— THE BIG STORY —
If you're starting to get the sniffles and your eyes are becoming itchy, don't automatically blame the spring pollen—you could be allergic to high-ticket artworks, which this week are wafting into New York in such extravagant volume that they may soon outnumber the city's flowers. And this year, with liquidity flooding the financial sector and art viewed as a safe and attractive place to park it, sellers are planning to push the art market even further into the stratosphere with new records for the biggest name-brand artists, testing what the top buyers can sustain. Achoo!
First up, there are the Impressionist and Modern art sales at Christie's and Sotheby's, where a dwindling store of truly first-rate period works on the open market mean that even minor pieces can command stellar sums, like a small Cézanne watercolor of almost palpably rendered apples that's expected to fetch as much as $600,000 at Sotheby's. However, there are a few bona fide stars stepping into the salesroom, as in the case of a 1921 Fernand Léger triple portrait going under the hammer at Sotheby's for $5 million–$7 million. It's being auctioned off by an even bigger star, Madonna, who hung it for years in the bedroom of her Central Park West duplex.
Following these sales, the Frieze New York art fair will return to Randall's Island for its sophomore year, depositing blue-chip international galleries of the toniest pedigree under its deluxe white tent for a weekend of hyper-powered art commerce (and, yes, delicious farm-to-table, locavore, muy auténtico hipster cuisine). NADA New York and newcomers Collective.1 and Cut/Log will top off the other satellite fairs popping up in Frieze's earl-grey-tea-scented wake.
Then, the following week, the biggest dollars will hit the table as Christie's, Sotheby's, and Philips. Sellers will include the press-shy industrialist Mitchell P. Rales (whose invitation-only private collection, Glenstone, is spoken of in hushed tones by art professionals), Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen, and Robert Rauschenberg's ex-wife, the artist Susan Weil. New records are expected for Basquiat and possibly even Gerhard Richter, as you may have read in Linda Silverman's sneak preview.
In any case, expect plenty of coverage and analysis of all of this on Artspace Magazine. And bring plenty of tissues! — Andrew M. Goldstein
— QUOTE OF THE WEEK —
"It’s a vexing time for those of us who believe in the right of artists, intellectuals and ordinary, affronted citizens to push boundaries and take risks and so, at times, to change the way we see the world. There’s nothing to be done but to go on restating the importance of this kind of courage, and to try to make sure that these oppressed individuals—Ai Weiwei, the members of Pussy Riot, Hamza Kashgari—are seen for what they are: men and women standing on the front line of liberty."
— The author Salman Rushdie in an impassioned opinion piece for the New York Times, titled "Whither Moral Courage?", about how "strangely, we have become suspicious of those who take a stand against the abuses of power or dogma"
— MUST READ —
Where Are All the Great Women Art Collectors? — The art journalist Judith Dobrzynski asks that question, noting that while there have been a handful over history—from Isabella d'Este to Peggy Guggenheim to Agnes Gund—there are far fewer then their male counterparts, and she dubiously chalks up this gender imbalance to art collecting's similarity to hunting, and the atavistic thrill it gives men. (NYT)
Tracey Emin on the "Massive Discrepancy" Between Genders in the Art World — The YBA artist (one of our "Artists to Watch" this month) talks about the role being a woman has played in her artistic career and that of other women, like Louise Bourgeois, and her new show at Lehmann Maupin. (Modern Painters)
LACMA to Undergo Major Expansion — The beloved Los Angeles museum has announced that it is enlisting Pritzker Prize-winning architect Peter Zumthor to build a new $450 million building—reportedly inspired by the gooey forms of the institution's neighboring La Brea Tar Pits— to replace its current home, designed in 1965 by William L. Pereira and widely seen as insufficient for displaying LACMA's cultural treasures. (LAT)
Marina Abramovic Leaps Into Ballet — The performance artist will premiere her version of Ravel's Boléro this week at the Paris's Palais Garnier, with costumes by fashion designer Riccardo Tisci. (NYT)
Read an Interview With Sara VanDerBeek — Artinfo's Sara Roffino spoke to the artist (another one of Artspace's "Artists to Watch" this month), about her new show at Metro Pictures, and how she fuses sculpture and photography in her work. (Artinfo)
The "Den Mother" Behind Creative Time — The Times profiles Anne Pasternak, who as head of the New York nonprofit has turned it from a "20-year-old start-up" into a globally engaged organization with a multimillion-dollar budget, creating such projects as Nick Cave's recent Heard NY performance in Grand Central and working with artist from Vic Muniz and Marina Abramovic to Takashi Murakami and Laurie Anderson. (NYT)
