Fair and Auction Report Card: May
“I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.” Oscar Wilde
If T.S. Eliot was right and April is the cruelest month, then May, in regards to single-owner and themed sales of decorative arts, is among the quietest.
The auction houses focus on the fine arts—the Impressionist, Modern, Post-War and Contemporary categories in particular, which account for much of the weight in the auction houses’ coffers.
Highlights of the evening sales, at which the choicest (a.k.a., most expensive) offerings come to the block, include a haunting self-portrait by Andy Warhol at Christie’s, estimated to sell for between $30,000,000-$40,000,000; Pablo Picasso’s Femmes lisant (Deux personnages), featuring Picasso femme-of-the-sales-floor-moment Marie-Thérèse Walter (another Picasso picture of Walter from the 1930s, Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, sold last May at Christie’s for $106.5 million, a record for any artwork sold at auction … ever), has a $25,000,000-$35,000,000 estimate; and Phillips de Pury is offering a … wait for it … Andy Warhol, in this case Liz #5 (Early Colored Liz) at an undisclosed price estimate (page 31 of the online catalog).
As far as art fairs, following the first two important fairs of spring, Sculpture Objects & Functional Art (SOFA New York) and the Spring Show NYC, both at the Armory in Manhattan, exhibitor stands lie fallow for May. It’s the quiet before the Big Bloom, when a trio—the Olympia International Fine Art & Antiques Fair, Art Antiques London, and Masterpiece London—bursts forth in June in the British capital. April showers might bring a royal wedding and May flowers, but May seeds anticipation…
Even if May is a comparatively quiet month in the decorative arts calendar, that’s not to say sales stop. Hardly. In fact, the slate for general sales is packed. Going forward, this column will list the vast majority of notable dec art sales around the world, with call outs and lengthier reports reserved for single-owner and themed sales. It’s my hope that having a single, fairly comprehensive sales survey will serve as a unique tool in the hunt for the perfect … something. Major trade-oriented contemporary furniture and design shows, such as this May’s 23rd annual International Contemporary Furniture Fair at the Javits Center in New York, will also be noted.
May 4,5 Christie’s Paris, 500 Ans: Arts Décoratifs Européens.
May 6, Drouot-Richelieu, Paris, Frames.
May 9, Drouot-Richelieu, Paris, Luxury Luggage and Accessories.
May 10,11 Christie’s Interiors, London, South Kensington.
May 10, Bonhams, London Knightsbridge, Period Design.
May 14-17, International Contemporary Furniture Fair, New York.
May 17, Dorotheum, Vienna, Design.
May 17, Bonhams, New York, Natural History – Decor.
May 17, Christie’s Interiors—Style & Spirit, London, South Kensington.
May 24, Christie’s Interiors, London, South Kensington.
May 24, Christie’s, The Art of the Italian Potter, Maiolica and Porcelain from a Private Collection.
May 25, 26, Freeman’s, Philadelphia, Fine English Furniture & Decorative Arts (catalog to come).
May 25, Sotheby’s Paris, 20th Century Decorative Arts & Design.
May 25, Christie’s, Syd Levethan: The Longridge Collection, London, King Street.
May 26, Christie’s, Lalique, London, South Kensington.
May 30, Pierre Bergé & Associés, House Sale: Gentilhommière du Baron et de la Baronne de Cabrol.
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