Monster Sales That Are Already Shaking Art Basel


Art Basel, the art fair that all other art fairs want to be like when they grow up, opened to the general public Thursday. Though the event has been known for its uncommon ritziness, even by art fair standards, the string of reported sales have been so big you can almost imagine Knight Ranger playing a high-distortion guitar riff, off in the distance, when the collector signed the check. A few of these Earth-shakers, after the jump, should assure readers that the art market in northern Switzerland is indeed ready to rock.

Camille Henrot, Grosse Fatigue, 2013. Video (color, sound), 13 min.

[Image via Galerie Kamel Mennour]

Earlier this month in Venice, judges awarded the Silver Lion for best promising young artist to Camille Henrot for her video series Grosse Fatigue. Riding this wave of enthusiasm, Paris Galerie Kamel Mennour sold six of Henrot’s nine limited-edition copies of the video for €30-50,000 ($39,800-66,400) apiece.

Alexander Calder, Sumac, 1961. Hanging mobile–painted sheet metal and wire49¾ x 94 in.

[Image via Christie’s]

Still shaking off the fallout from an after-hours gambling bust at their New York branch, the London-based cousin of the Helly Nahmad Gallery succeeded to unload this mobile by kinetic sculptor Alexander Calder for $12 million to an undisclosed buyer.

Jacob Kassay, Untitled, 2013.

[Image via]

Two years ago, the buzz around painter Jacob Kassay was so intense it seemed almost destined to fade. But not so. Since joining 303 Gallery a short while ago, Kassay has remained a star of the gallery’s roster. Two of his large untitled silver paintings from 2013 sold this week for $150,000 apiece.

Danh Vo, WE THE PEOPLE, 2011. Pounded copper. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris. Photo by Benoit Pailley.

[Image via The New Museum]

Among the stars of Ungovernables, the 2013 triennial at the New Museum in New York, was artist Danh Vo and his giant copper sculpture WE THE PEOPLE. Vo hasn’t disappeared from the public’s interest; in Basel, the work sold for €65,000 ($86,600).

Joan Mitchell, Untitled, 1956. Oil on canvas.

[Image via]

The appearance of Kanye West during the fair’s opening might dissuade attendants from the hope that they might see anything that doesn’t seek to be utterly, almost embarrassingly of-the-moment. In this context abstract expressionist works by the painter Joan Mitchell seem refreshingly dusty. This untitled painting sold to a French couple for $6 million.

James Rosenquist, Terrarium, 1977. Oil on canvas, four panels. 80.5 x 146.5 in.

[Image via Art Basel Inside Guidance]

The ongoing vogue for 1970s pop art couldn’t have a better ambassador than James Rosenquist, whose immense 86-foot-long painting F-111 was unveiled with more than a little fanfare at MoMA last year. Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac sold his 1977 painting Terrarium for $2 million.

Rene Magritte, Un Peu de l’Ame Des Bandits, 1960.

[Image via Bloomberg]

So far this week, the daddy of art sales at Basel has been René Magritte’s Une peu de l’ame des bandits (A little of the bandit spirit), which shares the name of the second album by the Belgian experimental rock band Aksak Maboul. According to Artinfo, Montreal gallery Landau Fine Art reportedly sold the painting for something close to the asking price of $12.5-million.

Willem de Kooning, Cross-Legged Figure, 1959. Bronze with brown patina, 24 x 13¼ x 16 in.

[Image via Pace Gallery]

Though his blockbuster 2011 retrospective at MoMA focussed generally on his work as a painter, experts are keen to remind us of Willem de Kooning’s extensive accomplishments as a sculptor. His Cross-legged Figure, a part of the artist’s Roma series from 1959, reportedly sold for over $2 million.

Albert Oehlen, Ich seh Dich II (Self portrait: Dreiauge), 1983.

[Image via Artinfo]

Albert Oehlen was a favorite son of the Cologne art scene in the late ’70s and early ’80s, and with his association with the psychedelic rock group Red Krayola, it’s hard to stop thinking of him as an adolescent, even if he makes paintings that are very thoughtful and mature. Now in the late-middle stage of his career, his sales performance remains strong. His Ich seh Dich II (Self portrait: Dreiauge) sold for $500,000.