Spirited Sales during New York Art Week

Cindy Sherman (b.  1954) Untitled Film Still #21, signed, dated ©1978 and inscribed "City Girl" on the reverse gelatin silver print, 8 by 10 in.  sold for $746,500 (including buyer's premium) from an estimate of $150,000-200,000 at Sotheby's on March 9.
Cindy Sherman (b. 1954) Untitled Film Still #21, signed, dated ©1978 and inscribed "City Girl" on the reverse gelatin silver print, 8 by 10 in. sold for $746,500 (including buyer's premium) from an estimate of $150,000-200,000 at Sotheby's on March 9.

New York City was inundated by the contemporary art contingent this week, with both the Armory Show and The ADAA (Art Dealers Association of America) Art Show taking place, as well as a plethora of smaller fairs and major auctions running contemporaneously.

As the week comes to a close, there were several standouts amongst the brisk sales. The newly revamped Armory Show is, per their website “re-establishing itself as the most adventurous and dynamic contemporary art fair in New York City.”  The impetus to reestablish could stem from the competition that is emerging from London’s Frieze Art Fair, coming to New York this May.

The Armory Show reduced the number of exhibitors and entirely redesigned its longtime home at Piers 92 & 94. The makeover seems to have produced positive results; spirits were high and the good vibes flowed.  Galleries, such as David Zwirner, Sprüth Magers and Greene Naftali, that had eschewed the Armory Show in recent years, made a return and a triumphant one at that, at least in Zwirner’s booth, where site-specific works by Micahel Riedel sold in the fair's first 30 minutes.

Despite the reduction in exhibitors, there were still 228 dealers showing, split into two groups:  20th-century and 21st-century.  One of Andre Serrano’s large-scale photographs, “Anarchy(Made in China),” sold almost immediately for $30,000.  Within a few hours, Korea’s Joonho Jeon sold an animation that depicted an enlarged note of North Korean currency with the landscape catching fire for $35,000. 

By the end of preview day, most galleries had sold at least one or two paintings.  Hoffman Gallery of Chicago sold a small painting of a brick wall by artist Robert Overby, done in his signature latex, also for $35,000, and another piece by that artist, priced at $100,000, was placed on hold.

Other Armory Show standouts included Argentinian artist Leandro Erlich’s glass vitrine painted to mimic cloud formations, which sold for a cool $65,000. At Massimo de Carlo, a large work by Nate Lowman, recreating a letter from the Museum of Modern Art’s membership department done in black paint on clear plastic, sold for $75,000.

Over at the ADAA show, sales were also steady.  All hailing from the U.S., 72 leading art dealers and galleries showcased a variety of museum quality exhibits focusing on masterworks of the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as contemporary avant-garde work.

By the end of Wednesday, at least three booths reported being sold out. Some of the largest sales were two works by conceptual artist John Baldessari at L&M. Sale numbers were not released, but the list prices for the works were $575,000 and $375,000. 

Los Angeles-based gallery Blum & Poe reported Wednesday that they had sold out of Henry Taylor’s available work; the smallest works went for $15,000 and the largest for $60,000.  Interest was also keen for the work of British photographer Adam Fuss; Cheim & Read had already sold two of his monumental photograms on Wednesday, and two more were reserved, all priced at $65,000. 

Unsurprisingly, Cindy Sherman’s “Murder Mystery” film stills proved to be blockbusters as well, with at least eight of the available groupings selling for between $250,000 and $350,000; Sherman’s “Untitled Film Still #21' led the Contemporary Art auction that took place on March 9 at Sotheby’s New York and set a new record for an original-size film still by the artist when it sold for $746,500 – nearly four times its $200,000 high estimate.

The sale totalled $12 million, the highest result for a mid-season sale of Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s since spring 2008.

Also performing strongly, Gerhard Richter’s oil on paper Montag brought $548,500 above a high estimate of $350,000, and Alexander Calder’s Wichita Mobile (Maquette) from circa 1973 sold for $442,500 above a high estimate of $300,000.

(Report: Christine Bolli for ARTFIXdaily)

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