NEW YORK AUCTION SEASON GETS UNDER WAY
New York's big two auction houses, Christie's and Sotheby's, launched the belated fall auction season this week with a series of sales that confusingly alternate photography with Old Masters. Christie's did Old Masters on Oct. 3 and photography on Oct. 4, while Sotheby's had photos on Oct. 3 and Old Masters on Oct. 5.
In the past, major Old Master auctions in New York have been held in January and May and the October auctions were considered "off season" sales. But last time around, Christie's postponed its May Old Master sale, saying it would shift the cycle to the fall. Christie's didn't title its Oct. 3 sale "Important" Old Master paintings, however, so observers presume the house had trouble getting the major consignments it had hoped for.
In the end, despite war clouds on the horizon, the results were strong. Of 96 lots offered, 57 were sold -- about 59 percent -- for a total of $9.3 million (with premium). The cover lot, a set of five elaborate oils by Jan Brueghel II depicting The Five Senses (contemporary copies of the series of paintings by Jan Brueghel the Elder and Peter Paul Rubens in the Prado), soared past the presale estimate of $1.8 million-$2.2 million to sell for $3,856,000, a world auction record for the artist. A second artist's record was set when a large, early 16th-century Adam and Eve by Jan Swart van Groningen sold by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts for $193,000 (est. $80,000-$120,000).
As Christie's Old Master head Anthony Crichton-Stuart pointed out, the top four lots in the sale all effectively doubled their high estimates. Surprises included a 17th-century painting of natives by a waterfall by Frans Post, presumably done while in Brazil with the Dutch East India Company, that sold for $1,876,000 (est. $500,000-$700,000) and an Anthony Van Dyck portrait of the 10-year-old Lord Derby, done in ca. 1638, that went for $611,000, considerably over its $50,000-$70,000 estimate. "There was money," noted New York dealer Patrick Cooney.
A report on the photo sales is forthcoming.
REMEMBERING WORLD VIEWS
For several years, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey provided a small number of artists with free studio space on the 90th floor of the World Trade Center in a program dubbed "World Views." Now, the New Museum of Contemporary Art has scheduled an exhibition of works by the final round of artists in the program, Dec. 1, 2001-Jan. 13, 2002. Participants include Simon Aldridge, Naomi Ben-Shahar, Monika Bravo, Laurie Halsey Brown, Justine Cooper, Lucky Debellevue, Carola Dertnig, Mahmoud Hamadani, Kara Hammond, Jeff Konigsberg, Motonobu Kurokawa, Geraldine Lau and Nathan See. Michael Richards, who lost his life in the attack, will be remembered at the exhibition.
WTC ART BENEFIT IN NYC
More than 100 New York City art galleries have teamed up to present a citywide art exhibition and sale, "I Love NY -- Art Benefit," Oct. 26-Nov. 3, 2001. Proceeds from sales of donated works are earmarked for families of the World Trade Center tragedy. Individual galleries are participating in their own way, and may stage special exhibitions or designate works from current exhibitions to go towards the benefit. Among the galleries involved are Alexander and Bonin, Paula Cooper, CRG, James Cohan, Jeffrey Deitch, Howard Greenberg, Ronald Feldman, Sean Kelly, Anton Kern, Nicole Klagsbrun, Lehmann Maupin, Luhring Augustine, Curt Marcus, Matthew Marks, Metro Pictures, Robert Miller, O.K. Harris, P.P.O.W., PaceWildenstein, Julie Saul, Sonnabend, Sperone Westwater, Lennon Weinberg and David Zwirner. For more info, check out the soon-to-be-unveiled website at www.IloveNYbenefit.org.
Not every American is hastening to war. A group of artists in New York have been putting on a public performance titled Our Grief Is Not a Cry for War, in which groups of people dressed all in black and wearing a dust mask stand silently in line for an hour holding a placard with the title of the piece. The next performance is Friday, Oct. 5, 2001, at 6 p.m. in Times Square. For more info go to the Artists Network website.
MADONNA TO PRESENT TURNER PRIZE
Rock superstar Madonna has agreed to present this year's Turner Prize, the Tate Gallery has announced. Winner of the £20,000 award -- the four shortlisted artists are Richard Billingham, Martin Creed, Isaac Julien and Mike Nelson -- is to be revealed at a ceremony at Tate Britain on Dec. 9, 2001. Meanwhile, Madonna is lending a work from her collection, Frida Kahlo's Self-Portrait with a Monkey, to the Tate Modern's current exhibition, "Surrealism: Desire Unbound."
FLECK IN STAR TREK
California performance artist John Fleck has snagged a role as the villain in this season's new Star Trek series, titled Enterprise and airing Wednesdays on UPN at 8 p.m. (check your local listings). "I play the lead villain named Silik," Fleck writes to his fans at FranklinFurnace.org. "Write letters and tell them how wonderful this character is ... cause I'd love for it to sponsor my new bicoastal lifestyle." Though art-lovers know Fleck as a veteran of the notorious "NEA 4" culture wars of the 1990s, he is in fact a practiced Hollywood hand, with credits that range from Naked Gun 2½ and Waterworld to NYPD Blue and Ally McBeal.
ART & ANTIQUES FAIR DELAYED
The keynote event of the fall social season, Brian and Anna Haughton's International Fine Art and Antique Dealers Show, Oct. 18-25, has been postponed since its usual site, the 7th Regiment Armory at 67th and Park Avenue, is currently otherwise occupied (by the National Guard, mobilized since Sept. 11). According to Brooks Barnes, the Wall Street Journal's new "Art & Money" reporter, Sotheby's offered to house the fair rent free on the glossy top floor of its York Avenue headquarters, but the 70-odd dealers turned the auction house down, saying the space was too small and that they hesitate to bring their clients onto the competition's home ground.
The Erna and Victor Hasselblad Foundation in Göteborg, Sweden, has announced grants for projects in photo history, photo theory, documentary projects and the like for 2001 totaling 1.5 million Swedish Krona (about $141,000). Grant winners include Joakim Eskildsen (SEK 76,000), Denise Grünstein (SEK 150,000), Antanas Sutkus (SEK 100,000), Marketa Luskacova (172,000), Inka Graeve (SEK 100,000), Sarianna Metsähuone (SEK 70,000), Nilofar Kosheshi (SEK 70,000), Joachim Ladefoged (SEK 72,000), Tom Stoddart (SEK 90,000), Jim Goldberg (SEK 150,000), Jorma Kaleri Puranen (SEK 100,000), Martin Weber (SEK 100,000), Aleksander Zakowicz (SEK 150,000) and Alessandra Sanguinetti (SEK 100,000).
PETERS, FRENCH GALLERIES MERGE IN DALLAS
Two leading Dallas galleries are merging this month. Pillsbury and Peters Fine Art, headed by former Kimbell Art Museum director Edmund P. Pillsbury, and Kristy Stubbs French Gallery are combining their operations. The new partnership plans to organize major exhibitions as well as provide a venue for buying and selling artworks from the 17th through the 21st centuries. Mrs. French and her colleague, Nancy Eckhardt, are joining Pillsbury and gallery director Holly Johnson in their recently expanded space at 2913 Fairmount in Dallas. French is closing her gallery, which she has operated since 1994.