Galleries - January 2014

It was an astonishing year for the Auction Houses with the highest prices ever paid for works by both a living and deceased artists. Sotheby’s also recently announced an increase of85% on their share values and one can assume a similar level of growth for Christie’s and Bonhams , though both are privately owned. ‘Silver Car Crash’ of1963 by Andy Warhol was Sotheby’s top selling price at over $105 million achieved in New York in November, where they also dominated the Impressionist and Modern evening sale with a total of$290 million, twice that of Christie’s. But it was Christie’s that won out in the Post-war and Contemporary Sales with close to $700 million for 69 lots, twice that oftheir main rival. ‘Three Studies ofLucian Freud’ by Francis Bacon painted in 1969 now holds the World Record for any Work ofArt, selling for a cool $142 million. Until this sale the world record for a living artist was for a Gerhard Richter abstract but was surpassed by Jeff Koons’ ‘Balloon Dog, Orange’, one of five in different colours and massive in size, selling for an amazing $58.5 million. Bonhams, who have long ruled supreme in the Motor Car and Automobile market, a particular passion for owner Robert Brooks, achieved a stunning World Record for any car with a 1954 GP Mercedes works racing car, selling for £19.5 million which was their highest price ofthe year, two and a halfmillion pounds more than a Fragonard portrait. It would seem that the growing trend for the year was for the dominance ofModern and Contemporary Art and very much with a leaning towards the narrative. This is as a result ofthe lack ofsupply and ownership problems in the Impressionist and Modern Market. With instant access to information on living artists, this area would appear to be a sounder option for the super-rich and a safer investment with a fashion that will continue throughout 2014 . . . shows – Ken White’s Swindon railway landscapes first, followed by their annual exhibition of current Scottish painters. Keep a sharp look out . . . Mandela’s Art In all the wide-ranging coverage ofNelson Mandela’s death last month – his love ofmusic and of sport as well as his political life – little reference that I could see to his activities as an artist. Admittedly it was a late- flowering passion – he only started taking art lessons in 2002 – but the lithographs produced from his drawings, now to be seen at the Belgravia Gallery, above all those coming out ofa return to Robben Island that same year, reveal just how deep the scars ofhis imprisonment must have been. JANUARY 2014 GALLERIES 9 from left: E lysia Byrd ‘Riding Yak’ at FBA show at the Mall Galleries. Sergei Chepik ‘Trocadero’ at Catto Gallery. Adebanji Alade ‘Morning light & reflections, River Ouse’ at Kentmere House. Francis Bacon ‘Three Studies of Lucian Freud’, (detail) at Christie’s New York November Sale. Mercedes W196 (ex-Fangio) at Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed Sale, July 2013. below: Nelson Mandela ‘The Window’ signed lithograph at Belgravia Gallery Sale Rooms 2013 : world record year William Jackson