"It's Going to Be the First Time in My Life I'll Have Real Money"— Izzy Young, the past proprietor of the Greenwich Village Folklore Center, will auction off the lyrics for a previously unreleased Bob Dylan song, "Go Away You Bomb," which the then unknown troubadour penned in 1963 at Young's request and are expected to sell between $40,000 – $55,000 when they're but on the block at Christie's on June 26th. (Rolling Stone)
Early Birds Get the Art — To celebrate the fact that it's now open seven days a week, the Museum of Modern Art will be providing free admission to the first 100 art goers on Tuesdays throughout the month of May, though who knows how early one would have to arrive to the very highly trafficked museum in order to take advantage of the offer. (Gallerist)
High Line to Keep Park Free — Though the powers that be had originally decided to charge each visitor $6 a piece to make reservations to tour the final, undeveloped section of the immensely popular High Line park, where seven near-hidden sculptures by Carol Bove will be on view for the next year, they have since decided to drop the fee, allowing nature-enthusiasts to walk through the elevated park's overgrown and unmanicured section unsolicited. (NYT)
"Black Block" Is Newest Brooklyn Buy — So taken is the Brooklyn Museum with their current exhibition of large-scale sculptures by Ghanaian artist El Anatsui, that the institution has decided to purchase "Black Block," an unusually monochromatic wall hanging comprised of everyday materials, which is currently on display in the institutions's current show, "Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui" and will be traveling to museums in Des Moines, Miami Beach San Diego once the exhibition ends in August. (NYT)
— ART MARKET —
Islamic Art Surprises —Bonhams's Islamic art auction fared better than its counterparts at Christie's and Sotheby's in London, thanks largely to the surprise sale of a pair of Iznik water bottles, which went for seven times their £100,000 estimate, and a step from a Sri Lankan temple which went for 27 times its £20,000 estimate (£553,000, or $860,000). (Telegraph)
Harris Lieberman to Open Second Space — While the gallery's main Chelsea location on 26th street undergoes renovations, Harris Lieberman will inaugurate a second location on Orchard Street in the Lower East side this Sunday with a two-week-long show of video art by Matt Saunders. (Press Release)
Sotheby’s Opens Private Gallery — The trend toward private sales at the auction houses grows stronger with news that Sotheby’s will open a private gallery in London, in a space adjacent to its main salesrooms on New Bond Street. (Bloomberg)
Promising Print Week — The auction of prints and multiples at Christie’s this week brought in a $10.3 million total, selling 91 percent by lot, with the top sale going to Andy Warhol for a complete set of ten Campbell’s Soup screenprints from 1968, which sold for $411,750. (Press release)
Gagosian Empire Expands —Gagosian Gallery has signed a 20-year-lease in London for a 22,000-square-foot space, making the Mayfair gallery Gagosian’s third in the city and 13th in the world. (NYT)
— IN & OUT —
This year's star-studded edition of the annual Whitney Art Party raised $450,000 to benefit the museum's vaunted Independent Study Program and drew such celebs as Lake Bell and Adam Driver to a party hosted by Spanish Pop art lover Nichole Galicia, whom we interviewed here. (Fashionista)
Creative Time's gala honoring the artist Julian Schnabel raised over $1 million to support the globally minded nonprofit, and Michael H. Miller took the opportunity to get some generous feedback from the man himself on an Observer profile the art journalist had written of the painter. (Gallerist)
With the departure of its chief drawings curator, Connie Butler, for L.A.'s Hammer Museum, MoMA will combine its drawings department with its department of prints and illustrated books. (NYT)
MoMA has tapped David Platzker, founder of Specific Object and former executive director of Printed Matter, to become and prints and illustrated books curator at the museum—meaning that Specific Object will close later this month. (Gallerist)
Say "bye bye" to Boy With Frog, Charles Ray's part touching, part eerie classicizing sculpture of an oversized young boy holding the titular amphibian that megacollector François Pinault commissioned for the tip of his Punta della Dogana island in Venice, but which the waterlogged city is now cruelly displacing for a copy of the vintage lamppost that had long stood there as a romantic meeting spot. (NYT)
The controversial artist Karen Finley, best known for dousing her naked body in chocolate sauce and infuriating the '80s right wing when she received an NEA grant, is back with a project where she asks fans to sext explicit photos to her that she then paints and sells them for a minimum of $200 a pop. (Mashable)
This week the Barnes Foundation is debuting its first contemporary art show since moving to its new home in Philadelphia, showing five wall sculptures by Ellsworth Kelly to mark both the foundation's 90th birthday and that of the artist. (Philadelphia Magazine)
The Kunsthalle Fridericianum has hired Susanne Pfeffer, formerly chief curator of Berlin's Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art, to be its new artistic director. (Artforum)