On the Block

On the Block: What to Watch the Week of May 23

The major New York sales may be behind us, but their momentum continues into a number of London, Paris, and Hong Kong sales

With the New York sales finally in the rearview mirror, we can refresh our perspective and begin to focus on some other markets.

The sales begin at Bonhams in London. On Tuesday May 24th at 8 am EDT, tune in to watch the Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art auction. On the high-end of the price spectrum, Manjit Bawa’s Untitled (Goat and Squirrel) from 1990 has an estimate of $85,832. The work last sold at Sotheby’s in 2006 for $48,000, but Bawa’s top thirty prices at auction have been achieved in the years since. Just this year, Bawa had a painting sell for seven figures at Christie’s. Bonhams is also offering B. Prabha’s Untitled (Fisherwoman) from 1989. The portrait is emblematic of Prabha’s elongated portraits of peasant women, but the composition’s bright blue palette differentiates it from a lot of her other works. It has an estimate of $9,809.

Also on Tuesday, Christie’s will have a Photographs sale beginning at 10 am EDT in Paris. The auction features a handful of lots by Helmut Newton. The German-Australian photographer’s auction record was reset with a bang at Christie’s 21st Century Evening sale when "Big Nude III" (Variation), Paris, 1990 sold for $2,340,000 over a $800,000 estimate. In this sale, Christie’s has "Eiffel Tower", Paris, 1974 with a $313,130 estimate. A work from the edition last sold at Sotheby’s in 2017 for $348,500, more than tripling its estimate. 

Heading back to Bonham’s on the same spring Tuesday, the house will be hosting a sale of Modern and Contemporary Middle Eastern Art including On The Banks of the Nile: A Journey Through Egyptian Art at 11 am EDT in London. Lot 14 in the sale is Mohamed Melehi’s Croisé B from 1984. The brightly colored abstract work has an estimate of $98,592, giving it the potential to land in Melehi’s top ten prices at auction. 

Ping-ponging back to photography, Phillips’ sale will take place on Wednesday the 25th at 9 am EDT. The first thirteen lots of the London sale are unique works by Peter Beard from a Private European collection. Beard has not seen an auction record reset since 2017 when Orphaned Cheetah Cubs, Mweiga, near Nyeri, Kenya, 1968 sold for $672,500. Since that time, Beard died at 82 in Montauk. The photographs being offered at Christie’s in this sale feature the unique decorated frames present on his most highly valued works. One of the photographs, Giraffes in mirage on the Taru desert, Kenya, June, 1960, is being offered with an estimate of $74,910. The second attraction of this sale is a selection of lots Phillips is calling “ULTIMATE Newcomers.” Here Phillips is using “ULTIMATE” to denote the rarity of the works; newcomers indicates that they are by artists with few or no previous sales at auction.

The week’s auctions finish up in Hong Kong on the 26th. At 7:30 am EDT, Christie’s will hold a 20th/21st Century Art Evening Sale. The auction features many of the names that have been drawing big interest–and big prices–over the past few weeks. Following the success of The Sugar Shack, 1976, which sold for $15,275,000 this month, Christie’s is offering another work by Ernie Barnes. Listen Up!, 1980, a similarly joyous (but perhaps less recognizable) nightlife scene has an estimate of $101,918. Adrian Ghenie also saw huge price growth over the past few weeks; A 2016 Ghenie canvas set a record at Sotheby’s the Now Evening sale, selling for $9,286,700. In Hong Kong, Christie’s is offering Pie Fight Interior 12, 2014 with an $8,663,000 estimate. Finishing off with another buzzworthy name, Ewa Juszkiewicz’s Slomkowy Kapelusz (wg Louise Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun) (Straw Hat (After Louise Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun)), 2012 is being offered with an estimate of $789,862. Considering a similar work sold at Christie’s 21st Century Evening sale in New York for almost eight times its estimate at $1,560,000, estimates for Juszkiewicz finally seem to be rising closer to expected value.

Check out the rest of the lots in these sales plus fifty-plus years of historical auction data, live bid streaming, and easy-to-read results on the LiveArt app, available in the Apple App Store or through Google Play.

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