DUBAI.- Tonight Sotheby's Boundless: Dubai sale achieved a total of $3.6m / £2.8m / €3.1m (pre-sale est. $2.6m – 3.6m) and a sell-through rate of 80%. Bidders in the room, on the phone and online competed to buy works spanning 20th Century and Contemporary Middle Eastern and International art, Design, Photography, Jewellery, Books & Manuscripts and Arts of the Islamic World. The sale offering attracted a broad span of regional and international participation, with 30% from the UAE alone. The top lot of tonight's sale was Ali Banisadr’s captivatingly explosive canvas In Media Res, an intoxicating mix of colour and exuberant brushstrokes inspired by elaborate Persian miniatures, was chased in an extended bidding battle by no less than six bidders to a final sum of $459,000 (est. $200,000-300,000).
Edward Gibbs, Sotheby’s Chairman for the Middle East said, ‘Tonight's strong sale result is testament to the exciting evolution of the market here in the UAE and the international focus that has reached an all-time high. The sale's offering was sourced internationally and united by the common thread of the appeal and influence of the Middle East across artistic disciplines and eras. Having seen the number of our UAE clients buying in our sales increase by over 80% in the last five years, tonight's sale here in Dubai saw us take the next step: as much as 30% of participants in sale were from the UAE. But of equal importance is our contribution to the market here by drawing international buyers, reflecting just how engaged the art world is with the region, as well as the extraordinary quality of the works.’
Ashkan Baghestani, Head of Sale said, ‘As part of this momentous week for the region, the enthusiasm that we experienced in the lead up to the sale for the range and quality of the works offered translated to strong participation. We saw as many as six bidders spanning the globe competing for a single work. This auction has been a voyage of discovery on a number of levels: for our clients in the region who have been introduced to international artists and new categories, and the connections we made with new collectors as a result of the sale's appeal globally, across generations and at all price points.’
Encapsulating Western artists’ fascination with the Middle East were works by major international Modern artists offered for the first time at auction in the Middle East, French artist and leading proponent of art brut Jean Dubuffet, and Polish American art deco painter Tamara de Lempicka.
Spending a considerable amount of time with the Bedouin people of the Algerian desert, Dubuffet became fascinated with rituals that reached outside the mainstream of the European art historical tradition. A rare example from the body of early works executed on his travels, Palmiers aux Bedouins was pursued by five bidders and sold above high estimate for $137,500 (est. $60,000-80,000). Painted in vivid colours, de Lempicka’s idealised portrait of a man wearing a white turban and traditional gold-rimmed robe, Indian with a Turban soared above estimate to bring $150,000 (est. $70,000-90,000).
Lot 38. Jean Dubuffet (1901 - 1985, French), Palmiers aux Bedouins, signed J.Dubuffet '48, mixed media and glue on paper, 56 by 44cm.; 22 1/8 by 17 1/2 in. Executed in January-April 1948. Estimate $200,000-300,000. Lot Sold $459,000. Courtesy Sotheby's.
Lot 39. Tamara de Lempicka (1898 - 1980, Polish), Indien à turban (Indian with a turban), signed Lempicka , oil on canvas , 55.3 by 38.5cm.; 21¾ by 15⅛in. Executed circa 1939. Estimate $70,000 — 90,000. Lot Sold $150,000. Courtesy Sotheby's.
One of the most influential Italian artists of the twentieth century, Alighiero Boetti’s work engaged with the changing geopolitical situation of his time, much of it made on travels to Afghanistan where he began to work with local craftswomen to create colourful embroideries. Fuso ma non confuse from 1988, a jewel-like example of this project, sold for $31,250 (est. $18,000-25,000).
Lot 41. Alighiero Boetti (1940 - 1994, Italian), Fuso ma non confuse (Fused but not confused), signed and inscribed on the reverse, embroidery on board, 17.4 by 17cm.; 6 7/8 by 6 3/4 in. Executed in 1988, this work is unique. Estimate $18,000 — 25,000. Lot Sold $31,250. Courtesy Sotheby's.
Testament to the growth of collecting as a way of life, the sale offered examples of the cutting-edge and timeless in 20th century and Contemporary Design. Zaha Hadid’s voluptuous and highly expressive Prototype Aqua Table from the 2005 Principal Collection (est. $7,000-10,000) met competition from four bidders, selling for double its pre-sale high estimate for $21,240 (est. $7,000-10,000). Three pieces by François-Xavier Lalanne from a prestigious private collection all exceeded their pre-sale estimates, to bring a combined total of $57,500 (est. $27,000-33,500). Cultivating the idea that art and aesthetic pleasure ought to be a part of everyday life, he married the fine and decorative arts whilst infusing his objects with his fixation with birds. The group was led by an avant-garde and whimsical take on a rocking chair, as Oiseau d’Argent, A Rocking Chair sold for $30,000 (est. $18,000-20,000).
