Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Triumph For Art And For Two Men

La vente aux enchères est terminée, and it was triumph on so many levels. From Art Daily, Pierre Berge said, "“The sale of the collection that I had built in partnership with Yves Saint Laurent draws to a close and has been a triumph. My expectations have been fully realized. I thank Christie’s for the organization of both the preview exhibitions and the sale itself in the setting of the Grand Palais. I offer my gratitude to the public who came in huge numbers and were prepared to queue patiently for many hours. The results of the sale exceed our highest expectations and confirm the potential of the Paris marketplace to rise to such an occasion. The results also demonstrate that even in a difficult economic climate, works of art of great quality preserve their power and their value.”

To see a great update on all the happenings click here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Forget be the deals. Doyles At Home Auction Results

The prices achieved in Paris give the auction houses some hope. I'll report more on that as the dust settles. For tonight however, here are the results from the pieces I picked from Doyle's At Home Auction. The SOLD FOR price is without the buyers premium of 25%. I show it this way because these kind of items can be found in many places without such an onerous premium not to mention state taxes. This is what the market is bearing. Folks, I say again, and understand things are tight, but there were tremendous deals here today.

Getting rid of baggage starts Doyle's at Home auctions. This is where the deals can be found. Most of the lots are consigned and the pieces can range the gamut. Just remember and it differs from house to house that the buyer pays a house premium. In this case Doyle's tacks on a 25% charge to all pieces under $50,000.00, plus sales tax. I KNOW!!! In these days and times!! I believe these charges will change and with the internet at our hands it makes so much more sense to look at the smaller auction houses around the country. I know that takes time and that's why I'm here to show you some other options.

Mrs. William B. F. Drew, New York, New York
Helen Galland Loewus, New York, New York
William T. Ketcham Jr., Lawrence, New York and New York, New York
A New York Estate
Princess Barbara E. Pignatelli, New York, New York
Herbert Rosen, New York, New York
Anthony P. Russo, New York, New York
Ernest Shapiro, New York
A Washington, D.C. Philanthropist
Lois Wyse, New York, New York
Hy Zaret, Westport, Connecticut
Felix C. Ziffer, New York, New York

The Kulchur Queen Collection

It is interesting that much of what I picked came from the estate of a Washington DC philanthropist. WHO WHO?? WHY WHY??
That said, I went through their catalogue for the At Home Auction for February 25th, 2009 and found some great buys. Lets take a gander.

Lot 131

Chinese Coromandel Four-Panel Screen
Height 6 feet 8 inches, width of each panel 15 inches.
Estimate $600-900
SOLD FOR $425.00. Depending on condition, an amazing buy!

Lot 221

George III Style Mahogany Vitrine
Height 69 inches, width 39 inches, depth 19 inches.

The Estate of a Washington, D.C. Philanthropist

Estimate $800-1,200
SOLD FOR $1,400.00. Looked like it was worth twice that...but of course it wasn't.

Lot 241

Irish Pine Hutch
Height 7 feet 1 inch, width 64 inches, depth 20 inches.
Estimate $2,000-3,000
DID NOT SELL! And, it was my favorite piece. At $2,000.00 it was a deal.

Lot 258

Pair of Chinoiserie Decorated Red Painted Candlestick Lamps
Height 27 inches.
Estimate $200-400
SOLD FOR $250.00. I sell these new and the buyer got a very nice buy.

Lot 352

Pair of Classical Style Patinated-Bronze Jardinieres
Height 33 1/2 inches, diameter 18 inches.

The Estate of a Washington, D.C. Philanthropist

Estimate $1,000-1,500
SOLD FOR $1,400.00. I think they were very original. That is a great price.

Lot 398

Empire Style Mahogany Corner Cabinet
Height 61 inches, width 36 inches, depth 27 inches.
Estimate $600-900
DID NOT SELL. This is a hard piece. Hard to fit in today's rooms but for the right place a great looking cabinet. Too bad. Call the auction house for a reallll deal..secret between us ok.

Lot 399

Set of Four Louis XVI Style Painted Fauteuils
Estimate $1,000-1,500
SOLD FOR $950.00!! That"s just wrong unless they were falling apart which I don't think they were. the buyer should be screaming with delight. I can see them flanking a pretty console and the other two in the living room..$950.00 for four!! Oh folks.

