a large pastel from ca. 1879 by Edgar Degas of Mary Cassatt and her sister posing in the Louvre (est. $12,000,000-$18,000,000); Femmes pres des palmiers (1891), a bright island scene by Paul Gauguin (est. $15,000,000-$20,000,000); and a small (15 x 18 in.) still life of a pitcher with fruits (est. $14,000,000-$18,000,000) painted in 1890-93 by Paul Cézanne.
Modernist works in the sale include a 1915 Juan Gris Le pot de geranium (est. $6,000,000-$8,000,000) and a 1915 Piet Mondrian red and white geometric abstraction (est. $3,500,000-$4,500,000).
The auction also includes seven works by Max Beckmann, six of them paintings from the collection of the late Stephan Lackner, the Beckmann patron and scholar who died in 2000. Among these works, perhaps the most striking is the smallest, Sacrificial Meal (est. $550,000-$750,000), a barbarian sacrificial scene (including two bound women, a bull head on a pike and two human heads roasting over a fire) that was actually painted in 1947 when Beckmann was living in St. Louis.
The auction features many other outstanding works, including an 1876 Claude Monet Le repos dans le jardin, Argenteuil (est. $3,500,000-$4,500,000), in which you can almost hear the insects buzzing (this painting is being sold by the Metropolitan Museum to settle a claim that it was stolen by the Soviets in 1945); a Pierre Bonnard 36-inch-tall Nu sur fond bleu (est. $600,000-$800,000) from 1914-16; a ca. 1904 Andre Derain Still Life (est. $500,000-$700,000) with Fauvist reds and oranges and almost Beckmannish blacks; a sexy 1928 Tamara de Lempicka female musician in a blue gown with a lute (est. $1,000,000-$1,500,000) from the collection of jailed art dealer Andrew Crispo; and as one of the final lots, a large abstract composition by Robert Delaunay, Rythme, No. 1 (1938) (est. $700,000-$1,000,000) from the collection of the late restauranteur Warner LeRoy.