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The Johnston Letter
by Jill Johnston
Cross-Country:
A Memoir of France
Cowboys 'n' Culture

Art Investment News is for sale. Contact publisher Paul Ben- Itzak. Based in Paris, Art Investment News focuses on exceptional work by renowned artists on sale for $100 - $100,000, supplemented by coverage of museum and gallery exhibitions of interest to art investors. AI News is edited and published by Paul Ben-Itzak, a veteran journalist who has covered the arts and financial news for Reuters, the New York Times, his own magazine the Dance Insider & Arts Voyager, and many others from New York, Paris, San Francisco, Chicago, and Texas. Dealers, Galleries, and Artists: Reach art-buyers with Art Investment News! 24/7 sponsor ads on AIN are as low as $49/month. Contact Paul for more information. Some articles require a Subscriber user name and password to access the full articles and galleries. To subscribe for just $29.95/year and receive full access to new and archived content, click on the PayPal 'Subscribe' button below, or e-mail us for info on paying by check. Please note that for donations and subscriptions, your PayPal order will indicate "The Dance Insider," our parent company. Special thanks to AIN godmother Kim Clark.


Leonard Tsuguharu Foujita (1886-1968), "Mere a l'enfant," signed and dated 'T. Foujita 1917' and signed again and inscribed in Japanese (lower right). Watercolor over pencil on paper, 15 3/4 x 11 1/8 inches (39.8 x 28.3 cm). Painted in Paris in 1917. Christie's pre-sale estimate: $30,000 - $50,000. Copyright Christie's Images Ltd. 2014.

Art Investment News Gallery, 11-6: Heritage
Patrimoine, on sale at Christie's NY & Artcurial
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Text copyright 2014 Paul Ben-Itzak

The eternal French squabble between centralization and decentralization has made for a sometimes schizophrenic rapport between the country and its rich artistic heritage. Last week, at the same time Paris was celebrating the re-opening of the renovated Picasso Museum, the christening of the Luis Vuitton Institute, and the Contemporary Art Fair or FIAC (which ultimately benefited from the publicity around a Christmas tree or butt plug inflated at the Place Vendome only to be deflated, its 69-year-old creator Paul McCarthy assaulted), the new mayor of Reims (best known for the fine art of champagne) was busy shelving the previous mayor's plans (in part funded by 7 million Euros from the State) to build a new museum, preferring to gussy up the local skating rink into a full-fledged sports complex, potentially endangering the gift of more than 700 pieces of art by Leonard Tsuguharu Foujita (1886-1968), a member of the Montparnasse school grouped around Man Ray, Moshe Kisling, sophomore period Picasso, Chaim Soutine and Modigliani -- whose unique style (Foujita's), mostly figurative but with a touch of the Surrealist, it could be argued made him much more than just a peer of his more celebrated colleagues -- which was to be the center of the museum's collections. (A similar fate befell the projected museum of Carcassone when that Cathar city's government changed hands, reflecting the supposed popular sentiment that the artistic offer proffered by the culture mongers speaks only to the "elite," whoever they are.) To gage the generosity of this sweeping gift by Foujita's heirs, triggered by the death in 2009 of his widow Kimiyo, one has only to look at the pre-sale estimates of two of the artist's oeuvres on auction at Christie's New York November 6: "Fillette a la poupee mexicaine," an oil on canvas dating from 1950 and measuring just 13 3/4 x 10 5/8 inches, was predicted by the auction house to fetch between $80,000 and $100,000; "Mere a l'enfant," a watercolor over pencil on paper measuring 15 3/4 x 11 1/8 inches and signed in both French and Japanese, $30,000 - $50,000. Subscribers click here for the full article with more images, including of work by Degas, Picasso, Eva Gonzales, Duchamp, Valadon, De Vlaminck, Redon, Roualt, and Villon. (Not a subscriber? Subscribe today for just $29.95 using the PayPal 'Subscribe' button above.)


Andre Kertesz, "Cafe du Dome, winter morning," Paris, 1928. Silver print on monocouche brilliant, 16.3 x 24 cm. Artcurial pre-sale estimate: 1,000 - 2,000 Euros. Courtesy Artcurial.

Art Investment News Gallery, 10-31: Detail work
Andre Kertesz at Artcurial: Le vif au sujet
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Text copyright 2014 Paul Ben-Itzak

PARIS -- If it would be an exaggeration to postulate that without Andre Kertesz (1894-1985) there would have been no Henri Cartier-Bresson, it's fair to say that the Hungarian-born Kertesz -- 125 of whose rarely viewed photographs amassed from private collections Artcurial exhibits November 12-14 at the Rond-Pont of the Champs Elysees before auctioning them off November 14 -- helped legitimize photography a la vif as an artistic path. And if the impeccability of the dramatic moments arrested sometimes makes the famous spontaneity of Cartier-Bresson seem fabricated, the oeuvre of Kertesz -- who, like his contemporary Jacques Lartigue, insisted that he was just an amateur -- is marked by a singular lack of caprice, often revealed in the unexpected angles from which he views familiar subjects. ("Every time Kertesz snaps his shutter, I feel my heart beat," said Cartier-Bresson.) Thus in capturing Le Dome, the cradle of artistic Montparnasse, in 1928, Kertesz focuses not on any of the famous denizens of the cafe like Hemingway, Stein, or Picasso, but on an anonymous woman of a certain age, too seasoned and round to be a flapper, absorbed in her newspaper in a window booth, her feet warming at a decrepit cast-iron stove, a detail which singularly reveals that Le Dome of the epoch had nothing to do with the elegant shell that remains today to titillate nostalgic tourists, but was once a run-down, even nondescript bistro du coin. (To sample working class Paris cafe life of a different era, check also Foujita's panoramic post-WW II painting on display at the Musee Carnavalet.) And where Cartier-Bresson's portrait of the elderly Matisse chez lui features the painter in the premiere plan, morosely looming in his wheelchair, the titular focus of the work is nowhere to be seen in Kertesz's "Chez Mondrian," the selection of a single flower in a vase behind which a stairway lurks in shadow saying more about his subject than Carter-Bresson's does about his. What makes Kertesz's cliches authentic is the lack of immaculate perfection in their arrangement. This very absence of a deliberate mis-en-scene naturalizes the scenes and makes it easier for the viewer to enter within: to join a detachment of Hungarian soldiers profiting from a respite in battle during WW I to play a round of cards (1915); to be a secret witness to a first kiss between a pair of gypsy waifs (1917), whose impoverished nakedness (note the bloated stomachs) also evokes Eden, a needed reminder of innocence in an epoch where the gypsies (or "Roms" as they're called here) are the new Jews of Europe, with even Socialist France chasing them from bidonville to bidonville. Subscribers click here for the full article with more images. (Not a subscriber? Subscribe today for just $29.95 using the PayPal 'Subscribe' button above.)


Gino Severini (1883-1966), "Danseuse," signed and titled 'Gino Severini "Danseuse"' (on reverse side). Oil on canvas, 55 x 45.7 cm (21 5/8 x 18 inches). Painted Winter 1914-15. Christie's pre-sale estimate: 1 million - 1.5 million Euros. Copyright Christie's Images Ltd. 2014.

Art Investment News Gallery, 10-23: The Futurist is Now
In Paris, Christie's auctions off the fount of a movement
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Text copyright 2014 Paul Ben-Itzak

"The worse painter in Paris is still better than the best painter from any other place. The tradition of Paris is irreplaceable."

-- Gino Severini, quoted in the magazine Jardin des Arts, January 1964

SAINT-CYPRIEN (Dordogne), France -- So it has come to this. 180 galleries hawking 1,500 artists at the Foire International d'Art Contemporaine (FIAC) at the Grand Palais (even the "off" satellite of the Paris event, at the Cite de la mode et design, is sponsored by the 'on' organization; for a non-official off festival, check the YIA fair, hosting 65 galleries in the Marais); the re-opening of the Picasso Museum after five years of renovations and a year of internecine battles between ex- and new directors and, of course, the obligatory heir; a new foundation of contemporary art named after a hand-bag maker (Luis Vuitton), and financed by a captain of industry in a Crystal Palace on the frontier of the Bois de Boulogne designed by Frank Gehry, the octogenarian American chou-chou of the Paris culturati; a monographic exhibition of Abstract pioneer Sonia Delaunay at the Modern Art Museum of the City of Paris; and a (literally) Sadistic exhibition by a theme-obsessed Musee d'Orsay, purportedly demonstrating the influence of a certain Marquis on several generations of artists who succeeded him (even Cezanne was not immune). And yet the cultural media hullabaloo has centered for the most part on what was either a gargantuan Christmas tree or one behemoth of a butt plug balloon, inflatable art erected at the Vendome and promptly deflated by a descendant of the reactionaries who chastised the Communard Courbet for an earlier attack on the bourgoisie sensibilities represented by the Place and its indisputably phallic column, the difference being that instead of imprisoning the creator for his impudence (Courbet), this time the Philistines physically attacked the artist, the 69-year-old American Paul McCarthy, on the streets of a Paris where ideologies are orphaned even as unorphaned two-year-old 'Rom' children are turned out by public hospitals onto the autumnal curbs until the city's first female mayor can find them housing for the night. The country's president, meanwhile, has reacted to polls which show his popularity in the teens by suddenly discovering Culture, showing up to christen the openings of institutions like the Vuitton, while scrupulously avoiding officially inaugurating the two-year-old Cite de l'Immigration. And what if that gypsy child is a future Picasso or Apollinaire? If more of the cultural powers that be had an artistic memory that extended beyond Christian Boltanski, in between proclamations that Paris has regained the title of capital of art and hand-wringing over the illegal immigration 'problem,' they might pause to remember the immigrants that helped secure that title a century ago, including a certain Gino Severini. Subscribers click here for the full article with more images. (Not a subscriber? Subscribe today for just $29.95 using the PayPal 'Subscribe' button above.)


