Slim Pickin’s in Lean Times = $69 Mil for the Big Mo

Modigliani’s “La belle Romaine” is large.

No use talking about the art market as if it had ANYthing to do with the real world… Auction prices are back to mind-blowing even while our unemployment rates hover around 9%. An examination of performances by Sotheby’s and Christie’s  evening sales of contemporary art this week will show you only that a luxury market —a collectors luxury market — responds to a slowly recovering economy with sheer, unabashed, indulgence.

The story these days is about rarity. And rarity speaks only to desire and competition, a combo that makes for dramatic auctions. So when every last brushstroke and cast is sitting on Mr. Moneyfeather’s veranda, and collectors are left scrabbling over the leavings or the occasional toss-away, we are left gasping at record prices fetched for middling Modiglianis and lackluster Monets.

Continue reading “Slim Pickin’s in Lean Times = $69 Mil for the Big Mo”

Feel Free to Match the Couch: A Guide to Buying Art Online

Popping up, all over the internet, like bald little mushroom heads in the corner of an overgrown garden, are dozens of buy-art-online sites. Their spores are in the air. There’s a new one every day, with offerings that cover the whole gamut of affordability, quality and snob appeal.

It’s time to match the couch, my friends — shamelessly, and in the privacy of your own homes; the way you shop for porn.

BZA CO

Continue reading “Feel Free to Match the Couch: A Guide to Buying Art Online”

WALL POWER

Picasso’s 1932 painting “Nu au Plateau de Sculpteur (Nude, Green Leaves and Bust)
Picasso’s 1932 painting “Nu au Plateau de Sculpteur (Nude, Green Leaves and Bust); photo from The New York Times Online

Because the market is looking up, and because the art world responds so quickly to upswings –and, because Picasso’s 1932 painting “Nu au Plateau de Sculpteur ” is really big and has all the bells and whistles (a lover, Marie-Thérèse, the iconic head thrown back pose, and a very Picasso-pallet), folks at the New York Times say that an auction price record is about to be broken.

According to NYT, the Picasso, on sale at Christie’s onTuesday, is  “poised to eclipse the $104.3 million paid for the current record holder, Giacometti’s “Walking Man I” purchased at Sotheby’s in February.

Art is beginning to be viewed as a good investment again, and, since the financial collapse, it seems like a safer place to put one’s money than in the stock market.

Other reasons why the hammer is expected to come down on a record price:

  • The painting is from a popular Picasso period of very large, very colorful paintings.
  • Picasso’s from the year 1932 are not likely to be sold again any time soon, if at all.
  • It was only on public view once since 1951: so it has freshness.
  • It “reeks,” according to NYT, of “Wall power.”

A GOOD BASQUIAT

Sotheby’s upcoming Contemporary Art Sale is going to offer some of the most iconic works of our time — so many in one show that the outcome will definitely exceed house estimates.

In her book, Seven Days in the Art World, Sarah Thornton tells us that, in auction speak, a “good so-and-so” is not necessarily one of the artist’s highest quality works, but, rather, one that’s iconic of the artist , one that, as Thornton puts it “fetishizes” the aspects of the artist’s work when s/he emerged.

Read on:What makes it “good?”

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