Christie’s has announced a new auction titled “ONE: A Global Sale of the 20th Century,” a novel event featuring major works of modern and contemporary art and design to be auctioned across Christie’s international headquarters in New York, London, Paris, and Hong Kong, scheduled to take place on July 10.
In response to the sweeping global shift across the market to collecting online as the coronavirus pandemic forces businesses to remain closed, the auction house is taking a new approach to the gala evening sale, further blurring the line between digital and live sales. The major market shakeup sees the event replacing the previously scheduled New York 20th-century evening sale slated for the week of June 22, announced in April.
In a statement announcing the adjustment to the marquee auction week, Christie’s confirmed “the new format aims to create an adaptable, inclusive and engaging selling platform to present important works of art to global bidders.” The spectacle will take place in real time across the four sale sites, offering artworks in a series of four separate consecutive sessions led by each region’s chief auctioneer, which will kick off in Hong Kong.
Alex Rotter, Christie’s chairman of postwar and contemporary art in New York, noted the dramatic move as a response to the fast-changing market landscape under the current global pandemic. “Christie’s is reconfiguring how we engage with objects and the way that we present them to both dedicated collectors and the world at large. With our virtual and physical worlds rapidly merging, we felt that it was vital that we meet this new reality with an innovative platform. And so it begins, we begin again, with ONE,” said Rotter.
With economic uncertainty looming and a fragile market to navigate, Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Phillips have all experimented with various auction formats, from themed sales to single-lot showcases in order to spark engagement with massive client bases amid a market lull. “This hybrid-format concept sale is a way to adapt and innovate. Crossing borders, we will offer a broad range of categories from international artists spanning the 20th Century, exploring different regional points of view and perspectives to create one vision,” said Giovanna Bertazzoni, Christie’s co-chairman of Impressionist and modern art, in a statement. In recognition of international collecting trends, Bertazzoni adds, the sale is in line with the expanding cross-continental methods of art collecting among the firm’s clients.
“Collectors increasingly view the art market from a global perspective,” Evelyn Lin, deputy chairman, international director, and head of Asia’s modern and contemporary art department, said in a statement.
The news comes with the announcement of a set of works by modern and contemporary artists leading each sale section, which together carry a collective presale estimate of $85 million. In New York, Pablo Picasso’s Les femmes d’Alger (version ‘F’), 1955, is estimated at around $25 million, hailing from the artist’s famed series of 15 paintings based on Eugène Delacroix’s work of the same title. Another major work from the series “(Version O),” brought Picasso’s current record price of $179 million, set at a Christie’s evening sale in 2015. The star lot has been in the historic private collections of Sally and Victor Ganz, and Daniel and Eleanore Block Saidenberg, the longtime American dealer of Picasso. The July 10 sale will mark the first time the work has come to auction.
Among the other top lots set to debut in the New York section are Roy Lichtenstein’s monumental 1994 Nude with Joyous Painting, carrying an estimate of $30 million, consigned from a private American collection. The late-career work is a nude done in Lichtenstein’s signature Pop art style (the artist died in 1997). The sale also marks Nude with Joyous Painting’s auction debut.
Another postwar mainstay, Ed Ruscha, will be represented by Annie (1962). Also leading the New York sale, the piece is estimated between at $20 million–$30 million. Standing nearly six feet tall, the canvas is an early example of his signature style of slogans juxtaposed on landscape backgrounds.
Set to debut in the Hong Kong sale is Chinese-French painter Zao Wou-Ki’s masterpiece, 21.10.63, estimated at $10 million, marking its first appearance on the auction block. Across global sale sites, but especially in Hong Kong, Zao has brought in new records, his monumental triptych, Juin–Octobre 1985 (1985), having sold for $65.2 million in a Sotheby’s Hong Kong evening event in September 2018, and establishing the artist’s current record.
Coinciding with the Olympic-scale sale program, each city will stage a public exhibition of highlights in accordance with regional restrictions. In line with the expanding investment in digital strategy among the top auction houses, the public showcase will also be accompanied by a virtual campaign, with further details still to be confirmed.