The New York branch of the heavy hitting international gallery Hauser & Wirth is not, right now, very large. It occupies two floors in a bright, narrow townhouse on East 69th Street, the former home of the Martha Jackson Gallery and, after that, the offices of boxing promoter Don King.
Last Wednesday, the 33-year-old artist Rashid Johnson, a rising star in the New York art world, arrived at the crowded opening of his debut show with the gallery in a white shirt and with his dreads tied in a neat bow down his back, his 4-month-old son on his shoulder.
As usual, the men stole the show. But the ladies, if not nipping at their heels, are at the very least catching up a bit. Let us explain.
Auction records for a number of artists, living and dead, were set last week at the biannual modern and contemporary evening sales in New York, led by the late abstract expressionist Clyfford Still, whose 1949 painting 1949-A-No.1 sold at Sotheby’s for a whopping $61 million. Later that evening, a living artist, Gerhard Richter, also made a world auction record, when his abstract painting, Abstraktes Bild (1997), brought $20.8 million.
While we knew that Louise Bourgeois’ $10,722,500 sale last night was impressive, a new auction record for the artist and perhaps even record-breaking in a more general sense, it took us some time to calculate exactly what other milestone might have been broken.
This morning, it looked like it was going to be a relatively quiet Friday at Gallerist headquarters. But then, at 10:22 a.m., a press release from Christie’s landed in our inbox, announcing that Broadway’s Spider-Man would meet a Louise Bourgeois Spider (1996) outside its Rockefeller Center headquarters at noon for an epic and special photo opportunity. We immediately got angry, but we were also, admittedly, a little bit excited.
In what has to be one of the most amazing and absurd bids for publicity in the history of the art market, Christie’s announced today that the actor Craig Henningsen, who plays Spider-Man in the hit Broadway show Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, “will help unveil the monumental Spider sculpture by world-famous artist Louise Bourgeois” at the auction house’s Rockefeller Center headquarters at noon. The work will be sold next week at the house’s contemporary art evening sale.