Fall Auction Preview: Moving Targets
Various locations, Toronto Nov 22 to 29 2010
POSTED: NOVEMBER 18, 2010
The auction season is in full swing this fall with houses worldwide reporting record figures, confirming a growing belief among sellers, dealers and auctioneers that the art market has sailed out of the doldrums at last. Following on the heels of a record-breaking week in New York—where three major houses collectively fetched almost $750 million—Toronto will kick off the domestic season with high hopes as Joyner Waddington’s, Sotheby’s, Heffel and Bonhams offer a diverse selection of important Canadian artworks valued at an estimated total of $22 million.
Responding to steady interest in contemporary art, there is a strong showcasing in the upcoming sales of works by newer Canadian artists as well as perennial favourites from the Painters Eleven and the Automatistes.
Particularly noteworthy are two striking abstract paintings by Quebec artists Claude Tousignant and Guido Molinari up for grabs at Sotheby’s next week. Visually dynamic and monumental in scale, both works, Absurdo and Mutations Athematique Vert-Ocre, are a relative steal at $20,000 to $30,000 and $70,000 to $90,000 respectively. At those estimates, the auction could easily set new records for both artists (Tousignant’s auction record currently sits at $49,725, and Molinari’s at $54,000).
The Painters Eleven continue to dominate contemporary art sales with all major houses offering a roster of high-quality works by its members. Joyner Waddington’s leads the pack with Jack Bush’s signature lick painting from 1975 entitled Attacca, estimated at $50,000 to $70,000, along with six smaller scale works by Harold Town. Meanwhile, earlier work by Bush (Moonflight from 1961 at $40,000 to $60,000) and Kazuo Nakamura’s 1956 oil on masonite Rushing Wind (estimated at $6,000 to $8,000) will go under the gavel at Sotheby’s.
Following its successful debut of works from the Theodosia Dawes Bond Thornton estate in the spring, Heffel, the Vancouver-based auction house, will this fall offer 18 works from the estate’s holdings. These include Low Clouds in the Mountains, a Lawren Harris oil on board conservatively estimated at $200,000 to $300,000, and Mountain Sketch XXXVIII, another Harris oil on board at $250,000 to $350,000. Other highlights from the evening sale include two more Harris works from the estate of Mary Breckenridge—Mountain, Baffin Island North, Arctic Sketch XII, an extremely rare 12-by-15 inch oil sketch for North Shore, Baffin Island II, now in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada, and Lake Superior Sketch from 1922 to 1923. These are estimated at $700,000 to $900,000 and $300,000 to $500,000 respectively.
In addition to Heffel’s fine collection of masterworks, highlights from its afternoon postwar and contemporary sale include Jean-Paul Riopelle’s Sans titre from 1955, once owned by the Dallas Museum of Fine Art, at an estimate of $800,000 to $1.2 million, and Jean-Paul Lemieux’s L’Apôtre (the Apostle), a classic figure subject conservatively estimated at $200,000 to $300,000. Also expected to garner significant attention are Kent Monkman’s idiosyncratic composition Charged Particles in Motion from 2007 and Alex Colville’s Man on Verandah from 1953. The former holds an estimate of $50,000 to $60,000, and the latter one of $400,000 to $600,000.
Last but certainly not least on the major circuit, Bonhams is highlighting its auction with Walter Phillips’ The Hoh-Hok Houseposts at Karlukwees, a watercolour on paper from the late 1920s estimated at $18,000 to $20,000. (Also featured are some other Phillips watercolours, like The Corner Store, estimated at $6,000 to $8,000.) Caladium Leaves, an oil on board by Beaver Hall painter Nora Frances Elisabeth Collyer, is estimated at $20,000 to $30,000. And again on the contemporary front, a 1997 drawing by Mary Pratt is estimated to go at $20,000 to $30,000.
Art fans will also likely want to keep an eye open for smaller auctions taking place across the country in the coming weeks, including the Walker’s auction December 1 in Ottawa.
Key Fall Auction Dates:
Joyner Waddington’s: Monday, November 22
Sotheby’s: Tuesday, November 23
Heffel: Thursday, November 25
Bonhams: Monday, November 29