Health and beauty

The Sotheby’s catalog dedicated to contemporaries and emerging ones

The attractive power exerted by young artists on the market clearly emerges from the results obtained from the auction last May 19th at Sotheby’s in New York

Kerry James Marshall, Beauty Examined (1993). Courtesy of Sotheby’s

The Sotheby’s auction aimed at the contemporary that was held last May 19 in New York, at the end of an intense week that also saw the masterpieces of the second part of the Macklowe collection and the modern masters showed the attractive force that young artists exert on the market. Although some results also reveal a certain amount of possible speculation, it should be highlighted as the first part of the Contemporary Evening Auction named The Now and dedicated to very young artists, some of whom are also newcomers, has been greatly appreciated by the bidders: 24 lots in total and none remained unsold. The second part of the catalog, on the other hand, left ample space for contemporary masters such as Francis Bacon, Cy Twombly and Georg Baselitz, with significant results.

The overall result of the auctions The Now e Contemporary Art Evening Sale was $ 284.4 million, with 98% of the lots sold and with the highest total recorded since May 2019 for the same sector.


The catalog of The Now it mostly presented works by very young artists who determined results above expectations with a total of 72.9 million dollars. The first name that catches the eye, and it’s not the first time it happens, is that of Anna Weyant, young promise of the Gagosian stable. Already a veteran of the successes obtained during the Christie’s and Phillips auctions, where her works exceeded a million dollars, this time she was the protagonist with the painting Falling Woman (2020) which smashed the starting estimate to find a new owner for $ 1,623,000.

The wind of the Venice Biennale was also felt in New York, as demonstrated by the works of Christina Quarles and Simone Leigh, protagonists of the exhibition and also present at auction with two works. The first with Night Fell Upon Us Up On Us (2019) hit $ 4.5 million, leaving the low estimate of $ 600,000 far behind Birmingham (2012) by Simone Leigh, the first African American artist to represent the United States at the 2022 Biennale, has soared above two million dollars.

The powerful Beauty Examined (1993) by Kerry James Marshall, the expression of a profound pictorial investigation into the condition of African Americans in US society, has exceeded the high estimate, changing hands for 13.5 million dollars, a sum that will go to support the Institute for Genetics and Translational Genomics at Loma Linda University. The imposing Happening (2014) by American Avery Singer exceeded five million dollars. While A Leaf is an Arrow (2021) of the very young Luren Quin, born in 1992, was sold for $ 529,200, ten times the low estimate.


The second part of the auction was, however, aimed at contemporary masters. Top lot of the evening was the iconic Study of Red Pope 1962, 2nd Version (1971) by Francis Bacon. First showcased at Bacon’s historic retrospective at the Grand Palais in 1971, the painting found a new owner for $ 46.3 million, while remaining anchored more to the low than the high estimate. Cy Twombly, present with a Untitled (1969) in gray tones, it stopped at $ 38 million, most likely ending up with a third party guarantee.

The core of four works by Georg Baselitz has been noted, especially the sculpture Dresden women – visit from Prague (1990) which reached $ 11,240,000.

Remaining in the US, good results for the works of Andy Warholespecially for the famous Elvis (1963) which found a new owner for $ 21.6 million, while Cold Beers Beautiful Girls (1993) from Ed Ruscha it stopped just below the high estimate at $ 18.8 million.

– Antonio Mirabelli

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