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Joseph Cornell
Via Parmigianino (for Allegra)
1956
$66,000
Sotheby's New York
May 14, 2003



Joan Mitchell
Untitled
n.d.
$14,950
Doyle New York
Nov. 14, 2000



Donald Sultan
Three Lemons, Oct. 4, 1984
1984
bought in (est. $60,000-$80,000)
Sotheby's New York
May 16, 2001



Robert Bechtle
1957 Ford
1966
$17,250
Christie's Los Angeles
Oct. 14, 1998



Robert Rauschenberg
Territorial Rites (Shiner)
1986
$102,000
Sotheby's New York
May 14, 2003



ruscha.jpg
Ed Ruscha
City
1967
$37,375
Sotheby's New York
Nov. 16, 1995



Neil Jenney
Angled Wood and Angled Wood
1969
$108,000
Sotheby's New York
May 14, 2003



Jasper Johns
Ale Cans
1964
$147,000
Christie's New York
May 1, 2002



George Segal
Chance Meeting
1989
$666,000
Christie's New York
Nov. 14, 2001


Art Market Guide 2003
by Richard Polsky


"Good Deals: Part II"
In "Good Deals Part I," the Art Market Guide 2003 discussed opportunities for buying art priced under $50,000. Now, in "Part II," we're going to look at potential purchases above $50,000. Once again, a few rules apply. The price categories for the recommended works are based on current auction figures. Also, remember that a "good deal" means paying the current market price for a quality work of art by a significant artist. There are no "deals" for great works by great artists.

Contemporary Works, $50,000-$100,000
Dan Flavin -- circular fluorescent fixtures
Why: Flavin has been overlooked for years. The rap had been that the work was significant but too hard to live with. Maybe so, but sometimes you have to stretch a little.

Joseph Cornell -- minimal white boxes
Why: The days of buying Cornell boxes for under $100,000 are almost over. The Cornell estate has been virtually picked clean. These "aged" white spaces capture all of the artist's poignancy without the high price.

Joan Mitchell -- pastels
Why: Mitchell's pastels display all of the loose "brushwork" that makes her paintings so effective, while sacrificing none of her "richness of palette."

Julian Schnabel -- paintings on paper mounted to canvas ("thrown sheets")
Why: Schnabel finally got it right when he started saturating bunched up sheets with paint and then flinging them at various surfaces. The ghost-like apparitions smack of authenticity.

Donald Sultan -- large paintings
Why: Despite the startling crash of the Sultan market during the 1990s, the paintings remain handsome and highly decorative in a positive sense.

Andy Warhol -- 20 x 16 in. "Dollar Signs"
Why: What could be more Warhol than paintings symbolic of U.S. legal tender? The wide variety of tasty color combinations show what an underrated colorist he was.

Robert Bechtle -- paintings
Why: Bechtle remains the unsung Photorealist. His paintings of modest single-family homes are a quiet meditation on the beauty of simplicity. Besides, he's the least prolific of the major practitioners of his genre.

Contemporary Works, $100,000-$250,000
David Hockney -- colored pencil drawings
Why: Hockney's colored pencil drawings are the future market equivalent of Matisse drawings. Fully developed, non-homoerotic subject matter, such as pools, gardens and houses, are the keepers.

Robert Rauschenberg -- "Shiners," "Gluts," "Urban Bourbons"
Why: Rauschenberg's paintings from the 1980s, on shiny metal surfaces, incorporate many of the most desirable features from his best periods: found objects and Abstract Expressionist brushstrokes (the "Combines" of the 1950s) and photosilkscreen imagery (the "Silkscreens" of the 1960s).

Robert Rauschenberg -- transfer drawings
Why: Rauschenberg's transfer drawings were an original development in the history of drawing. The more recognizable images per sheet, the higher the price.

Richard Diebenkorn -- "Ocean Park" charcoal drawings
Why: These black and white works on paper bear witness to the artist's struggles to get it right. With color examples pushing $500,000, the charcoal works look good at $100,000-$150,000.

Ed Ruscha -- "Ribbon Letter" drawings
Why: These gunpowder-on-paper creations show off Ruscha's marvelous dexterity as a draughtsman. Two years ago, good examples were readily available for $50,000-$75,000. Those days are gone. Yet, the work's still a good deal. Especially when you consider how few enter the market -- and that they rank with the drawings of Cy Twombly and Brice Marden in terms of quality.

Mel Ramos-- paintings from 1960s
Why: Ramos's "Nudes with Products," shown a few years back in the context of the John and Kimiko Powers Collection at Gagosian Gallery on Madison Avenue, hold their own with Pop's biggest names.

Fletcher Benton -- steel "Geometric Form" sculptures
Why: The West Coast-based Benton is the logical successor to David Smith and Anthony Caro. The large outdoor works are the bargains -- conservative but dynamic.

Frank Stella -- "Exotic Birds"
Why: This series of low-relief mixed media paintings on honeycombed-aluminum -- with colorful glitter and French curve forms -- give off a pure exuberance.

James Rosenquist -- "Face/Palm Frond Overlay" paintings
Why: These multilayered images, from the 1980s, are beautifully painted and enigmatic --yet highly accessible. They also represent a return to form by a major artist after his abysmal performance during the 1970s.

Neil Jenney -- "This and That" paintings (non-Atmosphere)
Why: During the 1980s, Jenney was considered a major figure. While this is no longer the case, he did make some highly original paintings. He's also due for a comeback.

Jasper Johns: Ale Cans lithograph, edition of 31, 1964, published by ULAE
Why: To this writer's eye, Ale Cans remains the holy grail of contemporary print collecting. It has extra-historical resonance because of de Kooning's famous statement about Johns's dealer, Leo Castelli: "You could give him a couple of beer cans and he could sell them." The print Flags I may bring more money, but Ale Cans is far more evocative.

Richard Artschwager -- Formica sculpture
Why: Artschwager is a largely unappreciated artist who identified new materials for making both sculpture (Formica) and paintings (celotex). His forms from the 1960s, of household objects such as tables, chairs and mirrors, remains a high-water mark in the history of sculpture.

George Segal -- sculpture
Why: Segal's mysterious figurative tableaux from the 1960s hover over the decade, just waiting for a retrospective. When it comes (and it will someday), watch his prices zoom.


RICHARD POLSKY is the author of the recently released, I Bought Andy Warhol (Abrams). Question and comments can be directed to Richard at polskyart@aol.com.

 
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