Cendrine Rovini, "Enantiopanaxioi," 2014. Mixed media on tintoretto, 70 x 50 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Da-End.

Paris Dispatch & Gallery, 9-15: Frame it Black
Shadow Dancing in Saint-Germain des Pres with Cendrine Rovini & Jean-Benoist Salle at Da-End
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Text copyright 2014 Paul Ben-Itzak

PARIS -- What if there were a gallery which achieved optic brilliance not with the crutch of 'new technology' (the Impressionists may have been influenced by the nascent science of photography, but they didn't replace their pinceaus with Kodachrome; not that this protects them being retro-binded with science, as witness the recent efforts of latter-day meteorologists to pinpoint the exact moment that Monet painted "Impression of the Sunset"), but by the simple device of setting the art against a luminous black background? In this current context, in which gadgets and gimmicks have been accorded equality with the painter's palette, I was quick to misapprehend -- on a recent Left Bank gallery gambol -- the black walls of the cavernous Da-End gallery on the rue Guenegaud for clever effect, an understandable snap judgment given a moniker more likely to evoke the '50s aesthetic of faux-hipster Brooklyn ("Da-End, man!" shrieks Brando's molle as he sweeps her off to Avalon on his Harley-Davidson) than the winding streets of storied Saint-Germain des Pres, the legitimate Dauphine of Noir since Juliette Greco, Miles Davis, Boris Vian and coterie first introduced it at the Club Tabou as the wardrobe of choice for orphans of the most somber of wars, and who, godfathered by Sartre and de Beauvoir, Camus and Cocteau, shaped this darkness into a berceau of beauty, temporarily aborted by Algeria, but persistently pushing like pissenlit through this fertile terrain, undeterred by the ruling ethic of "austerity." Subscribers click here for the full article with more images. (Not a subscriber? Subscribe today for just $29.95 using the PayPal 'Subscribe' button above.)


Jean Dubuffet, "Site domestique (au fusil espadon) avec tete d'Inca et petit fauteuil a droite," 1966. Vinyl on canvas, 125 x 200 cm. Fascicule XXI des travaux de Jean Dubuffet, ill. 217. Copyright Dubuffet and courtesy Galerie Jaeger Bucher / Jeanne-Bucher, Paris.

Paris Dispatch, 9-4: How the Southwest (of France) was won by a Paris gallerist
Gajac Museum retrospect celebrates Saint-Germain des Pres's Jean-Francois Jaeger
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Text copyright 2014 Paul Ben-Itzak

PARIS -- Accessibility has become a dirty word, with its implication that to reach the masses, art must be dumbed down. But truncate the word to "access," and you understand the collaboration that the municipality of Villeneuve-sur-Lot in Southwestern France -- a region better known for the fertility of its grapevines than the fecundity of its modern art scene -- and the legendary Saint-Germain des Pres gallerist Jean-Francois Jaeger of the Gallery Jeanne-Bucher have forged over the past 45 years, under which the anything but hic residents of this 'provincial' town have been able to experience the contemporary art revolution(s) of the '50s, '60s, and beyond contemporaneously with the putatively hip Parisian public. This complicity is being celebrated, through October 26, at the Musee de Gajac, a converted Villeneuve flour mill, in "A Passion for Art: Jean-Francois Jaeger and the Gallery Jeanne-Bucher," with work selected by the 90-year-old honoree which, true to form, prizes mystery over mediocrity and discovery over dilettantism. Subscribers click here for the full article with more images. (Not a subscriber? Subscribe today for just $29.95 using the PayPal 'Subscribe' button above.)


Among the low-priced treasures by well- and lesser-known masters on sale at Christie's Amsterdam's May 29 sale of Impressionist and Modern Art: Maximilien Luce (1858-1941), "Chantier sur les bords de la Seine," signed 'Luce' (lower left). Oil on canvas, 33 x 55 cm. Pre-sale estimate: 15,000-20,000 Euros ($19,429-$25,906). Copyright Christe's Images Ltd. 2013. Pupil and friend of Pissarro, anarchist, president of the French artists' union, and the last of the hard-core Impressionists, count on Maximilien Luce to not just follow his colleagues in another bucolic and light-infused study of the banks of the Seine, but to thrust into the foreground a group of workers busy prettying up those banks. For more on the pertinent painter, see our Arts Voyager Gallery on the Luce museum in the Paris suburb of Mantes-la-Jolie here.

Art Investment News, 5-29: Canal plus
Luce, Rodin, Courbet, Guillaumin, Bieling: Low-priced Treasures at Christie's Amsterdam
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Text copyright 2013 Paul Ben-Itzak

If you thought the only reasons for an art investor and art lover to travel to Amsterdam were the Van Gogh museum, the Old Masters, and the city's winding canals, think again: Christie's Amsterdam's May 29 Impressionist and Modern Art Sale offers the collector of modest resources the chance to acquire no less than an early Courbet oil painting with a pre-sale estimate of less than $12,000, a Rodin pencil and watercolor estimated to fetch less than $16,000, more stunning and signature work from the under- appreciated late Impressionists Maximilien Luce and Armand Guillaumin in the low five figures, and a breathtaking 1917 "Dancing Nude" from Herman Bieling which approaches Picasso's rarefied air at the much-more Earthbound figure of $3,886-$6,476. Subscribers click here for the full article with more images. (Not a subscriber? Subscribe today for just $29.95 using the PayPal 'Subscribe' button above.)


One of the priceless masterpieces available for interesting prices at Christie's Paris's May 28 sale of Impressionist and Modern Art: Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940), "L'hiver," with the cachet of the atelier 'E Vuillard' (lower right; Lugt 2497a). Oil on canvas, 34.7 x 25.7 cm. (13 5/8 x 10 1/8 in.). Painted about 1900. Pre-sale estimate: 15,000-20,000 Euros ($19,359-$25,811). Copyright Christie's Images Ltd. 2013.

Art Investment News, 5-27: Crazy Christie's
Unique gems at (relatively speaking) bazaar prices from Vuillard, Fini, Vlaminck, and Renoir at Christie's Paris
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Text copyright 2013 Paul Ben-Itzak

What makes an apparent atypical masterpiece by Edouard Vuillard worth less than $26,000, an oil painting by the over-rated Eugene Boudin worth up to $900,000 -- oh look, another undistinguished water setting -- and a gouache, watercolor, and ink by the perpetually under-rated Maurice de Vlaminck valued at less than $24,000? The pre-sale estimate of the Vuillard -- like the others, as well as a stunning Renoir and an early Leonor Fini, on auction at Christie's Paris's May 28 sale of Impressionist and Modern Art -- can perhaps be explained by the fact that authorship is indicated with a cachet of the artist's atelier, and not a signature, although the sheer uniqueness of the stark "L'hiver" (Winter) in the Vuillard universe -- dominated by subtle interiors whose most outstanding feature is the painter's use of refracted light -- would seem to mitigate for a higher expectation. (The work is so exceptional that one can even argue for pre-emption by the State to keep it in public view.) The high pre-sale estimate of the Boudin can perhaps be explained -- if not justified -- by recent exhibitions which (erroneously, in my opinion) have had the effect of putting this lesser Impressionist on the same plane as his major contemporaries, poor Vlaminck's low estimate by his being born 50 years later, and thus technically speaking not grouped with the pioneering first wave of Impressionists. And as a general rule, size does seem to matter to those who determine the valuations at Christie's; its 9 1/2 x 11 7/8 in. dimensions might explain the relatively paltry pre-sale estimate of $77,434-$103,246 for Renoir's lush "Saule au bord d'une mare" (the illegible signature might also have something to do with it, but the tableau's impeccable provenance -- beginning with the Durand- Ruel gallery, which acquired it directly from the artist on August 15, 1916 -- would seem to minimize that factor). What all these works (save the Boudin) have in common is they offer the art investor with modest resources the opportunity to make his collection without breaking his budget. Subscribers click here for the full article with more images. (Not a subscriber? Subscribe today for just $29.95 using the PayPal 'Subscribe' button above.)


If you want to look for where art is being made in Paris today, don't look in the hills of Montmartre but the heights of Belleville. And if you want to look inside the artists' studios, check the Portes Ouverte of the Artists of Belleville, taking place through Monday, May 27. Besides seeing recent work by living artists (including, top, Sarah Dugrip's "Liseuse" and, bottom, Catherine Olivier's "Parcour IV techniques mixtes," both on view in Olivier's atelier at 42 bis rue des Cascades), the promenade offers some of the most extraordinary views of the City of Light, including that of the Eiffel Tower from the parc Belleville. For more information on the Portes Ouverte and the artists of Belleville, click here. To see images of more work by Olivier, visit her web site or see our 2012 Arts Voyager Gallery, and by Dugrip, click here.


Among the American stories available at Christie's New York's May 23 sale of American Art are, top: Ludwig Bemelmans (1898-1963), "Madeline and Pepito," signed 'Bemelmans' (lower left). Oil on canvas, 24 x 36 in. (61 x 91.4 cm.). Pre-sale estimate: $50,000- $70,000; and, bottom: Stuart Davis (1892-1964), "The Tug Boat," signed and dated 'Stuart Davis 1922' (on the reverse). Oil on panel, 12 x 16 in. (30.5 x 40.6 cm.). Painted in 1922, 1951 and 1953. Pre-sale estimate: $250,000-$350,000. Copyright Christie's Images Ltd. 2013. While this piece exceeds our $100,000 threshold, we include it here because when it comes to Abstract Expressionist art that is as intricate as it is accessible, as technically accomplished as it is magically whimsical, Davis sets the standard. Both images copyright Christie's Images Ltd. 2013.

