While the art world is still getting to grips with the ongoing restrictions in counteracting Covid, the outlook is a little foggy approaching a new season of sales and online fairs that will be cropping over the coming months.

We have a very different schedule ahead of us but no less exciting than previous years. Although it will be impossible to view works physically, I have been spending the Summer connecting with trusted sources throughout the world to ensure that paintings and sculptures can be viewed in confidence by third parties from New York to Hong Kong. The Oliver Shuttleworth Fine Art tentacles stretch far and wide!

The next major sales for Christie’s and Sotheby’s will contravene the usual joint selling dates of mid-November as the two houses split their marquee seasons. Christie’s feel that the time is ripe for a decent set of sales in early October, 6th-8th to be precise, whilst Sotheby’s are sticking with the standard marquee season dates of mid-November (not including a 2nd October Curated sale; covered later on). Christie’s, so far as I am told, are going to try and hold a sale series in December. I find this somewhat fanciful as the likelihood of encouraging significant consignments over two seasons in a three-month window pretty impossible during the Covid pandemic. 

The highlights in Christie’s Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary fields are pretty plentiful considering the state of play in the US at present. Links and dates are as follows:

Christie’s New York, 20th C. Evening Sale: 6th October
20th C. Eve Sale

Christie’s New York, Post-war and Contemporary Day Sale: 7th October
Post-war and Ctp Day Sale

Christie’s New York, Impressionist and Modern Day Sale: 8th October
Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale

The best works are:

A large Paul Cezanne (1839-1906) Still-life watercolour from 1900-06 which looks a stunning work – rare indeed and it looks like a classic Cezanne balancing act of colour and composition. 

A 1941 portrait of Dora Maar by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) at 20-30m USD from a private European collection. This is a large, classic early 1940s work. Subtle in hue but daring in composition. Note the chequered jacket which is pure Matisse in motif-appropriation.

Emil Nolde (1867-1956) has a polarising collecting base due to his horrendous Nazi past, but ‘Herbstmeer XVI’ is undeniably a 1911 masterwork. Colour and form dominate this simple scene but at 6-8m USD it will certainly take some selling.

Brice Marden (b. 1938)’s ‘The Golden Pelvic’ of 1993-95 is a vast, signature work to be offered at 12-18m USD. Marden’s work is hypnotically beautiful, and he is now being spoken of with the same hushed reverence as Mark Rothko.

Cy Twombly (1928-2011) executed ‘Untitled (Bolsena)’ in 1969 and it is vast AbEx tour de force. 35-45m USD is a strong asking price for such a work but it would represent a fabulous centrepiece for any of the great American collectors.

Over at Sotheby’s the 2nd October ‘Contemporary Curated’ sale (here) has a couple of stunning paintings which are well worth a look:

Kerry James Marshall’s (b. 1955) charcoal on paper – ‘The Wonderful One’ is a brilliant example from his charcoal series where the medium itself is a charged, challenging, comment on race and our reaction to stereotypes.

Kenneth Noland (1924-2010) is an artist I would dearly love to collect (here’s to a big lottery win!) and a glorious target-work ‘Ember’ from 1960 is pretty close to his pinnacle.

Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011) is enjoying a wonderful renaissance at present and ‘Pass’ is an elegant, almost classical, composition; executed in the Summer of ’69 too. I expect this work to surpass 500,000 USD hammer price – it looks terribly under-valued.

Normally, the month of September sees the re-emergence of art fairs after the Summer break. That has not been the case this year but there are several interesting online efforts to support the art-fair cause. One such experiment is the Biennale in Paris selling, at auction, a selection of offerings from their participating galleries. Sadly, most the work looks rather shop-worn but it’s a good idea and a welcome change from the online platforms offered to date. I gather that the London Art Fair, Islington, is now cancelled for January 2021, yet another loss and I fear these cancellations will continue well into mid ’21.Enjoy the Autumn and please, use a trusted advisor when buying high value works of art.