Flash News: from Van Dyck to Sally Mann

[17 May 2019]

Kitsch leads Contemporary sculpture market

On 15 May 2019, one of Jeff Koons’ three Rabbit sculptures (1986) offered for sale at Christie’s in New York surpassed the $90.3 million achieved by David Hockney’s Portrait of an Artist (1972). Jeff Koons is coming back as the most expensive living artist on the planet with a gleaming rabbit sold for $ 91 million. This exceptional 1-meter high stainless steel work (from an edition of 3, plus 1 artist’s proof), is arguably Jeff Koons’ most iconic work, and perhaps Contemporary art’s most iconic work as well. Jeff KOONS takes a first place that he already had six years ago, with his Balloon Dog (1994-2000). The orange version of this sculpture was sold for $58.4 million on November 12, 2013 by Christie’s in New York.

A Van Dyck portrait arrives in Budapest

To mark its reopening after more than three years of renovation, Budapest’s Museum of Fine Arts now has a flagship work: a full-length portrait of Princess Mary, eldest daughter of Charles I of England, future wife of William II of Orange, painted by Anthonius VAN DYCK (1599-1641) just months before his death. This largeformat painting was purchased within its estimated range at Christies Old Masters sale in London on December 6 last for almost $7.5 million. In 1989, the same painting fetched just over $1.2 million, also at Christies. The inflation over 30 years reflects the ongoing revaluation of old masterpieces as they become increasingly rare and prestigious. The portrait of the Princess generated the 3rd best-ever auction result for a Van Dyck painting and represents the Budapest Museum of Fine Arts’ biggest acquisition in a century. The acquisition was made possible by a contribution from a special fund set up by the Hungarian government to enrich the already important collections of the museum (one of the most important in Central Europe), and it provides a superb centerpiece for the museum… a perfect example of the famous painter’s later work.

The portrait of Princess Mary has been hung in the Leonardo Hall alongside two other works by Van Dyck: Saint John the Evangelist and Portrait of a Married Couple painted in his youth (between 1617 and 1620). A splendid opportunity to see the masterpiece will soon be available in the framework of the Budapest Museum’s “Rubens and the Golden Age of Flemish Painting” exhibition – from 24 October 2019 to 16 February 2020.

Sally Mann at the Jeu de Paume

After New York, San Francisco and Tokyo, Sally MANN’s first major retrospective is moving to the Parisian Contemporary Art Centre, Jeu de Paume, from 18 June to 22 September 2019. Entitled A Thousand Crossings, the exhibition is divided into five sections, alternating portraits, domestic scenes, still lifes and landscapes from the southeastern United States where she grew up.

The retrospective highlights the breadth of her work over 40 years with lots of previously unknown or unpublished photographs, and in particular, her relationship with her native region and how it has shaped her work. Born in 1951, Sally Mann still lives on her property in Virginia, the main setting for her work. Using an experimental’ type of photography, Mann has always focused on primary existential themes like memory, desire, and mortality, often depicting youthful bodies. Of a sensual and sometimes haunting beauty, her clichés are imbued with muted allusions to violence, sexuality and distress, refuting the stereotypes of childhood. Her use of the optical chamber and her penchant for deep contrasts gives her work a mysterious and sometimes mystical character. Eschewing traditional photographic codes, her style fascinates as much as it disturbs. Her most well-known work is Candy Cigarette (1989) showing her 8 year-old daughter Jessie holding a chocolate cigarette. It is also her most highly-valued work since it fetched $266,500 at Phillips de Pury & Company in New York in 2012.

Internationally recognized, Sally Mann was voted Americas Best Photographer by Time Magazine in 2001 and her work features in the country’s most prestigious collections including the MET, the MoMA and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Collected primarily in the United States, this retrospective could boost demand for her work on the French market.