Flash News : From Brancusi to Saâdane Afif – Francis Bacon – El Greco

[30 Jun 2014]


Every fortnight, Artprice provides a short round up of art market news: From Brancusi to Saâdane Afif – Francis Bacon – El Greco

From Brancusi to Saâdane Afif

The exhibition The Brancusi effect at the Vienna Kunsthalle runs from 12 June to 21 September 2014. Its purpose is to shed light on the huge influence of the Romanian artist on 20th century art, particularly the development of minimal art and contemporary installations. In this respect, curators Vanessa Joan Müller and Nicolaus Schafhausen were not content just to sift through the archives; they also invited artists like Saâdane AFIF, Wilfrid ALMENDRA, André CADERÉ, Konstantin GRCIC and many others. Diversity is thus the order of the day, based on key notions Constantin BRANCUSI shed light on at the very beginning of the 20th century, like that of the module, the relationship between pedestal and sculpture, and the possibility of unlimited sculptural expansion. The Kunsthalle features both artistic icons and works by emerging artists, such as Koenraad DEDOBBELEER and the French artist Saâdane Afif, winner of the Prix Marcel Duchamp in 2009. Today these young artists can often be bought for less than $10,000 at auction, while Brancusi’s rarity means that photos of sculptures can fetch more than $100,000.

The summer’s Bacons

Summer is here, but the major sale season is not yet over. After Art Basel, we head for London for the new prestige contemporary art sales (30 June and 1 July). Christie’s and Sotheby’s are devoting a large part of their energy to coaxing out works by Francis BACON, whose price index is one of the most glittering in the world. Three works by the artist are being presented by Sotheby’s, compared with two by its rival. As we know, in May this year, the large triptych put up for sale by Christie’s sold for $80.805 million including the buyer’s premium (Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards, 13 May 2014), and his absolute record has stood at $142.4 million since November 2013 (Three Studies of Lucian Freud, 12 November 2013, Christie’s New York). Banking on Bacon thus means total, guaranteed success and the two leaders have featured him on the front page of their catalogues. Sotheby’s goes first on 30 June with a set of three portraits of George Dyer (1964), each measuring 35.5 x 33 cm. Ten years ago, this type of lot would have sold for under $4 million. Today, it should fetch between $20 and 33 million (£15-30 million – see Three Studies for Portrait of Lucian Freud, sold for $3.8 million including the buyer’s premium, Sotheby’s, 12 November 2003). Two other works by Bacon are available in this sale: Study For Portrait of PL, No 1 estimated at $7.5 million (1957, 198 cm x 142 cm) and Seated Man, expected to reap between $2.5 and 3.4 million (1957, 140 x 110 cm).

The next day, Christie’s is guaranteeing a minimum sale price for the vendor of Study for head of Lucian Freud, 35.5 x 30.5 cm, painted in 1967. This painting comes from the collection of Roald Dahl, the celebrated children’s book author, who died in 1990, and who bought it for £2,850 in 1967. The current estimate has not been revealed, but the bold character of this portrait of Lucian Freud could take bids up to between $8 and 12 million.

400th anniversary of El Greco

400 years after his death, Spain is devoting a series of exhibitions and tributes to the Cretan artist, notably in Toledo, where Dom. Theotokopoulos GRECO EL spent 37 years of his life. On site, the Santa Cruz Museum has secured loans of paintings from the National Gallery of London, the Louvre and the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as from other major collections. Works are also planned for the Santa Cruz Museum (the exhibition El Greco: Arts and Crafts in September) , and in the Espacios Greco for which they were originally created: Toledo Cathedral, the Chapel of San Jose, the Convent of Santo Domingo el Antiguo, Tavera hospital and the Church of Santo Tomé. One of the key exhibitions in this huge tribute recently opened at Madrid’s Prado Museum. El Greco and Modern Painting brings together 25 works by the painter who founded the 16th century Spanish School, and around 100 works which explore his influence on the development of painting in the 19th and 20th centuries. The exhibition runs until 5 October 2014. These high profile events have had a considerable impact on El Greco’s market over the past few months, starting with the auction record achieved last summer for Saint Dominic in Prayer, which fetched over $12.3 million, i.e. $5 million above the high estimate (Saint Dominic in Prayer, sold for $13.9 million including the buyer’s premium on 3 July 2013 at Sotheby’s London). While current events are hiking prices, this type of tribute also brings works out into the open. For example, five paintings have been sold since January 2013: a considerable number for the artist, as only four works came up for auction in the seven years between January 2007 and January 2013.