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$35 Million Picasso Sculpture Starts 2013 Fall Impressionist & Modern Art Auctions in New York – UPDATED WITH SALE RESULTS

October 25, 2013
Lot. 21 Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)  Tête (Maquette pour la sculpture en plein air du Chicago Civic Center) cut and welded steel  height: 41½ in. (105.5 cm.); width: 27½ in. (70 cm.); depth: 17¾ in. (45 cm.) conceived in Mougins, 1962-1964 and executed in 1964; unique  Provenance Estate of the artist. Marina Picasso (by descent from the above). Jan Krugier, acquired from the above. Estimate: $25 - 35 million.

Lot. 21 Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Tête (Maquette pour la sculpture en plein air du Chicago Civic Center)
cut and welded steel
height: 41½ in. (105.5 cm.); width: 27½ in. (70 cm.); depth: 17¾ in. (45 cm.)
conceived in Mougins, 1962-1964 and executed in 1964; unique
Provenance
Estate of the artist.
Marina Picasso (by descent from the above).
Jan Krugier, acquired from the above.
Estimate: $25 – 35 million. Bidding on this lot stopped at $19 million and it failed to sell.

UPDATE: What a train wreck of a sale. The sale, subtitled “A Dialogue Through Art” was largely a one-way conversation with buyer’s frequently saying: “No thanks.” Exaggerated estimates for works, many of which have been on the market for a while according to the New York Times, resulted in a steep buy in rate for many of the top lots in the sale.  The final result, $92,533,000 (including buyers’ premiums) was no where near the low estimate of $147 million (which does not include the buyers’ premiums). The complete list of results.  According to Bloomberg News, “China’s richest man, Wang Jianlin, bought Picasso’s painting of his young children, Claude and Paloma, for $28.2 million” (below).

ORIGINAL POST: The 2103 Fall season of Impressionist and Modern art auctions in New York will kick off November 4, 2013 at Christie’s with the sale of works owned by art dealer Jan Krugier, and the top lot in the sale is a 41½ in. tall steel maquette for Picasso’s Tête in the Chicago Civic Center. According to the lot notes, this is one of two maquettes for the finished sculpture:

The completed freestanding sculpture measures 65 feet (20 m) in height, and occupies today, as it did when it was unveiled 15 August 1967, the plaza in front of the Civic Center building, since 1976 known as the Richard J. Daley Center in honor of the late mayor, in downtown Chicago. Picasso made a gift of the maquette sent to America to the Art Institute of Chicago. The present maquette remained in Picasso’s possession during his lifetime; following his death in 1973 the sculpture was bequeathed to his grand-daughter Marina, and subsequently entered the collection of Mr. Krugier.

Lot. 21 Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) Tête (Maquette pour la sculpture en plein air du Chicago Civic Center)

Lot. 21 Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Tête (Maquette pour la sculpture en plein air du Chicago Civic Center)

Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944)  Herbstlandschaft  signed and dated 'KANDINSKY 1911.' (lower right)  oil on canvas  28 1/8 x 39 1/8 in. (71.6 x 99.3 cm.)  painted on 31 January 1911  Provenance Nierendorf Gallery, New York. Mies van der Rohe, Chicago (acquired from the above, 1941). Lora F. Marx, Chicago (gift from the above, circa 1942); sale, Sotheby's, New York, 9 May 1989, lot 33. Jan Krugier, acquired at the above sale. Estimate: $20 - 25 million.

Lot 41. Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944)
Herbstlandschaft
signed and dated ‘KANDINSKY 1911.’ (lower right)
oil on canvas
28 1/8 x 39 1/8 in. (71.6 x 99.3 cm.)
painted on 31 January 1911
Provenance
Nierendorf Gallery, New York.
Mies van der Rohe, Chicago (acquired from the above, 1941).
Lora F. Marx, Chicago (gift from the above, circa 1942); sale, Sotheby’s, New York, 9 May 1989, lot 33.
Jan Krugier, acquired at the above sale.
Estimate: $20 – 25 million. Bidding on this lot stopped at $14 million and it failed to sell.

This Kandinsky was at one time owned by the architect Mies van der Rohe.  From the lot notes:

According to Kandinsky’s personal handlist, he painted this canvas on 31 January 1911. Several weeks earlier, on 2 January, the artist attended in Munich a concert of the music of the Viennese composer Arnold Schoenberg, to whom he wrote on the 18th: “what we are striving for and our whole manner of thought and feeling have so much in common… In your works you have realized what I have so greatly longed for in music” (quoted inSchoenberg, Kandinsky and the Blue Rider, exh. cat., The Jewish Museum, New York, 2003, p. 79).

