An O'Keeffe (or two?) for Crystal Bridges | Rock Candy

Monday, February 9, 2015

An O'Keeffe (or two?) for Crystal Bridges

Posted By on Mon, Feb 9, 2015 at 3:16 PM

click to enlarge "Jimson Weed," Georgia O'Keeffe
  • "Jimson Weed," Georgia O'Keeffe
click to enlarge "Skunk Cabbage," Georgia O'Keeffe.
  • "Skunk Cabbage," Georgia O'Keeffe.

Arts blogger CultureGrrl (Lee Rosenbaum) has confirmed everyone's suspicion that Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art's collection now includes Georgia O'Keeffe's "Jimson Weed" and Jasper Johns' "Flag" (1983). She has a trusted source, she says. 

When "Jimson Weed" (oil on canvas, 48 by 40 inches, 1932) sold at Sotheby's Nov. 20, 2014, American Art auction, I thought it had a Walton ring to it. Not only did Crystal Bridges need a stunning O'Keeffe, there was a huge disparity in the estimate ($10 million to $14 million) and the sale price ($44 million), indicative of a tenacious personality. (I'm pretty puffed up about guessing right.) I had hoped that Walton also purchased O'Keeffe's earlier, brushier, Arthur Dove-like "Skunk Cabbage" (oil on board, 12 by 16 inches,
1927), which went for a mere $941,000 at the American sale.
click to enlarge "Flag," Jasper Johns, 1983.
  • "Flag," Jasper Johns, 1983.

The Johns was sold for $36 million (with premium) just nine days earlier, at the Nov. 11 Contemporary sale at Sotheby's. Carol Vogel (N.Y. Times) reported the day after the sale that she was told by dealers that Walton was the buyer of the encaustic-on-silk flag (estimate of $15 million to $20 million).

After that sale, wondering about the Johns, I found this on artnet:

Jasper Johns's pristine Flag (1983), which had remained in the same collection from the time it had been acquired directly from the artist in 1983, sold for $36 million with premium on an estimate of $15-20 million. It was bought by Sotheby's specialist Scott Nussbaum for his client on a hammer bid of $32 million after a bidding war with 
click to enlarge "Red, Brown, Black, Orange," by Mark Rothko.
  • "Red, Brown, Black, Orange," by Mark Rothko.
another buyer.

Whoever Nussbaum's client was, he or she was an extremely active bidder throughout the evening.

Among other purchases made by the same paddle number via Nussbaum: Mark Rothko's No. 21 (Red, Brown, Black and Orange), an early 1951 painting (and slightly less typical Rothko) with an unpublished estimate north of about $50 million that sold for just under $45 million with premium; a Joseph Cornell box construction, Untitled (Palais de Cristal) (ca. 1953), which sold for $665,000, short of its $800,000 low estimate; Mark Tansey's painting Landscape (1994), which sold for $3.7 million on an estimate of $3-4 million; and Louise Bourgeois's marble and stainless steel sculpture Distant Figures (1971), which sold for $1.8 million on an estimate of $1.5-2 million.

So add those four to the collection as well. I guessed she had purchased Andy Warhol's "Liz  No. 3 (Early Colored Liz)" (1963) at the Contemporary sale, which sold for $31.5 million, but artnet's Eileen Kinsella did not mention it, so maybe not.

CultureGrrl takes Crystal Bridges to task for not revealing what it's purchased. I'm not sure why the museum must announce all its purchases. I think it's a lot more fun speculating and putting two
and two (or three and four) together to try and beat them to the punch. 

click to enlarge "Landscape," by Mark Tansey.
  • "Landscape," by Mark Tansey.

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