Hock­ney, Hop­per chase head­lines at NY art sales

Kuwait Times - - Lifestyle - In this file photo a woman looks at David Hock­ney’s “Por­trait of an Artist (Pool with Two Fig­ures)” dur­ing a press pre­view at Christie’s New York. — AFP pho­tos

Ayear af­ter the art mar­ket was changed for­ever by the eye-wa­ter­ing $450.3 mil­lion sale of a Leonardo da Vinci, fall auc­tion sea­son is back, look­ing to crack new records for artists, al­beit from less il­lus­tri­ous heights. The head­lin­ers next week in New York, the cap­i­tal of the in­ter­na­tional art mar­ket, are an Ed­ward Hop­per, Amer­ica’s most pop­u­lar mod­ernist, val­ued at $100 mil­lion, and Bri­tish liv­ing leg­end David Hock­ney, whose iconic swim­ming pool pic­ture painted af­ter a break-up is es­ti­mated to fetch $80 mil­lion.

In the spring, Christie’s sale of the iconic Rock­e­feller art col­lec­tion for $832 mil­lion set a new bench­mark for bil­lion­aires and mil­lion­aires who might be look­ing to off­load their own col­lec­tions. This fall, sev­eral other col­lec­tions will go un­der the ham­mer, as the wealthy who amassed art in the mid-20th cen­tury ei­ther die off or look to pass the ba­ton to a new, in­creas­ingly in­ter­na­tional gen­er­a­tion.

Chief among them is the re­mark­able col­lec­tion of 20th cen­tury Amer­i­can art of US en­tre­pre­neur Bar­ney Eb­sworth, who made his for­tune in travel and cruises. He died in April this year. The high­light of his hold­ings is 1929 can­vas “Chop Suey” by Hop­per, which Christie’s will be auc­tion­ing for an es­ti­mated $70-100 mil­lion. That would be a whop­ping profit. Eb­sworth bought the work in 1973 for $180,000 and the paint­ing should eas­ily set a new auc­tion record for the artist-cur­rently $40.4 mil­lion paid in 2013 for “East Wind Over Wee­hawken.”

Sev­eral other works this sea­son could also cross the sym­bolic thresh­old of $100 mil­lion, which these days won’t even nec­es­sar­ily make the top 10 works of art sold at auc­tion. The Rock­e­feller sale “proved that the mar­ket is deep enough to ab­sorb a vast quan­tity of works of art when they are of­fered at the same time,” says Adrien Meyer, Christie’s co-chair­man of im­pres­sion­ist and mod­ern art. “If we man­aged to pass that test, any­thing is pos­si­ble,” he added.

Gen­er­a­tional shift

Hock­ney is also in the run­ning with his “Por­trait of an Artist (Pool with Two Fig­ures),” val­ued at $80 mil­lion. It is likely to set a new record for work by a liv­ing artist, un­til now held by Jeff Koons and his “Bal­loon Dog (Orange),” which sold for $58.4 mil­lion at Christie’s in 2013. “We rarely can say ‘This is the one op­por­tu­nity to buy the best paint­ing from the artist’,” said Ana Maria Celis, vice pres­i­dent of post-war and con­tem­po­rary art at Christie’s. “This is it.” Ad­ver­tis­ing more than 1,000 works ex­pected to fetch a bil­lion dol­lars in sales, Christie’s is once again ex­pected to out-daz­zle old ri­val Sotheby’s across town. Sotheby’s might not be chas­ing the same kind of head­lines, but it’s still of­fer­ing buy­ers dozens of lots in the $10 mil­lion plus cat­e­gory.

One lead­ing light is 1913’s “Pre-War Pageant” by Mars­den Hart­ley, one of the prom­i­nent Amer­i­can painters in the first half of the 20th cen­tury. Val­ued at $30 mil­lion, the can­vas is also likely to set a new auc­tion record for Hart­ley. Records could be bro­ken for Rene Magritte, Wass­ily Kandin­sky and Willem de Koon­ing, in what deal­ers call ev­i­dence of the strong mar­ket. “If you don’t want to over­flow the mar­ket, you have to cu­rate,” says Gre­goire Bil­lault, head of the con­tem­po­rary art de­part­ment at Sotheby’s.

“We tried to be dif­fer­ent and be rel­e­vant,” he said, “and what the younger gen­er­a­tion is telling you is that they want to buy.” The bian­nual mar­quee art auc­tions of­fer a chance to see works of­ten not viewed in pub­lic for decades and the­atri­cal dis­plays of pur­chas­ing power by a new gen­er­a­tion of buy­ers, spread more widely around the world than ever. “Great col­lec­tions which were formed in the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s are now owned by col­lec­tors who are no longer with us or are about to move on to the next gen­er­a­tion,” ex­plained Meyer. “The art mar­ket is in­deed go­ing to see ma­jor col­lec­tions com­ing up in the very near fu­ture. We’ve only seen the tip of the ice­berg, I think, of what’s go­ing to hap­pen,” he added. The New York art auc­tions run from Sun­day to Thurs­day. — AFP

AFrench court on Thurs­day ruled that celebrity US artist Jeff Koons copied an idea from an ad­ver­tise­ment used by a French cloth­ing chain, fin­ing him along with the mu­seum which ex­hib­ited the con­tested work. Franck Davi­dovici, a French ad­ver­tis­ing ex­ec­u­tive, had sued Koons for pla­gia­rism over Koons’ “Fait d’Hiver” from 1988, which shows a pig stand­ing over a woman ly­ing on her back, her arms sprawled be­hind her head. It bore a strik­ing re­sem­blance to a cam­paign cre­ated by Davi­dovici for the Naf Naf chain in the mid1980s, down to the woman’s fa­cial ex­pres­sion and hair­style and the cask hang­ing from the pig’s neck. And the Naf Naf cam­paign was also called Fait d’Hiver, a play on words sug­gest­ing “Win­ter News in Brief”.

Davi­dovici sued Koons af­ter the work was shown at the Pom­pi­dou mu­seum in Paris in 2014. There are four copies of “Fait d’Hiver”, and one was sold for around $4.7 mil­lion at Christie’s auc­tion house in New York. The court or­dered Koons, his busi­ness, and the Pom­pi­dou mu­seum to pay Davi­dovici a to­tal of 135,000 eu­ros ($154,000 dol­lars) in com­pen­sa­tion. Jeff Koons LLC was also fined 11,000 eu­ros for re­pro­duc­ing the pig on the artist’s web­site, while the Flam­mar­ion pub­lish­ing firm was fined 2,000 eu­ros for sell­ing a book which con­tained the work. But the court did not or­der the sculp­ture’s seizure, as de­manded by the plain­tiff.

It was not the first time Koons has been found guilty of forgery. In March 2017, a Paris court ruled he had copied a French pho­tog­ra­pher’s pic­ture as the ba­sis for his “Naked” sculp­ture, also part of the artist’s Banal­ity se­ries which con­tained “Fait d’Hiver”. — AFP

In this file peo­ple look at ‘Chop Suey’ by US artist Ed­ward Hop­per, part of the Bar­ney A Eb­sworth Col­lec­tion, dur­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion at Christie’s auc­tion house in Paris.

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