Lot 45. Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966)  Femme de Venise I  signed and numbered 'Alberto Giacometti 2/6' (on the left side of the base); inscribed with foundry mark 'SUSSE FONDEUR PARIS' (on the back of the base) bronze with dark brown patina  height: 41¼ in. (104.8 cm.)  conceived in 1956 and cast in 1957  Estimate: $9 - 12 million

Lot 45. Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966)
Femme de Venise I
signed and numbered ‘Alberto Giacometti 2/6’ (on the left side of the base); inscribed with foundry mark ‘SUSSE FONDEUR PARIS’ (on the back of the base)
bronze with dark brown patina
height: 41¼ in. (104.8 cm.)
conceived in 1956 and cast in 1957
Estimate: $9 – 12 million. Bidding on this lot stopped at $6.8 million and it failed to sell.

From the lot notes:

The sculptures known as the Femmes de Venise, a series comprising nine individual but closely related figures executed in plaster during 1956 and subsequently cast in bronze, are probably Giacometti’s best-known works, and are generally regarded as having significantly contributed to his reputation and fame as the most important sculptor of the postwar era. “The Women of Venice mark the halfway point in Giacometti’s mature work,” Christian Klemm has stated, “they bring together the different characteristics of his figures. The evocative name, which binds the individual figures into one group despite their differences, had an enhancing effect: as the figures became legendary, they came to be regarded as the epitome of his art. The extremely small, distant heads and the innovatively sloping pedestals, from which the over-size feet grow, still make them seem like revelatory, illusionistic visions. The tension in the mingling of goddess and concubine, of Egyptian cult image and decomposing corpse, is seen nowhere as vividly as in this group” (Alberto Giacometti, exh. cat., The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2001, p. 218).

Lot 17. Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)  Claude et Paloma  dated and inscribed 'vendredi 20.1.50. Vallauris' (on the reverse)  oil and ripolin on panel  45 5/8 x 35 in. (116 x 89 cm.)  painted in Vallauris, 20 January 1950  Estimate: $ 9 - 12 million

Lot 17. Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Claude et Paloma
dated and inscribed ‘vendredi 20.1.50. Vallauris’ (on the reverse)
oil and ripolin on panel
45 5/8 x 35 in. (116 x 89 cm.)
painted in Vallauris, 20 January 1950
Estimate: $ 9 – 12 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of $25 million ($28,165,000 with the buyer’s premium).

From the lot notes:

Kirk Varnedoe has written, “Whether in recognition of a new age of permissive thinking about early childhood or out of a greater concern to absorb for himself some of the budding vitality of their youth, Picasso in the early 1950s doted on the childishness of Paloma and Claude; rather than imposing premature adulthood on them in his work, he often let their games, their toys, their own creations–as well as the mercurial intensity of their emotional life–inform his art” (Picasso and Portraiture: Representation and Transformation, exh. cat., The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1996, p. 160).

Lot 23. Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966)  Nu debout  signed and dated 'Alberto Giacometti 1958' (lower right)  oil on canvas  61 x 27½ in. (155 x 69.7 cm.)  painted in 1958  Estimate: $8 - 12 million

Lot 23. Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966)
Nu debout
signed and dated ‘Alberto Giacometti 1958’ (lower right)
oil on canvas
61 x 27½ in. (155 x 69.7 cm.)
painted in 1958
Estimate: $8 – 12 million. Bidding on this lot stopped at $4.8 million and it failed to sell.

From the lot notes:

Giacometti painted this large Nu debout in 1958, as he was consolidating his efforts following a crisis he had experienced in his painting while working, over a period of two years, on a portrait which the Japanese professor Isaku Yanaihara had commissioned from him. The artist had been previously painting to his satisfaction and with great success since the late 1940s, when he turned away from the visionary, attenuated and weightless figure sculptures that had won him world-wide acclaim. He thereafter decided to resume painting and to place this component in his work on an equal footing with his sculpture.

The 1958 series of painted standing nudes have as their immediate sculptural antecedents the celebrated Femmes de Venise of 1956, and they in turn prefigure the Grande femme debout sculptures that would occupy Giacometti during 1959-1960, after he received the nod to submit designs for monumental works to be installed at the Chase Manhattan Bank Plaza in lower Manhattan. Giacometti always desired that his achievement in painting should be recognized as commensurate with his reputation as a sculptor.

Lot 31. Joan Miró (1893-1983)  Peinture--L'Oiseau  signed and dated 'Miró. 1926.' (lower right); signed and dated again 'Joan Miró 1926' (on the reverse) oil on canvas  28¾ x 36¼ in. (73.2 x 92.2 cm.)  painted in 1926  Estimate: $8 - 12 million

Lot 31. Joan Miró (1893-1983)
Peinture–L’Oiseau
signed and dated ‘Miró. 1926.’ (lower right); signed and dated again ‘Joan Miró 1926’ (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
28¾ x 36¼ in. (73.2 x 92.2 cm.)
painted in 1926
Estimate: $8 – 12 million. Bidding on this lot stopped at $6.2 million and it failed to sell.

The catalogue begins by saying: “Audaciously spare in its motifs … ” but not in its estimate. Then again, what might be called audacious now will be chump change in just a few years.

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