TFG INTERN PROGRAM
The Summer 2023 interns at The Fine Art Group were tasked with selecting their dream auction items from recent and upcoming sales, unrestricted by financial constraints. Their intriguing selections provide insight into their passions and enriching experiences at The Fine Art Group.
Jocelyn Hawkins, Art Advisory Fellow – New York, NY
Sotheby’s Institute of Art, 2024; VCUarts, 2019
MA, Art Business ; BA, Art History
ALEX KATZ (AMERICAN, B. 1927)
Screenprint in colors on Rives paper
Signed in pencil and numbered ‘PP 1/5’ (a printer’s proof, aside from the edition of 75), co-published by the artist and Brand X Projects, Inc., New York, printed by Brand X Editions, Inc., New York, the full sheet.
48 x 26 3/4 in.
Prints & Multiples Summer Splash
4-14 August 2023
ACHIEVED: $25,600 inc. premium
An exceptional Katz print recently came to sale at Bonhams. Eleuthera depicts two very Katz-esque female figures in swim costumes with bold-colored caps. Behind them, the ocean is rendered in a simple plane of turquoise blue but still captures a glimmer of sunlight dancing on its surface. Some rays even catch the profile of his subjects’ faces, adorning them in the same flash that makes the water so beautiful. In his classic style, Katz depicts a magical moment. While this print appears very flat, he has captured the space’s and figures’ three-dimensionality.
Eleuthera refers to a small island in the Bahamas, only two miles wide. In this tightly framed composition, Katz transports viewers to that compact yet blissful environment. What makes this work even more special to me is its edition. This specific print is number “PP 1/5,” meaning it is the first of five Printer’s Proofs. In a previous sale, Christie’s noted that ten Artist’s Proofs were made, making the Printer’s Proofs even rarer. While I believe other collectors would focus on the paintings of Alex Katz more than his works on paper, I believe that purchasing a screen print of this uniqueness is a great way to build a Katz collection beyond one medium.
The last sale of an edition of Eleuthera achieved a hammer price of $11,000 at Christie’s, whereas the sale of the first Printer’s Proof reached $20,000 at Bonhams. These sales were less than a year apart with the Christie’s sale having been held in October of 2022 and the Bonhams sale having taken place just this past week in August of 2023. 2023 has been a mixed year for Katz screenprints, with some achieving beyond their estimate and some failing to even reach it. It is interesting to compare the different types of Katz prints that intrigue buyers.
Jiayi (Joyce) Liao, Arts Management Intern – Philadelphia, PA
Yale University, Class of 2025
Double Major in History of Art & Economics
HUANG YONGYU (CHINESE, 1924-2023)
Scroll, mounted and framed, ink and color on paper
Inscribed and signed, with three seals of the artist
Dated August 18, 1996
28 1/2 x 55 3/8 in.
Christie’s, Hong Kong
Summer Reverie: Chinese Paintings Online
15-29 August 2023
ESTIMATE: HKD 300,000 – 400,000
The artwork I chose was painted by Huang Yongyu, a self-taught contemporary Chinese artist known for his woodblock prints, ink-wash paintings, and stamp designs. Born in 1924 in Fenghuang, China, Huang never attended a regular school but studied literature and art independently. He often depicted wildlife, foliage, or human figures and sought to express childlike innocence. His works are in the collections of major institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. Huang scheduled a centennial exhibition in 2024 but passed away on June 13, 2023.
I chose this painting because of its iconic subject, rare occasion, and reliable provenance. The lotus is one of Huang’s favorite subjects. This work represents his signature style of combining the painterly qualities of Abstract Expressionism with the Chinese tradition of “xieyi (painting ideas).” The composition draws viewers into a vast expanse of a harmonic fusion of ink, color, and water.
Despite its popular subject, this work has a unique context. According to the inscription, the piece – titled “bai nian hao he (may the blessed union last for one hundred years),” a common marriage blessing in Chinese – was painted as a gift to celebrate the 50th marriage anniversary of Chengxing and Madam Mu Zhen. ThelLotus is a symbol of marriage since “he (lotus)” is a homophone for “he (union).” The two lotus flowers positioned side by side in this painting probably represent the couple. The present owner of this work acquired it from the original recipients, which confirms its authenticity.
This will be the third time Christie’s presented “Summer Reverie: Chinese Paintings Online.” Huang’s works performed well in the previous two auctions, as exemplified by Lotus (1998) in 2022, which sold for HKD 1,386,000 (USD $176,598), 454% above its mid-estimate. Further, the artist’s recent death could make this sale a favorable time for acquisitions, as research shows that the value of works tends to drop in the year of the artist’s death and increase again afterward.
Comparable works in past auctions suggest the high potential value of this painting. Among 2,182 works by Huang Yongyu sold at auctions since 1988, 49 have similar subject matter, size, and medium as the one currently offered, with a record price of HKD 2,200,000 (USD 283,800) realized by Colorful Lotus (2002) at Christie’s Hong Kong in 2015. In 2023, two comparable works sold at China Guardian Auctions in Beijing outperformed expectations: Lotus (2004), sold in March, realized RMB 460,000 (USD 66,810), 360% over its mid-estimate; Lotus in Morning (2000), sold on June 14, a day after the artist’s death, realized RMB 862,500 (USD 120,666), over 50 times of its conservative estimate.
