Sotheby's: Arte Moderna e Contemporanea (Milan) Auction Analysis

May 23, 2015

A simple fact that Arte Moderna e Contemporanea had the biggest amount of money ever gathered at Sotheby's auction of Contemporary Art in Italy, tells us of how much this auction was successful. More than 80 percent of auctioned lots were sold, for 7.9 percent more than the sum of high estimates of these sold lots. Although a selection of works by Lucio Fontana dominated the whole auction, Paolo Scheggi’s rare Intersuperficie curva Bianca from 1969 stole the show and achieved a new world auction record for the artist at $1,507,815 - that was almost twice as much money as was given for the second-highest priced lot, Giorgio Morandi's Natura Morta from 1953.

The Story About Artwork: Paolo Scheggi's Intersuperficie curva Bianca (1969)

Paolo Scheggi's Intersuperficie curva Bianca is constructed with superimposing three white planes with circular openings, thus creating a very unusual effect - an infinity of space, made on a finite artwork. Sixties in Italy were marked by artists that were searching for ways of breaking two-dimensional limitations of canvas (Piero Manzoni, Enrico Castellani, Agostino Bonalumi and Paolo Scheggi). Scheggi's work was closely followed by Lucio Fontana, who used somewhat similar technique, but instead of making "holes", which will play with shadows and light and give a 3-D look, Fontana simply slashed his canvases to achieve this look. Intersuperficie curva Bianca is one of the latest works produced by Scheggi before his premature death in 1971, at the age of 31.

The Overview of Sotheby's: Arte Moderna e Contemporanea (Milan)

Almost $18 million ($17,994,051) was collected at Sotheby's Milan, at Arte Moderna e Contemporanea aucton, and that was $1.31 million more than the sum of high estimates for sold lots ($16,680,908, or +7.9 percent). The mentioned Paolo Scheggi's work Intersuperficie curva Bianca had the biggest hammer price at $1,507,815, while the average hammer price was $160,661. The median hammer price was $64,222, which means that the same number of lots were sold both above and bellow median hammer price. Out of 139 lots, 112 lots were sold, which was good for 80.6 percent. Total of 50 lots were sold over high estimate (44.6 percent of sold lots), 45 were sold in range of estimated values (40.2 percent), and 17 lots were sold under low estimate (15.2 percent).

After Scheggi's work, Giorgio Morandi's Natura Morta had the biggest hammer price ($781,830), while two works by Lucio Fontana, Concetto Spaziale, Attesa from 1964 ($759,492) and Concetto Spaziale, Attese from 1961 ($737,154) were placed third and fourth. Umberto Mariani's La Forma Celata was sold for six times more than was its high estimate, or with +500 percent difference between hammer price and high estimate. Mariani's work was followed by two works by Vincenzo Agnetti, Permutabile (+246.7 percent) and Freedom Alienation Given The Opposites Freedom And Alienation We Will In Any Case Have A Political Ebb And Flow (+162.9). Sol Lewitt's Right Triangle had the biggest negative difference between hammer price and low estimate, as it was estimated at $6,701 - $8,935, and was sold for $4,468 (-33.3 percent difference).

Sotheby's Milan
Lucio Fontana - Concetto Spaziale, Attese, 1963 (Lot 40). Estimated at $558,450 - $781,830. Sold for $603,126.

Sotheby's Milan
Lucio Fontana - Concetto Spaziale, Attese, 1961 (Lot 14). Estimated at $670,140 - $893,520. Sold for $737,154.

Sotheby's Milan
Giorgio Morandi - Natura Morta, 1953 (Lot 33). Estimated at $502,605 - $670,140. Sold for $781,830.

Sotheby's Milan
Alberto Burri - Bianco Cretto, 1972 (Lot 17). Estimated at $167,535 - $223,380. Sold for $335,070. It was sold with +140 percent difference between hammer price and high estimate.

Sotheby's Milan
Vincenzo Agnetti - Permutabile, 1967 (Lot 144). Estimated at $11,169 - $16,754. Sold for $58,079. This lot had the second-highest difference between hammer price and high estimate, with +246.7 percent.

Sotheby's Milan
Vincenzo Agnetti - Freedom Alienation Given The Opposites Freedom And Alienation We Will In Any Case Have A Political Ebb And Flow, 1970 (Lot 148). Estimated at $27,923 - $39,092, sold for $102,755 (+162.9 percent difference)

Sotheby's Milan
Paolo Scheggi - Intersuperficie Curva Bianca, 1969 (Lot 30). Estimated at $446,760 - $670,140. Sold for $1,507,815. Although this lot didn't have the biggest estimated value before the auction, it had the highest hammer price, and was the only lot that was sold for a seven-figure price.

Sotheby's Milan
Left: Umberto Mariani - La Forma Celata, 2009 (Lot 176). Estimated at $6,701 - $8,935. Sold for 53,611. This lot had, by far, the biggest difference between hammer price and high estimate, +500 percent. / Right: Lucio Fontana - Concetto Spaziale, Attesa, 1964 (Lot 31). Estimated at $558,450 - $781,830. Sold for $759,492. This Fontana's work had third-highest hammer price.

Sotheby's: Arte Moderna e Contemporanea (Milan) in Details

Here you have detailed information on every lot auctioned at Arte Moderna e Contemporanea auction at Sotheby's Milan - an auction that broke the record for the amount of money gathered at Sotheby's auction of Contemporary Art in Italy.

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All images courtesy of Sotheby's.

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