Lot 405

Louis XVI Style Marble Top Green Painted Console
Height 34 1/4 inches, width 70 1/4 inches, depth 20 1/2 inches.
Estimate $600-900
SOLD FOR $1,500.00. Such a pretty table. It was still a deal.

Lot 429

Neoclassical Style Black Painted Bench
With animal print hide upholstery.
Estimate $200-400
SOLD FOR $375.00. Absolutely right. Its a classic.

20th century reproduction.
Very slight loss of paint to legs and feet.

Height 20 inches
Length 50 inches
Depth 18 inches

Lot 484

Charles X Mahogany Commode
Height 39 inches, width 50 inches, depth 25 inches.
Estimate $1,200-1,800
SOLD FOR $900.00. Very fair. Still a lovely piece for your home. I'd love to have it.

Top drawer fitted with a desk. Overall restored/refinished condition. Brasses not original.

Lot 517

Neoclassical Style Bronze Coffee Table
Inset with polychrome painted porcelain panel, height 21 3/4 inches, width 39 inches, depth 21 1/4 inches.
Estimate $600-800
SOLD FOR $3,500.00. I KNEW IT! Even online I saw it too. This was a special piece and you'd never find it again. This belongs in a beautiful living/library. It cost $2,000.00 fifteen years ago I"ll bet.

Lot 532

Chinoiserie Decorated Black Lacquered Chest
Height 33 inches, width 38 inches, depth 21 inches.

The Estate of a Washington, D.C. Philanthropist

Estimate $800-1,200
SOLD FOR $1,400.00. A Great buy for piece that I'm pretty sure is new. Two years ago it would have gone for $5,000.00, so I hope the buyer is very happy.

On to the next auction..yea..

China wants sculptures from Saint Laurent auction

They sold for an amazing amount of euros!!Two bronze fountainheads at the center of a spat with China — which said the sculptures were stolen and wanted them back — sold for euro28 million ($36 million).

BEIJING (AP)February 12,2009 — China has demanded the return of looted imperial bronzes scheduled to be sold in Paris as part of the estate auction of the late French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent.

The sculptures of a rat head and rabbit disappeared in 1860, when French and British forces sacked the former summer palace on the outskirts of Beijing at the close of the second Opium War, according to China's official Xinhua News Agency.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a regularly scheduled news conference Thursday that the pieces were "stolen and taken away by intruders," and "should be returned to China."

The issue threatens to further strain tensions with France that have led to protests and calls from the Chinese public to boycott French goods. China canceled a December summit with the European Union to protest talks between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the Dalai Lama, whom the Chinese accuse of supporting Tibetan separatism.

The two bronzes — which are expected to sell for about 8 to 10 million euros ($10.4 to $13 million) each, according to Xinhua — are to be auctioned by Christie's Feb. 23-25 in Paris along with other pieces belonging to the estate of Saint Laurent, who died last year.

Xinhua said the bronzes are subject to a 1995 agreement which stipulated that "any cultural object looted or lost because of reasons of war should be returned without any limitation of time span."

"The aggressive war not only offended the Chinese people, but also this kind of action is a violation of international convention," Jiang said. She did not mention France by name, but said "the relevant country" should heed China's demands.

Xinhua said the two relics date back to the early Qing Dynasty, established by invading Manchu tribesmen in 1644. The Christie's guide says the "very rare and important" pieces were made for the Zodiac fountain of the summer Imperial Palace.

The rat head sculpture is about 12 inches (30 centimeters) tall and 16 inches (40 centimeters) long, while the rabbit is about 18 inches (45 centimeters) tall and 14 inches (35 centimeters) long.

Christie's said in a statement that while it "respects the cultural context around the sale of the fountainheads, we respectfully believe the auction will proceed."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Art Deco Strikes It Big In Paris

PARIS (AFP) — An Art Deco armchair by Irish designer Eileen Gray smashed records and topped sales on day two of the sale of the stunning Yves Saint Laurent art collection, becoming the most expensive 20th century piece of furniture ever.

The 21.9 million euro (28.2 million dollar) bid for the one-off rounded brown leather piece -- known as the Dragons armchair because the arms feature sculptured dragon's heads -- set a record for the iconic designer as well as being the second highest price ever paid for furniture.

