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One Week, One Billion Dollars — It’s a ‘Gigaweek’ in the Art World. Here Are the Six Works That Matter.

Two of the biggest art auction houses are going head-to-head in NYC.

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Sotheby's, Christie's

Of the three major art auction houses in New York City, two of them — Christie’s and Sotheby’s — are going head to head this week. The auctions, which focus on Impressionist, modern and contemporary art, are expected to bring in around $890 million. At Christie’s, a kneeling and very controversial statue of Hilter, entitled Him, sold for $17.2 million, while over at Sotheby’s, Auguste Rodin’s Eternal Springtime sold for $20.4 million, a record for Rodin’s sculptures. And while there are still many works from big names up for auction over the next few days, these sales seem to be exceptions for a year predicted to be slow for art, because of “turbulence in the financial markets and the uncertainty of this year’s United States presidential race,” according to The New York Times. (A soft year could be a plus if you are looking to pick up a Warhol or Picasso in one of the online auctions that tend to stick to the tens of thousands of dollars, rather than tens of millions.) Here are our top items to pick up at this week’s dueling auctions.

Untitled (New York City) by Cy Twombly

Untitled (New York City) reflects a period of great convergence in postwar art, when the titanic modes of Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism and Pop Art proposed competing philosophies for the grand trajectory of progressive innovation. Twombly’s reverberating loops refract these overlapping spheres of influence. Aesthetically, his painting announces a subjective and emotive expressivity; conceptually, it embraces a cerebral and minimalistic rationality; and in its essential spirit it broadcasts a new communicative universality.” — Sotheby’s

Auction: May 11 – Evening Auction at Sotheby’s
Medium: Oil-based house paint and wax crayon on canvas
Size: 60 x 68 1/8 inches
Year: 1968

Bid: Estimate Available Upon Request

Self-Portrait (Fright Wig) by Andy Warhol

Taken just months before Warhol’s sudden passing, this image is “adorned with a dramatically stylized version of his signature silvery gray wig, Warhol perfectly encapsulates his dichotomous identity caught between a flamboyant artistic persona and personal vulnerabilities.” — Sotheby’s

Auction: May 11 – Evening Auction at Sotheby’s
Medium: Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
Size: 40 1/8 x 40 1/8 inches
Year: 1986

Bid: $7,000,000 – $10,000,000

Untitled by Alexander Calder

“As the poised onyx-hued spine of the sculpture gracefully twists upon two delicately perched hind-legs, the luminous kaleidoscope of dazzling colors that cascade from the tip of Untitled radiate with a translucence afforded by Calder’s brilliant use of scavenged chunks of colored glass, enclosing jewel-like fragments of bottles within elegantly wrapped lengths of wire. The provenance of this sculpture is exceptional and endows the work with an unparalleled level of historical import: Untitled was gifted by the artist directly to Alfred H. Barr, Jr., the founding director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.” — Sotheby’s

Auction: May 11 – Evening Auction at Sotheby’s
Medium: Painted sheet metal, glass, wire and string standing mobile
Size: 32 3/4 x 23 x 10 1/2 inches
Year: 1942

Bid: $3,000,000 – 4,000,000

Le Bassin aux Nymphéas by Claude Monet

“I have painted these water lilies a great deal, modifying my viewpoint each time. The effect varies constantly, not only from one season to the next, but from one minute to the next, since the water-flowers themselves are far from being the whole scene; really, they are just the accompaniment. The essence of the motif is the mirror of water, whose appearance alters at every moment, thanks to the patches of sky that are reflected in it, and give it its light and movement. So many factors, undetectable to the uninitiated eye, transform the coloring and distort the planes of water.” — Christie’s

Auction: May 12 – Evening Sale at Christie’s
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 39 3/8 x 40 7/8 inches
Year: 1919

Bid: $25,000,000 – $35,000,000

Le Mausolée d’Halicarnasse by Salvador Dali

Considered one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, “the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, located in modern-day Bodrum, Turkey, was an enormous funerary monument dedicated to Maussolus, Greek satrap of Carai, erected circa 367-353 BC…The Temple of Halicarnassus was destroyed during an earthquake between the 11th and 15th centuries leaving Dalí’s majestic scene as a means for us to experience this lost element of human achievement.” — Christie’s

Auction: May 13 – Day Sale at Christie’s
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 17 3/8 x 15 1/4 inches
Year: 1955

Bid: $700,000 – $1,000,000

Femme Assise by Pablo Picasso

“In the summer of 1945, nearly one year after Paris was liberated, Picasso returned to the Côte d’Azur for the first time since the war had begun. The renewed contact with the sun, sand and light of the Mediterranean ushered in a new phase for the artist. While there, he was introduced to Suzanne and Georges Ramié, artisans who were trying to revive the ancient pottery industry in the town of Vallauris, one of many efforts at the time to restore France’s wounded national pride in the aftermath of the war. Through the Ramiés, Picasso had space, supplies and skilled ceramicists at his disposal to push the boundaries of what could be done with the classical shapes of ceramic vessels.” — Christie’s

Auction:May 13 – Day Sale at Christie’s
Medium: Bronze with dark brown patina
Size: 8 7/8 inches (height)
Year: 1953

Bid: $200,000 – $300,000

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