Art Investment News, 5-23: An American Narrative
Storytellers for Sale at Christie's New York
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2013 Paul Ben-Itzak

Once upon a time American painters told stories, their canvasses teeming with the colorful life of a society embracing the ongoing industrial revolution, as well as the rural pockets of benign resistance. The very term used to describe one of their movements said more about theme than technique: The Ashcan School. And even Abstract champions like Stuart Davis usually offered a narrative hook to anchor the viewer. Christie's New York's May 23 sale of American Art offers a nostalgic return to this age when content meant meaning, with several examples available at refreshingly low pre-sale estimates, all the more bon marché when one considers the grist for the imagination they'll inspire when hanging on one's wall. Subscribers click here to read the full Article and see more Images. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the PayPal Subscribe button above. Just want this article? Donate $5 using the PayPal Donate button above and we'll send it to you.)

Among the chefs d'oeuvre available at Christie's London's May 22 sale of 19th Century European Art at moderate pre-sale estimates are, top: Johan Barthold Jongkind (Dutch, 1819- 1891), "Clair de Lune sur un canal, Dordrecht," signed and dated 'Jongkind 1876' (lower left). Oil on canvas, 15 3/8 x 18 1/2 in. (39 x 47 cm.). Pre-sale estimate: 18,000-25,000 British pounds ($27,342- $37,975); and bottom: Emile Bernard (French, 1868-1941), "In the Harem," signed 'Emile Bernard' (lower right). Oil on canvas, 42 3/4 x 55 1/2 in. (108.5 x 141 cm.). Painted circa 1903. Pre-sale estimate: 15,000-20,000 British pounds ($22,785- $30,380). Both images copyright Christie's Images Ltd. 2013.

Art Investment News: At Christie's London, Major Masterpieces at Minor Prices from Under-heralded Masters
Forget that record sales week; here are some masterpieces you might actually be able to afford to buy
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2013 Paul Ben-Itzak

If you've got auction fatigue after the recent record sales week in New York, don't take a break quite yet; if you do, you'll miss an opportunity to bid on chefs d'oeuvre by major 19th-century artists like Corot, Bernard, Raffaelli, Rico, and Jongkind too often over-shadowed in the mainstream media and auction house hype by the usual Impressionist bread-winners -- and at pre-sale estimates much more modest which, from a strictly artistic standpoint considering the magnificence of the tableaux on sale, deliver a lot more bang for the buck. Herewith a sampling of some of the gems on sale at Christie's London's May 22 sale of 19th Century European Art Including Orientalist Art. Subscribers click here to read the full Article and see more Images. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the PayPal Subscribe button above. Just want this article? Donate $5 using the PayPal Donate button above and we'll send it to you.)

Pablo Picasso, "Femme assise dans un fauteuil (Eva)" (Woman in an Armchair), 1913. Oil on canvas, 59 x 39 1/8 in. (148 x 99 cm). Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection. Copyright 2013 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Art Investment News, 4-14: Game-changers
From Lauder, a trove of Cubist Masterpieces for the Met; Le Corbusier at MoMA
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Copyright 2013 Paul Ben-Itzak

In an epoch where high culture is more than ever in danger of being drowned out by the noise of so- called popular culture in a mass media that no longer just caters to the tastes of the middle- and low-brow but seems determined to lower standards, museums more than ever must play an educative role -- not in the dry didactive sense of that word but in the enlightening one. And yet, in portraying the full panoply of art history in all its richness, they're often hamstrung by the fact that so much of that catalogue remains in private hands, only to surface briefly when it comes up for sale. Meanwhile, institutions like the Museum of Modern Art which steward a substantial part of that history feel they must charge admission prices which -- twice the cost of going to the movies -- can discourage the masses from discovering their collections. All the more reason to celebrate when a museum which still lets patrons pay what they can, as does the Metropolitan Museum, receives a mission-enhancing gift like the 78 works by Picasso, Braque, Gris and Leger just bestowed on it by Leonard Lauder. Even moreso with the additional news that in connection with the acquisition of this trove, the Met is establishing a new research center for modern art to be suppored by a $22 million endowment set up by Lauder and other supporters. Click here for the full article and more images.


Among the paragons of illustrated books being auctioned off at Christie's NY April 9 and 10 from the Collection of Arthur & Charlotte Vershbow are chefs-d'oeuvres including (top): Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), "Klange (Roethel 71-4, 85, 95-140, 142-6)," the complete set of 56 woodcuts including 12 in colors, 1907-13, on Van Gelder laid paper, with title, text in German and justification, signed on the justification, copy number 290 of 300, published by Reinhard Piper, Munich, 1913, estimated pre-sale at $30,000-$50,000; (middle), Marc Chagall (1887-1985), "Mein Leben (Kornfeld 1- 20)," the complete set of 20 etchings and dry-points, 1922, on Japan paper, with title, justification and table of contents, all signed in pencil, numbered 10/110, from the edition of 26 on this paper (there were also 84 on wove paper), published by Paul Cassirer, Berlin, 1923, overall 18 5/8 x 14 5/8 inches, estimated pre-sale at $120,000 - $180,000; and (bottom), William Blake (1757-1827), "The Waking of Leonora," original design for the tailpiece in a bilingual edition of "Leonora. A tale by Gottfried August Burger" (1796), an autographed pen-and-ink and watercolor drawing, finished in black, red, two tints of blue and grey wash, on wove paper (82 x 140 mm). Signed in pencil in lower right-hand corner. Framed and glazed, and estimated at $60,000-$80,000. Chagall, who came to printmaking at age 35, recalled (quoted in Forestier, Sigeals, p. 9), "I would have been missing something if, aside from color, I hadn't also devoted myself, at a certain moment in my life, to gravures and lithographs.... In holding a lithographic stone on a copper plate I believed I was touching a talisman [,] in which it seemed I could place all my sadnesses and all my joys." Images copyright Christie's Images Ltd. 2013.

With Corot hard to locate between the collections of the Louvre and the Orsay, and Delacroix not safe at the Louvre-Lens (see news items below), this might be a good time to buy work by these masters for yourself -- especially when Christie's has them available for a relative song this month. On auction in New York April 29 (left): Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (French, 1796-1875), "Paysage aux bouleaux argentes." Oil on canvas, 10 1/4 x 7 in.. Painted circa 1860-65. Pre-sale estimate: $50,000 - $70,000. And at Chrisitie's Paris April 10 (right): Ferdinand-Victor-Eugene Delacroix (Saint Maurice 1798-1863 Paris), "Jeune femme nue debout." Plume and brown ink, filigrane 'J Berger.' 385 x 218 mm. Pre-sale estimate: 6,000 - 8,000 Euros $7,679 - $10,238. Both images copyright Christie's Images Ltd. 2013.

The Art Maverick, 4-9: French Art Beat (illustrated)
New director at the Louvre; battle over a Signac; bring me the head of (Courbet's) 'Creation of the World' (just don't try showing her naked body on Facebook); Delacroix defaced; where's Corot?; where to buy Delacroix, Corot, Laurencin, Sisley, Millet & more for peanuts
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Copyright 2013 Paul Ben-Itzak

French newspapers were aflutter last week with the story of Jerome Cahuzac, a former Socialist budget minister who confessed to having squirreled away 600,000 Euros in a Swiss bank account to avoid paying taxes on the income after previously having denied doing so and denounced others who did. The headline-grabbing 'cultural' news was the death of a doctor participating in "Koh-Lanta," the French answer to "Survivor." One had to scroll to the bottom of the websites of Le Monde and Liberation, two of the major Paris dailies, to discover political and artistic news that France has reason to be proud of: That a new president has been named for the Louvre -- chosen by President Francois Hollande, who personally informed the lucky man, chief of the Louvre's department of Greco-Roman antiquities Jean-Luc Martinez, 48, a sign of the importance France places on culture. That Hollande's selection over-rid the preference of his culture minister, Aurelie Filippetti -- who was determined to nominate a woman for the position -- signaled that the French president, who spoke little about the arts in his 2012 electoral campaign, is finally taking cultural decisions seriously. Still, if you'd rather not trust your art conservation to politicians -- and if you want a legal place to bank your money -- we're including in this update on French art news a special illustrated preview of some of the bargains available at upcoming Christie's sales from the likes of Corot, Delacroix, Utrillo, Sisley, Rodin, Laurencin, Millet, Fragonard, and others, at pre-sale estimates of as little as $8,000. Subscribers click here for the full article with more images. (Not a subscriber? Subscribe today for just $29.95 using the PayPal 'Subscribe' button above.)

Left: József Faragó, a cover page design for the album "Farago's Review," 1898. 1907-320. Paper, ink, pen. 411 x 317 mm. Owner: Hungarian National Gallery. Right: József Faragó, "Our Country's Greats in Paris, 1900." Farago 1902-51. Paper, ink, pen. 324 x 249 mm. Owner: Hungarian National Gallery.

Art Investment News Gallery, 4-2: Pioneers of the Ninth Art
How József Faragó Expanded Honore Daumiér Beyond the Frame
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Copyright 2013 Paul Ben-Itzak

One risk of the Franco-centrism of most of the world's international-caliber museums of classic art (by classic I mean before 1950) is that the indigenous culture often gets short shrift, even when it compliments the French masters as sources of inspiration and emulation for the local talent. In Hungary -- which has a rich culture too often over-looked by the global curatorial brain-trust -- the recently reunited Budapest Museum of Fine Arts and Hungarian National Gallery have neatly addressed this lapse by mounting, as their first collaboration since the merger, complimentary exhibitions on Honore Daumiér (1808- 1879), the pioneering French caricaturist, and József Faragó (1866-1906), who succeeded Daumier chronologically but just may have exceeded him artistically, creating work that, while topical, can stand on its own as art whether or not one knows the historical context and even if one doesn't speak the language. Subscribers click here for the full article with more images. (Not a subscriber? Subscribe today for just $29.95 using the PayPal 'Subscribe' button above.)