The highest ever was an 18th century "Badmington cabinet" sold for 36.6 million dollars (27.46 million euros) in December 2004.

Another high-flying Art Deco piece by Gray, who died in 1976, was a chest that sold for four million euros, including fees.

Among other Art Deco records from the gems that graced the homes of Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Berge was a set of 15 leaf-decorated mirrors by French designer Claude Lalanne that flew away at 1.8 million euros.

And a pair of palmwood leopard-skinned benches designed by Gustav Miklos set a record for the Hungarian at 1.5 million euros.

Two vases by Dunand too sold far higher than expected. A 1912 vase went for 220,000 euros against an estimated value of 80,000 and another sold for 270,000 euros in comparison with an estimate of 30,000 euros.

Earlier Tuesday, a 19th century oil by Theodore Gericault sold for a record nine million euros (11.6 million dollars) while two works by Ingres also set new records at the art "sale of the century".

An oil by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres fetched two million euros including fees while one of his drawings hit a record 913,000 euros for a sketch on paper.

Before the Art Deco treasures went on sale, Christie's said works by old masters and 19th century artists, as well as silver antiques, fetched 42.1 million euros (53.7 million dollars) on day two of the historic auction.

The auction of 700 works collected by Saint Laurent and Berge at its opening round on Monday smashed the world record for a private art sale with 206 million euros (261 million dollars) worth of bids.

On the first day alone, the three-day auction dubbed the "sale of the century" broke seven world records for contemporary artists.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Results From A Small Sample of the Saint Laurent Art Collection

I am amazed! Here are the highlights as picked by Christie's Auction House of the Art for sale at Saint Laurent's Sale. If this small sampling peaks your interest I urge you to see the whole collection now online at Christie's. I just don't understand how a collection like this, after WWII, could have been assembled by these two men. Nothing they picked was wrong. Everything they chose was perfection. Such talent, such taste, and I don't even pay much attention to fashion.Obvious genius.

PAUL CEZANNE (1839-1906)
La montagne Sainte-Victoire vue des Lauves (recto); Etude d'arbres (verso)

€2,000,000 - €3,000,000
Price Realized
(Set Currency)

* €2,081,000
* ($2,623,467)
* Price includes buyer's premium


* €2,000,000 - €3,000,000 ($2,587,711 - $3,881,567)

EDVARD MUNCH (1863-1944)
Bord de mer
signé et daté 'E. Munch 98' (en bas à gauche)
huile sur toile
56 x 80.9 cm. (22 x 31¾ in.)
Peint en 1898
Estimate * €1,200,000 - €1,800,000 ($1,552,372 - $2,328,559
Price Realized
(Set Currency)

* €1,129,000
* ($1,423,303)
* Price includes buyer's premium


* €1,200,000 - €1,800,000 ($1,552,627 - $2,328,940)

HENRI LAURENS (1885-1954)
Femme accroupie
numéroté 'V' (à l'intérieur de la base)
terre cuite
Hauteur: 36.3 cm. (14¼ in.)
Conçu en 1926; tirage de 7 épreuves numérotées de 0 à 6
# €40,000 - €60,000 ($51,746 - $77,619)
Price Realized
(Set Currency)

* €217,000
* ($273,567)

JUAN GRIS (1887-1927)
Le Violon
signé et daté 'Juan Gris 8-13' (au revers)
huile sur toile
58.4 x 71.7 cm. (23 x 28¼ in.)
Peint en août 1913
# €4,000,000 - €6,000,000 ($5,174,575 - $7,761,862)
Price Realized
(Set Currency)

* €3,873,000
* ($4,882,599)

Madame L.R. (Portrait de Mme L.R.)
bois de chêne sculpté
Hauteur: 117.1 cm. (46 1/8 in.)
Exécuté vers 1914-17
# €15,000,000 - €20,000,000 ($19,404,656 - $25,872,874)
Price Realized
(Set Currency)

* €29,185,000
* ($36,792,835)

MARCEL DUCHAMP (1887-1968)
Belle haleine - Eau de voilette
inscrit et daté 'Rrose Sélavy 1921' (sur l'étiquette de la boîte de parfum)
boîte ovale en carton de couleur violette, bouteille de parfum en verre
Hauteur: 16.5 cm. (6½ in.)
Largeur: 11.2 cm. (4 3/8 in.)
Réalisé avec le concours de Man Ray à New York, 1921
# €1,000,000 - €1,500,000 ($1,293,644 - $1,940,466)
Price Realized WOW
(Set Currency)

