Phillips will offer two Norman Rockwell paintings from the collection of Thomas Miller and Robert Boyett, producers of hit 1970s sitcoms Happy Days and Mork & Mindy. Rockwell’s “An Audience of One” (1938), which shows two children about to meet Santa Claus, is estimated to sell for between $2.5m and $3.5m, while “The Peephole” (1958), a baseball pitcher spied through a knothole and painted on wood for the full trompe l’oeil effect, will be offered for between $1m and $1.5m. The works were bought by the business and life partners in 1999 for $640,500 and $244,500 respectively, and come back to the market through Phillips in New York on December 7.
“In each episode of our television shows, we made sure to have characters make some form of human connection. Rockwell did the very same,” Boyett says in a statement. Miller died earlier this year, aged 79.
The all-American Rockwell (1894-1978) can now command international interest and prices. Last year, Phillips included Rockwell’s “Before the Shot” (1958) in its higher-valued evening sale. This sold for $4.7m (including fees) to a contemporary art buyer from Europe, says Elizabeth Goldberg, senior specialist at Phillips.
Galleries are reporting decent sales on the back of the Frieze Viewing Room (October 9-16), although — as is increasingly the norm — not exclusively through the fair’s platform. David Zwirner gallery listed several sales up to $350,000 from three channels this week: the Frieze Viewing Room, its own website and from its real-life exhibitions in London.
Other galleries, such as Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert, report healthy inquiries from the Frieze website but, said James Holland-Hibbert midway through the fair, most trade is being done elsewhere.
“The fair has given a reason and opportunity to speak to people in the market, more than being a way to make actual sales. Selling online is not the future in our world,” Holland-Hibbert says. He has works by Howard Hodgkin and Patrick Heron on the Viewing Room and in his London space this week (from £20,000 for Heron’s gouaches to more than £1m for a Hodgkin oil painting), while his gallery’s solo show for Hodgkin, Memories, runs until December 11.
Just as Frieze galvanised activity in London last week, so the property developer Craig Robins wants to make Miami a magnet when the Art Basel fair would have run this winter. He has opened up spaces used for pop-ups in his Miami Design District so that about 15 of Art Basel’s galleries can have a presence, for between 10 days and four months from November 27. The Design Miami fair, 90 per cent owned by Robins and 10 per cent by Art Basel’s owners MCH Group, will return to the Moore Building in the same area, with a ground-floor “podium” of work provided by its galleries and three floors for the more traditional booths (November 27-December 6).
The project has been developed in consultation with Art Basel and, Robins says, will be an affordable option for galleries. “It’s not a business opportunity, it’s about covering our expenses while supporting a creative community,” he says.
Online viewing platforms are not exactly wowing the art market, but there’s plenty of enthusiasm for Tefaf Online, which runs November 1-4, when the Tefaf New York Fall fair would have run in real life. Its 283 exhibitors will show just one work each that “represents their expertise”, accompanied by texts and videos.
“It’s a smart idea,” says Alma Luxembourg of Luxembourg + Co. “For the viewers, it will be easier to remember one object out of a few hundred than out of tens of thousands.” Her gallery will show a punctured “Concetto Spaziale” (1962, priced at €3m) by Lucio Fontana, which comes from the collection of the writer, art historian and friend of Fontana, Guido Ballo.
Tefaf’s flagship fair in Maastricht, which had to close early in March when an exhibitor tested positive for Covid-19, is pinning its plans on next summer. It has postponed its 2021 event until May 31-June 6, in the hope of attracting visitors ahead of the Art Basel fair due to run soon after.
Despite social-distancing and London rain, spirits were high at the opening of the real-life, eighth edition of the 1-54 art fair for African art (October 8-10). “There have been so few events this year, so I want to do whichever ones we can. Even if it’s a more stressful exercise, I felt I should take the risk,” said the Paris-based Florian Azzopardi, the founder of Afikaris and one of many of the fair’s 29 gallerists who had quarantined for two weeks in order to be there. Nadya Shanab, managing director of Cairo’s Ubuntu Art Gallery, had done the same and also had to endure delayed shipping of her works — by the self-taught painter Omar Gabr and fellow Cairo artist Doaa Fakher. “It’s all been a bit of a drama, but we’re here,” Shanab said.
Both were rewarded for their efforts. Shanab sold pieces by Gabr (priced up to £1,000) while Afikaris reports a dozen sales of between €1,600 and €8,000 each, including by the Cameroon artists Salifou Lindou and Moustapha Baidi Oumarou, and the young Senegal painter Ousmane Niang.
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