Battle of the Fauves
This time last year, Sotheby’s staged the most valuable auction ever in Europe when their Impressionist and Modern art evening sale in London realised £177 million. Christie’s trailed behind with £94 million.
This year, however, Christie’s estimates it will topple that Sotheby’s record with as much as £183 million. To do so they have stacked their sale with twice the number of lots as Sotheby’s, which is looking at a maximum of £126.4 million.
In the main areas of competition, Sotheby’s has the lion’s share of the £87 million of Picassos on offer that week, while Christie’s leads in the £58 million surrealist sales. A smaller, but nonetheless competitive area is for the ‘Fauves’ – or so-called wild beasts — who, in the first decade of the 20th century, erupted on the Paris art scene with an explosion of animated brushstrokes and unrestrained, breath taking colour.
André Derain (1880 — 1954), Bateaux a Collioure, 1905. Estimate: £7,5-10 milion.
Matisse is undoubtedly the most famous of the Fauves, but the focus at these sales (which go on view next week) will be two paintings by Andre Derain, whose early 20th century fauvist work has just been the subject of an exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
Christie’s has already announced the sale of a 1906 view of Westminster Bridge, estimated at up to £9 million, and now Sotheby’s has countered with another Derain from 1905, when the artist was working closely with Matisse in the South of France.
Bateaux a Collioure, pulsating with orange, yellow, blue and green, is estimated to fetch up to £10 million and is guaranteed. The painting was last at auction in 2011 when the Russians were a major buying force in this market, favouring the bright colours of the Fauves in the footsteps of the renowned early 20th century Russian collectors, Sergei Shchukin and Ivan Morozov.
At that sale, it was bought by Thomas Seydoux, a Christie’s specialist who represented Russian clients, for £5.9 million, the fourth highest price for Derain whose record is £16.3 million pounds for a much larger 1905 painting of Collioure.
In the last few years, though, a number of these Russians have been selling. But since 2011 the Chinese have arrived as major force in this market, and both Christie’s and Sotheby’s will be hoping Derain’s Fauve works, which are his most valuable, will be on their shopping lists.
William Scott fish painting tops antique dealer’s sale
Salisbury auctioneers, Woolley & Wallis, are making a name for themselves in the modern British art market. Last week, they were disposing of the private collection of the late Geoffrey Harley, an antiques dealer who decorated his home with modern British art. Estimated to fetch about £310,000, 95 per cent of the 190 lots sold for £813,800 including the auctioneer’s commissions and VAT.
Amongst the lesser known artists’ results were a record £4,680 for a still life of lemons by Julian Paltenghi and an abstract painting by the sculptor, Paul Mount, which fetched a record £4,420 – both ten times the estimates.
William Scott, Fish on a Plate, 1983 Sold at Woolley & Wallis for £130,000 CREDIT: PHOTO COURTESY OF RICHARD GREEN GALLERIES
Topping the bill by some way was the double estimate £132,600 given by Bond Street dealer, Richard Green, for William Scott’s beautifully simple Fish on a Plate, 1983, a prime example of the artist’s late work. Scott returned to fish paintings throughout his career (he kept one very black pan, which he also often painted, specifically for frying fish), and this, says Green, is one of his best.
Fake Fashion in Soho
An exhibition that opens today at the Amanda Wilkinson gallery in London’s Soho district called Fake Fashion might appear to be capitalising on the ubiquity of the Trump-era neologism, ‘Fake news’, but is, in fact, a series of works made by American artist/photographer, Laurie Simmons, during the Regan era in 1984 when fashion photographers such as Richard Avedon were becoming famous.
Laurie Simmons, Houndstooth Checked Coat in Black and White Room, 1984. US$45 000 + VAT CREDIT: COURTESY OF AMANDA WILKINSON GALLERY, LONDON
The slightly subversive images are of real people dressed in recycled junk shop clothing, posing like models on a fashion shoot against fabricated backdrops. A successful and respected artist, often cited as an important figure in the so-called ‘Pictures Generation’ that included art superstars, Richard Prince and Cindy Sherman, Simmons never exhibited the work; it was only used as artwork for a magazine.
Now thirty-four years later, she is exhibiting the prints for the first time. Measuring five-foot high and printed in colour, they certainly have presence, and are priced at $45,000 (£32,540) (plus VAT) each. Some of her photographic works have sold at auction recently for $100,000, and next year Simmons will have a prestigious retrospective exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago.