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By: Jenna Curry
Despite a tough economic year for the art world, Christie’s and Sotheby’s have high hopes for their New York Impressionist, modern and contemporary evening sales this month. Christie’s kicks off the season on Nov. 3 with its Impressionist and modern sale, featuring Pablo Picasso’s 1943 oil-on-canvas Tête de femme (est. $7–10 million), a vibrant abstract portrait most likely of his wartime muse and mistress, Dora Maar. Christie’s catalogue explains, “Such hats had become a regular feature in Picasso’s depictions of Dora, functioning as a symbolic externalization of her inner moods.”
At Sotheby’s on Nov. 4, seven Impressionist paintings from the collection of the French dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, who represented Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro and Alfred Sisley, will go on the block. Renoir’s Femme au chapeau blanc (est. $2.5–3.5 million) is part of a series of portraits of young women that the artist completed in the early 1890s. According to Sotheby’s, it’s a good example of Renoir’s bravura style—”his rapid, feathery brushstrokes lavish attention upon the crisp fabric of the model’s dress, the pleating over her shoulder and the airy crinoline of her hat.” The sale will also include six works from the collection of Arthur M. Sackler.
On Nov. 10 Christie’s postwar and contemporary art sale will feature one of 13 controversial silkscreen works by Andy Warhol, from his Most Wanted Men series. “Warhol took 13 of the most wanted men in America, who were guilty of different crimes” to create these images, says Robert Manley, head of postwar and contemporary art for Christie’s New York. “He installed them on a building, and it was very controversial at the time.” Other top lots at Christie’s include Mark Rothko’s 1967 Blue, Red, Black on Red (est. $1.5–2 million) and Jeff Koons’ Large Vase of Flowers (1991, est. $6–8 million).
Sotheby’s rounds out the evening sales with its postwar and contemporary session on Nov. 11, featuring 20 works from Ohio collectors Mary Schiller Myers and Louis S. Myers. From the couple’s collection are two works by Willem de Kooning from the 1970s: Untitled XV, a vibrant and colorful abstract landscape (est. $5–7 million), and Large Torso, a bronze sculpture with loops of the material curling across the hands, torso and face of the figure (est. $4–6 million).