The Top Artworks Galleries Are Bringing

The Top Artworks Galleries Are Bringing

Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in On Balance, the ARTnews newsletter about the art market and beyond. Sign up here to receive it every Wednesday.

If one were to liken the marquee New York auctions in May to the homecoming game between rival high schools, then Art Basel is certainly the art world’s prom. Next week, 287 galleries from around the world, including the four biggest, will jet to Switzerland, closely followed by the traveling circus of collectors, art advisers, and, of course, journalists.

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The Top Artworks Galleries Are Bringing

And, while rumors are flying that the newly christened Art Basel Paris may soon overshadow the Swiss flagship fair, plenty of dealers are pushing back. As one dealer told ARTnews, the fair in Basel is still where galleries show their best work, and the collectors—even if they prefer Paris—will follow. That sentiment was echoed by Tornabuoni gallery coordinator Ursula Casamonti, who told ARTnews the gallery saved its best—six works by proto-Surrealist Giorgio de Chirico—for Art Basel.

“I hope all the galleries do the same,” she said. “I’m worried that the people around the world have the idea that Paris+ will be better than Basel.”

ARTnews reached out to art dealers with reputations for bringing the most select, choice, and rare secondary market works and asked: what’s on the menu? Bon appétit. Or perhaps, more appropriately, En Guete.

Hauser & Wirth

The Swiss gallery giant is bringing several big-ticket works to its home art fair, none perhaps more exciting than Philip Guston’s Orders, a defining late-era work completed two years before his death in 1980. Priced at $10 million and depicting a cluster of shoes silhouetted against a pink-and-blue sky that rises above a crimson horizon line, the work was included in Guston’s 1980 retrospective at SFMOMA. It continued to travel for the following year, before being sold at Sotheby’s in 1989 for $528,000 from the collection of art collector and Southern California real estate magnate Edwin Janss Jr. As the gallery told ARTnews in an email, “The forms in Orders are personal symbols of the broader historical and psychological trauma that reverberates powerfully throughout the artist’s late oeuvre.”

The gallery is also bringing the largest charcoal drawing by Arshile Gorky still in a private collection, Untitled (Gray Drawing (Pastoral)), from 1946-47 priced at $16 million. There is also the marble and wood Louise Bourgeois sculpture Woman with Packages (1987–93), consigned by her trust for $3.5 million. Other works include an oil-on-cardboard Francis Picabia painting titled Nu assis listed at $4.85 million, and the David Smith stainless steel and wood sculpture Aggressive Character (1947), being sold from Smith’s estate.

Gagosian

Donald Judd, Untitled, 1970.

Maris Hutchinson/Courtesy of Gagosian

For Gagosian’s booth at Unlimited, the fair’s sector for monumental works, the gallery is bringing a work that may carry some sentimental value: an untitled 1970 masterwork by Minimalist Donald Judd that was first shown by Gagosian’s late mentor, Leo Castelli, in New York. A related work is in the Guggenheim in New York’s permanent collection. The sculpture consists of a band of five-foot-high galvanized iron panels standing end-to-end, eight inches from the surrounding walls. The gallery’s booth presentation will be supplemented by a show of works by Judd at their Basel location consisting of 11 single-unit, wall-mounted works made between 1987 and 1991 at the artist’s home and studio near Lake Lucerne. While the gallery did not provide an exact price for the 1970 work, ARTnews has learned that is priced in the region of $15 million to $20 million.

Pace

While Pace is bringing an extensive presentation anchored by historical 20th-century works from marquee names like Alexander Calder, Louise Nevelson, and Pablo Picasso, the gallery is betting that Jean Dubuffet’s Banc-Salon will be the showstopper. Anchoring the booth, the installation comprises a low swooping bench with three kites that hover above, encouraging tired fairgoers to sit and reflect.

But, for our money, Agnes Martin’s Untitled #20 (1974) will be the real star attraction. The painting last sold at auction in 2012, at Christie’s New York, where it made $2.43 million. But, as we wrote this past November, the artist’s market has been heating up in the intervening years—in November, Sotheby’s sold a 1961 painting by Martin, Grey Stone II , for $18.7 million. While Pace declined to provide current pricing, it is very likely that the Martin will be the gallery’s priciest offering at the fair.

