The Unbearable Banishment: Grab your paddles! It's auction time!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Grab your paddles! It's auction time!

It's time for the semi-annual Impressionist and Modern Art auction at Christie's. Obviously, I cannot afford to spend tens of millions of dollars on art, but what I can do is attend the auction preview and, best of all, pass judgement on the work.

The vast majority of these pieces are being passed from one private collector to another. They've never been seen in public and after the auction, they won't ever be seen again. They'll hang above some swell's mantelpiece. I've provided the pre-auction estimates and have included the prices realized where available. There's lots to cover so let's get busy!

Two by Edward Hopper. I like Hopper a lot. I know a lot of art aficionados sneer and lump him in the "pretty picture" category, but does anyone depict sunlight better than Hopper? Nay. I don't see many Hoppers at these auctions. There's always a gaggle of Warhols,  Lichtensteins, Picassos, etc., but not so many Hoppers.


Blackwell's Island. $15,000,000 – 20,000,000. That's a lot but it's a big piece. 35 x 60 in.

Sold for $19,163,750


Kelly Jenness House. $2,000,000 – 3,000,000. The master of shadows, too.

Sold for $4,155,750

Look at this beauty by Matisse. The red! You won't see this in any Matisse exhibit catalogue.


Jeune femme assise en robe grise. I'll say. $5,000,000 – 7,000,000.

Sold for $4,939,750

Here's the obligatory Monet. If you press your face close to the painting, you can see that he did a very nice job with the surface of the water. The frames on these Monets are always quite gaudy.


Argenteuil, fin d'apres-midi. $5,000,000 – 7,000,000.

Sold for $6,059,750

Here's a delicious sculpture by Degas. It took my breath away when I turned the corner. She's not attached to the wall. That's a shadow trick. She's on a pedestal, where she belongs.


Grande erabesque, troisieme temps. $600,000 – 800,000. Is that ALL? Where's my paddle?

Sold for $1,203,750

There are several works by Picasso being offered. Boy, was that guy prolific! Here are two that I like. Please don't ask me why I like some Picassos, but not all. That's a question to be explored by the boors who write for ARTNews.


Broc et Verre. $2,000,000 – 3,000,000. I like the piano keys.

Did not sell.


Buste d'homme a la pipe. £900,000 – 1,200,000. It's painted on a piece of corrugated cardboard. The ribbing looks cool. Vibrant.

Here's another Picasso—oh, no...wait—that's Roy Lichtenstein ripping off Picasso. That guy ripped off a lot of people. He ripped off the entire comic book industry. Made a bazzillion dollars doing it, too. Pretty fucking lazy, but I don't mind too much.


Woman with Flowered Hat. Estimate on Request, but an internet search turned up $12,000,000 – 16,000,000. Why the big secret?

Sold for $56,123,750. Ripping off other artists pays.


Nude with Yellow Flower. $12,000,000 – 16,000,000. I think she's a shot of hot pop.

Sold for $23,643,750

Speaking of pop, here's a quarto of Andy's flowers.


Flowers. $6,000,000 – 9,000,000.

Sold for $8,411,750

These haunted, hollow eyes are by Kees Van Dongen. I dated this girl once. I'm not kidding. She was a firecracker in bed but I was paranoid that I'd wake up one morning to find her standing over me clutching a Ginsu knife in her fist, so I had to break it off.


La femme au collier vert. $3,000,000 – 5,000,000

Sold for $2,587,750

Finally, here's something by Clyfford Still. Man, I love this piece. This photo doesn't do it any justice. It's more vibrant in person and you can't see all the beautiful textures that are layered on the canvas.


PH-1. $15,000,000 – 20,000,000. $20 mil! That's what I'm talking about! You'd think for that kind of money he'd have put some thought into the title.

Did not sell.

*     *     *

Now for the fun part. The crap. I'll go easy this time. This is the stuff that I wouldn't hang in Coco's sleeping crate. Proof positive that tremendous wealth is a lousy barometer for good taste.

