The fall’s auction season in New York is turning out to be a record-breaking one. Tuesday night Sotheby’s made its highest-ever total with a postwar and contemporary auction that came to $375.1 million. And earlier this evening, a Christie’s sale in the same category brought in $412.3 million, the highest total ever for an auction of contemporary art. Led by house auctioneer Jussi Pylkkänen, the lively sale, which topped its high estimate of $411.8 million, saw new records for Richard Serra, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Franz Kline, Richard Diebenkorn, Donald Judd, Mark Grotjahn and Jeff Koons. Mr. Koons is now the second most expensive living artist at auction, after Gerhard Richter.
“Were you waiting for someone?” Jeff Koons asked a scrum of photographers this morning, as he walked up to his sculpture Tulips (1995-2004), which has been installed in a black pool outside Christie’s in Rockefeller Center. The sculpture, seven tulips of varying colors fabricated from mirror-polished stainless steel in an edition of five, is part of Mr. Koons’s “Celebration” series and is expected to bring in between $20 million and $30 million at Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale on Nov. 14. Until then, the enormous gleaming bouquet, which Christie’s in a statement called the artist’s “most complex technical creation to date,” will remain on view for the public to take in.
Last Friday evening in the Guggenheim’s basement auditorium, Jeff Koons, in his trademark smooth, soothing tone, told a sold-out crowd about something he often does before he goes to sleep. “At night, what I like to do, as an individual, when my wife is getting ready to go to bed and my children are already in bed, I go online,” he said excitedly, “and I just look at Picasso’s work.”
Mr. Koons said that Marcel Duchamp has long been a huge influence on him, but that he has become more impressed with Picasso over the past two decades. In fact, he’s started collecting the artist’s work, and has loaned one of his paintings to the exhibition on view in the Guggenheim’s galleries upstairs, “Picasso Black and White.” A 1969 scene of a bald man aggressively kissing a woman, it hangs near the top of the rotunda.
Jeff Koons is having his first exhibition in Brussels in 20 years; it opens Oct. 6 at Almine Rech gallery. And that is news! But far more impressive than that news is the following sentence in the exhibition’s press release which may, as indicated in our headline, be the best sentence in any press release ever released in the history of press releases released to the press.
Americans for the Arts today released the names of the luminaries that will receives its annual National Arts Awards, which will be presented at a dinner on Oct. 15 at Cipriani on East 42nd Street.
Reporting from London’s Impressionist and contemporary art auctions, Souren Melikian reports a “noticeable change of mood this week in the art market.” [International Herald Tribune]
Cecilia Alemani, curator and director of High Line Art, has joined Twitter. [@ceciliaalemani]
Art Basel 2012
Yesterday, Observer Culture Editor Sarah Douglas reported from a talk that Jeff Koons gave about his own work last week at Basel’s Beyeler Foundation. Among his topics: biology, breasts, testicles. As many have noted, Mr. Koons is a remarkably eloquent, if bizarre, interpreter of his work. What has been less frequently addressed is his skill at posing with his sculptures. Perhaps only Salvador Dalí—whom Mr. Koons collects—can be considered a true rival in the expressive intensity of his poses. Below, a brief look at some of Mr. Koons’s best moments.
Going by Adam Davidson’s logic in his recent New York Times Magazine article—the art market is “a proxy for the fate of the superrich themselves”—fans of the 1 percent will be thrilled to hear that sales were full speed ahead at least week’s Art Basel fair, despite Greece and Spain and myriad other global economic woes. One afternoon, an artist turned up outside the convention center with an unsanctioned artwork—a giant mousetrap poised to snap on a bunch of giant euros—and was swiftly removed by a bunch of guards, Masque of the Red Death-ishly.
Jeff Koons, Fred Wilson, Ursula von Rydingsvard and Claudia Demonte will be among the artists headed to public schools around the city next week as part of Visual Arts Appreciation Week.
The Art Newspaper has a think piece today by Laura Gilbert that ruminates on how American artists used to appropriate copyrighted material all the time, and how it seems like it isn’t done any more.