Top Art Stories: Focus on New York

The top news of last week were (surprise, surprise!) still the blockbuster sales at Christie’s and the sale of Francis Bacon’s Three Studies of Lucian Freud to the sister of the Qatari Sheikh. Yes, the identity was finally made public and the English triptych is expected to travel to the royal family’s residence in London. But the week is over, the sales are almost old news and the art world continues to breathe and move forward. So, here are some of the other headlines from last week:

Girl with the Pearl Earring at the Frick Collection

If you haven’t been to the Frick Collection in some time, then this is the time to go. The famed mansion on Fifth Avenue became a temporary home to the Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Hals: Masterpieces of Dutch Painting from the Mauritshuis exhibit starting this week and going till January 19, 2014. Among the great works from the Dutch Masters, The Girl with the Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer is the main draw. The last time that this painting was shown in the United States was in 1994 at the National Gallery in Washington D.C. This current exhibit in New York consists of fourteen other works from artists such as Jan Steen, Gerard ter Borch, Carel Fabritius, and Jacob van Ruisdael. Timed tickets for this exhibit can be purchased online or in person at The Frick for non-members. As far as high profile exhibits go, this one ranks at the top and we suggest that you make a trip to The Frick and pay “the girl” a visit! Source: Bloomberg

Battle of the titans: Sotheby’s master auctioneer and the Warhol that saved the day

The amount of PR and attention Christie’s received regarding their record November 12 Post-War and Contemporary sale was reversely proportionate to the amount of attention allotted to their principal rival – Sotheby’s. The latter failed to secure any major consignments for the second most important evening sale of the season thus increasing the pressure from its investors. Newsweek’s Katrina Brooker wrote about the pressures placed on Tobias Meyer, Sotheby’s Auctioneer and head of Sotheby’s Contemporary Department, and the Warhol that saved the day. Source: Newsweek

Leonardo drawings arrive in NYC

A rare collection of drawings by the 15th century master who continues to mesmerize our imagination to this day are now on view at the Morgans Library in New York. The exhibition “Leonardo da Vinci: Treasures from the Biblioteca Reale, Turin,” includes some 20 works by Da Vinci and his followers. The focal point of the exhibition is the Young Woman that Da Vinci prepared for Ludovico Sforza in which the artist depicted the model in a 3/4 view thus changing the heretofore accepted profile perspective. The exhibition is on view until February 2, 2014. Source: ArtnewsLeonardo da Vinci - Three Views of a Bearded Man

Founders of Dia withdraw their complaint against the foundation

This story carries from last week’s edition of Top Art Stories. With just hours before the start of Sotheby’s evening sale Heiner Friedrich and Fariha de Menil, founders of Dia Art Foundation, have withdrawn the lawsuit which was filed last week. The move was to oppose the sale of artworks by several prominent artists such as Cy Twombly, John Chamberlain, and Barnett Newman at Sotheby’s to raise $20 million in funds. Amongst the works being sold were “Poems to the Sea”, an important collection of drawings on paper by Cy Twombly, Genesis—The Break by Barnett Newman, and Shortstop by John Chamberlain. The funds from the sale are earmarked towards acquisition of new art works. Once again, we are faced with the dilemma of new versus old in a situation like this. Let us hope that Dia is making the right decision. Source: Artinfo

Christie’s Post-War/Contemporary auction surpasses May records

The previously mentioned Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale at Christie’s brought in a record $691 million in total sales. The bright, shining star of this auction was Francis Bacon’s triptych Three Studies of Lucien Freud, which sold for a record $142.4 million, about $85 million more than its estimate. Another highlight (amongst many) from this auction was Jeff Koons’ Orange Balloon Dog which went for $58.4 million, the highest price ever realized for a living artist. The bright orange sculpture was sold from the collection of Peter Brant to an anonymous phone bidder. Christie’s reported that ten other artists’, including Willem de Kooning, Christopher Wool, and Ad Reinhardt’s previous sales records were broken. Source: New York Times 

Tate Britain to get a facelift

Tate Britain has recently gone through a 7 year period of renovations overseen by British architect Caruso St. John for £45 million. A large portion of this renovation was revealed in May, part of which was a new space dedicated to Henry Moore. Structural changes include (but are not limited to) addition of glazed doors and windows to the entry space by artist Richard Wright, an incredible spiral staircase set into the main rotunda, and a new café in the basement that spills over onto the front of the building. Originally designed by Sidney Smith, with additions by John Russell Pope, William Romaine-Walked, and Charles Holden, Caruso St. John’s embellishments work to revitalize this old Edwardian style building and give it a renewed sense of elegance and refinement. Source: The Financial Times

In an interesting post-auction wrap up Kelly Crow of the Wall Street Journal reported that even though most of the media melted over the Bacon sale, the tallied sales numbers from both auction houses show a much more balanced picture with Christie’s slightly edging over their competitors and selling $1,076,080,500 worth of art versus Sotheby’s $1,021,465,430.

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