ART AUCTIONS SIZZLE IN LONDON
Europeans were big buyers at Christie'sLondon's six sales of Impressionist, modern, post-war and contemporary art on Feb. 7-10, 2006, snagging 88 percent of the lots in the combined auctions, which totaled £92,385,720 (or $172,199,287 at the current exchange rate of £1 = $1.86). The atmosphere at the auctioneer's rostrum was "tense, exciting, good humored,"according to Christie's European president, Jussi Pylkknen, who added that he saw "a tremendous sense that the current buoyancy of the market will continue for seasons ahead."
Among the top lots was Chaim Soutine's Le pâtissier de Cagnes(ca. 1922-23),one of the last "baker boy" paintings left in private hands, which sold for £5,048,000 ($9,449,856), a new auction record for the artist. Christie's special "Art of the Surreal" auction totaled £10,190,400 ($19,076,428), the highest total ever for the category. Top lot here was Yves Tanguy's Les derniers jours (1944), which sold for £4,040,000 ($7,562,880), a new record for the artist.
Christie's evening sale of post-war and contemporary art totaled £24,461,600 ($45,425,191), a new high for the category in Europe. Headlines were made by the £3,928,000 ($7,294,296) paid for Lucian Freud's 2002 portrait of a horsey-faced nude of Kate Moss, though the top Freud lot was actually Red Haired Man on a Chair (ca. 1962-63), which sold for £4,152,000 ($7,710,264), a new record for the artist at auction.
Contemporary art in general did very well. A largish (ca. 63 x 79 in.) painting of a class picture, titled The Teacher (1987), by Marlene Dumas soared above its £450,000 presale high estimate to sell for £1,800,000 ($3,339,517), a record for the artist. New auction records were also set for Mario Merz (£792,000/$1,469,387), Sean Scully (£198,400/$368,089), Eberhard Havekost (£84,000/$155,844), Beatriz Milhazes (£72,000/$133,580), Ghada Amer (£62,400/$115,769), Ugo Rondinone (£66,000/$122,448), Elger Esser (£50,400/$93,506) and Adi Nes (£10,800/$20,037).
Sotheby's London's three Impressionist and modern art sales, Feb. 8-9, 2005, totaled £55,554,080, with ten works going for more than £1,000,000. The top price in the evening sale was £2,920,000, paid for Fernand Léger's Nature Morte la Lampe (1914). A pair of female nudes by Amedeo Modigliani sold for £2,696,000, well above the pre-sale high estimate of £1,200,000. Sotheby's Impressionist and modern day sale set new auction records for Maurice Denis (£288,000/$534,845) and Medardo Rosso (£254,400/$472,446).
Sotheby's evening sale of contemporary art on Feb. 10 totaled £15,327,200 ($28,533,116), a new "personal best" for a London contemporary sale at Sotheby's. Many of the 54 lots soared above their presale high estimates. Two works on paper from the collection of Jean-Yves Mock were in the top ten: Roy Lichtenstein's large pencil drawing Temple of Apollo (964), which sold for £545,600, more than three times its presale low estimate of £150,000, and Andy Warhol's Soup Can drawing, which sold for £545,600 (est. £120,000-£150,000). Both prices are records for works on paper by the artists.
Sotheby's contemporary day sales, which totaled £7,251,000 ($13,553,569), also set new auction records for Sol LeWitt (£276,800), Glenn Brown (£198,400), Franz Ackermann (£153,600) and Grayson Perry (£54,000).
BLACK ARTISTS FOR INFINITI
For Black History Month, the luxury auto-maker Infiniti has enlisted painter Kehinde Wiley and musician Paul Miller, aka DJ Spooky, to take part in its "Infiniti in black" marketing campaign. The two artists are both present on a special website, where Wiley appears in "A Portrait in Black," a short online video that shows him talking about his painting and working in his studio, and Miller in "A Score in Black," which features the artist talking about music at his turntables. The artists received a fee "in the five figures," according to Miller, who has been keeping busy -- his new book, Rhythm Science, has recently been published by MIT Press, while his new CD, Drums of Death, is out on Thirsty Ear records.
PASSPORT TROUBLE FOR "STATE OF SABOTAGE" ARTIST
That Linda Shearer, always getting in trouble. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has seized some fake passports made by the Austrian artists' group Sabotage for the current show at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, which recently hired the respected museum veteran (formerly of the Museum of Modern Art and the Williams College Museum of Art) to be its director. The CAC exhibition, called "Incorporated: a recent (incomplete) history of infiltrations, actions and propositions utilizing contemporary art," Feb. 12-May 8, 2005, features works by six artists and art groups known for their provocative and subversive art actions, including the Atlas Group, the Yes Men and, of course, Sabotage. According to an AP report, Vienna artist Robert Jelinek didn't even realize his luggage had been searched. The fake passports -- apparently judged to be a threat -- were part of an installation involving an imaginary "new nation," whose "embassy" is located in the CAC galleries during the run of the show.
