Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The block

The most recent catalogue from Art + Object is now online. It’s a two-day auction of the Tim and Sherrah Francis collection. A+O have had some good times with private collection sales, most particularly with Les and Milly Paris in 2012 and then with Ron Sang last year. It was obvious to anyone at those events that people are happy to pay something extra for the stories and status that often accompany such works as part of their provenance.

Single vendor auctions have always been prized by sellers and buyers alike. With contemporary art they probably had their highly charged beginnings in New York City with the sale of 50 works from the Robert C Scull collection in 1973. In that case, the high prices paid also sparked the infamous scuffle between vendor Scull and artist Robert Rauschenberg that you can see here (39 seconds in).

Since then there have been a number of great single vendor sales including the auction of 58 works from the Ganz collection in November 1997 described as, 'a steroid injection to the market' that netted a record breaking $US207 million. As it happens the Francises lived above Victor and Sally Gantz's apartment when Tim was posted to New York. Both Tim and Sherrah often spoke of the incredible experience of sitting with the Picassos and Matisses that hung on the living room walls and going downstairs to the basement to look at more contemporary works by Eva Hesse, Jasper Johns, Mel Bochner, Robert Rauschenberg and Frank Stella.

Back home in slightly less rarefied air it is interesting to consider how the Francis offering matches up to the Paris’s.

Both auctions are very large with both taking up two days to get through the lots. The Paris collection came in at 230 lots with 72 of them going under the hammer on the first night. With the Francis collection there is a massive 481 lots with 122 being offered on the first night.

The Paris collection offered nine lots with low estimates over $100,000 and with five of those over $200,000. The Francis collection has 12 lots with low estimates over $100,000 with five of them being over $200,000.

41 percent of the first night offerings at the Paris auction were abstract works, while at the Francis collection it will be 34.4 percent abstract on the first night.

The Paris collection included sixteen sculptures while the Francises will offer eight, but the Francis auction also includes 195 lots of ceramics and 63 lots of books and catalogues.

Pretty evenly matched although when you look through the catalogues (Paris catalogue here) two very different approaches to collecting.

You can see the catalogue for the Francis collection day one here and day two here.