Brassai (1899-1984), "La Cage aux fauves aux Folies Bergere," c. 1932. Gelatin silver print signed, annotated 'Pl.711, page 147' in pencil/ink, title, date, annotations by Mme Gilberte Brassai in pencil and Faubourg-St.-Jacques credit stamp (on the verso). Image/sheet: 9 1/2 x 7 1/8 in. (24 x 18.6 cm). Pre-sale estimate: $12,000 - $18,000. Copyright Christie's Images Ltd. 2013.

Art Investment News Gallery, 3-28: The last time I saw Paris
At Christie's NY, a Vintage City of Light through DeLIGHTed Eyes
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Copyright 2013 Paul Ben-Itzak

PARIS -- Does any city in the world belong more to photographers than Paris? When the pocket camera became popular starting in the late 19th century, even painters -- from Degas through Bonnard -- couldn't resist ditching their pinceaux for the more modern apparatus. And does any other city look so... better in black and white than color than Paris, the city of Brassai, of Cartier-Bresson and Lartigue, of Ronis and Desnos, of Atget and Kertesz? At times I've questioned whether art objects which usually are not original because they can be easily re-produced are really worth the sky-rocketing prices they're fetching at auction. But two sales coming up next week at Christie's New York -- its photography sale April 5 and another called "The DeLIGHTed Eye, Modernist Masterworks from a Private Collection" on April 4 remind me, particularly in their Paris components, that the photographer is not just immortalizing his subject, brilliantly capturing a fleeting moment like Cartier-Bresson, but also capturing the sentiment he felt when he took the shot, so that each copy is also a document. Subscribers click here for the full article with more images. (Not a subscriber? Subscribe today for just $29.95 using the PayPal 'Subscribe' button above.)


Left: Joan Miro (1893-1983), "Composition," 1930. Charcoal on paper. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Gift of Oveta Culp Hobby. Copyright 2012 Successio Miro / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY / ADAGP, Paris. Courtesy Morgan Library and Museum. Right: Leonor Fini (1907-1996), "La Danseuse aux chats," between 1948 and 1952. #2161. Ink on Paper, 15" x 12." Copyright Estate of Leonor Fini, Paris. Courtesy CFM Gallery.

Art Investment News Gallery, 3-7: Surreal Surprises
Morgan Exhibition Excludes a Master
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Copyright 2013 Paul Ben-Itzak

"Tout ce surnaturel lui est naturel."

-- Jean Cocteau, introduction to the Leonor Fini exhibition at the Museo Correr in Venice, 1951. (Cited in "Leonor Fini," Editions Hervas, Paris 1981.)

"Surrealism might one day be passe, but intelligence never will be, whether it's the intelligence of Leonor Fini or others."

-- Alberto Moravia, "Leonor Fini and Intelligence," from "Leonor Fini," Sansoni, Rome 1945. (Ibid.)

Much as I'd like to be enthusiastic about the Morgan Library and Museum's current exhibition Surrealism and the Art of Drawing -- an impressive kaleidescope of more than 160 works including by Dali, Miro, Ernst, Carrington, Cornell, and Magritte, on display through April 21 -- it's hard to stomach yet another supposed all-encompassing survey of Surrealism that excludes one of the movement's most adventurous and rebellious agents of change and accelerators, Leonor Fini, particularly when the Morgan's director, William Griswold, contends that "one of the principal goals of our exhibition program is to present new insight and fresh perspectives on the medium of drawing." Where exactly is the insight and 'fresh perspective' in perpetuating the historical informal boycott of Fini by most major museums, no doubt initiated by Griswold's male predecessors who felt threatened by a strong, sensually adventurous and sometimes sexually ambiguous (in her work anyway) lioness of a woman who deferred to nobody? Subscribers click here for the full article with more images. (Not a subscriber? Subscribe today for just $29.95 using the PayPal 'Subscribe' button above.)

Alexander Calder (1898-1976), Untitled (Studies of Figures in Movement). Drawn in 1925. Pencil on paper, 19 1/2 x 14 in. (49.5 x 35.6 cm). Part of a lot of seven drawings featured in Christie's New York's First Open Sale of Post-War and Contemporary Art March 8. Pre-sale estimate for lot of seven drawings: $30,000 - $50,000. Copyright Christie's Images Ltd. 2013.

Art Investment News, 2-28: Lord of the rings
Calder at the Circus at Christie's New York's First Open
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Copyright 2013 Paul Ben-Itzak

FORT WORTH, TX -- Asked by the Fort Worth Weekly what advice he would give aspiring actors, Barry Corbin (Northern Exposure, The Closer, Dallas) related how the great cowboy actor Ben Johnson had once counseled him to carve out a unique niche, explaining (I paraphrase), "There may be better actors than me, but there's only one Ben Johnson." Given the relatively low prices they fetch, perhaps I still don't know anything about assessing art (Corbin does; his yard here is presided over by a bronco rider fashioned by Frederic Remington or Charlie Russell), but it seems to me there should be a premium on early work by one-of-a-kind artists, because it allows you to literally see the creator's craft developing and evolving in front of your eyes. Alexander Calder (1898 - 1976) was one of those figures. Add to this that the medium of the lot in question at Christie's New York's First Open Sale of Post-War and Contemporary Art March 8 -- a set of seven charcoal, graphite, and pencil drawings of the circus made in 1925 (technically post Great War) -- allows us to behold the artist at work in an elemental form where you can almost feel his hands sketching, and the pre-sale estimate of $30,000 - $50,000 seems to be a steal. Subscribers click here for the full article with more images. (Not a subscriber? Subscribe today for just $29.95 using the PayPal 'Subscribe' button above.)

Among the low-priced American art treasures available at Christie's February 27: Left: Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000), "Trappers." Tempera on masonite, 16 x 12 in. (40.6 x 30.5 cm). Pre-sale estimate: $15,000-$25,000. Right: Ludwig Bemelmans (1898-1963; creator of "Madeline"), "Notre Dame," signed "Bemelmans" (lower right), dated "60" (lower left). Oil on canvas, 51 1/4 x 31 3/4 in. (130.2 x 80.6 cm). Pre-sale estimate: $4,000-$5,000. Both images copyright Christie's Images Ltd. 2013.

Art Investment News, 2-27: Major gems at minor prices
American Masters for $4,000 - $25,000 at Christie's American Art sale
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Copyright 2013 Paul Ben-Itzak

The imminent availability -- at Christie's New York's February 27 sale of American Art -- of five works by pivotal, influential, generative monuments of 20th century American art (or, in one case, children's literature) for estimates as little as $4,000 and topping out at a relatively modest $25,000 seems an appropriate occasion to re-introduce Art Investment News (AIN) and its modus operandi. The important 'news' for us -- news that investors or simply art-lovers with modest budgets can actually use -- is not the latest Damien Hirst fabrication that sold for a ludicrous eight figures, but rather the real gems available for as little as four (or even three!) figures, typically under-publicized by the art press, the financial press, and even the auction houses themselves, whose press releases tend to concentrate on the big-ticket "lots." (Even the nomenclature betrays the commodity calculus.) In the present case -- oeuvres by Milton Avery, John Sloan, Reginald Marsh, Jacob Lawrence, and Ludwig Bemelmans, all of whom figure prominently in major museum collections or recent exhibitions (or, in the case of "Madeline" creator Bemelmans, the collective childhood memory) -- this means the potential to hang on your walls (without breaking your budget) works which offer the double pleasure of their own intrinsic interest and their meaning in art history. Subscribers click here for the full article and more images. (Not a subscriber? Subscribe today for just $29.95 using the PayPal 'Subscribe' button above.)

Christie's New York is billing its March 8 First Open sale of Post-War and Contemporary Art as, among other things, an opportunity to explore lesser-known works by established artists, and the above definitely qualifies. Keith Haring (1958-1990), "Grace Jones at Paradise Garage," gouache on paper. 23 3/8 x 37 1.4 in. (59.4 x 94.6 cm). Painted in 1986. Estimate: $80,000 - 120,000 U.S. dollars. Image copyright Christie's Images Ltd. 2013.

Very top: Pierre Vidal, "Couverture pour 'La vie a Montmartre," 1897. Lithograph, 20 x 27.5 cm. Private collection copyright DR. Bottom, Left: Theophile Alexandre Steinlen, "Affiche de la tournee du Chat Noir." Lithograph, 58.5 x 79 cm. Collection musee de Montmartre copyright DR. Top Right: Anonymous, "Au premier Chat Noir," avant 1885. Tirage photographic, 17.7 x 23.6 cm. Collection musee de Montmartre copyright DR. Bottom Right: Exterior view of the atelier of Suzanne Valadon, Musee de Montmartre. Copyright Guillaume Lachaud.

Arts Voyager Gallery, 2-17: Patrimoine
A revitalized Musée de Montmartre revives le Chat Noir
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2013 Paul Ben-Itzak

What sets Paris apart from any other art capitol in the world is that it is not just a city of museums, it is one, both a showcase for art and the place where that art was created. . Subscribers click here to read the full Article and see more Images. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above. Just want this article? Donate $5 using the PayPal Donate button above and we'll send it to you.)

Top (currently on view at the Museum of Modern Art): Pablo Picasso, "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon," 1907. Oil on canvas, 8' x 7' 8" (243.9 x 233.7 cm). Acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest. © 2011 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Bottom: The Bateau-Lavoir in Montmartre, where Picasso created the work.