Agnes Martin, Untitled #20, 1974.

Courtesy of Pace

Thaddaeus Ropac

Among the significant works heading to Basel courtesy of Thaddaeus Ropac are Sigmar Polke’s 1994 canvas Lapis Lazuli. The picture, priced at $3.8 million, is a brilliantly blue abstraction from what Polke called his “alchemical” turn, during which the artist moved away from artistic takes on consumer culture and began exploring the use of forgotten pigments like lapis lazuli, a blue shade ground from stone that was prized in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

Also notable is Market Altar / ROCI MEXICO (1985), the inaugural work from Robert Rauschenberg’s 1984–91 Overseas Culture Interchange (ROCI) program. Not seen publicly since the final ROCI program exhibition in 1990 and never having been on the market, the work is priced at $3.85 million.

The gallery is also bringing Georg Baselitz’s roughly five-foot-tall sculpture of a female head in cadmium yellow, Dresdner Frauen – Die Elbe (1990/2023). The carving was roughly hewn with a chainsaw, an axe, and a chisel from a single tree trunk in 1990; it was cast in bronze in 2023. There are five “Frauen” in museum permanent collections, including Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark. It is priced at $2.18 million.

Lévy Gorvy Dayan

An untitled David Hammons sculpture from 1990 anchors Lévy Gorvy Dayan’s Basel presentation. Consisting primarily of a coat rack with hat stand, the five-and-a-half foot sculpture, priced at around $9 million, features rubber, plastic bags, paper bags, a tin can, and a baseball cap, all of which give it a very humanlike aspect. The work’s first appearance at an art fair, it has been exhibited publicly only once, at Tilton Gallery in 2006.

“It’s an incredibly powerful piece that is very political and it’s very much, I feel, a self-portrait of the artist,” Dominique Lévy told ARTnews. “It’s the heart of our presentation.”

The gallery is also bringing Übernagelter Hocker (1963) by German artist Günther Uecker. Basically a wooden stool, the seat and one leg of which are covered in painted nails, the sculpture was created the same year as Stuhl II (Chair II), in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art. It is expected to fetch around $1.5 million.

Landau Fine Art

Wassily Kandinsky, Murnau mit Kirche II, 1910.

Courtesy of Landau Fine Art

The Montreal gallery will be bringing Wassily Kandinsky’s Murnau mit Kirche II, 1910, a piece stolen by the Nazis in 1938. Gallery founder Robert Landau purchased it this past March at Sotheby’s London for 37.2 million GBP ($44.8 million), making it the 9th most expensive work sold at auction last year. Landau then promptly exhibited the painting at both TEFAF Maastricht and TEFAF New York. And though the painting may be at Art Basel, it won’t be for sale.

“It does not have a price on it and it’s going to be front and center at Art Basel and I’m sure there will be a lot of people looking at it,” Landau told ARTnews. “Why not? It’s of great interest to people.”

Landau said that he has spent the last year working on a book about Murnau and has invested millions additionally in the work, including a consultation with a museum curator. Landau claimed that an auction house evaluation put the work’s value at more than $100 million.

Edward Tyler Nahem Fine Art

With Jean-Michel Basquiat continuing to run hot with numerous auction sales in May, the Upper East Side gallery will be bringing Cash Crop, a 1984 acrylic-and-oilstick depicting a silhouetted figure in front of a sugar box. The $5 million to $6 million price tag is significantly higher than at its last appearance at auction, when it sold for £713,250, or around $1.11 million, at a 2010 Phillips evening sale in London. The estimate for the work then, when it was consigned by Gagosian, was £600,000 to £900,000.

Gallery director Stacie Khandros told ARTnews that the recent auction sales had prompted more conversations with potential consignors compared to last year. “I think we’re still optimistic that … what we have is still competitive pricing. And I think our works are spectacular. It’s just finding the right price to entice potential buyers,” Khandros said.

Editor’s Note, 6/11/2024: An earlier version of this story stated that the price of the 1970 work by Donald Judd offered by Gagosian was $10 million. It has been updated with a revised figure of $15 to $20 million.

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