* €8,913,000
* ($11,236,407)

FERNAND LEGER (1881-1955)
La tasse de thé
signé et daté 'F.LEGER 21' (en bas à droite); signé, daté et titré 'La Tasse de thé Definitif F.LEGER.21' (au revers)
huile sur toile
91.7 x 64.8 cm. (36 1/8 x 25½ in.)
Peint en 1921
# €10,000,000 - €15,000,000 ($12,936,437 - $19,404,656)
Price Realized
(Set Currency)

* €11,489,000
* ($14,483,909)

PIET MONDRIAN (1872-1944)
Composition avec bleu, rouge, jaune et noir
signé du monogramme 'PM' (en bas à droite)
huile sur toile
79.6 x 49.8 cm. (31 7/8 x 19½ in.)
Peint en 1922; avec baguettes d'origine
# €7,000,000 - €10,000,000 ($9,055,506 - $12,936,437)
Price Realized
(Set Currency)

* €21,569,000
* ($27,191,525) WOW!!

PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
Instruments de musique sur un guéridon
signé 'Picasso' (en haut à gauche)
huile et sable sur toile
129.2 x 88.9 cm. (50 7/8 x 35 in.)
Peint en 1914-15
# €25,000,000 - €30,000,000 ($32,341,093 - $38,809,311)
DID NOT SELL!!! It depends on the Picasso I guess....and agree.

HENRI MATISSE (1869-1954)
Les coucous, tapis bleu et rose
signé et daté 'Henri-Matisse 1911-' (en bas à droite)
huile sur toile
81 x 65.5 cm. (31 7/8 x 25¾ in.)
Peint en 1911
# €12,000,000 - €18,000,000 ($15,523,724 - $23,285,587)
Price Realized
(Set Currency)

* €35,905,000
* ($45,264,579) Quality, Quality.

Dancers and Sphere
bois peint, feuilles de métal, fil de fer et moteur (110 volts)
10 x 64.5 x 29 cm. (4 x 25 3/8 x 11 3/8 in.)
Exécuté en 1936
# €1,000,000 - €2,000,000 ($1,293,644 - $2,587,287)
Price Realized
(Set Currency)

* €1,577,000
* ($1,988,086) Someone is happy. It was a personal favorite.

The Lines Were Long To See The Treasures

Chrisites photo.
"“The reaction to the weekend’s previews for the public was overwhelming,” said Alexandra Buxton, an executive at Christie’s. “Over 30,000 people came through the doors, and the queues on average have stretched for four hours, snaking around the Grand Palais almost to the Champs-Elysées.”

Go to "The Moment" at the New York Times for some great pictures.

A Good Start to the Laurent Auction

The hammer has just stopped pounding on the first day of the Saint Laurent auction in Paris and the news is better than expected. WSJ:By KELLY CROW and MAX COLCHESTER

"Not everything valuable plunges. Despite the grim economic environment, the art market let out a collective sigh of relief as Christie's in Paris successfully auctioned €206 million ($266.7 million) of Impressionist and modern artworks collected by the late designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner, Pierre Berge." Full story here, Wall Street. Journal

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Buzz In Paris Over The Auction Is Growing

The buzz and plans for the auction are reaching new heights according to the NYTimes just hours ago. Picture and story are theirs. Click here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

New York Times Slide Show of Saint Laurent's Treasures

Here are some great photos in a slide show from Saint Laurent's rooms courtesy of the New York Times.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Free Appraisals in DC

I think more people should take advantage of these free verbal appraisals.
Monday, February 16

Doyle New York holds regularly scheduled free appraisal days in the Mid-Atlantic area. Our team of appraisers, most of whom are featured on the PBS television series Antiques Roadshow, will provide free verbal evaluations for collectors seeking to auction jewelry, paintings, furniture and decorations (photographs are acceptable).

For information or an appointment, please call Doyle Washington, DC Regional Representative Reid Duanvant or email

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Portrait Lovers Dream Comes True

From Art Daily.