Call for Artists, 2-17: Revivifying a Monument
The Bateau-Lavoir is looking for a new visage
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2013 Paul Ben-Itzak

Lest you think that the Musée de Montmartre, under its new stewards the Kleber Rossillon Group, is only concerned with glorifying artists of the past, as its first exhibition, on the Chat Noir, does, the museum has also organized a competition to revivify the neighborhood's other storied cradle of art in a way that encourages living artists: The concourse to design a new vitrine for the Bateau-Lavoir -- best known as the place where Picasso and Braque essentially invented Cubism -- invites scenographers, designers, graphistes and sculptors to submit their proposals (by March 1!) to re-make the storefront (which for years has contained just a spare, lightly illustrated recounting of the site's history) that is the only remnant of the original building. Click here to read the full article.

Top: Gustave Caillebotte (French, 1848-1894), "Paris Street; Rainy Day," 1877. Oil on canvas, 83 1/2 x 108 3/4 in. (212.2 x 276.2 cm). The Art Institute of Chicago, Charles H. and Mary F. S. Worcester Collection. Bottom, left: Gustave Caillebotte (French, 1848-1894), "At the Cafe," 1880. Oil on canvas, 60 1/4 x 44 15/16 in. (153 x 114 cm). Musee d'Orsay, Paris. On deposit at the Musà ©e des Beaux-Arts de Rouen. Bottom, right: Henri Fantin-Latour (French, 1836-1904), "Edouard Manet," 1867. Oil on canvas, 46 5/16 x 35 7/16 in. (117.5 x 90 cm). The Art Institute of Chicago, Stickney Fund.

Art Investment News Gallery, 2-12: Fashionistas
'Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity' at the Met: Ignore the conceit, go for the art
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

If context illuminates in Cezanne and the Past, on view at the Budapest Fine Art Museum through February 17, for Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity, opening at the Metropolitan Museum of Art February 26 and running through May 26, it threatens to obscure (at least if one is to judge by the press release). Co-curated by the Art Institute of Chicago and the Musee d'Orsay, the exhibition's thematic presentation seems to super-impose a subject-driven mode of operation which was never the Impressionists' primary concern. Subscribers click here to read the full Article and see more Images. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above. Just want this article? Donate $5 using the PayPal Donate button above and we'll send it to you.)

Top: Edouard Manet (Paris, 1832- Paris, 1883) "Picnic in a Wood," n. d.. Black chalk, partly reinforced with pen and black ink, with green, blue,brown and black watercolor on paper, 478 x 317 mm. Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology University of Oxford, Oxford, inv. no. WA1980.83. Mathey 35 B. Bottom: Paul Cezanne, (Aix-en-Provence, 1839-1906, Aix-en-Provence), "Bathers," 1899-1904. Oil on canvas, 51.3 x 61.7 cm. The Art Institute of Chicago, Amy McCormick Memorial Collection, Chicago, inv. no. 1942.457. RP 859. For more on these two tableaux and the relationship between Manet and Cezanne, see below and follow the link to our complete article and gallery.

Art Investment News Gallery, 2-7: Back to the Future
Cezanne in Budapest: Even the 'father of us all' had parents
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

It's easy to be cynical about the trend by museums over the past decade to exhibit major figures in juxtaposition with other artists (not always peers). To me it's often seemed like a marketing ploy, as if curators don't credit the reputations of Pissarro, Picasso, Manet, Monet, and Cezanne as sufficient to draw visitors, and need to re-brand them in a new context. But Cezanne and the Past -- Tradition and Creativity, an assemblage of 100 works by the master juxtaposed with work by his antecedents (from Le Nain to Poussin up to Manet and Courbet), on view at Budapest's Museum of Fine Arts through February 17, has opened my eyes to the value of context as illumination. Subscribers click here to read the full Article and see more Images. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above. Just want this article? Donate $5 using the PayPal Donate button above and we'll send it to you.)

From the new exhibition Matisse: In Search of True Painting -- an Exploration of Matisse's Painting Process, on view through March 17 at the Metroplitan Museum of Art: Top: Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954), "Drawing for 'Le Luxe,'" 1907. Charcoal, squared for transfer, on paper mounted to canvas, 88 9/16 x 53 15/16 in. (225 x 137 cm). Centre Pompidou, Musee National d'Art Moderne, Paris. Gift of Marguerite Duthuit, 1976. Bottom: Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954), "Luxe, calme, et volupte," 1904. Oil on canvas, 38 3/4 x 46 5/8 in. (98.5 x 118.5 cm). Centre Pompidou, Musee National d'Art Moderne, Paris. Gift in lieu of estate taxes, 1982. On extended loan to the Musee d'Orsay, Paris. Both images and works copyright 2012 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. For more on the exhibition including more images on the Dance Insider & Arts Voyager, click here.

The work of Edward Hopper (American, 1882-1967) appears deceptively simple. So when a Parisienne artist pal, just back from the mammoth tribute to the artist on view at the Grand Palais through January 28, wrote to rave about the subtlety of Hopper's canvasses and the stories they reveal upon extended contemplation, I took another look. Part of American Modern (August 11, 2013 - January 27, 2014), in which the Museum of Modern Art proposes to "take a fresh look" at its holdings of American Art from 1915 - 1950, "House by the Railroad," a 24 x 29" (61 x 73.7 cm) oil on canvas painted in 1925, depicts in one tableau the major arena of change that advanced and confronted the heretofore oft- insulated House of America in the first half of its 20th century: Accelerated communication. But pure aesthetes should rest assured; MoMA's cross-media exhibition promises a mis-en-scene with "visual connections trumping strict chronology." (The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Given anonymously. Digital Image ©The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Digital Imaging Studio.) -- PB-I

Left: Walt Kuhn (1877-1949), "Plumes, 1931." Oil on canvas. Acquired 1932, the Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.. From the exhibition "To see as artists see: American Art from the Phillips Collection," on view through January 6. Right: Marie Cosindas (b. 1925), "Andy Warhol, 1966." Dye diffusion transfer print. ©Marie Cosindas. Courtesy the artist. From the exhibition "Marie Cosindas: Instant Color," on view March 5 - May 26, 2013. Both events at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas.

Art Investment News Gallery, 12-5: From collector to collection
An American Panorama at the Amon Carter
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Once upon a time a newspaper man named Amon Carter followed the recommendation of his friend Will Rogers, and spent $5,000 on a couple of canvasses by the "cowboy artist" Charles M. Russell. He built his Russell (and Frederic Remington) collection until, by the time of his death, he was able to bequeath it to found the museum which for the past 51 years has born his name and which, by his decree, is always free, because Carter wanted children to have the advantages he didn't. The museum did not rest on its rawhide laurels, but grew up to be the greatest museum of American art in the world, in both its curatorial savvy and collecting prescience. Click here for the full article and complete gallery of current and upcoming exhibitions at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art.

From Christie's Paris's December 3 - 4 Contemporary Sale: Lot 19. Andy Warhol (1928-1987), "Flowers." Signed and dated 'Andy Warhol 64' (on overlap). Silkscreen print on canvas, 12.7 x 12.7 cm. (5 x 5 in.). Completed in 1964. Estimated at 80,000 - 120,000 Euros ($103,476 - $155,214), it sold for 145,000 Euros ($188,936). Image ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.

Cross Country / A Memoir of France
19: Oui, je parle baguette
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

Just because you speak French doesn't mean you understand the French

Here's the secret to successful baguette-buying in France: When shopping at an unfamiliar boulangerie, always order the next step up from the basic baguette. It's sometimes called the Retrodor or the Petite Ghana, but most often called the Tradition, pronounced tradi-CION, with a Tevya-like flourish at the end; if you say 'tradi-SHUN' the vendeuse will shun you, feigning not to understand. (The French are like that; get one consonant wrong, and instead of just giggling, grimacing or correcting you, they'll screw up their faces and pretend they have no idea what you're talking about.) Subscribers click here to read the full Chapter. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

Among the offerings at Christie's Paris's Contemporary Art sale December 3-4 are, left: Lot 56: Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985), "Site avec 6 personnages." Signed with initials and dated 'J.D. 81' (lower right). Acrylic on paper laid down on canvas. 67 x 50 cm. (26 3/8 x 22 1/2 in.). Completed June 27, 1981. Estimate: 70,000 - 100,000 Euros ($90,542 - $129,345). And right: Jean Dubuffet, "Arabe." Signed and dated 'J. Dubuffet 48' (lower right). Color crayon and mine de plomb on paper. 34 x 22.5 cm. (13 3/8 x 8 3/4 in.). Completed in January 1948. Estimate: 12,000 - 18,000 Euros ($15,521 - $23,282). Both images ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.

Art Investment News Gallery, 12-3: Bonjour La Vie
Christie's Paris: Capital d'Art Contemporaine
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Text copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

Recently the Parisian daily Liberation published a dispatch on how New York art galleries had fared after the hurricane. While the reporter had done the homework on the hurricane's financial impact, there was at least one factual error: Chelsea was described as "the contemporary art capital of the world." Perhaps this would be true if what was being calculated was gallery space per square mile, but from a quality standpoint, this New York neighborhood is more like the Walmart of art; you have to look really hard to find the gourmet section. On a typical night's tour the past couple of years, out of 12 openings visited, I'd be lucky to find three exhibitions of any substance. I can only remember one (new) artist who offered anything original, and he was principally a musician / computer scientist who had filled a gallery with gamelan player pianos, one even voice-activated. If there is a school for curating, none of its graduates have landed in Chelsea. I was similarly disappointed by the offerings in a recent "1990 to now" auction at Christie's London, an assemblage of the clever, the cloying, and the conceptual. Whoever did the assembling for Christie's Paris's Contemporary Art Sale December 3-4 evidently has a better eye and a more cultivated taste. Even a classicist like me was able to find more than a dozen late 20th century works that have something to say and express it in an eloquent fashion, including a nifty selection of mid- and late-career Jean Dubuffets estimated at as little as 12,000 Euros, an early Warhol silkscreen, a pair of Niki de Saint Phalle characters, and even a topical Roger Bissiere. Click here for the full Article and more Images.