Lot 45. François-Xavier Lalanne (1927 - 2008, French), Oiseau d’Argent, A Rocking Chair, stamped FXL LALANNE ARTCURIAL, edited by Artcurial, sand-blasted aluminium, leather upholstery, wood, 114 by 130 by 100cm.; 45 by 51 1/4 by 39 1/2 in. Executed in the 1990s. Estimate $18,000 — 20,000. Lot Sold $30,000. Courtesy Sotheby's.
The last major collection of its kind, a previously unknown series of letters and works on paper by Khalil Gibran – one of the greatest novelists of modern Arab and American literature – was hotly contested and soared to a combined total of $183,750, three times the pre-sale high estimate (est. $42,000-54,000). Testament to his importance, each of these extremely rare objects sparked bidding battles and surpassed their estimates – led by a collection of thirty three letters written to his friend and patron Madame Marie Azeez El-Khoury, that fetched a sum more than three times the pre-sale high estimate, $100,000 (est. $24,000-28,000).
MODERN & CONTEMPORARY ARAB & IRANIAN ART
A seminal work by pioneering poet and painter Bahman Mohasses, a haunting and powerful painting of a contorted figure from 1966 sold above estimate for $375,000 (est. 80,000-250,000).
Lot 58. Bahman Mohasses (1931-2010, Iranian), Untitled, signed and dated B.Mohasses '66; signed and dated on the reverse in Farsi twice, oil on canvas, 100 by 70cm.; 39 3/8 by 27 1/2 in. Estimate $180,000 — 250,000. Lot Sold $375,000. Courtesy Sotheby's.
In addition to Ali Banisadr’s In Media Res, a further work by the internationally-acclaimed artist, Meanwhile from 2012, sold for $118,750 (est. $100,000-150,000).
Lot 33. Ali Banisadr (B. 1976, Iranian), Meanwhile, oil on panel, 40.6 by 50.8cm.; 16 by 20in. Executed in 2012. Estimate $100,000 — 150,000. Lot Sold $118,750. Courtesy Sotheby's.
Iranian American abstract expressionist Manoucher Yektai’s Portrait of Mrs Homa Vakil Mansour – one of the earliest portraits by the artist to appear at auction, depicting the wife of the Ambassador of Iran to the United Nations and the Vatican –sold for $81,250 (est. $65,000-80,000).
Following the record achieved at Sotheby’s London last month and a recent exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, two works by Egyptian Surrealist Antoine Malliarakis ‘Mayo’.
One of the earliest works by Mayo ever to appear at auction, the luminous Ismailia – an amalgamation of the artist’s Egyptian origins merged with the French style of the 1930s – soared above estimate and sold for a record price for the artist of $100,000 (est. $30,000-40,000).
Lot 55. Antoine Malliarakis Mayo (1905 - 1990, Egyptian), Ismalia, le marché arabe (Ismalia, ther Arab market), signed Mayo; signed, titled and dated 1934 on the reverse, oil on canvas, 96 by 130cm.; 37 3/4 by 51 1/4 in. Estimate $100,000 — 150,000. Lot Sold $118,750. Courtesy Sotheby's.
FURTHER NOTABLE PRICES
• The first lot of the sale was sought after by six determined bidders and soared to over four times its pre-sale high estimate. English-speaking footage of the pilgrimage to Mecca, from a documentary directed by Marcel Ichac in 1948 opened the sale to sell for $62,500 (est. $10,000-15,000).
• Ahmed Mater’s Artificial Light (From the Desert of Pharan series) sold for $65,000 (est. $30,000-40,000). Shedding light on urban life in Saudi Arabia, his work chronicles how globalization has transformed the holy city.
Lot 2. Ahmed Mater (B.1979, Saudi), Artificial Light (From the Desert of Pharan series). C-print mounted on aluminium, 245 by 326.5cm.; 96 1/2 by 127 7/8 in. Executed in 2012, this work is number 2 from an edition of 3. Estimate $30,000 — 40,000. Lot Sold $65,000. Courtesy Sotheby's.
• Mahmoud Mokhtar’s maquette for his iconic statue of Egyptian nationalist revolutionary Saad Zaghoul fetched an above estimate $212,500 (est. $120,000-140,000).
• Currently the subject of a retrospective at the Sharjah Art Foundation, Emirati artist Hassan Sharif’s Garden #1 sells for $23,750 (est. $12,000-18,000).
• A record price for Fouad Elkoury whose work Sherihan (From the Egyptian Cinema Series), fetched $18,750 (est. $18,000-25,000).
• A record price for Taher Pourheidari when his painting Palm fetched $10,627 (est. $4,000-6,000).
• A record price for Effat Nagui, whose Untitled (Girl With Her Goat) fetched $10,000 (est. $8,000-12,000).
• A record price for Yto Barrada’s building blocks that evoke a city skyline or urban aerial view, Untitled (Still Life) which sold for $43,750 (est. $30,000-40,000).
• Appearing at auction for the first time, a benchmark price was achieved for Mostafa Abdel Moity for his painting NN51 which sold for $43,750 (est. $10,000-15,000).
• Appearing at auction for the first time, a benchmark price was achieved for Milad Mousavi when his Against Procrastination fetched $1,375 (est. $1,000-2,000).