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Giacometti, Picasso & Balla (yes Balla) lead Sotheby’s Fall 2013 Imp & Mod sale in NY – UPDATED WITH SALE RESULTS

October 26, 2013
Lot 15. ALBERTO GIACOMETTI 1901 - 1966 GRANDE TÊTE MINCE (GRANDE TÊTE DE DIEGO) Inscribed with the signature Alberto Giacometti, with the foundry mark Susse Fondeur Paris and numbered 6/6 Bronze, Height: 25 1/2 in., 65 cm Conceived in 1954 and cast in bronze in 1955. Estimate: $35 - 50 Million.

Lot 15. ALBERTO GIACOMETTI, 1901 – 1966, GRANDE TÊTE MINCE (GRANDE TÊTE DE DIEGO)
Inscribed with the signature Alberto Giacometti, with the foundry mark Susse Fondeur Paris and numbered 6/6
Bronze, Height: 25 1/2 in., 65 cm
Conceived in 1954 and cast in bronze in 1955.
Estimate: $35 – 50 Million. This lot sold for a hammer price of $44.5 million ($50,005,000 with the buyer’s premium).

UPDATE: A far more lively evening at Sotheby’s with several lots soaring well past their high estimates.  According to the New York Times, the evening’s top lot, a Giacometti bust (above) was sold to Acquavella Galleries via  telephone bid, adding: “Desmond Corcoran, the London dealer, had owned the sculpture for more than 30 years.”  Art advisor Nancy Whyte picked up the Balla and art dealer David Nahmad paid nearly $31 million for the crazy, late Picasso (below). Of the late Picasso, Judd Tuddy at Artinfo reported:  “At least half a dozen bidders chased the 77-by-51-inch canvas, including underbidder Jose Mugrabi. It came to market from a private collector who bought the painting in 1988 from the late and noted Beverly Hills dealer Paul Cantor. Perhaps more importantly, it had been included in the storied “Avignon, Palais des Papes, Pablo Picasso: 1969-1970” exhibition in 1970.”

ORIGINAL POST: The “carpet bombing” of Giacometti’s during the Fall 2013 Impressionist and Modern art auctions continues November 6, 2013, with the Evening Sale at Sotheby’s. If the market hasn’t absorbed enough works by the artist at that point, then another $35 – 50 million could be laid out for the evening’s top lot, a sculptural portrait of Diego.

From the lot notes:

“To me,” Giacometti once stated, “sculpture is not an object of beauty but a way for me to try to understand a bit better what I see in a given head, to understand a bit better what appeals to me about it and what I admire in it” (reprinted in Alberto Giacometti, The Origin of Space [(exhibition catalogue), Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg & Museum der Moderne Monchsberg, Salzburg, 2010-2011.

Lot 22. PABLO PICASSO, 1881 - 1973 TÊTE DE FEMME, Signed Picasso (lower left) Oil on canvas: 25 5/8 by 21 3/8 in., 65 by 54 cm Painted on March 12, 1935. Estimate: $20 - 30 million.

Lot 22. PABLO PICASSO, 1881 – 1973, TÊTE DE FEMME, Signed Picasso (lower left)
Oil on canvas: 25 5/8 by 21 3/8 in., 65 by 54 cm
Painted on March 12, 1935.
Estimate: $20 – 30 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of $35.5 million ($39,925,000 with the buyer’s premium).

From the lot notes:

Picasso’s radiant composition belongs to the extraordinary group of canvases depicting Marie-Thérèse Walter, his beloved mistress during the early 1930s.  The present painting is one of the most geometrically complex renderings of his lover, depicted as a bust on a pedestal and reminiscent of the large plaster sculptures of her that he created nearly a decade earlier.  Picasso completed this canvas at the height of the Surrealist movement in March 1935, when his palette was at its most vibrant and Freudian psycho-sexual symbolism played a defining role in the imagery of the avant-garde.

Lot 9. GIACOMO BALLA, 1871 - 1958, AUTOMOBILE IN CORSA, Signed Futur Balla (lower left); signed Futur Balla and titled on the reverse Oil and ink on paper laid down on board: 29 by 41 in., 74 by 104 cm Painted in 1913.

Lot 9. GIACOMO BALLA, 1871 – 1958, AUTOMOBILE IN CORSA, Signed Futur Balla (lower left); signed Futur Balla and titled on the reverse
Oil and ink on paper laid down on board: 29 by 41 in., 74 by 104 cm
Painted in 1913. This lot sold for a hammer price of $10.1 million ($11,477,000 with the buyer’s premium).

