The Unbearable Banishment: Pretty Picture$

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Pretty Picture$

The autumn Impressionist and Modern Art Auctions are about to take place at Christie's. I previewed the lots on my lunch hour. Here are few highlights with the estimates—because half the fun of these auctions are the price tags. I am still blown away by what people are willing to spend on a wall hanging. It's important to view these works while you have the chance because it's the only time many of them will ever been seen in public. They're passing from one private collection to another. Once the auction is over, they'll disappear above someone's mantel on 5th Avenue. Additionally, I use the auction preview as an effective way to confirm my position on the economic totem pole.

I'm going to make a blanket statement and say these photos do no justice to the work. The lighting is poor for camera phones. I'm still waiting on my iPhone 5 upgrade with its superior camera sensor. After the auction, I'll come back and post the prices realized. More rubber-necking.

This sculpture greets you at the entrance. Tulips by Jeff Koons. I like it. It was a sunny, blue-sky day when I saw it and the light gleamed bright off of its surface. They're in a shallow reflecting pool, which is a fantastic way to display this.

My favorite part of this piece is the estimate. The estimate is: "Estimate on Request." Do you know how much that is? It's a lot. It's if-you-have-to-ask-you-can't-afford-it.


I really love this piece, too. Nude with Red Shirt by Roy Lichtenstein. What's that swoosh of hair on the left? Is someone watching her? It's very, very, very sexy, don't you think? Est. $12,000,000-18,000,000

Mark Rothko's Black Strip (Orange, Gold and Black). To me, this is something I could hang in my den and greet day after day. Est. $15,000,000-20,000,000.

Here's the centerpiece of the auction. Nympheas by Monet. Est. $30,000,000-50,000,000. I run hot and cold with the Impressionists, but this is pretty nice. I got kind of woozy standing in front of it. I don't know if that was because of Monet's brush work or the estimate.

Does anybody not like Modigliani? Nobody does a woman's seductive neck like this guy. His Jeanne Hebuterne (Au Chapeau) is estimated at £16,000,000-22,000,000. I wish I could have gotten a better shot of this. Her warmth does not show through.

Sun Water Maine by Georgia O'Keeffe. I had to take this pic at an angle because of the terrible glare on the glass from the gallery light. Poorly hung, but beautifully painted. Est. $1,000,000-1,500,000. Might be worth it, if you ask me.

Two by poor, prematurely dead, Andy Warhol. Statue of Liberty. Estimate on Request!? Really?! Yikes! I can't wait for the results.

Brillo Soap Pads. Est. $500,000-700,000. This, perhaps, the biggest goof played on the modern art world. Andy is laughing in his grave, I'm sure.

With every auction there has to be some junk thrown in. It proves, time and time again, that wealth is not a barometer of good taste. It's up to me, from high atop my pedestal, to point out where people are being careless with their discretionary income.

Oh, my, my. Moutons de Laine, Un Troupeau de 24 Moutons by François-Xavier Lalanne. It's stuffed sheep. 24 of 'em. He didn't bother to put heads on some of them. So lazy. They're mingling in the corridors that lead to the galleries. See the black one in the middle? So clever. Est. $4,000,000-6,000,000. Help yourself. Baaaaaa. 

I have never seen a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat that I thought was worth a damn and this certainly doesn't change things. Untitled. Estimate on Request?! Is that a typo?!

Prag 1883 by Gerhard Richter. Est. $9,000,000-12,000,000. I cannot fathom why anyone would spend 10 MILLION dollars on this. I know Richter is hot right now but that's no excuse. I don't mind being challenged but this thing is beyond my ken. Feel free to school (or scold) me in the comments section. 

Buste de Femme by Picasso. I don't know. On second thought, I guess I kind of like it. But if I had $8,000,000-12,000,000 and could only buy one painting, I'd probably go for the Modigliani. Wouldn't you?

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Edit: I went back today because I HAD TO. Here's a detail shot of the Modigliani. How do you like them apples! Now will you pay £16,000,000 for it? I thought so.


Blogger Gorilla Bananas said...

The people who pay these sums for art must be investors, buying them in the belief that even greater fools will pay more for them in 10 years' time. The stuffed sheep might be an exception, though. Some sheep-loving guy who won the lottery might want them for his harem.

November 6, 2012 at 10:54 AM  
Blogger savannah said...

lovely stuff and yet, and i say this as unjugdmentally as possible, BUT WHO THE FUCK HAS THIS KIND OF MONEY? i'm not against wealth, i guess i'm just poor enough to wonder how much money is too much money? i guess what i'm saying is IF i could buy works of art like that i would want to share it, not keep it just for myself. i guess, as you say, my position on the economic totem pole has given me a very different perspective on the acquisition of art and the sharing of it with the public. or maybe i've just missed the entire point of your post. xoxoxox

November 6, 2012 at 11:39 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

The Jeanne Hebuterne (Au Chapeau) is exquisite and would hang well in my entrance way. Please bid on my behalf, or at least leave the latch open on the rear gallery window.

November 6, 2012 at 12:37 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

GB: The funny thing is, people DO pay more 10 years later! Sometimes less! The sheep look like preposterously overpriced footstools.

sav: It's interesting to note that in the time I spent walking through the galleries, most of the languages I heard being spoken by people who were obviously not there just to look were Asian and Russian. One German couple. Not so many English.

Chef: I wish you could see it in person. Warm flesh and cool eyes. Even the framing is perfect.

