LONDON (Reuters) – Auctioneers Christie’s staked out its share of a buoyant art market with a barrage of surrealist works, a day after fierce rival Sotheby’s set a London auction sale record.
Sotheby’s brought in US$280.2 million from its Impressionist and Modern paintings sale, led by a brace of museum class Claude Monet landscapes, showing the world’s rich still eager to collect despite an oil price collapse and talk of chillier times ahead.
A few blocks away, Christie’s ended its sale with a collection of surrealist works that contributed almost half of the evening’s total of $222.8 million, which included its own Impressionist and modern art haul.
Its art experts said more Asian buyers were being tempted away from the soothing Impressionists to the works of surrealists, which express the mood of unreality, unease and the irrational in Europe between the two world wars.
Chinese buyers were becoming intrigued by surrealism, said Christie’s deputy chairman Impressionist and modern in London, Olivier Camu. “It’s simmering,” he told reporters after the sale.
The top price of the night was $23.5 million for Spanish surrealist Juan Miro’s “Painting (Woman, Moon, Birds)” of 1950.
The headline work from the Impressionist sale, a Cezanne landscape, realised the second highest price, $20.5 million.
“Vue sur L’Estaque et le Chateau d’If” – a Mediterranean view of sea, sky and red rooftops said by Cezanne to be stacked up like the design on a playing card – was one of his works that paved the way for the cubism of Picasso.