The 2017 Spring Auctions: Sotheby's Post-War & Contemporary & Phillips 20th Century & Contemporary Evening Sales- May 19th Edition


The 2017 Spring Auctions: Sotheby's Post-War & Contemporary & Phillips 20th Century & Contemporary Evening Sales- May 19th Edition

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Auction Report: Gasps, Applause & Success at Sotheby's

Last night provided the sort of optimism everyone seemed to need, with a white glove Phillips sale that sold $93.3 million worth of art (and saw new records set for Peter Doig and Nicole Eisenman), and, of course, the Sotheby's auction you got a New York Times alert about, where they sold the 1982 Jean-Michel Basquiat that hammered for $98 million.

Phillips was somewhat sleepy but the solid sale was what the house needed, and those behind the phone banks seemed elated after the sale. Elated is an understatement for what went on at Sotheby's after the Basquiat sold. People jumped up and cheered and there were spontaneous high-fives for the rest of the night. The buying wasn't much in the room but that's been the case for much of this week. Sotheby's hammer total was $276.9 million with 48 of the 50 lots on offer sold and new records were achieved for Jonas Wood, Wolfgang Tillmans, Mira Schendel, Blinky Palermo, Takeo Yamaguchi, and Keith Haring (in addition to Basquiat of course).

If you'd like to throw some cold water on the whole thing you could consider this: the Japanese billionaire who bought last night's Basquiat, Yusaku Maezawa, also set the old record for Basquiat established last year, when he bought a 1982 painting from Adam Lindemann at Christie's for $57.3 million. What's the problem? The man is a one-man market. The only person he could sell to is himself. Needless to say, that this is not how the normal market works...

Sotheby's success depended on the whim of one man. All this is to say that the market remains top-heavy and quirky in these uncertain times. But Sotheby's can only count this as a win. The way ahead for them seems much clearer for now: start making money with better focused sales.
News & Links

Zero Hedge: If you missed an auction or two this week, Katya Kazakina has a nice recap, including a breakdown of how Steve Cohen and Francois Pinault did with the $46 million of art they sold at Christie's Wednesday. Answer: eh. [Bloomberg]

Combined Reviews: MoMA opened its Robert Rauschenberg retrospective this week and Holland Cotter is out with a freewheeling yet positive review. It mainly just sounds fun: "It gives clear evidence of the social nature of Rauschenberg’s art, of how much it was shaped and stoked by the company, which was also a family, of colleagues, teachers, assistants, lovers and bar buddies that he gathered around him." For some perspective, you could also read Jed Perl who calls Raushenberg, Robert Rauschenberg, a "confidence man of American art." ROBERT Rauschenberg? Okay. [NYTNYRB]

Why Not Recycle?: The new cool thing to do, rather than build a new gallery in L.A., Jori Finkel writes, is to renovate an older space like the masonic temple on Wilshire Blvd. One firm "is also adapting a 1950s warehouse downtown for the Institute of Contemporary Art L.A., a reincarnation of the Santa Monica Museum of Art set to open in September. Also downtown, the real estate developer Tom Gilmore and the arts leader Allison Agsten have teamed up to open the Main Museum in a 1905 Classical Revival bank building, with an adjacent storefront space already in use for exhibitions, and plans to open the bank vaults for performances and projects in 2018." No old building is safe! [NYT]

Extra Reading

And finally, here are the last recaps for the Spring auctions: Brian Boucher for Artnet, Judd Tully at ArtInfo, Nate Freeman for ArtNews, Dan Duray kicks in over at The Art Newspaper, Robin Pogrebin and Scott Reyburn for the New York Times, Kelly Crow for the Wall Street Journal, and Sotheby's and Phillips own recaps here and here

Are you an artist and in need of a patron? Look no further according to a piece out in the New York Times 'Fashion & Style' section by Jennifer Miller. 

Brian Boucher at Artnet has another interesting piece about museums collaborating to digitize their collections. 

Check out Yusaku Maezawa's original post on Instagram where he announces (in a not so subtle fashion) that he was the winner for the Basquiat piece at Sotheby's


Daniel Buren at Bortolami Gallery's new space on Walker Street on May 13th (Insider tip: try to get there between 10:30-11:00am in order to see some truly stunning in situ works) 

Julian Stanczak at Mitchell-Innes & Nash on May 18th

Ellen Berkenblit at Anton Kern Gallery on May 25th

The Canvas will next be published during the week of Art Basel (beginning on June June 14th). 

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