General

Wuzon da Block?

On a jet-lagged early morning, I’d like to spill my thoughts onto this screen so you can hurry and see these spectacular Picassos, in case you happen to be in the ‘hood.  This time I sojourned in NY with one of our kids, and I have to say that the apostate Sofie chose as the best-in-show not a Picasso at all, but rather a Warhol painting.  Well, Superman is an admittedly spectacular Warhol, but since I’m writing this and not Sofie, it’s not going to be illustrated here. The 1000-pound gorilla in the room was the unavoidable Les Femmes d’Alger, Version O (above).  This Christie’s blockbuster, which is predicted (and I believe also guaranteed) to break the world auction record …

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Wuzon da Block?

Here’s an owl worth noting at Sotheby’s evening sale in London this week.  In my opinion, it is the one of the two nicest Picasso owls and arguably the most desirable Picasso terracotta or ceramic, period. La Chouette (1950)  was one of about a dozen that were cast from a mold, as well as six bronzes.  Picasso then painted each ceramic differently.  The bronze version is lovely and is of course sturdier than the ceramic, but I find the painted terracottas to be more expressive than the bronzes and, in a number of cases, more beautiful. It is noteworthy that five of these ceramic variants including the current lot (but no bronze) were included in the MOMA’s 1980 Picasso retrospective, the greatest and …

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Get your tickets now!

  After five long years of abject deprivation, we can now bask in Picasso Central once again.  Following extensive renovation and a doubling of its exhibition space, Le Musée Picasso reopens tomorrow, on the maitre’s 133 birthday.  It has surely been a long, dry spell….

Wuzon da Block?

The most beautiful and most important piece in all the auctions is amazingly underpriced.  Buffon et Jeune Acrobate, a 1905 gouache, is at Sotheby’s Imp/Mod evening sale, lot 63.  The most recent  comparable sale among the oils and works on paper (WOPs) of 1905 was this one, far smaller and less beautiful: This tiny (14.4 cm), faint, unsigned watercolor just brought down 434,500 GBP (710,083 USD) at Sotheby’s London earlier this year.  Yet the Sotheby’s estimate is only $2.5-3.5M for the present 58 cm gouache. The priciest sale of this gorgeous series of Saltimbanques on paper went for over $38M way back in around 1986, setting a record for a WOP that has not yet been broken: OK, I’d rather have …

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Picasso Does Piedmont

  If you’re in the area, come hear my spiel and kibitz about–what else?  I’ve been invited to deliver this year’s kickoff lecture at the Piedmont Center for the Arts on Friday, November 14 at 5 PM. Click below for the deets. “Picasso Does Piedmont”

Hijinks in Hong Kong

Hi, Kobi!   Just some comments on the Art Basel Hong Kong show.  Hmmm…where to start?  I met several top art dealers from NY, London, Milan, Paris, etc. who deal in Picasso.  I saw some nice Picassos (and some very disturbing Contemporary Art).  My overall impression is that the people who regularly buy from these dealers must be incredibly naive.  I won’t bore you with all the conversations, just a sampling. “Provenance? It’s in Zervos, which is a catalogue raisonné (spoken slowly apparently so my slow mind can grasp the French words)…that’s all the proof you need.  If it’s in there it’s genuine.  Here, let me show you a copy of the page.” “But what if it’s a fake?”  (Apparently …

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Sell Out

  The Christian Zervos 33-volume catalogue raisonné of Picasso paintings, drawings and sculptures has just been newly reprinted, a collaborative marketing effort between the original publisher, Cahiers d’Art, and Sotheby’s.  The set will soon be available for $20,000 (gulp!).  In a promotional video distributed by Sotheby’s, Staffan Ahrenberg of Cahiers d’Art states, “It contains over 16,000 images, and it has become the most important reference work on Picasso.” Well, yes and no.  For those antiquarians among us who are still stuck on the original catalogue raisonné, it lends a bit of cache if your Picasso is illustrated in Zervos, though it does not really add value and is by no means necessary to establish authenticity.  But Picasso made many more …

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A Desperate Thought (for Desperate Times)

Recently I enjoyed a discussion concerning Picasso’s draftsmanship with an art historian (on the way to Jerry Day, of all things!).  Afterwards,  once my thoughts had coalesced, I jotted them down and sent them off to him as well as to another art historian.  Having not heard back from either of them in over a month, I started feeling ignored.  Is it just me, or don’t you just hate it when no one pays you attention?  So in utter desperation, I thought I might run this by you, on the outside chance that you might want to weigh in. My conversant, Tom, had held that the measure of an artist’s draftsmanship is how accurately and precisely he mimics the physical world in his art.  In …

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Steal of the Season

Christie’s just completed its first Shanghai auction.  It included but one Picasso, a late oil on panel, but this 1969 Homme Assis was a doozie.  This musketeer brought in 1,906,245 USD on an estimate of 742,693 to 1,023,266 USD. Although many late Picasso paintings are oversized, about as large as a door, the better ones typically fetch 5 to 10 times this amount.  But I’m not one to overweight size relative to quality when determining value.  As for the quality of the painting, assuming late Picasso appeals to you, you may find yourself agreeing with me that it is wonderful.  I could rhapsodize at length about the style and artistic accomplishments of this hilarious musketeer, but I’ll spare you–for now.  Suffice it …

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In Memoriam

Tête d’arlequin 1971 – 2013 R.I.P. See the sad NY Times article reporting the theft from a museum in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and the subsequent cremation of 7 artworks, including this wonderful, late Picasso drawing.