This is a painting to be excited about. From the lot notes:

Giacomo Balla’s remarkable images of racing automobiles emerged in 1913 in the wake of the artist’s “rebirth” as a Futurist.  Although he had signed the “Technical Manifesto of Futurist Painting” in April 1910, his work did not respond to the manifesto’s demand for paintings that focused on modern dynamism, the triumphs of technology, or sensations of speed until late in 1911.

Racing Automobile is one of the series of paintings and large-scale works on paper that Balla executed in 1913 and 1914 … Poised between figuration and abstraction, the painting retains the repeated image of the Fiat Type 3, with a driver seated before its steering column and wheel as it speeds from right to left across the horizon, even as the rotating wheels and angular blasts of air expand in intersecting waves that eventually fly free of any descriptive purpose.  Balla calls attention to his photographic prototype through a subtle palette of grays, blacks, and whites, as well as through the cropping of the image, which seems to explode beyond its rectangular limits.

Lot 29. PABLO PICASSO, 1881 - 1973 MOUSQUETAIRE À LA PIPE; Signed Picasso (upper left); dated 5.3.69 II on the reverse Oil on canvas: 76 7/8 by 51 1/4 in., 195 by 130 cm Painted on March 5, 1969. Estimate: $12 - 18 million.

Lot 29. PABLO PICASSO, 1881 – 1973
MOUSQUETAIRE À LA PIPE; Signed Picasso (upper left); dated 5.3.69 II on the reverse
Oil on canvas: 76 7/8 by 51 1/4 in., 195 by 130 cm
Painted on March 5, 1969.
Estimate: $12 – 18 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of $27.5 million ($30,965,000 with the buyer’s premium). Sold to dealer David Nahmad.

Heaven forfend.  As mentioned in the previous posting about the Christie’s sale, if you’re fated to own a large, late and lugubrious Picasso, this might be the one for you.  And, good luck to you.

Lot 13. JOAN MIRÓ, 1893 - 1983, BONHEUR D'AIMER MA BRUNE Signed Miró and dated 1925 (lower right) Oil on canvas: 28 3/4 by 36 1/4 in., 73 by 92 cm Painted in 1925. Estimate: $9 - 12 million.

Lot 13. JOAN MIRÓ, 1893 – 1983, BONHEUR D’AIMER MA BRUNE
Signed Miró and dated 1925 (lower right)
Oil on canvas: 28 3/4 by 36 1/4 in., 73 by 92 cm
Painted in 1925.
Estimate: $9 – 12 million. Bidding on this lot stopped at $5.25 million and it failed to sell.

From the lot notes:

Bonheur d’aimer ma brune belongs to a series of paintings from 1925 known as “poem-paintings,” in which poetic allusions, graphic signs, and painterly expression were presented within a single composition.  His choice usage of imaginative titles, or in the case of the present work, colorful inscriptions, invested his pictures with a narrative that shaped the viewer’s understanding.  With this tactic, Miró’s ambigious forms took shape in the imagination of his audience.  In the present work, for example, the figures are understood to be a kissing couple, perhaps serenaded by the stringed instrument to their left.

“The discovery of Surrealism coincided for me with a crisis in my own painting and the decisive turning that … caused me to abandon realism for the imaginary,” Miró would later write.  “I spent a great deal of time with poets, because I thought you had to go beyond the plastic thing to reach poetry.  Surrealism freed the unconscious, exalted desire, endowed art with additional powers… I painted as if in a dream, with the most total freedom” (quoted in Joan Miró(exhibition catalogue), Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona, 1993, pp. 180 and 194).

Lot 32. CLAUDE MONET, 1840 - 1926 GLAÇONS, EFFET BLANC, Signed and dated Claude Monet 94 (lower right) Oil on canvas: 25 ¾ by 39 3/8 in., 65.5 by 100 cm Painted in 1893. Estimate: $9 - 14 million.

Lot 32. CLAUDE MONET, 1840 – 1926
GLAÇONS, EFFET BLANC, Signed and dated Claude Monet 94 (lower right)
Oil on canvas: 25 ¾ by 39 3/8 in., 65.5 by 100 cm
Painted in 1893.
Estimate: $9 – 14 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of $14,250,000 ($16,125,000 with the buyer’s premium).

Impressionism … remember that? Finding Impressionist works among the top estimated lots in these sales is getting increasingly rare.

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