From Christie's New York's November 28 American Art Sale: Top: Lot 95. Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), "Norman Rockwell Paints the Soda Jerk." Signed with initials 'N/R' (lower right). Oil laid down on board, 5 x 7 in. (12.7 x 17.8 cm). Painted in 1953. Estimate: $80,000 - $120,000. In this self-portrait, Rockwell depicts himself painting "Soda Jerk," which illustrated the cover of the Saturday Evening Post on August 22, 1953. Bottom: Lot 11. Stuart Davis, Stage Set for "The Puritans." Signed and dated 'Stuart Davis 1922' (lower right) -- inscribed with title (lower left). Watercolor, gouache and pencil on paperboard, 16 x 23 in. (40.6 x 58.4 cm). One of five stage and costume designs that Davis made for his friend Ralph deGolier's play "The Puritans." Estimate: $50,000 - $70,000. Both images ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.

Art Investment News Gallery 2, 11-28: Last night on Earth
American Mystery at Christie's New York
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Text copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

Last night I dreamt that I was a revolutionary hero penned in a large cage in the spacious living room of a sky-scraper. My genial jailer assured me with regret -- we had been friends -- that he was inevitably going to have to execute me. When I awoke, this time it was not with the usual "It was just a dream" relief but remembering what Brendan Gill wrote in his introduction to the Portable Dorothy Parker (Viking Press, New York, 1973), addressing Parker's fear of dying young: Man is the only animal that is is aware of his own eventual extinction (a reminder that did relieve my mourning for my late three cats; at least their years on Earth were a lot more carefree than mine have been). In fact my execution had not been lifted just because I woke up. Then I had a more beatific epiphany, inspired by some of the work I'd been pouring over yesterday on auction at Christie's New York's November 28 sale of American Art: What artists (can) do is distill, preserve, and perpetuate a frieze, a moment, even an idea of life, delivering it to eternity. Click here to read the full article and see more Images.

From Christie's Paris's Sale of the Collection of Henri-George & Ines Clouzot to benefit the Secours Catholique: Top: Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), "Le Peintre a la Plage (Bloch 769, Baer 919 Ba)." Aquatint, 1955, by P. Picasso, on velin paper, signed and numbered 3/50 in pencil, framed. P. 47.2 x 83.2 cm. (18 1/2 x 32 3/4 in.); F.60.5 x 91.5 cm. (24 x 36 1/4 in.). Estimate: 12,000 - 18,000 Euros. ($15,365 - $23,048). Bottom left: Robert Delaunay (1885-1941). "Football, projet pour un decor de ballet 'Football'." Estimate: 150,000 - 200,000 Euros ($192,063 - $256,084). Bottom right: Jacques Villon (1875-1963), "Le Fauteuil (Ginestet & Pouillon 521)." Lithograph in colors, on arches. Signed and annotated artist's proof in pencil, with the engraving guilde's blindstamp, unframed. F. 56.5 x 38.4 cm. (22 1/4 x 15 in.); I. 49 x 30.3 cm (19 1/4 x 12 in.). Estimate: 200 - 300 Euros ($256 - $384). Images ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.

Art Investment News Gallery, 11-28: Quai d'Art
At Christie's Paris, art appreciation through the lens of Henri-Georges (& Ines) Clouzot
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Text copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

"On the walls of (Henri-George Clouzot's) new apartment, which has a view over Paris from L'Etoile to Auteuil, are Dubuffet, Bissiere, Braque and Vieira da Silva. His interest does not end there. Despite appearing to be a lone wolf... he has antennae everywhere.... He has undoubtedly learned from Picasso, that other sufferer from voracious anxiety, never to be too far from the pot in which new ideas are simmering."

-- Otto Hahn, L'Express, September 25, 1967

Christie's Paris's December 1 auction of the Henri-Georges and Ines Clouzot collection offers an extraordinary opportunity to quadruple-dip: Besides the inherent aesthetic value of most of the 50 works -- including major pieces by Dubuffet, Laurens, and Delaunay, and lesser work from Picasso and Braque -- you get the thrill of having in your home art that was selected, regarded, and treasured by, and that even inspired one of the pivotal film directors of the 20th century, a master of French film noir (with films like "Quai des Orfevres" and "The Wages of Fear"), a godfather of the Nouvelle Vague, and the inventor of kinetic cinema, a form of the genre which also reflected Henri-George Clouzot's immersion in the other visual arts. And you get the satisfaction of knowing that the proceeds go (as have gone, per Ines Clouzot's wishes, the rights to Clouzot's films) to the Secours Catholique, an essential French charity more accustomed to getting donations of old clothes than chefs d'oeuvre. Click here to read the full article and see more Images.

Lot 90. Maurice Utrillo (1883-1955), "Maison de Mimi Pinson, Rue du Mont- Cenis sous la neige, Montmartre." Signed 'Maurice.Utrillo.V.' (lower right). Oil on canvas, 46 x 55.2 cm. (18 1/8 x 21 3/4 in.). Painted circa 1952-55. Estimate: 70,000 - 100,000 Euros ($89,347 - $127,639). See below for comments. Image ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.

Art Investment News Gallery, 11-26: Major Artists at Minor Prices
At Christie's Paris Impressionist & Modern Sale, a Rich Basket of Finds
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Text copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

I was trying to remember what famous artist lived on the street Maurice Utrillo depicts in his oil painting "Maison de Mimi Pinson, Rue du Mont-Cenis sous la neige, Montmartre" -- one of the gems on auction at Christie's Paris's Impressionist and Modern Sale November 28 -- when I realized that it was the inverse: I used to sip cappuccino on the terrace of a cafe on the rue Mt. Cenis, and was thrilled to discover Utrillo had actually painted this corner of this street, one of the many in Montmartre which, perched atop stairs, looks out on just the tops of the buildings of the street below. These streetscapes are mostly unchanged in the 75 or so years since Utrillo painted them. I've previously dismissed Utrillo as a postcard painter, whose principal subject -- Montmartre -- accounts for much of his charm, as well as the exorbitant prices for his oeuvre. But in fact, seeing this tableau suggests the contrary. Click here to read the full Article and see more Images.

Gustave Moreau, "Leda." Oil on canvas. Paris, musee Gustave Moreau, Cat. 43. ©RMN / Rene-Gabriel Ojeda. (Not for sale.)

Art Investment News Gallery, 11-21: Connoisseurs to Connoisseurs
Exploring the hidden treasures of art and France with Christie's and the Musee Gustave Moreau
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Text copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

What I love about pouring through the illustrated lists of upcoming Christie's sales is that there is no curatorial marketing; just connoisseurs selling to connoisseurs. Sometimes I find work by artists I already know and want to expose you to; but often I find work by artists I've never heard of. Two upcoming auctions, 19th Century European Art including Orientalist Art (London, November 21) and Impressionist Art and Modern Art (Paris, November 28), as well as one museum tucked away in a mansion in lower Montmartre offer such treats, with the added bonus of a sort of Tour de France of corners of that diverse country usually ignored by the big guys. Click here to read the full Article and see more Images.

From the November 26 Christie's London Important Sale of Russian Art: Top: Lot 165, Aleksandr Kramarev (1886-1975), "Study for a poster for the Riga art salon of Baron V. A. Kaulbars, 'ARS'." Aleksandr Kramarev (1886-1975) Signed in Cyrillic 'A. Kram...' (lower right); further signed in Cyrillic, inscribed extensively in Russian and dated 'AKramarev/1923' (on the reverse). Tempera on card, 17 1/2 x 14 1/4 in. (44.3 x 36.1 cm). Estimate: 5,000 - 7,000 pounds ($7,920 - $11,088). Bottom: Maria Iakunchikova (1870-1902), "Wild strawberries." Pyrogravure and oil on board, 8 3/4 x 11 5/8 in. (21.1 x 29.5 cm). Estimate: 15,000 - 25,000 pounds ($23,760 - $39,600). ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012. Both images ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.

By Paul Ben- Itzak
Text copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

This is where my ignorance of what drives the art "market" -- where monetary value doesn't always have anything to do with aesthetic power and appeal to sentiments (like beauty) -- rears its pretty head. From the heart's point of view, I can't fathom what makes a clever Andy Warhol silkscreen of multiplying Statues of Liberty sell for $43 million, while the work of Maria Iakunchikova, an array of which is being auctioned off for Christie's London's Russian Art sale November 26, is estimated by Christie's at as little as $4,752. Iakunchikova charges the deepest fathoms of the heart and soul, but if the other argument for Warhol's monetary supremacy is that he was the harbinger of a movement, pop culture, Iakunchikova can match him there too, as the pioneer of a technique, the pyrogravure. Click here to read the full article and see more Images.

Extra! Ruth Asawa work sold for more than double pre-sale estimate at Christie's New York Morning Post-War and Contemporary Sale November 15. After being estimated at $120,000 - $180,000, Ruth Asawa's Untitled (S.093, Hanging Seven-Lobed, Two Part Interlocking Continuous Form within a Form), a hanging sculpture, sold Thursday for $422,500. Read more about the work here and about Ruth Asawa here.

Lot 115 of Christie's Paris's November 16-17 Photography Sale, with 175 photographs the largest auction ever for Christie's in France: Elfried Stegmeyer (1908-1988), Untitled (Girl In Clouds), 1936. Epreuve sur papier albumine, montee sur support cartonne. Estimated at 4,000 - 6,000 Euros ($5,136 - $7,703). ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012. For our complete story and more images, click here.

