At Large  January 8, 2024  Carlota Gamboa

The Top Selling Works at Auction in 2023 and More Art News

Courtesy of Sotheby's

Pablo Picasso, Femme à la montre, 1932. Detail of face. Oil on canvas. 51 ¼ x 38 inches. 

For 2024, Art & Object will be covering more news for our readers. We begin with a news round-up of the top recent stories that we think you will be interested in learning more about. These are gathered from art and news sites around the internet and include links to the original stories for those who would like to read more. Enjoy!

The Most Expensive Works Sold at Auction in 2023

The pandemic may have been a destructive force to some, but art auctions saw market highs. The figures, which were in part thanks to the wildly lucrative divorce of real estate mogul Harry Maclowe, meant that the 10 most expensive works sold at auction (not all of which came from that sale) would go for prices exceeding the $50 million mark. In the end, Harry and Linda’s collection would make Sotheby's a total of $922 million dollars over a two year installation, regarded as the most valuable single-owner collection ever conducted. However, the most expensive work sold at auction, Pablo Picasso's Femme à la Montre, haled from the collection of Emily Fisher Landau. Ultimately, the top 10 works sold at auction in 2023 brought in $660 million versus the $1.1 billion made for the top 10 in 2022. Read the full story at ARTnews

Henri Matisse and Georgia O'Keeffe Enter the Public Domain with Mickey and Minnie

A new year means a new heap of treasure. In 2024 we get unbridled access to works like Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, the experimental novel, Nadja, by André Breton, and America’s oldest picture book still in print, Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag. Alongside these notable works is Disney's iconic animated short Steamboat Willie, M.C Escher’s Tower of Babel, East River from the Shelton Hotel by Georgia O'Keeffe, and the ink drawing Odalisque au fauteuil turc by Henri Matisse. Read the full story at artnet News.


Via Wikimedia Commons

Parthenon Marbles, Group from the east pediment at The British Museum.

Greece Proposes Trade with British Museum in Exchange for Parthenon Marbles

There's something surreal about visiting the Athenian Acropolis only to find placards about the Parthenon Marbles at London’s British Museum. However, after several years of stalemate, it seems that the English might be shifting their stance. Greece has always denied validity of the stewardship granted to England under the Ottoman occupation, but after a British Museum staff member was accused of theft this past summer, there have been more serious attempts to reunify the artifacts. In an interview conducted with The Guardian on December 27th, Culture Minister Lina Mendoni stated, “our position is clear, should the sculptures be reunited in Athens, Greece is prepared to organize rotating exhibitions of important antiquities that would fill the void.” Read the full story at The Guardian.

Via Wikimedia Commons

The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower was Closed on the Anniversary of Gustave Eiffel's Death

The Eiffel Tower, one of France’s most visited landmarks, commemorated its creator’s death in solitude as a worker's strike occurred on Wednesday, December 27 due to a protest against the landmark's management. The date was not picked at random, and deliberately barred tourists from entering on the centenary of Gustave Eiffel's passing. Originally, Eiffel had to argue for the structure to be opened to the public, having been dubbed a ‘horreur,’ and seemingly in his honor, the tower was again snubbed instead of celebrated. Read the full story at The AP.


LA Artist Alexis Smith Dies at 74 

The Los Angeles native Alexis Smith was a leading figure in collage work who combined found image, object, and text in her work. Throughout the 70’s and 80’s she melded pop-culture references with literature to highlight the symbology of our day to day experience. Smith's work has been exhibited at major museums including the Museum of Contemporary Art L.A., the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, the ICA, Boston, and was the center of a major retrospective last year at The Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego. Read the full story at the L.A. Times.

Courtesy Luna Luna LLC

The original poster for Luna Luna, with drawings from each contributing artist. 

André Heller’s Luna Luna Amusement Park Is Resurrected in Los Angeles

In the summer of 1987 Hamburg, Germany, crowds experienced the amusement park Luna Luna, or what Life magazine described as “an international art carnival of the avant-garde.” Featuring a Keith Haring carousel, a ferris wheel by Jean-Michel Basquiat, and pavilions made by artists like Salvador Dalí and David Hockney, the Austrian multidisciplinary experimentalist André Heller brought people and art together outside of the gallery space. Initially conceived as a post-war project, the intention was meant to be lighthearted and reparative. But once the summer ended, prospects for Luna Luna did as well. That is until Anthony Gonzales, a member of Drake’s DreamCrew production team decided to invest in the abandoned attractions. Despite not being able to physically mount the rides, Los Angeles residents can embark on a somatic experience of the carnival at Luna Luna: Forgotten Fantasy, a re-assemblage of the fair in a 60,000-square-foot warehouse in East L.A. Read a review at the New York Times

About the Author

Carlota Gamboa

Carlota Gamboa is an art writer based in Los Angeles.

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