Insights / Headlines

BY Andrew Goldstein on May 15, 2009
David Hockney's 1966 "Beverly Hills Housewife" sold for $7.9 million at Christie's, setting a new record for the artist. ; Courtesy of David Hockney

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Well, this week the marquee New York contemporary art auctions have come and gone, leaving the market at a newly restrained level and a few choice pieces in the hands of savvy bargain-hunters.

Christie's was the clear winner,
with a crowd of the world's richest supercollectors spending a hearty $93.7 million on art and setting new auction records for David Hockney, Claes Oldenburg, Tony Smith, and other artists. Sotheby's had less luck, pulling in a relatively modest $47 million but still managing to set records for Martin Kippenberger, Christopher Wool, and even Dan Colen. Larry Gagosian played the silver prince at both sales, spending impressive sums on works by artists he represents, including Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Richard Prince, and Cecily Brown--though since he likes to bid for others it's not certain which works actually went home with him. The only truly worrying results of the week, however, were at Phillips de Pury. Amid reports of hard times at the intrepid auction house, their sale fetched a mere $7.7 million.

Elsewhere in the art world, the spring breeze seemed to bring a number of happy developments. Renzo Piano's new Modern wing at the Art Institute of Chicago won raves for its spacious galleries and spectacular design, while the art inside's not half bad either. (Architects Zaha Hadid and Santiago Calatrava had a worse week, unfortunately.) Texas' Kimbell Art Museum, meanwhile, says they've discovered a new Michelangelo painting--executed when the artist was only 12 or 13--and a Syracuse University professor claims to have identified previously unknown work by Leonardo da Vinci. In other cheering news, video artist Bill Viola was awarded the Catalonia International Prize and Broadway megaproducer Rocco Landesman was named head of the National Endowment for the Arts. Here's hoping his vigor (and sharp elbows) can shake up the long-sleepy organization.

Related News Links:

"Real Housewife of Beverly Hills" [via Artforum.com]

"At Upbeat Christie’s Auction, Some Record Prices" [via the New York Times]

$93.7 Million at Christie's Contemporary [via Artnet]

"$47 Million at Sotheby's Contemporary" [via Artnet]

"No Ifs, Ands, or Butts" [via Artforum.com]

"In ‘a Recalibrated Market,’ Auction Buyers Take Over" [via the New York Times]

"Phillips Limps to the Finish Line" [via Artinfo]

"Going Once, Going Twice... Gone?" [via Portfolio]

"Phillips Contemporary Auction Falls Short of Estimate" [via the New York Times]

"Records broken at Tintin auction" [via Agence France-Presse]

"Piano’s Flying Carpet Lands at Chicago Art Institute" [via Bloomberg]

"A Grand and Intimate Modern Art Trove" [via the New York Times]

"Fire Strikes Zaha Hadid’s Guangzhou Opera House" [via Artinfo]

"Proposed Atlanta Symphony hall in need of a new design" [via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

"By the Hand of a Very Young Master?" [via the New York Times]

"A "New" Leonardo?" [via Time magazine's "Looking Around" blog]

"Viola Wins Catalonia International Prize" [via Artinfo]

"Producer Is Chosen to Lead Arts Endowment" [via the New York Times]

"Can Rocco Landesman make the NEA relevant again?" [via the Los Angeles Time's "Culture Monster" blog]

"The Torment of Saint Anthony," a painting the Kimbell Art Museum says was painted by Michelangelo when the artist was 12 or 13. ; Courtesy of the Kimbell Art Museum

From the Article: Artists

Claes Oldenburg
Martin Kippenberger
Richard Prince
Jeff Koons
Bill Viola
Christopher Wool
Tony Smith
David Hockney

From the Article: Shows

Sotheby's
May 8 - May 12
Christie's
May 9 - May 14

From the Article: Venues

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