Here's some very large, very expensive CRAP-OLA by Jean-Michel Basquiat. I have tried over and over again to understand and appreciate his work but the well of comprehension is bone dry. Here, he tries his hand at using pretty colors.


Dustheads. $25,000,000 – 35,000,000. Not a typo.

Sold for $48,843,750. Not a typo.


Ribs Ribs. $3,000,000 – 5,000,000. Ach. So ugly and lifeless.

Sold for $5,163,750. Suckers.

William DeKooning, once again, pulling the wool over the eyes of the art world. Gross.


Woman (Blue Eyes). $12,000,000 – 16,000,000

Sold for $19,163,750

I like Francis Bacon. I always have. Baroness Thatcher called him "that horrible man." That's good enough for me! But just because you admire someone's work, it doesn't mean you have to love EVERY piece. I don't see any merit in this one.


Study for Portrait. $18,000,000 – 25,000,000.

Did not sell. Told ya.

Ditto Picasso. Nice stuff, but not this one. She has flounder eyes.


Femme assise dans un fauteuil.  £4,000,000 – 6,000,000. I'm so fickle. I posted this pic early in the day. Now that I've taken a second look while doing the captions, I've changed my mind. I like it.

I think I'm getting sick of looking at these Warhol Mao paintings. In fact, I think I might be getting sick of Warhol. 


Mao. $3,000,000 – 4,000,000.

Sold for $6,283,750

Oh, my.


Gerhard Richter. Abstrakts Bild, Dunkel. $14,000,000 – 18,000,000. Pure SHITE.

Sold for $21,963,750. Suckers part deux. 

*     *     *

Let's imagine you can take one of these home with you. Which one? Remember, you have to look at it every day.

28 Comments:

Blogger Gorilla Bananas said...

That psycho woman who gave you a great time in bed reminds of a line John Ritter said when he was in bed with a woman who frightened him: "Fortunately, my cock is scared stiff".

The sculpture interests me because the woman looks so comfortable and balanced in that position. Would that be possible in real life?

May 9, 2013 at 2:52 AM  
Blogger Nota Bene said...

That's a terrific gallery of pictures...lovely to see these things every once in a while...I'm pained by great pieces of art hidden away by private collectors, except, of course the Ribs Ribs which should be put out for recycling...

May 9, 2013 at 7:58 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

As an experiment, I tried to stand in that position. Do you know what? It's not possible. I hope that answers your question.

May 9, 2013 at 8:06 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

It absolutely blows my mind that there are people who have stuff like this hanging in their homes. It's unimaginable to me.

Yes! Ribs Ribs is shit shit! Who falls for that stuff?

May 9, 2013 at 8:08 AM  
Blogger mapstew said...

'Pure SHITE' haha! You've been hangin' out with Chef & The Little Singing Fella again haven't ya? :¬)

May 9, 2013 at 8:19 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

I learn at the feet of the masters.

May 9, 2013 at 8:34 AM  
Blogger savannah said...

it would be possible for a ballerina, sweet pea! if i could have only one piece that would be the one i would take home. *sigh* xoxox

May 9, 2013 at 9:12 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

What do you mean? I'm a pretty ballerina and I couldn't do it. Are you judging me?

I would have been torn between the Degas and the Clyfford Still. Not that it matters.

May 9, 2013 at 9:45 AM  
Blogger OldLady Of The Hills said...

I had read about this sale....But it is GREAT to see your pictures of some of the works.....I don't get Basquiat at all---And never have...talk about the Emperors New Cloths.....OY! These prices for everything are disgusting! It really turns my stomach.

I'll take the Degas, Thank You!

May 9, 2013 at 9:52 AM  
Blogger Pat said...

When we were very young and penniless MTL and I dreamed of ending up in a little croft in the highlands and the Hopper house reminds me of that dream so that please but if it is already taken I'd like the Monet - whose beauty makes my heart ache. I'll change the frame.
Then there's the Degas...