The Arts Voyager, 11-16: The case of Albert Camus, the Stranger who looks like us
A plea to the French government to step in and sponsor his centennial exhibition
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

News item: Planned centennial exhibition, "Albert Camus, the stranger who looks like us," to be curated by scholar Benjamin Stora for Marseille - Provence Capital Cultural European 2013, cancelled by the committee for Marseille - Provence Capital Cultural European 2013. (Click here to read -- in French -- the preliminary scenario for the exposition conceived of by Benjamin Stora and Jean-Baptiste Peretie, as initially approved by Catherine Camus, the author's daughter and rights-holder.)

The occasion was as opportune as the disappointing denouement was perhaps inevitable, given the tendency of the interested to alienate people on both sides of any given question with a point of view and approach that often defied any fixed ideology, bred from the melanged influences of ideas and experience, intellect and instinct, reflection and urgency. At the heart of the Mediterranean capital Marseille's campaign to win the European Union's coveted and potentially lucrative Cultural Capital of Europe designation for 2013 would be the man who not only embodies everything that is heroic about France, a champion of philosophy, letters, the theater, even -- as editor of the underground newspaper Combat -- the Resistance to the German Occupation, but who better than anybody embodies in one man the intricate, still conflicted mosaic that is France's relations with its former colonies, its own Mediterranean first man, Albert Camus. Click here to read the full Article.

Among the 175 photographs on sale November 16-17 at Christie's Photography sale are, left: Lot 172. Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004), "Rue Mouffetard, Paris, 1952." Gelatin silver print; printed circa 1980; signed in ink lower right in the margin. Estimated at 10,000 - 15,000 Euros ($12,839 - $19,258). And right: Lot 173. Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004), "Alberto Giacometti a la Galerie Maeght, 1961." Gelatin silver print; printed 1999; signed in ink lower right in the margin. Estimated at 20,000 - 30,000 Euros ($25,678 - $38,516). Both images ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.

Art Investment News Gallery, 11-16: Through the pinhole
At Christie's Paris, a Moveable Feast through 20th Century Photography
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Text copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

If like me you're skeptical about whether photographs are rare enough to fetch five and even six-figure prices at auction (greased perhaps by major museums adding photography curators to underline the increased esteem for the art?), as they've been doing lately, you might want to take a look at what Christie's Paris is billing as its largest photo auction ever, November 16 and 17. Underpinning my own hesitation about whether this medium is over-valued at auction is that photos simply are not as unique as paintings, as long as there's a negative out there from which more copies can be made. But this particular sale has taught me that *unlike* a painting, a photograph can have multiple values -- for example, as both reliable documentation and a work of art. And when you add a signature, it can even be classified as an artifact. This is before one gets to the subject, which can add layers of historical value. Click here to read the full Article and see more Images.

You could have paid $28,082,500 for (above left) Roy Lichtenstein (1923- 1997)'s 1995 oil and Magna on canvas "Nude with Red Shirt" (signed and dated 'rf Lichtenstein '95' on the reverse, 77 x 65 in. or 198.1 x 167.7 cm), as someone did November 14 at Christie's New York's Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale, which brought in more for the category than any sale in history, $412 million, setting records for Richard Diebenkorn, Jeff Koons, Franz Klein, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Geroge Condo, Mark Grotjahn, and Richard Serra. Or you could pay -- according to its estimate for the November 15 morning sale -- $100,000 - $150,000 for (below) Lichtenstein's 1995 study "Nude in Kitchen," signed and dated 'rf Lichtenstein '95' on the reverse, a colored pencil and graphite on paper (image 7 3/4 x 10 in or 19.6 x 25.4 cm, sheet 9 3/4 x 13 1/8 in. or 24.7 x 33.3 cm). (Update: Sold for $338,500) Setting a world record for the medium for the artist was (above right) Alexander Calder (1896-1976)'s wire with wood base sculpture "Policeman" (18 1/2 x 8 5/8 x 8 5/8 in., or 47 x 22 x 22 cm), executed circa 1928, which sold for $4,226,500 after being estimated at $1.2 - $1.8 million.(You can get Calders in other mediums for considerably less at the November 15 morning sale; click here for examples.) Images ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.


Lot 331. Wayne Thiebaud (b. 1920), "California Ridge." Signed, titled and dated 'California Ridge Wayne Thiebaud 1987' (lower margin). Watercolor over etching sheet: 14 7/8 x 17 7/8 in. (37.7 x 45.4 cm). Image: 8 3/4 x 11 1/2 in. (22.4 x 29.3 cm). Executed in 1987. Estimate: $100,000 - $150,000. Image ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.

Art Investment News Gallery, 11-14: California, here I come
Left-Coast masters and other gems at Christie's New York's Post-War & Contemporary Morning Sale
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Text copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

If ever proof was needed that California was its own sub-category of 'pleine air' in the schema of American Modern in the 20th century, Christie's New York's Post-War & Contemporary Morning Sale November 15 furnishes it, with work by West Coast giants Wayne Thiebaud, Elmer Nelson Bischoff, and Ruth Asawa, among others. 'West Coast' is not applied here to segregate or qualify, but rather as a unifying contour -- Richard Diebenkorn can also not be left out for at least a segment of his work -- of these arttists who painted with a certain expansiveness, an almost Matisse-ian courting of blue and azure, an infusion of sunlight that sometimes made it seem as if California had its own silvery shading of blue, and it had left its imprint in light. Click here to read the full Article and see more Images.

Lot 104. Ruth Asawa (b. 1926), Untitled (S.093, Hanging Seven-Lobed, Two Part Interlocking Continuous Form within a Form). Hanging sculpture -- brass and tinned copper wire, 77 x 23 x 23 in. (195.5 x 58.4 x 58.4 cm). Executed circa 1955. Estimate: $120,000 - $180,000. Image ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.

Copyright 2012 Sandee Curtis

(When parents die and leave art behind, what goes into their children's decision to sell -- and what are the stories of the relationships behind the art in question? Sandee Curtis and Baunnee Sea have a unique story to tell about the relationship between their late mother, the artist Merry Renk, and their one- time neighbor Ruth Asawa, both of whom are represented in Thursday morning's Post-War and Contemporary Sale at Christie's New York. I asked Sandee -- also a classmate at Alvarado Elementary School, where Ruth, Merry, my own and other parents planted the seeds for San Francisco's arts in the schools movement in the 1960s -- to share her family's story. For more on Thursday's auction, click here. -- PB-I)

My father passed away four years ago (coincidentally the day before the death of Ruth Asawa's husband Albert Lanier). So when my mother decided it was time to die, we knew that we would have to deal with a household full of artwork, art archives, and memories. My mother spent the last 15 years of her life looking backward and writing stories about her life and creating memory paintings, which were like autobiographical illustrations of moments in her life. Click here to read the full Article and see more Images.

Angels in America: It's the week of the photograph in Paris, and Christie's Paris is marking the occasion by its grandest photography auction ever, with the major names of the 20th century pantheon answering present and accounted for the two-day event, November 16 and 17: Man Ray, Eugene Atget, Henri-Cartier Bresson, king of the "amateurs" Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Walker Evans, Weegee, Dorothea Lange, and more. Above, top: Lot 37, Margaret Bourke-White (1904-1971), "At the time in the Louisville Flood, Louisville, KY, 1937." Gelatin silver print. Pre-sale estimate: 4,000 - 6,000 Euros ($5,110 - $7,664). Bottom: Lot 9, Wim Wenders (born in 1945), "2036, Arkansas Pass, Texas, 1983." Chromogenic print; signed on the reverse. Estimate: 1.500-2.500 Euros ($1,916 - $3,193). Images ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.


"Fleshy, often corrupt, yet always exciting." That would be the seven bottles of 1929 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild on sale in at Christie's Geneva's Fine Wines auction Nov. 14. At a pre -sale estimate of US equivalent $9,556 - $13,803, this Pauillac comes in at well under AIN's $100,000 threshold, which is more than we can say for (above left) Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985)'s "La Congratule," a 19 5/8 x 26 1/4 in. (49.8 x 66.7 cm) gouache on paper painted in 1962. Part of Christie's New York's Post- War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale Nov. 14, the work's pre-sale estimate is $600,000 - $800,000. Why are we breaking our rules and highlighting this lot? Because it illustrates another admirable rule for collectors: Ignore the professional curators and follow your muse. The work comes from the collection amassed by Hannelore and Rudolph Schulhof, who over 60 years demonstrated a commitment to buying the work of living artists. This was serendipitous for Dubuffet, who had trouble getting through the doors of the French national art museum, now called the Pompidou Centre. (Of course, after he died the Pompidou staged a massive, comprehensive exhibition of more than 400 of his works, which demonstrated Dubuffet's singular vision and universe.) The above canvas captures the mosaic of a Parisian street in the 1960s, with all the delight its verve inspires in the prodigal son de retour. Dubuffet wasn't just depicting the street; he was painting for it. "It is the man in the street that I'm after, whom I feel closest to, with whom I want to make friends and enter into confidence and connivance," said the artist, as quoted in P. Selz, "Dubuffet" (New York, 1962). Want to pick up a Dubuffet that's closer to street prices? How about (above right) "Animal Echappe," signed with initials 'J.D.' (lower right). An Ink on paper and collage on paper executed in 1975, it measures. 9 7/8 x 8 1/2 in. (25 x 21.5 cm), and is estimated pre-sale at $10,000 - 15,000. Images ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.

