PHOTO SALES SNEAK INTO NEW YORK
After the two-week-long party in Paris at the beginning of April that was the sale of the André Breton estate -- including the record-setting auction of a garishly colored orange- and green-tinted 1936 La Poupée by Hans Bellmer for 185,000 euros ("I would have sold it a week before for $75,000," said an astonished New York dealer) -- it comes as no surprise that the fall photo sales underway this week at the New York auction houses seem a little lackluster.
Christie's New York went first with its Apr. 22 auction of 229 lots, in which 132 lots sold for a total of $1,938,649 -- a rather disappointing 58 percent. The top price came for the next-to-the-last lot, a complete 18-volume set of The North American Indian by Edward S. Curtis, which sold for $1012,575 (est. $60,000-$80,000). The sale had many Curtis lots, and the top ten included three more, all portfolios from The North American Indian, which went for over $50,000 each.
Another high-priced lot at Christie's was Alexander Rodchenko's asymmetrical Sokolniki Park, Winter, Hockey (1929), which sold for $77,675, well below its presale low estimate of $90,000. The fourth highest price in the sale, $69,310, was paid for Frantisek Drtikol's Step II (1929), a dramatic "pigment print" of a model and her shadow that is the second highest price for the artist at auction.
At Sotheby's on Apr. 23, the sale included 290 lots, of which 217 sold, a little less than 75 percent, for a total of $2,885, 540. Top lot was a signed vintage print of Edward Weston's emblematic nude, Charis, Santa Monica (1936), sold for $260,000, well above the presale high estimate of $100,000. Sotheby's top ten boasted four works by Weston, including a formalist study of Charis' bun from the side, dubbed Nude, which went for $74,400.
Buyers at Sotheby's also evinced a certain interest in Diane Arbus, whose full-scale museum retrospective is on the horizon, paying $74,400 for a 1969 gelatin silver print of a family of nudists, and $55,200 for her famous 1967 image of identical twins, in a print from a 1970 edition of 50 printed by Neil Selkirk.
Phillips, de Pury and Luxembourg launched its new auction salesroom on West 15th Street on Apr. 24, with a mixed-owner photo sale of 232 lots. A total of 139 sold, or almost 60 percent, for $1,574,000. The celebrated Seagram Collection of photographs, totaling 250 lots, goes on the block at Phillips tonight and tomorrow, Apr. 25-26, 2003. It should be an energetic sale -- the works are being sold without reserve. For complete, illustrated results of the sales, see Artnet's Fine Art Auctions Report.
NEW FEDERATION FOR EAST VILLAGE ARTISTS
The new Federation of East Village Artists (FEVA), founded last year to be the "Smithsonian of the counterculture," may be headquartered in a modest apartment on East 6th Street, but it has plans to grow. The group is working on several benefit events leading up to a four-day "Howl! Festival" in Tompkins Square Park next August. But first up, on Monday May 5, is a "starve a cold, feed a FEVA" party and auction at the Angel Orensanz Foundation on Norfolk Street on the Lower East Side. The event sounds like a winner -- it boasts Lady Bunny as a DJ, appearances and performances by Jonathan Ames, the Blue Man Group, Steve Buscemi, Philip Glass, Richard Move as Martha Graham, Reno and others, and a silent and live auction of artworks by Matthew Barney, Patty Chang, Joseph Kosuth, Elizabeth Murray, Tom Otterness, Kiki Smith, Patti Smith and Spencer Tunick. Tickets start at $35; for more info, see www.howlfestival.com.
FEVA's founder is Phil Hartman, proprietor of the beloved Two Boots pizza emporium and a prizewinning independent filmmaker. "The potential loss of our countercultural legacies was becoming overwhelming," he told Artnet News. "Hundreds of people feel the same way, and we're all working together to preserve those great traditions and create a fruitful environment for the next generation of visionaries to flourish." FEVA artistic director is David Leslie, and Craig Hensala is coordinating the benefit auction.
ROME PRIZES, 2003
The American Academy in Rome has announced winners of the 2003-04 Rome Prizes, which provide fellowships for American artists and scholars to live and work (for between six months and two years) at the Academy's 18-building, 11-acre site atop Rome's highest hill, the Janiculum. Winners: Sarah Arvio (literature), Cheryl Barton (landscape architecture), Mason Bates (musical composition), Charles A. Birnbaum (historic preservation and conservation), Catherine M. Chin (ancient studies), Diana Cooper (visual arts), J. Yolande Daniels (architecture), Mary Harvey Doyno (medieval studies), Roger Freitas (Renaissance and early modern studies), Jefferson Friedman (musical composition), Maria Elena Gonzalez (visual arts), Vivien Greene (modern Italian studies), Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann (Renaissance and early modern studies), Reed Kroloff (design), Matvey Levenstein (visual arts), Pamela O. Long (Renaissance and early modern studies), Alex S. MacLean (landscape architecture), Jessica Maier (Renaissance and early modern studies), T. K. McClintock (historic preservation and conservation), Kristina Milnor (ancient studies), Victoria M. Morse (medieval studies), Richard T. Neer (ancient studies), John Newman (visual arts), Richard M. Olcott (architecture), Linda Pollak (architecture), Joseph Ragsdale (landscape architecture), Emma Scioli (ancient studies), Jonah Siegel (modern Italian studies), Justin St. P. Walsh (ancient studies), Joshua Weiner (literature) and Susan Yelavich (design).
HERMITAGE, THE MAGAZINE
Russia's grandest art trove, the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, has launched its own magazine. Slated to be published twice yearly in English and Russian, Hermitage Magazine is edited by Geraldine Norman, the respected art journalist formerly with the London Times and London Independent who was founding director of the Hermitage Rooms at London's Somerset House. The first issue features a personal homage to the museum by John Russell, a piece on contemporary art by the late Russian avant-gardist Timur Novikov, an article by Hermitage textile curator Elena Moiseyenko on Peter the Great's clothes (280 items are in the collection) and two articles on two albums of drawings of Hampton court, the British royal palace, bought by Catherine the Great in 1780.
The magazine is sponsored by the Energy Standard Group of Switzerland, a conglomerate operating in Russia and the Ukraine, and produced by Cultureshock Media in London. It may be purchased at leading museum shops, or by subscription (two years for 18.50) by clicking here.
ARTISTS T-SHIRTS AT SILVERSTEIN GALLERY Daniel Silverstein Gallery on West 21st Street in New York's Chelsea art district has issued an open call for t-shirts designed by artists, to be displayed in "100 Artists Make 100 T-shirts," a summer exhibition opening in July. Over 60 artists have signed up so far. The deadline for entries is June 1, 2003. For consideration, email images to email@example.com.