TEFAF New York, the Manhattan branch of the 30-year-old art fair in Maastricht, the Netherlands, is known for the exquisite food and drinks it lavishes on visitors to its VIP preview, and has become known especially for the oyster shuckers roaming its aisles. This year brought an additional attraction: Pace Gallery enlisted a performer who was decked out in head-to-toe, swirling Jean Dubuffet designs to entertain and pose for photos with patrons. The artfully dressed guest greeted visitors at the entrance to the fair, which was replete with high prices and Champagne.
For a fair like this, where you will find a $20 million Gauguin painting, sales tend not to happen immediately, but the opening day nevertheless had some action, and at least one booth that sold out. Thaddaeus Ropac sold out its booth within the first few hours. Their outpost displayed 39 pieces by Georg Baselitz—38 of which were 1984 drawings that sold as a set for €1 million euros, or about $1.12 million. The other piece was a large-scale painting titled Blaueur Elkekopf (1979–80), which sold for an undisclosed amount.
Upper East Side dealer Robert Mnuchin exclaimed, “The day is going wonderful!” His booth had Adolph Gottlieb’s painting Bonac (1961), priced at $6 million and John Chamberlain’s 1978 sculpture Funn, priced at $3.2 million, among other works. “I’ve had the opportunity to see so many lovely people I haven’t had the chance to see in a long time,” Mnuchin said.
Among those lovely people were powerful collectors, like Miami-based private museum owners Marty Margulies and Don and Mera Rubell, MoMA board member A.C. Hudgins, Guggenheim board member Jennifer Stockman, and art adviser Sandy Heller, who is known to work with mega-collector Steve Cohen.
Gagosian presented a booth solely of works by Roy Lichtenstein, complete with a dizzying black-and-white polka-dot carpet. The survey spanned mediums, including sculpture, painting, enamel work, and drawing.
One of the highlights at Gagosian is the 1964 enamel-on-metal Girl in Mirror (1964), which Lichtenstein made in an edition of eight plus artist’s proofs. Number three sold for $4.9 million at Christie’s in 2010. In London this past March, it came on the block again, at Phillips, and made $6.28 million. The gallery did not disclose the price.
Gagosian’s booth is well-timed. A Lichtenstein painting from the 1960s—his most-prized period—is coming up for sale at Christie’s New York in two weeks, with an estimate of $30 million to $50 million, from the Robert B. and Beatrice C. Mayer Family Collection.
Whereas the $1 million price point is high for Frieze New York, which opened yesterday in Randall’s Island Park, artworks north of it are par for the course at TEFAF.
White Cube, which maintains spaces in London and Hong Kong, has become known for the artists it has brought up on the primary market, like Damien Hirst. They are showing new works at Frieze by artists like Tracey Emin and Magnus Plessen, but at TEFAF they are working the secondary market. They had a Mark Bradford painting titled Gone (2006), priced at $2.75 million; a 1969 polished brass work by Donald Judd for $1.5 million; and, as it happened, Hirst’s Did You No Wrong (1990-91), a cabinet of old drug bottles going for $2.5 million. Also here: David Hammons’s Untitled (Penis Print), 1969–73.
Skarstedt had a wooden sculpture of a crucified frog by Martin Kippenberger for $850,000; a robust bronze sculpture by George Condo, The Estranged Couple (2008), at $1.2 million; and a Richard Prince painting, Every Window In The Place (1988), for $2.8 million. Nearby, Seoul’s Gana Art had a 1998 Yayoi Kusama installation, Statue of Venus Obliterated by Infinity Nets, with a price tag of $2.8 million; a 1961 work on paper (depicting a unicorn with a tower growing from its head) by René Magritte for $1.2 million; a 1986 Andy Warhol Self Portrait for $2.2 million; and a Calder sculpture for $2 million.
London’s Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert offered a mesmerizing and spare booth, with its corner displaying a reflective Carl Andre floor piece, Sixth Copper Corner, which gave the space a warm glow. Above it was a Robert Mangold and several Sol LeWitt drawings.
Marian Goodman Gallery of New York, Paris, and London, presented an installation by Danh Vō, with mirror paintings by the artist’s former professor Peter Bonde, photographs by his partner and collaborator Heinz Peter Knes, and drawings by his father, Phung Vō, which feature a quote from The Shining in robust lettering, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” The presentation is a preview of Vō’s work for the Venice Biennale, which opens next week.
Galerie Gmurzynska had a notable offering, 20th-century Russian artist Natalia Goncharov’s ballet backdrop, which draped over the event. Isabelle Bscher, the gallery’s director, said there has already been major interest from several large American institutions. “We think the piece couldn’t look better,” she said. “We want as many people as possible to see it.”
Eykyn Maclean sold an untitled Mario Schifano piece from 1974–75 for around $300,000. Next to it was Sturtevant’s Warhol Flowers (1990), and next to that piece was a smattering of paintings from Andy Warhol’s actual “Flowers” series in varying colors.
Sean Kelly hosted a special project of glowing neon eyes by French artist Laurent Grasso, titled Seismography of the Soul. Kelly noted some early sales, such as a piece by Marina Abramović for $33,500, a Kris Martin piece for $14,500, a Stella Snead for $22,300, and a Minoru Onoda for $16,700.
Acquavella sold Lucien Freud’s Portrait (1972) for an undisclosed price.
Pace’s Dubuffet character was an extension of its booth, which was devoted to the artist. Another human extension of an artwork was Ukrainian artist Aljoscha, who could be seen around the fair dressed in head-to-toe pink, to match his special project for TEFAF, a candy-pink abstract sculpture that hung above the entrance. “This installation is a development of another piece I did in a big church in Belgium,” he told ARTnews. “It’s all about biology and happiness.”
Hauser & Wirth brought together paintings and sculptures by three 20th-century women artists—Maria Lassnig, Louise Bourgeois, and Alina Szapocznikow. The showstopper, Bourgeois’s bronze Nature Study (1984), was positioned on the booth’s exterior, radiating in the bright light of the Park Avenue Armory. That piece was priced at $5 million, and a set of yellow watercolor-drawings by Lassnig was on sale for $350,000.
A whimsical scene could be found at Kamel Mennour of Paris and London. A Steinway piano painted in navy and pink by Bertrand Lavier took center stage in its booth. The instrument, which is priced at €190,000 ($212,000) and still functional, graced the posters advertising the fair along the streets of New York. Mennour, the gallery’s founder, said that some visitors recognized it.
On the upper floor of the Armory, Tina Kim Gallery of New York put on a presentation that included Alexander Calder’s Occhio Giallo (Yellow Eye), 1956, priced at approximately $1.5 million; Arshile Gorky’s painting Head (1931-34), on sale for about $400,000; and three works by Bourgeois, among other offerings. A grand chandelier presided over the enterprise’s space, which was equipped with velvet, cream-colored walls and designed by the architectural firm Charlap Hyman & Herrero.
Kim said that the architects helped to “create an intimate space” for the presentation, adding, “I think a lot of people will remember my walls.”
As for that $20 million Gauguin, it’s Joseph and the Wife of Potiphar (1896), from the artist’s Tahitian period, and it’s on Wildenstein’s stand. The vibrant composition was based on an 18th-century drawing by Pierre Paul Prud’hon. The record for a Gauguin painting at auction is $40 million, and at least one has gone for more than $200 million on the private market. Aaron Berlow, a gallery rep, told ARTnews that there’s been interest in the work, but no buyer yet as of yet. Potential new owners have a few days to see it and mull their options—TEFAF runs through Tuesday.
Sarah Douglas contributed reporting.