How'd we do? Salvador Dali's "L'etoile de mer," one of our picks for the November 8 Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale at Christie's New York, sold for $56,250, nearly twice the top pre-sale estimate of $30,000. Our own star pick, Camille Pissarro's "Scene villageoise" (see below), also did well, going for $40,000 after a pre-sale estimate of $25,000 - $35,000. Maurice Utrillo had mixed results, with one of our picks remaining unsold and the other two exceeding expectations. But the real star after Dali was Camille Claudel, the Rodin second who I prefer over the master, whose "L'Implorante," petit modele, sold for $206,000 after being estimated at $120,000 - $160,000. For full results on our picks -- and a second look at the images -- click here. Above: Salvador Dali (1904-1989), "L'etoile de mer." Signed 'Dali' (center right). Oil on board, 7 7/8 x 7 7/8 in. (20 x 20 cm). Painted circa 1953. Image ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.
Lot 315 of Christie's New York's Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale Thursday November 8. Camille Pissarro (1830-1903), "Scene villageoise." Oil over pencil on canvas, 9 3/8 x 12 in. (23.9 x 30.5 cm). Painted circa 1854-1855. Estimate: $25,000 - $35,000. Image ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.

Art Investment News Gallery, 11-8: Treasures & Tragedies
Rare Pissarro and Star by Dali Star in Christie's New York Impressionist & Modern Day Sale
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Text copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

When Camille Pissarro fled France in 1871 as the Prussians were advancing on the Paris region, he left behind 1,500 of his paintings in his home in Louveciennes, which was requisitioned by the invading army. When he returned, the Prussians had destroyed almost all of them, using some as doormats on which to wipe their muddy feet. Consequently, it's not easy to find work that the dean of Impressionism made before he turned 40. Fortunately, in around 1856, Anton Melbye, the brother of Pissarro's first teacher Fritz Melbye and whose assistant Pissarro served as in 1855 in Paris, had the foresight to purchase the remarkable "Scene villageoise," a 9 3/8 by 12 inch oil over pencil on canvas. It's the steal of today's Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale at Christie's New York, which estimates the work at $25,000 -$35,000, about $43,732,500 less than one of Monet's "Nymphea"'s went for at last night's Impressionism and Modern Sale, and around $4,364,500 less than Pissarro's 1872 oil painting "Hameau aux environs de Pontoise" fetched (exceeding the top estimate by nearly $400,000). But this miniature masterpiece is not just an artifact. The vividness of its colors make the work preternaturally (but, considering we're talking about Pissarro, not surprisingly) ahead of its time.... It almost has the circulation of a water-color. Click here to read the full Article and see more Images.

For Christie's New York's November 8 Impressionist and Modern Works on Paper Sale, at least two bargains by two masters are on offer: Perfectly matching material to effect and mood (top) is Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940)'s circa 1895 "Effet du soir." Signed 'E Vuillard' (lower right). Pastel on paper, 12 1/4 x 12 1/8 in. (31.6 x 30.8 cm). Christie's pre-sale Estimate: $50,000 - $70,000. Sumptuous and simple at the same time is Henri Matisse (1869-1954)'s "Femme se maquillant." Pencil on paper. 9 1/2 x 12 1/2 in. (24 x 31.5 cm). Estimate: $15,000 - $25,000. Both images ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.


Cross Country / A Memoir of France
18: If the hat doesn't fit, comment trouve l'amour?
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

"Whadda ya mean, the hats are in Germany?" "I got a call from a delivery service in Wiesbaden and they're being held up because of a strike. They won't be here for at least another ten days." "But it will be too late then; the hat show will be over. Let me check into it." I'd met Laura when she was managing a dance company in Connecticut. Discovering that she also designed hats -- and had a whole line of them, most of which looked to me chic-ly French -- I offered to host a show for her in my Paris flat on the rue de Paradis, nestled among the crystal and porcelain shops. The problem was that we were in April 2002, and in one of the many nonsensical security measures installed by the American government, it had been decided that any package over two pounds destined for Europe would be routed through a private company. So the bulk of Laura's hats were stranded in Wiesbaden, and the stock for her show was reduced to the box she was able to cart with her on the plane. I invited my own reduced stock of Parisienne candidates d'amour: Benedicte, with whom I'd broken off ("I thought American boys were serious!" she'd scolded me) when Sylvie stole my heart; Sylvie, subsequently rebuked me; and Gillian, a tres chic new candidate. Sabine and I weren't speaking since I'd answered her suggestion that Judaism wasn't a culture or race but just a religion by escaping from her car (in which we'd been having this debate) while she was in the laundry retrieving her clown costume. Subscribers click here to read the full Chapter. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

Discombobulation junction: A cavalcade of juxtapositions and contradictions, of all the paintings on sale at Christie's New York's Impressionist Modern Sale November 7, this is the one I'd want to hang on my wall, a tumble of provocations political, historical, sexual, and artistic. Lot 60. Paul Delvaux (1897-1994), "Les demoiselles du telephone." Signed and dated 'P. Delvaux 3-51' (lower right); titled "Les Demoiselles du Telephone" (on the reverse). Oil on panel 30 1/8 x 44 1/8 in. (76.5 x 112.1 cm). Painted in March 1951. Estimate: $1,800,000-2,500,000. Image ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.

Art Investment News Gallery, 11-6: Am I blue?
Christie's New York Impressionist Modern Sale: An Azure State of Mind
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Text copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

I used to think the French were the only ones who let major masterpieces get away from them. (As Michael Findlay notes in his recent book "The Value of Art," the French government actually refused -- three times, in 1894, 1904, and 1908 -- Impressionist painter Gustave Caillebotte's bequest of 70 works by his fellow Impressionists, even though Caillebotte's sole condition was that they be exhibited within 20 years.) But after browsing through the list of luminous work on auction at Christie's New York's Fall Impressionist & Modern Sale Wednesday -- an array of masterpieces, by known and less familiar artists, that outshines most museum exhibitions I've seen or read about in the past 20 years in Paris, New York, or elsewhere in its originality and vitality -- I'm convinced that private collectors, at their most confident guided by personal taste and not marketing, may be better curators than the professionals. So, if we are once again breaking our own rules at Art Investment News by focusing on an auction in which no works are estimated at less than $100,000 (one, Monet's "Nympheas," is estimated at a whopping $30 - $50 million by Christie's pre-sale, but we'll get to that), it's to focus on a theme appropriate for collectors of all financial levels: Follow your gut, Luke. Or even your fancy. To demonstrate, we've chosen -- oh all right, curated if you like -- a list of works united by one factor with many facets: Blue. Click here to read the full Article and see more Images.

November 1 was an auspicious day for cats at Christie's London's Vintage Posters sale. Theophile Alexandre Steinlen (1859-1923) was no doubt being feted in Paris, where the descendants of the cats he used as models still prowl the heights of Montmartre, after a color lithograph of his 1896 'Chat Noir' (bottom right; printed by Charles Verneau, Paris, condition A, backed on linen, 24 x 15 1/2 in. or 61 x 39 cm) sold for the equivalent of $24,120, surpassing the top pre-sale estimate of $11,256. But you don't have to be black and living in Paris to be a famous feline; Robert E. McGinnis (b. 1926)'s 60 x 40 in. poster for "Breakfast at Tiffany's," a film about a cat with an eccentric human (top left, condition B+, not backed) realized US equivalent $13,065, more than doubling a top pre-sale estimate of $5,628; and Reynold Brown (1917 - 1991)'s 36 x 14 inch poster for for the same film (top right, insert, condition A; unfolded, backed on paper, conservation framed) sold for the equivalent of $11,055, after a top estimate of $4,824. As for the city that was Holly Golightly's mecca, it didn't fare too badly; David Klein (1918 - 2005)'s "New York Fly TWA" (bottom left; offset lithograph in colors, c. 1960, condition A-; backed on linen, 40 x 25 in. or 102 x 64 cm) sold for U.S. equivalent $5,628 after a top estimate of $3,216. All images ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012. To see Keith Haring drawing penises in front of Tiffany's, Art Investment News subscribers can click here. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

From the October 31 Christie's New York Prints & Multiples Sale: Top: Martin Lewis, "Fifth Avenue Bridge (M. 72)." Drypoint, 1928, on laid paper, signed and annotated 'imp' in pencil, from the edition of approximately 108, with wide margins, generally in good condition, framed. P. 9 7/8 x 12 in. (253 x 303 mm); S. 13 3/8 x 16 in. (340 x 405 mm). Estimate $7,000 - 10,000. Bottom: Edvard Munch (1863-1945), "Vampyr II" (Woll 41; Schiefler 34). Lithograph and woodcut in colors, 1895-1902, on heavy wove paper, a strong, vibrant impression, Woll's sixth state (of ten), the lithographic keystone in black, the second stone in red, and the sawn woodblocks printed in blue, green, and ochre, signed in pencil, with wide margins, unobtrusive very skillfully repaired tears at the upper sheet edge, the "E" in the signature reinforced, otherwise generally in good condition, framed. L. 15 1/4 x 21 7/8 in. (387 x 556 mm). S. 20 x 26 3/4 in. (508 x 680 mm.) Estimate $300,000 - 400,000. Both images ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.

Art Investment News Art Gallery 2, 10-31: New York Forever
Gotham rises in Christie's NY Prints & Multiples Sale
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Text copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

Whatever catastrophe, natural or man-imposed (as Congressman Ed Markey told MSNBC's Chris Mathews Tuesday, "It's the Koch Brothers versus Mother Nature"), may be-set New York City, that it will rise again is always guaranteed by its two major motors: Art & Money. And so it is that Christie's New York proceeds today with its Prints & Multiples Sale. Serendipitously, many of the lots on auction paint a portrait in art of Gotham by some of its leading artistic chroniclers: Hopper, Haring, Martin Lewis.... We're elated to be able to share a few of these, as well as several other jewels on auction (including one of another city, San Francisco, which knows a thing or two about rising from the ashes, by one of its leading chroniclers, Wayne Thiebaud, and a Halloween treat from a certain Edvard Munch). Click here to see more Images.