Christie's Post-War & Contemporary Auction Preview

Edward Orlowski, MA 

Associate Fine Art Appraiser

Edward Orlowski Fine Decorative art appraiser.jpg

At the auction house contemporary viewings over the weekend there were some strong lots – available to those willing and able to pay. It will be interesting to see if some of the high prices will scare off buyers in this increasingly uncertain market.

One star lot was Mark Rothko’s Saffron from 1957,  a pivotal year. With fields of deep ochres and blood orange and a satisfying off-white stripe cutting across the center, the work held an incredible presence placed at the end of a hall, pulling you into it like a vortex. It’s  69 x 53.75, estimated at a modest $25 – 35 million.

Not to be missed is Calder’s Calderoulette, created from brass, wire, and thread, a whimsical construction of butterflies and bumblebees of twisted wire that demonstrates the artist’s engineering and jewelry-making skills. From 1941, it is estimated at $3.2 – 3.8 million.

Also on view in a shrine-like invention were three Philip Guston paintings that paid homage to his representative work of the 60s and early 70s, with price ranges in the mid-six figures.

Of course, I must mention Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi because I found it somewhat disturbing when viewed it at Christie’s. This is particularly the case of certain apparently overcleaned areas of the work, and the figure’s seemingly flattened chest, as well as the superficiality of the ringlets of hair.

It is difficult to be displeased by any work to which Leonardo’s hand has been applied, so it will be interesting to see who the ultimate purchaser is – a museum or a private collector. That may tell us something.