Sotheby’s: Russian Sale

Among the most notable February’s auction events was Sotheby’s Modern and Contemporary Russian Art Sale held at New Bond Street, London on February 15, 2007. The important auction featured 116 lots (91 sold) coming from American, European and Russian private collections. Many of the art pieces (dating 1960s–1990s) were put up for sale for the first time.

«We are thrilled with the results of this landmark sale», Joanna Vickery, Senior Director and Head of Sotheby’s Russian department said. «This sale has now brought Russian contemporary art onto the international stage for the first time ever and the overall result of 80 percent of the lots being sold provides a strong springboard for future growth in this area».

The sale featured almost all the significant figures of the underground scene, including such names as Vladimir Yankilevsky, Vitaly Komar, Grisha Bruskin, Dmitry Prigov, Vadim Zakharov, Alexander Kosolapov, Leonid Sokov, Eduard Gorokhovsky, Francisco Infante, Ivan Chuikov, Boris Mikhailov and others.

A major surprise was the top lot — Yevgeny Chubarov’s work «Untitled», which was sold for £288,000, more than four times exceeding its upper estimate £40,000–60,000. The mature work surprised experts by its popularity since it seems derivative of American Abstract Expressionist art of the 1950s (Jackson Pollock and Willem de Cooning).

The price paid for «Acrobat with Portrait of Acrobats» by Oleg Tselkov also exceeded the pre¬sale estimate (£126,000 and £40,000–60,000 respectively). Vladimir Weisberg’s «Nude» (1974, estimate £20,000–30,000) was purchased by an anonymous bidder for staggering £186,000. A religious painting «Avid Eye» inspired by the Old¬Russian icon¬painting tradition by Mikhail Shvartsman managed to fetch £192,000 (1966–1972, estimate £40,000–60,000).

Two pieces by the prominent St. Petersburg artist Timur Novikov from a remarkable cycle employing his «semantic perspective» principle were hammered as well. One of them, «White Night» (1990, sold for £38,000, estimate £15,000–20,000), was used to illustrate the auction’s catalogue.

Other highlights of the sale included much¬advertised «Revolution¬Perestroika» (1988, sold for £198,000, estimate £80,000–120,000) by Eric Bulatov, «Landscape and Space» (1988, sold for £108,000, estimate £20,000–30,000), «Untitled» (1973, sold for £81,600, estimate £35,000–45,000) by Lydia Masterkova.

While at the Moscow sale in 1988, artworks were purchased largely by Western collectors who were attracted by its novelty and relative cheapness, as well as its significance, at the February Sotheby’s sale, many works came from foreign collections and the major buyers were Russian.

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Published in: on March 19, 2007 at 12:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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