$4Million Sotheby's Sale: "Empire of Lights," by Renee Margritte
Readers may recall my prior blog describing the great painting, Houses with Laundry (Suburb II) of 1914, by the Austrian Expresionist, Egon Schiele, which Sotheby's was selling at Sotheby's auction in June. On the evening of June 22nd, the painting doubled the previous auction record price for the artist when it sold for $40 million. Overall, the Impressionist & Modern Art sale at Sotheby's fetched $181 million with over 90% of the works selling in the evening auction. The art market is being feuled by the vast and explosive creation of wealth throughout the world. Bidders from China, Asia, Russia and the Middle East competed with traditional collectors of Europe and America to drive these impressive results. Growth in the BRIC countries, high energy prices, and rebounds in corporate profits have lead to large pools of excess liquidity which is finding its way in to the art market.
Pictured above is yet another superb work offered exclusively in Sotheby's sale, Renee Magritte's subtley hauting, "Empire of Lights."
Magritte produced a large series of works, under this same title, based on the quietly confounding imagery of a street scene viewed in the darkest night, with street lamps and windows aglow, positioned under a brilliant sunny sky. The great surrealist conflates the two opposite times of day in one image.
This work was executed in gouache on paper and, historically, such works on paper have been valued way below an oil painting by the same artists. But because of the global clamour for great quality and a particular boom in interest in the Surrealists, this work doubled its pre-sale estimate, and sold for nearly $4 million. This is more than twice what a work such as this may have sold for only a few years ago.
As the art market quiets down for the Summer, gathering its strength for a new season of sales, we excitedly await the gallery exhibitions and art fairs which will resume in the Fall.
JUNE 2011 IMPS round up release - detailing recent sales.