November 6, 2012 at 1:03 PM  
Blogger Here In Franklin said...

Love the Richter. Hate the O'Keefe. Have you read Thomas Wolfe's latest? He pretty well skewers the billionaires and their art-buying habits.

November 6, 2012 at 1:05 PM  
Blogger dinahmow said...

I would buy a stuffed sheep for a footstool, to rest my tootsies on while I admired my Modigliani and my pool of tulips (which, I'm not being crass,put me in mind of anodised picnic beakers)
And of course you could all come and share the view.

Thanks again for being my art guide.

November 6, 2012 at 2:50 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

HIF: I read a review of the new Wolfe. Does that count? I don't see what you're seeing in the Richter.

dinah: I went back today and someone was petting one of the sheep. The security guard snapped at him! The whole scene was surreal.

November 6, 2012 at 3:08 PM  
Anonymous daisyfae said...

i'll never get it. like savannah, i wonder about those who can excrete this kind of cash on something that is apparently considered a treasure, and then keep it private.

but the tulip thing is pretty. how big is it? i might go as high as $1,000 for it...

November 6, 2012 at 5:35 PM  
Anonymous paulo1 said...

Where does Rothko buy his roller and his paint? Home Depot? I'm pretty sure I could run off a few dozen of these before breakfast. Might be a nice little money-maker once you get the hang of it. Left right left right up down up down.
Mr. Modigliani on the other hand is sublime.

November 6, 2012 at 7:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice stuff. I too like the Lichtenstein the best out of these, though I don't know, the sheep are pretty cool. Unbelievable the cash some people have!

November 6, 2012 at 8:32 PM  
Blogger Kono said...

I'd go with the Pablo but i got a soft spot for the man, have to say i do like the Basquiat and the Rothko reminds me of my favorite American football team... and unlike some of my esteemed commentors if i had the money i'd show them to on one but me and my stable of naked supermodels while i passed around crystal sugar bowls full of blow and lit my spliffs with Benjamins... then again i was watching a Donny Wahlberg action flick last night.

November 6, 2012 at 9:12 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Daisy: the tulips are nice but they're pretty big. You might have to get a zoning ordinance for the trailer park.

Paulo: I don't know what it is about the Rothko. I understand your point but when I stand next to it I get all warm and gooey inside. It's line a soft blanket.

Wino: The sheep aren't bad. They're just so bloody expensive. I don't see the sense of it, either. Where are you going to display something like that?!

November 6, 2012 at 9:17 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Kono: The man being Warhol I presume? They're also selling one of his green Mao paintings that looks pretty cool. I keep promising myself a visit to the Warhol museum. The Browns are the best 2-7 team in the NFL. Rotten Steelers manhandled my Giants. Steelers continue to torment me. Since my youth!

November 6, 2012 at 9:29 PM  
Anonymous paulo1 said...

I'll tell you something else that's like a soft blanket - a soft blanket.You can get one at Macy's. And you would still have a shitload of money left over to buy many, many works by artists who actually put something of themselves into their work. This rant was triggered by the memory, long suppressed, of the infamous day in 1990 when the National Gallery of Art in Ottawa paid the outrageous price if $1.8m. for a Barnett Newman piece called 'Voice of fire'. Two vertical stripes of blue on either side of a vertical stripe of red. I've not been a well man since.

November 7, 2012 at 7:06 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Paulo: Yes, but what shade of blue? That's key. Just kidding. Barnett Newman stinks. He's boring. Blanket comment made me snort.

November 7, 2012 at 7:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really enjoy your posts from the big NY uctions.

The Warhol is a fascinating case study in the aura of art, the way that something ordinary is changed once the artist (a kind of secular priest) touches it. The concept of originality got even more complicated a year or so ago with this story about whether the boxes were "copies".

Never seen what it is about Georgia O'Keeffe. Looks like some crap you can get in a cheap household store. I suppose though we went through a phase where we thought that flowers that looked like vaginas were excitingly rude or daringly feminist.

Not bothered about the Monet. Pretty, a bit smudged. Give you twenty quid for it. The Basquiat is just ugly. Put it in a skip.

The Rothko though--what is it about his paintings that never bore, or tire, or become less than magical? I've seen them thousands of times and they still work, every time.

November 8, 2012 at 4:44 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

looby: The auction previews are always pretty amazing. They're like a brief, four day super-art exhibit. And it's free! You just wander in and look around. O'Keeffe is pleasing to the eye the same way the Impressionists are. That's not meant as a snobby comment. I'm all about accessible art, Warhol being the most extreme example. If you saw the Monet in person you might like it better. That goes with ALL these pieces. Rothko, basically, did the same painting over and over again. Not a bad thing. The Stones re-wrote that same song hundreds of times. It all works.

November 8, 2012 at 7:01 AM  
Blogger OldLady Of The Hills said...

I got here through Pat in the UK, and I'm so glad I did. LOVE your take on these recent auctions---I just don't get it! To spend this kind of money--it is kind of sickening!
I grew up with a father who was an ART Collector---He bought things when no one knew who the Artists were--BECAUSE he LOVED them....

Basquiete(?)--NEVER got it!

I saw the very first show of the Warhol Soup Cans here in Los Angeles at the Ferus Gallery and could have bought one for $200. Yes, Two-Hundred. I didn't. I just brought people into the Gallery to show them how ridiculous this all was. What did I know? BRILLO? Help!

I grew up in NY and spent so much time in NYC. It is lovely to meet you.

November 25, 2012 at 12:54 PM  

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