Readers of Homer's Odd know of my love of portraiture, both old and new and of my love of the National Gallery, United Kingdom's, Annual Portrait competition. So it was with great pleasure that I discovered via Art Daily the launch of The National Gallery's new website. I have not yet had time to wander through it but I'm sure it will be the source of some great stories.

Art Daily:LONDON.- The National Portrait Gallery launches its newly redesigned website offering exciting facilities, greater interactivity and fascinating glimpses of the Gallery's work behind the scenes. The site, which has been redeveloped in partnership with digital media company Cogapp, now provides a first-class experience for the site's 16 million visitors a year. The overall result has been to make the site more intuitive and easier to use.

Visitors can now see 120,000 of the Gallery's portraits listed online, and images now appear on screens four times bigger than their previous size. It is possible to zoom in to portraits in order to see the smallest of details and also to identify all sitters in group portraits. Visitors can now browse the Collection, in a range of new ways, such as a room-by-room listing of all the portraits on display.

Full story and link here.

Monday, February 9, 2009

New Aquistion for The National Gallery in DC

From Art Daily:WASHINGTON, DC.- The National Gallery of Art's acquisition of Bagpipe Player in Profile (1624) by Dutch painter Hendrick ter Brugghen, made possible with substantial support of Gallery donors Greg and Candy Fazakerley, is a historic addition to the Gallery's celebrated collection of Dutch painting. This remarkable work will be installed in the Gallery's Dutch paintings galleries by late spring. Full story here.

Yves Saint Laurent's Art Collection

The auction world is holding it's collective breath to see how succesful this sale, in these bleak economic times, will be. We still have a few weeks to go. Here is a story from Forbes on his art collection. An interesting fact from the story is about Southeby's auction last week that I reported on.

"Sotheby's (nyse: BID - news - people ) Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on Feb. 3 in London fetched just $46 million including commissions, compared with the $230 million the sale hauled in a year ago." The full story here.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Weschler's Results

Okay folks, so for the start of 2009 we've examined 4/5 auctions..and I seem to be picking pieces of which only half sell. I haven't picked extremely odd pieces and always find lots that I think appeal to many, but I'm hitting 50/50. Its very interesting and what makes my love of the auction process only more ingrained.

It is obvious to me in these media driven times of forgone apocalypse, that there is money out there to buy fine pieces and it says to me, that our world may not be on the verge of the abyss as our talking heads keep screaming at us to believe, but that we should buy prudently on the best pieces.

I declare it, "The year of the smart buyer." I declare," Buy if you can.these deals won't last long!"

I just went through Weschler's catalogue for their February 7th auction and will get down there to view the following items up close. Now, this isn't a Christies Auction in Paris, but that makes it all the more fun. Its real!Regular readers know that I have great faith in Weschlers and have accumulated some great pieces here. Also at this time of year and especially in these trying economic times I believe this is a great opportunity to grab that unique something. Secondly, what a better way to spend a cold February day than at an auction, okay its what I like to do. I've only picked a few items that caught my eye but you can view the entire catalogue here. I think there are some real deals and you know how much I love a great deal. Lets take a look.

Lot 48
Chinese Export Gilt Decorated Black Lacquer Quatreform Tea Caddy
Mid-19th Century
The hinged lid decorated with five lozenge-form vignettes opening to view an engraved pewter caddy with ivory knob, the sides with cartouche reserves, all raised on giltwood and partial polychrome decorated dragon head feet.
Height: 6 in (15.2 cm); Width: 8-3/4 in (22.2 cm); Depth: 9 in (22.9 cm)
Estimate $1,000-1,500

For a similar example see Lyon & Turnbull, Edinburgh, Fine Antiques, September 24, 2008, lot 144.
SOLD OR $2000.00. A beautiful box and something I'd love to have.

Lot 63
Large Pair of Chinese Cloisonné Enamel and Gilt Bronze Figures of Herons
20th Century
Each in three sections. Each lacking attributes in their beaks.
Height: 78-1/2 in (199.4 cm); Diameter of base: 21 in (53.3 cm)
Estimate $1,000-2,000

Each with small areas of enamel losses and pitting, particularly to the body and base
SOLD FOR $17,000.00. How could these have been so badly estimated. Someone knew something. Provenance? Age? Big questions here???

