Following on from the unprecedented success of the global relay ONE sale in July, and New York’s 20th Century Week in early October, comes another exciting proposition from Christie’s. On 22 and 23 October the auction house will present 20th Century: London to Paris, a unique cross-channel conversation between two culturally vibrant cities.
Christie’s made auction history when it launched the ONE sale, a live-streamed, four-hour marathon that took place in consecutive sessions in Hong Kong, Paris, London and New York. Using innovative streaming technology, the sale topped $420 million, with the hammer coming down on a late-career Roy Lichtenstein at over $46 million.
‘It’s about bringing all the excitement of a live sale into people’s homes’ — Cécile Verdier
Now Christie’s stages another dynamic live-streamed event, which will see auctioneers Cécile Verdier in Paris and Jussi Pylkkänen in London take bids in the saleroom from colleagues on behalf of clients from around the world in a competitive atmosphere that mirrors the anticipation and urgency of a live auction.
‘Christie’s is the home of live auctioneering,’ says Pylkkänen. ‘It is at the centre of what we do and represents the beating heart of the international art market.’
‘Now it’s about bringing all the excitement of a live sale into people’s homes,’ says Verdier of the new initiative, which will begin with three sales spanning two cities taking place in sequence.
The 22 October will showcase the very best in Modern, Post-War and Contemporary art and Design across three sales: Paris Avant-garde in Paris; Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale and Thinking Italian Art and Design in London. In addition, there will be a dedicated single-owner sale of monumental sculpture, Le jardin secret de Paul Haim, on 22 October and day sales in both cities on 23 October.
British post-war artists including Bacon, Freud and Hockney will be offered alongside extraordinary works by the likes of Pierre Soulages, Pino Pascali and Pablo Picasso. Then there’s Marina Abramović’s The Life, the first Mixed Reality work to be offered at auction.
‘The sales are intended to bring collecting communities from different categories together in one unique event,’ says Verdier. ‘With pieces offered across a range of price points, there’s great opportunity for new collectors to participate.’
Highlights from the Paris Avant-garde sale include Wassily Kandinsky’s Trüber Aufstieg (1924) (above) from the Deutsche Bank Collection, painted the year the artist formed the Blue Four with Paul Klee, Alexej von Jawlensky and Lyonel Feininger. Deutsche Bank is also selling works by Egon Schiele and László Moholy-Nagy.
Close friends Pierre Soulages and Zao Wou-Ki are represented by museum-quality works from key moments in their respective careers: Soulages by a large-scale work from 1961, when the French painter gained critical recognition in the United States; Zao by 31.07.68, a dynamic painting made shortly before his wife’s death. ‘They are pieces that speak to the human heart,’ says Verdier.
A highlight of the London leg is the much-anticipated Portrait of Sir David Webster (1971) by David Hockney, which is being offered by the Royal Opera House with an estimate of £11-18 million. Proceeds from the sale will contribute towards vital funding for the world-renowned venue so as to alleviate the financial impact of coronavirus.
Standout lots in Thinking Italian include a Lucio Fontana sculpture from 1957 and a unique Carlo Mollino dining table and chairs created in 1946. Christie’s Chairman Mariolina Bassetti explains that the auction seeks to ‘demonstrate the synergy between artists and designers in Italy during the 20th century. One that situates the work of Pino Pascali and Lucio Fontana alongside Gio Ponti and Carlo Mollino.’
‘We’ve risen to the challenge during these unprecedented times. Now the focus is on attracting new audiences to the auction market’ — Jussi Pylkkänen
Since the global health emergency, Christie’s has embraced innovation forged in adversity and concentrated its energies on digital sales. The results speak for themselves: New York’s 20th Century Week topped $380 million, with more than 280,000 people tuning into the Evening Sale through Christie’s website and social media channels, including YouTube, Facebook and WeChat.
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‘We’ve risen to the challenge during these unprecedented times,’ says Pylkkänen. ‘Now the focus is on attracting new audiences to the auction market.’
‘Connecting with each other has never felt so vital,’ adds Verdier. ‘Now everyone can be a part of the story.’
Please join us and watch live on Christie’s.com from 17:30 BST