Monday 12 May 2014

SPRING AUCTION season in NEW YORK: Picasso & Leonardo DiCaprico

The NY Spring season of mega auctions is under way. What does it all mean? 
Sotherby's is just a few blocks away & Christies very near, so off we went. 
"How the art world has changed!" says my husband, an auction veteran for 50 years. Even in 15 years I have seen a shift. 
But it looks as if things are really in upheaval. As an excellent Ft piece by John Gapper  points out there is dirty work at the crossroads. 
Last Tuesday saw a 1932 Picasso sell for $28 million & a Monet waterlily "Japanese Bridge" 1918 for 14m. 
But as the Ft tells us, this may not be the real figure. And 14m seems a snip when this week's Richter is estimated at 25-35 million with Jeff Koons' Popeye sculpture even more. Then there's  Christies's Bacon triptych 3 studies of John Edwards (1984)" estimated $80 million.
The Tuesday sale was slow & boring. Majority bidding on the phones, little actual excitement. Many key works did not sell, Too overpriced. Gone the gowns & smart attire; gone the anticipation of live bids & a room bristling with competition. 30% of the buyers were from Asia, all invisible. The real glamour nowadays lies in the vast doorstep catalogues with their immense glossy research. The installation for the 4 or 5 day viewing is another is spectacle, an art form in itself.  And maybe the fact that Leonardo DiCaprico was there!
The auction houses - a duopoly- have recently turned themselves into art dealers.  Currently 2 separate selling exhibitions fill Sotheby's second floor. 43 Dubuffet paintings & sculptures, $65,000 to $3.5m  + 25 works by Vasarely: Op Star (today everyone's a star), 85,000-half a million. There is a price list but u have to ask. Again the installation is stunning, & almost overwhelms the art. 
Not missing a trick, there's new jewellry by Anish Kapoor & Botero's wife, Sophia Vari, for sale. As it was US Mother's Day I tried on a few Kapoor rings which he makes in editions of 10 to 100 with the London goldsmiths firm of .....  Gold & blue enamel my choice! 
So where does this leave the vast vast majority of artists? Sadly high & dry. Since the crash the day sales are often dire, tepid events with low prices. It's still very hard to survive as an artist, unless u are among the top 12 or 15 artists with a name like Warhol or Gauguin. 
Sothebys May 7

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