UBS and Art Basel mark 30th anniversary of their collaboration
June 11, 2024
Tepid sales at Liste underscore a soft market for smaller galleries
June 11, 2024
UBS and Art Basel mark 30th anniversary of their collaboration
June 11, 2024
Tepid sales at Liste underscore a soft market for smaller galleries
June 11, 2024

A solo stand dedicated to the Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington (1917-2011) has been a fan favourite among Art Basel visitors this week. Staged by the first-time fair exhibitor Gallery Wendi Norris from San Francisco, the stand in the Feature section capitalised on Carrington’s growing market, which rapidly accelerated last month with a record $28.5m auction result in New York.

The small exhibition is called Bestiary and highlights Carrington’s depictions of animals and animal-like figures over five decades, from the late 1930s all the way through to the 1980s. The stand is as deep an exploration of the artist’s practice as an art-fair stand can be, featuring paintings, sketches, watercolours and even a small toy carriage made of papier-mâché.

The gallery submitted its Art Basel proposal months before Carrington’s record was broken during New York’s May auction season. At Sotheby’s New York, Les Distractions de Dagobert (1945) sold for $28.5m with fees, more than double its $12m low estimate. The winning bidder was the Argentine real estate billionaire Eduardo Costantini, who in 2001 founded the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, a museum dedicated to Latin American art. While Carrington’s market has been growing over the past few years, the May sale accelerated the pace, according to the gallery owner Wendi Norris. Norris worked directly with Carrington before her death in 2011 and collaborated with the artist on her final solo exhibition.

Market recognition

“I am excited that she is being recognised in the market. She deserves both the critical and commercial acclaim,” Norris says. “It was an amazing sale of one of her greatest works, and we just try to take it in our stride and sort of adjust [prices] accordingly for our sellers to a point where there’s enough balance for our buyers, too. We want to be as thoughtful about it as possible.”

One of the works that had sold by the end of the first VIP preview day was Double Portrait (around 1937-40), the only known painting of Carrington and her lover, the Surrealist artist Max Ernst. The work is unfinished, and was previously part of the Ernst family collection, according to the gallery director Melanie Cameron. Another piece, The Lovers (1987), was sold to a private museum, Cameron says. Portrait of Madame Dupin (1949) was included in the main exhibition of the 2022 Venice Biennale, which borrowed its title from Carrington’s children’s book The Milk of Dreams.

Carrington’s work on the stand ranges in price from $48,000 to $2.5m, Cameron says. And while the high-profile auction has brought a lot of new attention to Carrington, even those who are not familiar with the British-born artist have fallen in love with her work, according to the gallery. Cameron adds: “It’s refreshing to see that they really liked the work. I don’t know how many times we heard [people say] today: ‘It was my favourite booth’.”

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