Monday, 29 January 2007

Drab mediocrity

The January issue of Art + Auction comments on the big November sales of both Sotheby's and Christie's. Although the Sotheby's evening sale of Impressionist and modern art was one of the most successful of all time, "the impression that the viewing left on most connoisseurs was one of drab mediocrity". According to the editor, there is now such a widespread desire to buy art that "there's no longer much of a correlation between price and artistic merit". More than $8.5m for a minor work of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec doesn't raise eyebrows anymore.

One day later, Christie's had its big evening sale, dubbed "a crazed frenzy" by Art + Auction. World auction records were set for Gauguin ($40m), Kirchner ($38m) and Klimt ($88m). Perhaps even more astonishing was, again, the prices paid for some other works. One of the best examples is perhaps this small charcoal-on-paper sketch by Piet Mondriaan (picture). It fetched no less than $3.3m. Art + Auction concludes: "Had aesthetics been the predominant concern that week, certains coups here and there would not have been possible."

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