Just two weeks into May, and without pausing for breath, focus shifts from this week’s previews at the Venice Biennale and returns to New York for next week’s major auctions of Modern and Contemporary art. Just two weeks ago, the city hosted a busy week with Frieze and TEFAF New York, both of which led to reports of a solid, if not frenzied, market in the private market. The auction season will give a much more public bill of health.

The week’s sales will offer around $1.3 billion of art at Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips, kicking off on Monday 15 May with Christie’s evening auction of ‘Impressionist and Modern Art’. While it’s too soon to be certain, the market shows some signs of consolidation after last year when sellers in particular seemed relatively cautious.  Whether it’s due to renewed stability or an increase in guarantees, there are more high value works being offered across the board, with 24 lots priced above $10million.  It remains to be seen how they fare on the day, but last year there were only 16 works in this bracket.Ones  to watch during the week include Pablo Picasso’s portrait of his lover ‘Dora Maar, Femme assise, robe bleue’ (1939) which sold for $29million in 2011 and is estimated to sell for $35-50 million at Christie’s on Monday, as well as ‘Danaë’ (1909) which could set a new record for the Austrian artist Egon Schiele at Sotheby’s on 16 May, if it makes more than $39.8million, near the top of its pre-sale estimate. The Post-War and Contemporary auctions represent a greater share of value during the week, reflecting the shift in the market that we’ve seen over the last decade. Here, we can expect to see some notable prices for works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Peter Doig, Roy Lichtenstein and Francis Bacon; all of whom have returned impressive prices recently at auction, and attracted interest from Asian bidders.
The catalogues are online at www.christies.com,  www.sothebys.com  and  www.phillips.com. Most importantly – the auctions are on view over the weekend, so if you’re in New York, it’s a great chance to wander in and see some great works of art, many of which are only briefly on view while they pass from one private collection to the next.We are on hand and ready to answer any queries related to the auctions, and we’ll be reporting back after the sales.
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