STATE ARTS FUNDING HOLDS STEADY: NASAA
The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies says that state arts funding ismore or less stable for 2005. Among the country's 56 state and jurisdictional arts agencies, 44 reported either level funding or increases in funding, while 12 reported decreases; most of the changes were modest, less than 10 percent. Total state arts funding had declined for the three previous years, falling from a high of $446.8 million in 2001 to $276.9 million in 2004. The aggregate appropriation to all 56 agencies is $294.2 million, or about $1 per U.S. citizen. Top state arts funders for 2005 are New York ($44.5 million), New Jersey ($28.7 million), Puerto Rico ($25 million) and Illinois ($18.9 million). New Jersey's state arts appropriation climbed over 50 percent, from $18.9 million in 2004 to $26.7 million in 05, in part due to an increase in the hotel/motel tax. Florida's arts funding, which was slashed from $30 million to $6.7 million in '04, was partially restored with an appropriation of $15.8 million for '05. For more info, see www.nasaa-arts.orgAMERICAN ART ARCHIVES GO DIGITAL
The Terra Foundation for American Art is granting $3.6 million to the Smithsonian Institution's Archives of American Art for a five-year program to digitalize its collection of nearly 1.6 million primary sources and make it all available on the World Wide Web. The archives holds papers or records of such artists as Albert Bierstadt, Marcel Breuer, Alexander Calder, Joseph Cornell, Arthur Dove, Thomas Eakins, Winslow Homer, Jacob Lawrence, Dorothy Miller, Louise Nevelson, Jackson Pollock, Charles Sheeler, Robert Smithson and Grant Wood, among others.
NAYLAND BLAKE CURATES AT VISUAL AIDS
The online exhibition at the Visual AIDS Web Gallery for February 2005 has been organized by Brooklyn artist Nayland Blake. As Blake explains, the works he selected use "travesty, costume, dramatization, slapstick and, oddly, entertainment" as a defense against the "shock and awe" techniques visited by the Bush administration on the U.S. public to obtain its "capitulation and compliance." The exhibition features works by about 20 artists, including Barton Lidice Benes, Copy Berg, Jimmy DeSana, Luna Luis Ortiz, J. Robert Reed, Eric Rhein, James Simmonds, Paul Thek, Tseng KwongChi, David Wojnarowicz and Martin Wong.
CARIBBEAN IN MASSACHUSETTS
If you can't go to the sunny Caribbean, at least you can bring tropical island life to the snowy precincts of New England. The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem is presenting "Island Thresholds, Contemporary Art from the Caribbean," Feb. 19-June 5, 2005, a show of works by four artists -- David Boxer (Jamaica), Tony Capelln (Dominican Republic), Kcho (Cuba) and Marc Latamie (Martinique/USA). An online version of the show can be visited at www.pem.com/island.
Samson Projects in Boston has mounted a show called "Dominicanazo! The New Dominican Wave in Art," Jan. 21-Feb. 27, 2005. Organized by Dominican art dealer Camilo Alvarez, the show features "provocative and stirring" works by Elia Alba, Tony Capelln, José García Cordero, Nicols Dumít Estévez, Mnica Ferreras, Iliana Emilia García, Scherezade García, Pascal Meccariello and Belkis Ramírez. An online version of the show can be viewed at www.samsonprojects.com.
AMERICAN CENTER GRANTS
The American Center Foundation has awarded $5,000 grants from its "Fund for Arts Research" to 15 curators and other arts professionals for travel and research around the world. The recipients are Iara Boubnova (director and founder of the Institute of Contemporary Art in Sofia, Bulgaria), Thomas Boutoux (independent curator, Paris), Gao Shiming (vice-director of the Center of Visual Culture at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou), Gridthiya Gaweewong (director and curator of Project 304 in Bangkok), Tosha Grantham (curator at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is Richmond), Jens Hauser (independent curator, writer and video artist, Paris), Clara Kim (curator at the Gallery at REDCAT in Los Angeles), Tara McDowell (curatorial associate at the San Francisco MOMA), Charlotte Mailler (independent curator, Geneva), Francesco Manacorda (independent curator, London), Dominic Molon (curator at the Chicago MCA), Tumelo Mosaka (curator at the Brooklyn Museum), Ernesto Novelo (artist and independent curator, Mérida, Yucatan), Lydia Yee (senior curator, Bronx Museum of Art) and Zhang Wei (director, Vitamin Creative Space, Guangzhou).
NYEHAUS OPENS IN NATIONAL ARTS CLUB Tim Nye, the 39-year-old real estate scion who founded the nonprofit Thread Waxing Space in Soho in the 1990s and more recently launched the commercial Sunshine Cinema on West Houston Street on the Lower East Side, has a new enterprise -- Nyehaus, an exhibition space in the National Arts Club on Gramercy Park in Manhattan. The gallery opens with "Martin Kippenberger, The Bermuda Triangle: Syros, Paris Bar and Dawson City," Mar. 5-Apr. 30, 2005, a show that traces the influence on the late German artist of three of his favorite hangouts; the show is accompanied by a boxed two-volume publication with essays by Michel Wurthle, David Nolan and Carol Eckman. The new Nyehaus gallery takes over the two-year-old space of Nye's own 20 21 Gallery, which was named after his art foundation, Foundation20 21.CHRISTO SYMPOSIUM AT THE GUGG
The American section of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA/USA) is holding a day-long symposium at the Guggenheim Museum in connection with Christo and Jeanne-Claude's The Gates, Central Park, New York. Titled "Art, Democracy and Public Space: The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Effect," the symposium takes place all day on Feb. 25, 2005. Panelists range from New York Times chief art critic Michael Kimmelman and art historian Jonathan Fineberg to Public Art Fund director Tom Eccles and artists Jeff Koons and Janet Cardiff. Others slated to take part in the discussions include Arthur Danto, Steven Holl, Chrissie Isles, Thomas Krens, Max Protetch, Irving Sandler, Katy Siegel and Lebbeus Woods. Reservations are required -- tickets are $25 -- for more info, see www.aicausa.org.
NEW DIRECTOR FOR SITE SANTA FE MASS MoCA curator Laura Steward Heon has been appointed director and curator of SITE Santa Fe. She takes the post in June.