Lot 102
Japanese Copper-Alloy Figure of an Elephant
Sealed twice Atsuyoshi and Akima, Meiji Period (1868-1912)
With dark brown patina.
Height: 7 in (17.8 cm); Length: 10 in (25.4 cm)
Estimate $500-700.I just love elephants. ;)
SOLD FOR $350.00. Cheap Republicans..Well I think they got a deal!

Lot 174
Herend 'Rothschild Bird' Dinner Service. A Huge Dinner Service that every preppy girl would love to have. See the catalogue for a description of the full service. This could be a major buy.
SOLD FOR $10,000.00. Exactly what I thought it was worth. Lucky Lady out there?

Lot 308
Set of Six George III Style Mahogany Side Chairs
Late 19th-Early 20th Century
Each having a brown and blue striped silk upholstered seat.

Estimate $1,000-1,500. A beautiful set of chairs for $1,500.00. Hey newlyweds!!
DID NOT that's a mystery.

Lot 326
George III Black Chinoiserie Tall Case Clock
Walter Brodhurst, Lichfield, Mid-18th Century
Having a rectangular brass face with applied spandrels, signed Walt Brodhurst Lichfield, the two-train movement with date aperture and seconds subsidiary. Cracks to front of base; repairs to pediment; redecorated and with cracks and losses to painted surface.
Height: 84 in (213.4 cm)
Estimate $3,000-5,000. Lots of dings from the picture. I just hope Michael Smith doesn't see this. Yea, I want this in my living room.
DID NOT SELL. I heard it didn't look to great up close.

Lot 331
George III Oak Welsh Dresser
Last Quarter 18th Century
In two parts; the upper section with two plate shelves, the lower section with three aligned drawers. Upper section by association; brasses replaced and lacking one bail handle.
Height: 55-3/4 in (141.6 cm); Width: 62 in (157.5 cm); Depth: 16-1/2 in (41.9 cm)
Estimate $1,000-1,500. Its a married piece but I love it. Can you imagine it filled with Delft or white pottery in a beautiful kitchen. This is very original and one of a kind looking.
SOLD FOR $900.00. That must have been a great deal! I didn't see it up close but loved the stats on it.

Lot 390
Biedermeier Birchwood Secrétaire à Abattant
Circa 1820
Some losses and repair to veneer, especially to the cornice.
Height: 68-1/4 in (173.4 cm); Width: 44 in (111.8 cm); Depth: 21-1/4 in (54 cm)
Estimate $2,000-4,000. Every home should have at least one piece. I have just the place.
It didn't sell!

Lot 323
George III Mahogany Slant-Front Bureau-Bookcase
Predominantly Last Quarter 18th Century
In two parts; the mullion-glazed door upper section enclosing a green and champagne chinoiserie silk covered interior with two shelves; the lower section having a slanting hinged writing lid opening to view a stepped interior with a central arched prospect door flanked by fixed pilasters and an arrangement of six valanced-door pigeonholes over five blocked and serpentine drawers. Restored; brasses replaced.
Height: 81-1/2 in (207 cm); Width: 42-1/4 in (107.3 cm); Depth: 21 in (53.3 cm)
Estimate $1,500-2,500. A lovely piece for a traditional room.
SOLD FOR $1,900.00. Congrats to the buyer...a deal for a lovely piece.

Lot 327
George III Style Ebonized Wood Inlaid Figured Mahogany Sideboard
20th Century
Having a frieze drawer flanked by two convex panel doors. Top with scattered surface scratches.
Height: 38 in (96.5 cm); Width: 72 in (182.9 cm); Depth: 20-3/4 in (52.7 cm)
Estimate $1,000-1,500. If you got this for $1,000.00 you'd be walking on air, and it could happen!
It didn't happen. It didn't sell. It must have had some major flaws.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Grey Is My Favorite Color

Postcards from Detroit. Always interesting work from Daily paintings by Stephen Magsig.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Design Lecture From TED.. Bloggers take Note.

Grab a cup of coffee or close your office door and enjoy this 23 minute conversation with David Carson,"Design, discovery and humor." Mr. Carson is the "grunge typographer" whose magazine Ray Gun helped explode the possibilities of text on a page. The TED Conference 2009 is now uploading their presentations. There is so much to enjoy and it kills whatever is on the tube tonight so I urge you to take a look.

