Category Archives: Art

An Exciting Evening at Sotheby’s

Monday evening at Sotheby’s in Manhattan was a memorable one for the famed auction house. Pablo Picasso’s ‘Guitar on a Table’ sold for $37.1 million, closing the evening at one of its highest-ever tallies of $392 million.

The cubist from 1919 was part of CBS founder William Paley’s private collection. Following his passing in 1990, a couple dozen pieces were put into the care of New York’s Museum of Modern Art. A foundation for Mr. Paley decided to begin auctioning off some of the famed works in an effort to raise $70 million for various causes. One of the main goals of the sales is to help fund an expansion of MoMA’s digital footprint, with the possibility of developing a museum-run streaming art channel or pairing up with a university to offer art degrees.

During the auction, two bidders competed diligently for the Picasso piece, driving up the price tag. While the colorful “Guitar on a Table” had expected to sell for an estimated $20 million, a telephone bidder closed the sale at over $37 million.

Other pieces from Mr. Paley’s estate were also sold on Monday night and an additional painting was auctioned earlier this month at Sotheby’s in London.

Famed Marilyn Monroe Portrait Sets New Record

In a record-breaking sale, the famous 1964 Andy Warhol portrait of Marilyn Monroe has sold for $195 million. The sale took place at Christie’s auction house in New York.

While estimates before the event had the artwork priced at $200 million, this auction has set new records for 20th century American art. It is the most expensive piece of American artwork ever sold at an auction. It is also the second priciest auctioned piece of art, after Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” sold for $450 million in 2017.

The sale of the iconic silk-screen portrait was encouraging for many art dealers. Andrew Fabricant, COO of Gagosian Gallery and a top art dealer, explained: “This shows that quality and scarcity are always going to push the market forward. It will give a bump psychologically to everyone’s thinking.”

The artwork, entitled Shot Sage Blue Marilyn, was painted by Warhol two years after Monroe’s death in 1964. It is one in a series of five versions of the portrait, each featuring a different color scheme. After a woman entered Warhol’s studio and fired gunshots at a stack of the paintings, the portraits inherited their titles.

Since the 1980s, Shot Sage Blue Marilyn had been owned by a Swiss art dealer. Proceeds of this memorable sale will go to charity in support of education and health programming for children.

Brooklyn Commons: For Business and Pleasure

Brooklyn Commons is the new name of the Brookfield Properties 16-acre business and cultural campus between Flatbush Avenue and Jay Street. Once named MetroTech Center, Brooklyn Commons has everything: offices for rent, trendy eateries, cultural programming, lush parks, and inviting open spaces. With an investment of $50 million, three Brooklyn Commons buildings are being overhauled and outfitted with new lobbies, terraces, and retail spaces on the entrance level.

Brooklyn Commons
Brooklyn Commons campus map

The renovations also include Brooklyn Commons Park, the 3.5-acre public park at the heart of the campus. With an ice skating rink that is open now, and new seating and lounging areas planned for the future, the space is already a great option for a day out. Brooklyn Commons also offers cultural programming for the public. The Arts Brookfield program at Brooklyn Commons has a robust schedule of educational lectures, art exhibits, film viewings, theater performances, concerts, food festivals, and holiday festivities.

Toledo Museum of Art Exhibiting the Work of the Anonymous 5th Century, BC Berlin Painter

Ancient Greek pottery in the Antikensammlung Berlin. Photo courtesy Sailko.

The Toledo Museum of Art will be hosting a touring exhibition of ancient Athenian vase-painting, with a special focus on the work of an anonymous fifth century BC artist known as the Berlin Painter. Organized by the Princeton University Art Museum, the tour includes 84 vessels plus bronze and terracotta statuettes, curated from 15 museums and two private collections.

Dozens of the pieces were created by the Berlin Painter, while the remainder are the handiwork of other artists from the same time period. The range of subject matter of the artworks span from athletics and music to Greek myth and epic.

Museums that contributed to the exhibit with the loan of their works include the British Museum; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Musée du Louvre, and others.

Many organizations and individuals partnered to make this special event a reality. The Leon Levy Foundation and the Starvros Niarchos Foundation provided major support for the exhibition in general. The Toledo Museum show was made possible by the 2017 Program Sponsor ProMedica, Dina and Hicham Aboutaam of Phoenix Ancient Art, and several others.

The Berlin Painter created exquisite paintings on Greek vases from about 490 to 460 BCE. Since vase painters did not sign their work, a system was developed to more easily identify ancient vases by their unique styles. Classical archeologist and art historian Sir John Davidson Beazley, during the mid-20th century, categorized Attic Greek vases, finding the one piece that was most representative of that style, and calling that the artist’s “name-vase.” The painter is then named after some characteristic of that name-vase, such as its location, i.e. Berlin; its motif; where it was found; its former owner; or other criteria. The name-vase of the Berlin Painter is part of one of the most important collections of classical art in the world, known as the Antikensammlung Berlin, now held at the Altes Museum and Pergamon Museum in Berlin, Germany.

The Art World’s Most Notable Players in 2015

Blouin Artinfo – “the preeminent global source for up-to-the-minute news, information, and expert commentary on art, artists, and the business and pleasure of making, buying, and understanding art” – just presented Part 1 of its Power 100 of 2015 Guide. To be included in this guide is to be part of something that is very well respected throughout the world by art lovers, connoisseurs, and collectors alike. There is a tremendous amount of prestige attached to those who make it to the list each year.

Indeed, Blouin Artinfo takes pride in providing those connected to the art industry with “up-to-the-minute news, information, and expert commentary on art, artists, and the business and pleasure of making, buying, and understanding art.” Included in the site is daily news and developments from art galleries, auction houses, museums and anywhere that art finds a home, from China to the UK, Spain, Europe and throughout North America.

So who made it to the list this year? Here we take a look at three of those art experts who have been privy enough to have been included in this year’s Power 100 Guide. These individuals stand out in 2015 as having “shaped the art trade and the larger world it serves.”

In alphabetical order we first have Ali Aboutaam, and his brother Hicham Aboutaam, antiquities second-generation dealers, the head of Phoenix Ancient Art that is based in both New York and Geneva. The Aboutaams have been recognized this year for expanding their horizons. A few months ago, they opened a second gallery space in Geneva, targeting the younger generation collectors, with the highest price on any item being $21,000. They have also spent time advancing their e-Tiquities.com site, offering a “primer on ancient art along with well-provenanced works.” In addition, Hicham and Ali Aboutaam are in a partnership with Helly Nahmad, a New York gallerist, so that they can offer classical works paralleling classically inspired canvases at Nahmad’s Madison Avenue digs.

Second, Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum Director Caroline Baumann made the list for her “three-year ground-up renovation that brought a sleepy institution into the 21st century.” She took the gallery from a somewhat awkward institution to a place that today, comprises “up-to-the-minute technology like touch-screen tables and a stylus.” This means visitors can save data on various holdings and set up their own virtual collections that they can then take home.

Finally, we look at the profile of Frederik Bruun Rasmussen, head of global sales strategy at Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers. A third-generation leader, Rasmussen has made serious inroads into the “expanded participation of foreign clients, building the United States into a key market, even as the firm controls costs by holding live sales only at its Copenhagen headquarters.” Indeed, starting in 2014, he concentrated his energies on strengthening Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers’ customer base and stepping up global visibility with exhibits of top works throughout some of the world’s most prestigious art centers, including London, New York and Paris.

These are just three of the art industry professionals who have made an impression on the art world in the last year. For the other 97, check out Blouin Atinfo’s Guide to the World’s Most Notable Players of 2015.