May 9, 2013 at 9:57 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

I try to keep an open mind about unfamiliar art. That goes for painting, but also music, literature, theater—everything. But there's only so much I can take. Basquiat is stink-o.

You can have the Degas! (Presto! Waves his wand.)

May 9, 2013 at 10:15 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

If we're going to dream here, let's dream big. You can have the Hopper AND the Monet. But the Degas too? That's asking a bit much, methinks.

May 9, 2013 at 10:16 AM  
Blogger Eryl said...

You have such a way with words!

I think I'll have the ribbed Picasso, please. Though if I had a roof garden I'd take the Degas so I could sit in the sun and read, and just glance up at it every now and again.

As you know I like Basquiat, but even I think Ribs, Ribs is an abomination.

May 9, 2013 at 6:33 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

LORD POLONIUS: What do you read, my lord?
HAMLET: Words, words, words.

That's an excellent choice, my dear. None of these pics do justice. You'd be surprised how bright that Picasso is. The biggest problem with Ribs Ribs is that it's lazy.

May 9, 2013 at 7:19 PM  
Blogger savannah said...

moi? judge you? bless your heart! you're my hero and my writing conscience and the bearer of all good things to humanity, sugarpie! xoxoxo

May 9, 2013 at 7:35 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

That can't be me you're referring to! If that were all true, I'd have a more happening career with oodles of cash. I'm just regular. But thanks!

May 9, 2013 at 8:23 PM  
Blogger dinahmow said...

The sculpture, if I had a safe (read: cat-proof) place for it.
Thanks for another year of being glad I spend my pennies on good stuff

May 9, 2013 at 8:58 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

The fantasy would include well-behaved cats. Dare to dream.

May 9, 2013 at 9:23 PM  
Blogger savannah said...

you're welcome. (i just want to make sure we keep on the good side of our host/tour guide in NYC!) ;~)

May 9, 2013 at 9:52 PM  
Blogger dinahmow said...

You understand.... ;-)

May 10, 2013 at 4:12 AM  
Blogger Furtheron said...

My son is a Hopper fan we sought out some at museum in Boston on one trip I remember.

May 12, 2013 at 3:26 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

It would have been nice to take one back as a souvinere, don't you think?

May 12, 2013 at 6:52 PM  
Blogger EmmaK said...

I actually like the Gerhard Richter- Abstrakts Bild, Dunkel the best probably because I am half Austrian which is almost like German and I love German art and the dark depressing atmosphere it evokes.

May 13, 2013 at 10:28 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Well done to you for stepping up and saying so! Do you know who I love who's German? Ernst Kirchner. Do you know his work? He did a fantastic series of paintings of street scenes in Berlin.

May 13, 2013 at 10:42 AM  
Anonymous daisyfae said...

i had commented. i know i did... yet i come back here seeking your snarky response and my original comment has disappeared! alas, you are now treating me as a spambot? rather than take offense, i'll chalk it up to the quirks of blogspot. couldn't have been that i was drunk commenting, could it?

May 14, 2013 at 7:06 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

You? Spam! Never, my sweet. You're one of the first, remember. Never blame the drink. Where would that lead you?

May 14, 2013 at 7:46 AM  
Blogger looby said...

I've always liked Clyfford Still, ever since I was a teenager. I think it's beautiful. I saw a real Still at the Tate once. It was really powerful. I wish they would show it in a really tightly controlled environment: no mobiles, no cameras, no talking.

I am also bored with Warhol now. And Basquiat is the biggest fraud in recent art history.

Anyway, it was a very interesting gallery you put up there!

May 19, 2013 at 10:45 AM  
OpenID fearnoweebles said...

People who don't like Hopper are idiots. Just saying. I love going to the Whitney to see his stuff. And if I had the coinage, I'd have bought Blackwell's Island myself. That's a beauty.

May 23, 2013 at 12:50 PM  

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