Jazz In DC

From Gridskipper: Once upon a time, U Street was known as Black Broadway. There, the likes of Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, and Ella Fitzgerald sang, riffed and jammed for the neighborhood's largely African American community, turning Washington in a jazz hotbed. Most of the nightclubs were destroyed in the riots of 1968. But even fires and fights could not diffuse DC's love of jazz. Most clubs were rebuilt -- new ones joined the mix, too -- making Washington home to some of the most revered jazz venues in the nation. Click here to see the best spots.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Sotheby's Sale Dances To A Bit Of A Happy Tune

From ARTINFO: BY Judd Tully:, "LONDON—A nervous art market survived its season-opening hurdle this evening as Sotheby’s slim sale of Impressionist and Modern earned a total of ₤32,564,300 ($46,238,050), a result that came within range of the pre-sale low estimate of ₤40.6 million but still lagged far behind the high estimate of ₤55.6 million.

Twenty-two of the 29 lots found buyers for respectable (and even encouraging) buy-in rates of 24 percent and 32 percent by value.

“You either had works that were very sought after, or they didn’t go,” said Melanie Clore, Sotheby’s co-chairman of Impressionist and Modern art worldwide. “For the right works, there’s really a lot of demand.”

While only six of the 22 sold lots made over £1 million, the evening’s top earner shot to a hammer price of £11.8 million, drawing a round of applause.

Edgar Degas’s posthumous bronze Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans, complete with raggedy muslin skirt and satin hair tie, was cast in 1922 from an edition of 28 based on the wax original from circa 1879–81. The final sale price (with buyer’s premium) was an impressive £13,257,250 (est. £9-12 million), a result that easily beat the $12,377,500 earned by another work in the edition at Sotheby’s New York in November 1999. Tonight’s version, which went to a Japanese collector bidding by telephone, last sold at Sotheby’s London in February 2004 for £5,045,600.

The Degas consignor, Sir John Madejski, may have made a handsome return on his investment, but others didn’t fare nearly as well. A striking Francis Picabia, Lunis from 1929-30, in oil and mixed media from his “Transparences” series, went to a telephone bidder for £529,250 (est. £450,000-650,000). Although well within the estimate range, the work last sold at Sotheby’s London in February 2006 for £1,072,000, or about double tonight’s result.

If that was a glaring example of what a price correction looks like in the current market, elsewhere strong works continued to perform surprisingly well. Take, for instance, the small but power-packed cover lot, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s hallucinatory Strassenszene (Street Scene) from 1913, which went to a lone telephone bidder for £5,417,250 (est. £5-7 million). The painting last sold at Sotheby’s London in June 1997 for £1,981,500. It's a work that comes with a built-in bonus in that the verso of the canvas contains an eerie portrait from 1914 of Botho Graff, an archeology professor and art historian who admired Kirchner's work.

The Kirchner was not the only German and Austrian work in healthy demand. A recently restituted Oskar Kokoschka city view, Istanbul l from June 1929, earned £1,497,250 (est. £1.2-1.8 million), going to a phone bidder speaking to none other than Sotheby’s CEO William Ruprecht. The sale benefited the heirs of former owner Oskar Federer some 70 years after the work was seized from him by the Nazis.

Overall, the evening produced mixed results. On the one hand, there were casualties, like the rare and impressive, but pricey, Amedeo Modigliani oil, Cariatide from 1913, which died after a lone bid of £4.7 million (est. £6-8 million). On the other hand, you had the large and late Joan Miró abstraction, Femmes et Oiseaux dans la Nuit, which drew interest from at least half a dozen bidders before selling to international art trader David Nahmad for a robust £2,001,250 (est. £750,000–1 million). The underbidders included two New York dealers, Jose Mugrabi and David Benrimon.

Rene Magritte’s small and stunning Souvenir de Voyage from 1958, depicting the Leaning Tower of Pisa being propped up by a feather, sold to Abigail Asher of the New York/L.A. art advisory group Guggenheim Asher for £746,850 (£400,000-600,000).

“With the weak pound and the nervousness of certain buyers, there are opportunities in the market for longtime and savvy collectors who haven’t enjoyed the frenzy of the past few years to step back in and get great things,” said Asher moments after the sale