Kaylin Jury, Marketing Intern – Lititz, PA
Washington and Lee University, Class of 2024
Art History and Spanish Major | Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies Minor
BELKIS AYÓN (Cuban, 1967-1999)
35 x 27 1/2 in.
Christie’s, New York
Latin American Art
28 September 2023
Belkis Ayón (Cuban, 1967-1999), a Cuban printmaker, is best known for her black-and-white depictions of Abakuá, an all-male, Afro-Cuban secret society. Ayón was enthralled with the group’s only female figure, Princess Sikán, who quickly became a central figure in the artist’s work. A 2019 Frieze article described these two women, artist and muse, as each other’s “alter ego[s].”
The deep textures, stark contrasts, and piercing, almond-shaped eyes seen in this depiction of Sikán are staples of Ayón’s style. The texture and depth Ayón achieves come from her use of collagraphy, a printmaking technique where ink is transferred using a collaged printing plate. One can see the joints between the individual prints in her 1991 Sikán, demonstrating the uniqueness of the artist’s technique. Combined with the work’s crowned design, these details make the piece a nontraditional and exceptional work from the Latin American sale.
As an influential female Cuban artist, Ayón has only recently begun to receive the attention I feel she deserves. Although high-achieving before she died in 1999, Ayon took flight in 2016 with the Fowler Museum’s exhibition of her first solo show. Since then, Sikán has been displayed in the Reina Sofia and El Museo del Barrio, demonstrating that it is a true museum-quality piece. Many other examples of Ayón’s work are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and, the Wilfredo Lam Center of Contemporary Art. I am excited to see this unique piece of Ayón’s work brought to public attention.
Similar pieces that sold above their high estimates in March 2023, like Untitled (Silkan with Goat) and ¿Arrepentida? (Repentant?), were placed in auctions focused on contemporary art. With Sikán coming to auction in a Latin American sale targeting collectors interested in Cuban art, I am interested to watch its performance.
Ran Peng, Art Marketing Intern – Pittsburgh, PA
Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University, Class of 2024
Master of Arts Management
ROY LICHTENSTEIN (AMERICAN, 1923-1997)
Mirror #6 (1972)
Lithograph and screenprint in colors on Special Arjomari paper
40 3/8 by 29 3/4 in.
17 August 2023
ESTIMATE: GBP 8,000 – 12,000
ACHIEVED: GBP 12,700
As someone deeply interested in conceptual and Post-War and Contemporary art, I picked the lithograph and screenprint Mirror #6 by Roy Lichtenstein, in which he explored abstraction and discussed the concept of the “mirror” with his symbolic style. I really like the vibrant blocks of color and the conceptual discussion between the mirror’s formality and functionality.
Mirror #6 presents an oval shape in shades of dark red, black, and yellow with jagged lines and dots, creating a gradual transition from dense to light areas. The colors and dot clusters reveal the glass mirror’s edges while presenting its reflective nature. The oval mirror is placed at the center of the print and presented frontally without any reflected object. In this way, Lichtenstein separates the form and concept of the mirror from its functionality. With blocks of vibrant colors and dense dot clusters, Lichtenstein represents the reflection of light on the uneven surface of the mirror. This style helps viewers explore the conceptual difference between the mirror’s reflection and the mirror itself.
Throughout art history, mirrors have been used to convey the hidden complexities and dualities of the surface-level or outward presentation of self. In classic mythology, for example, mirrors served as a form of moralistic commentary on vanity. Lichtenstein’s work, however, challenges these traditional metaphors by shifting the focus from the reflected objects to the mirror itself. In this way, the artist poses a conceptual question to the viewer regarding the aesthetic comparison of an iconized object and its formal/physical features.
Lichtenstein revised his investigation of abstract aesthetics in his later career. Nevertheless, I believe the Mirror series is a solid showcase of his conceptual exploration, which he later continued in his Reflection and Interior series.
Various examples of similar Lichtenstein works have come to market in the last two years. For example, I found that a different edition of the same print, Mirror #6, and a print in the same series, Mirror #7, sold in the $10,000-$15,000 range. Since both previous pieces came to market in New York, I will be interested to see if London collectors take a similar interest in Lichtenstein’s Mirrors.
Information in this report is compiled from a number of sources; The Fine Art Group does not make any representation or warranty, express or implied, as to its accuracy or completeness. The Fine Art Group shall not be liable for any errors or inaccuracies in this report or for any actions taken in reliance on information or opinion contained in this report. The Fine Art Group are under no obligation to update or keep current the information provided herein. Information in this report is provided solely for information and marketing purposes and is not to be construed as investment advice or a personal recommendation, nor as legal, tax, regulatory, accounting or any other specialist technical advice. Capital is at risk when buying or selling the types of assets discussed in the report, and any decision to do so is solely at the risk of the buyer or seller. Prior performance is not indicative of future results. Neither The Fine Art Group nor any of its directors, officers, employees, or agents accepts any liability for any loss or damage arising out of the use of all or any part of this document or reliance upon any information contained herein.
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