Today is an awesome day in London…apart from the fact that I brought sunshine to the city like I always do when I step out of the plane, I will see my first Sotheby’s auction in progress in London this afternoon – Arts of the Islamic World.
More will come later on this as the auction I will go and see covers Middle Eastern and Turkish Art so it deserves a full new dedicated blog.
Meanwhile the auction in Doha, (Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Doha auction) achieved the strong total of $15,199,750, solidly between the pre-sale expectations of $11.1/16.1 million, establishing the highest price for an auction of Contemporary Art in the Middle East region.
I saw some of the pieces that are in Doha now at an exclusive VIP preview that was held at the Royal Mirage in Dubai…they were really nice and I met lots of interesting people. It would have been great to see the auction in Doha as it was very successful.
The sale was 89.1% sold by lot. Records were set for nine artists, including a record for a living Arab artist. The top lot of sale was Donald Judd’s Untitled (Bernstein 90-01), which sold – after an extended bidding battle among four people – for $3,525,000.
Rising Down, set an auction record for Ethiopian-born artist Julie Mehretu titled when it achieved the strong price of $3,077,000*, over its high estimate of $3 million, after competition from four bidders.
Four bidders competed for a commanding installation work by Minimalist artist Donald Judd, Untitled (Bernstein 90-01), dating from 1990, which achieved $3,525,000 against a high estimate of $3.5 million. Judd was one of the leading pioneers of new sculptural forms and concepts within America during the latter half of the twentieth century and this work shows his brilliantly imaginative mind at the very pinnacle of its creative powers.
Four bidders competed for a work of monumental scale by Chant Avedissian, Icons of the Nile, which set a record for a living Arab artist when it fetched $1,565,000 (est. $1/1.5 million). Created in 2010, this gouache, stencil and acrylic paint on cardboard, in one hundred and twenty parts, is the largest piece the artist has created to date. It presents a mosaic of Egyptian culture that retraces the country’s past through nostalgic imagery and iconographical motifs.
Prominent among the group of works sold was a supreme series of paintings by the influential Iranian artist Mohammed Ehsai, entitled ‘Eshgh’ or ‘Love’ and dated 2012, which fetched $437,000 (est. $300/400,000, pictured left). His distinctive style is shown at its best in the ‘Eshgh’ series, which blends traditional calligraphic techniques with modern graphics.
Suspended Together fetched the remarkable sum of $329,000 (est. $100/150,000), achieving an auction record for the artist. Magnificent in scale and epic in conception, Suspended Together is one of the most important and celebrated works of Manal Al Dowayan’s career to date and the first of her installation works to appear at auction. Utterly elegiac in its beauty, the work has a distinguished exhibition history, having been displayed at major international shows, such as Edge of Arabia in Dubai and The Future of a Promise at the 54th Venice Biennale (both in 2011).
A myriad of snow white porcelain doves hover in the air, the wings and body of each bird stamped with an exact reproduction of the permission document a Saudi woman needs from their male guardian to travel.
Ya’illahi (Dear Lord), one of the most important paintings ever to come to auction by Ayman Baalbaki, achieved a record for the artist when it reached a final sum of $377,000 (est. $100/150,000). Depicting the shrouded face of a lone, heroic figure gazing up to the skies, the powerfully charged work explores the acute tension and ambiguity within the kaffiyeh, an everyday garment.
The highly desirable portrait by Mahmoud Said, Profil, dating from 1950, attracted competition from no fewer than five bidders and achieving $125,000, many multiples of its high estimate of $50,000.
Seeing how successful the Doha sale was, I am excited to see the London auction which fits in perfectly with my trip…..for me, although it was a dream to see a Sotheby’s auction, what is nice is that I get to see an auction that covers a subject I love – Middle Eastern and Turkish Art or Arts of the Islamic World.
I just can’t wait to see the pieces that are from the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries, especially the art of the Indian Deccan dated 1684.