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Paul Gauguin Goes for $10.5M; Sotheby’s Sells Space Photographs for Apollo 11 Anniversary

Also, the Dallas Museum of Art created a Works on Paper department thanks to a gift from a former curator and trustee, and more.

Berthe Morisot, Harbor Scene (Isle of Wight), 1880, watercolor on paper, intended bequest of William B. Jordan and Robert Dean Brownlee (courtesy of the Dallas Museum of Art)

Art Miami kicked off Miami Art Week yesterday, followed by Art Basel Miami Beach opening today. Along with the principal auction weeks in New York and London, major art fairs present an opportunity to take the art market’s temperature. And this year in Miami, the global temperature: the fairs will coincide with a strike for climate action on December 6.

The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) received a gift of over 80 artworks, including 58 works on paper, from the estate of former DMA curator and museum trustee William B. Jordan and his husband Robert Dean Brownlee. The museum, which has substantial holdings of over 5,600 works on paper, also happily announced the creation of a Works on Paper Department. Thanks to a $3 million gift, the department comes complete with a new curatorial position, The Allen and Kelli Questrom Curator of Works on Paper. Earlier this year, the museum expanded its Latin American art and Medieval and Islamic art departments, appointing inaugural curators in each.

On the auction front, ArtTactic just released a “Top Artists Report” examining this year’s Post-War & Contemporary Art sales in New York and London. The report notes that while overall sales totals have declined 12.7% over the past 12 months, day sales have experienced an 11.6% bump. One statistic is fairly striking: auction sales of work by younger artists grew by 93% this year. While a favorable auction result might boost young artists’ market value, in North America auction houses typically don’t give artists a cut of the profits — unless you have the good fortune of having your work auctioned at Peter Estey Fine Art in Canada, which has elected to honor resale royalties.

Paul Gaugin, “Te Bourao II” (1897), 73 x 92cm (courtesy of Artcurial)

It has been a busy week for auction houses in Paris. At Artcurial, Paul Gauguin’s 1897 “Te Bourao II (The Purao Tree)” sold for around $10.5 million, rocketing past its estimate of $5.5–7.8 million. The painting, which spent the past decade on loan at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, is from a series of nine works that Gauguin made in Tahiti that year. (The provenance of the other eight, which are all in public collections, certainly contributed to the hefty price tag.) It seems that Gauguin’s market remains unaffected by the numerous postcolonial and feminist critiques of his work.

Christie’s and Sotheby’s also held Post-War & Contemporary Art Sales in Paris. The Christie’s Evening sale totaled $13.7 million while the Sotheby’s Evening sale grossed $41.1 million. The two auctions were led by a $2.9 million Luciano Fontana slash painting and an $8.6 million Kazuo Shiraga oil painting, respectively. In the digital realm, Sotheby’s held an auction of space photography in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing.

Dan Flavin, “Untitled” (1970), Installation view, Dan Flavin (1962/63, 1970, 1996), Dia Center for the Arts, 548 West 22nd Street, New York, May 22, 1997–June 14, 1998. (photo by Cathy Carver, courtesy Dia Art Foundation, New York © 2019 Stephen Flavin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Courtesy David Zwirner)

Less than one hour after the Dan Flavin exhibition opened at David Zwirner’s new Paris location, the gallery sold a work on view — “Untitled” (1970), which was originally installed in Donald Judd’s home at 101 Spring Street — for $5 million.

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