NEW YORK—Demand for Russian art was robust at the American and European modern and contemporary art sale at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers on Sept. 11 in Chicago.
The auction was led by Wassily Kandinsky’s 1922 watercolor, Composition No. 26, which earned $454,000 including premium, falling within the $300,000/500,000 estimate. The Kandinsky was consigned from an Illinois estate and was purchased by a New York art dealer.
The sale had a sizeable number of works by less well-known Russian artists, whose estimates reflected their limited reputations, but ultimately did quite well.
“We had about five or six Russians on the phone, and they were really eager for things,” Leslie Hindman said.
For instance, Vitaly Dlugy’s oil, Dominos, 1981, estimated at $1,000/2,000, sold for $20,740, while Natalya Nesterova’s painting, The Dragon Flies, 1993, estimated at $800/1,200, earned $23,180 and Viatcheslav Kalinin’s oil on masonite, Cubist Still Life, ca. 1983, estimated at $800/1,200, drew $12,200.
Similarly, strong results were realized for: Mihail Chemiakin’s Dreams of Nejinsky, 1992, which sold for $18,300, compared with an estimate of $8,000/12,000, and Carnival, 1980, which sold for $19,520, compared with an estimate of $10,000/15,000; Valery Yurlov’s untitled farm scene, 1956, sold for $9,150, compared with an estimate of $800/1,200; and Lev Tchistovsky’s undated watercolor Reclining Nude, sold for $15,860, compared with an estimate of $7,000/9,000. “These are artists we are not intimately familiar with,” Hindman said. “There were auction records for them, but they were very uneven, so we estimated them as we felt proper. Obviously, these artists are more important to these Russian buyers than we had known.”
In addition to the Kandinsky, high points in the auction included the sale of Indian painter Maqbool Fida Husain’s oil, The Sitar Player, 1964, which realized $85,400, compared with an estimate of $60,000/80,000, and Gustave Loiseau’s undated Wheat Field sold for $85,400, compared with an estimate of $30,000/50,000.
Other works that brought solid prices included: Reginald Marsh’s oil on board, Spooks, 1943, which sold for $85,400, albeit at the low end of the $80,000/120,000 estimate; Beauford Delaney’s oil, Abstract Composition, ca. 1962, which realized $46,360, against an estimate of $40,000/60,000; and Jacques Martin-Ferriere’s Old Port of Marseilles, 1919, which brought $36,600, compared with an estimate of $20,000/30,000.
Pierre Eugene Montézin’s undated The Swans, sold for $36,600, against an estimate of $30,000/50,000, while Sam Francis’s watercolor, Composition, 1955, sold for $30,500, compared with an estimate of $30,000/50,000, Theodoros Stamos’s oil, Infinity Field, 1982, sold for $24,400 (estimate: $25,000/35,000), and an untitled, 1996 oil on paper by Eric Fischl sold for $23,180, compared with an estimate of $20,000/30,000.
Still, it was the unexpected big paydays that brought much of the excitement on this day, such as Alexander Helwig Wyant’s undated Mountain Stream, which realized $31,720, against an estimate of $3,000/5,000, and Canadian painter Arthur Watkins Crisp’s oil, An Autumn Afternoon, 1916, which brought $10,980, far higher than the estimate of $1,000/2,000.
Israeli sculptor Igael Tumarkin’s undated bronze, La Belle Epoque, sold for $26,840, compared with an estimate of $5,000/7,000, while Joseph Raffael’s watercolor, Flowers in a Vase, 1990, sold for $20,740, compared with an estimate of $6,000/8,000.
Overall, the sale earned $2.7 million, above the presale estimate of $1.9 million, with 254 (or 72 percent) of the 352 lots finding buyers.
On the following day, a print and photograph sale at Hindman achieved $673,871, falling withing the estimate of $588,450/909,750. Of 289 lots offered, 212, or 73 percent, were sold.
An undated lithograph by Francis Bacon, Study for Bullfighter No. 1, was the top lot, selling for $54,900 with premium, and surpassing the $35,000/45,000 estimate.
Although the auction included works dating back to the 17th century, the sale was full of modern and contemporary graphic and photographic prints, which also brought the highest prices.
Among the strongest sales were: Joan Miro’s color etching, Le Matador, 1969, which sold for $36,600, compared with an estimate of $20,000/30,000; Andy Warhol’s portfolio of 11 silkscreen prints, Flash Series—November 22, 1963, dated 1968, which sold for $34,720 compared with an estimate of $30,000/50,000, as well as Warhol’s silkscreen, Mao, 1972 which sold for $32,240, on an estimate of $20,000/30,000; and a Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec undated color lithograph, Divan Japonais, which sold for $20,740, against an estimate of $10,000/15,000. Bacon’s lithograph, Triptych, 1983, sold for $18,300, compared with an estimate of $15,000/25,000.
David Hockney’s undated etching, Rumplestiltskin Attacking the Princess, exceeded its $2,000/4,000 estimate to sell for $12,200, while Alexander Calder’s undated portfolio of ten lithographs titled Our Unfinished Revolution, sold for $13,420 and Warhol’s color lithograph, Flowers, 1964, sold for $12,200. Each had been estimated at $8,000/12,000.