Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Auctions: London Contemporary Art Roundup

The Contemporary Art auction season in London began last week and continues this week, with day and evening sales at Sotheby's, Christie's and Phillips. Since there are so few photographs up for sale across the board, it seemed better to put them all together into one larger post covering all six sales. Taken as one group, a total of 78 lots are on offer, with a total high estimate of £4038000.


Sotheby's sales actually occurred last week, February 5 and 6, so we're a little bit late in reviewing what's available. In the evening sale, there are 5 lots of photography (broadly defined): 2 by Gilbert & George, and 1 each by John Baldessari, Andreas Gursky, and Rashid Rana (an artist we are not familiar with). The day sale includes 24 photographs, with a sampling of the usual suspects: Cindy Sherman, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Thomas Ruff, Vik Muniz, Andreas Gursky, and Philip-Lorca DiCorcia among others. Some of the more unexpected names include Tracey Emin, Sam Taylor-Wood, Gregor Schneider, Wim Delvoye, and Roni Horn.

Sotheby's Contemporary Art London evening sale here.
Sotheby's Contemporary Art London day sale here.


Christie's has its Contemporary Art sales on February 11 and 12. There are only two photographs in the evening sale, one by Richard Prince and the other by Andreas Gursky. It is also a thin showing in the day sale, with only 8 photographs up for auction: 3 Hiroshi Sugimotos, and 1 each from Andres Serrano, Richard Prince, Ai Weiwei, John Baldessari and Vanessa Beecroft.

Christie's Contemporary Art King Street evening sale here.
Christie's Contemporary Art King Street day sale here.

Phillips De Pury and Company

Phillips has its two sales on February 12 and 13. There are 9 lots of photography in the evening sale, a broad spectrum from the standbys (Sherman, Prince, Gilbert & George, Gursky, Struth, Crewdson, Tillmans) to a few surprises (Rashid Rana and Florian Maier-Aichen). The day sale has 30 photographs up for sale, from 27 different artists. It's truly an international crowd, a bit more on the edge, as is Phillips' style. While there are a handful of familiar names, there are quite a few unusual inclusions and lesser known photographers; the list is below for your entertainment:

Afrika (Sergei Bugaev)
Halim Al-Karim
Darren Almond
Sergey Bratkov
Balthasar Burkhard
Sophie Calle
Edgar Cleijne
Gregory Crewdson
Wim Delvoye
Lalla Essaydi
Elger Esser
Roland Fischer
Ilkka Halso
Mustafa Hulusi
Vera Lutter
Florian Maier-Aichen
Miao Xiaochun
Youssef Nabil
Ugo Rondinone
Alfred Seiland
Jalal Sepehr
Eliezer Sonnenschein
San Taylor-Wood
Xing Danwen
Catherine Yass
Zhang Huan (his Family Tree which we talked about recently here is up for sale)
Zhang Peng

Phillips' Contemporary Art London evening sale here.
Phillips' Contemporary Art London day sale here.

In general, given that the estimates seem more realistic across the board and the offerings are more tightly edited, I think many of these works will perform just fine, with the caveat that the more adventurous work at Phillips is less predictable.

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