fine contemporary art from dorotheum, vienna


If you’re involved in the fine contemporary art + design market in New York as I am, May is one of the craziest months of the entire year.  Besides the numerous events related to New York design week, the ICFF – the International Contemporary Furniture Fair and one of my favorite venues – also lands in Manhattan in May.  Then there is the Frieze Art Fair and the sales of modern, post-war and contemporary art at Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips.  Dorotheum – a lesser known but equally fine auction house founded in 1707 and still based in Vienna- holds their sales of fine contemporary art in May as well.

So today, I want to take you to the Austrian capital to share with you some of the highlights from the fine contemporary art sale at Dorotheum that have peaked my interest.

Sean Scully: lot 812 (image above)

If you’ve been to Italy, you know that the opening of churches and museums can be very random and so confronted with this, most of us give up and go elsewhere.  Sean Scully went to Santa Lucia Church in Sicily interested in viewing the painting of the patron Saint by Caravaggio, but he never got to see it.  He instead painted his own.  You see the influence of abstraction and minimalism, or Rothko and Mondrian both of which are an inspiration on this Irish-born artist.



Lucio Fontana: lot 808

As I noted in a previous Lucio Fontana feature on TheModernSybarite, this Argentine-born artist bored his canvasses when he started producing his Concetto Spaziale works from which the present bold and lively work is part.  Executed in 1957 (image above) the surface is filled with textural contrasts – the glittering sand, the holes, the thick layers of black and yellow paint all add an energetic dynamism to the painting.



Yan Pei-Ming: lot 810

His oversized Invisible Man on 1997 is a tour de force of emotions.  The artist is more preoccupied with a person’s soul than with their physical looks and he puts this energy into the application of thick paint that is both impulsive and intuitive.



Heinz Mack: lot 816

In an earlier post on Heinz Mack on TheModernSybarite, I discussed how the artist is obsessed in capturing light, reflection and vibration in his work. Compare this work with that of the earlier feature.  They’re very different, yet both conjure movement in the same way, though lines that repeat, extend or shorten so that they appear to be constantly moving.  It’s art that draws you into it to engage with you in a way that a portrait or landscape never could.  I like to use a great piece like this in a sitting room to provide a dramatic focal point.



Piero Dorazio: lot 857

I don’t know much about this artist but frankly I just love this piece painted in 1962 for its lightness and happiness that emanates – like rays of color – from the geometric plane. This is also a perfect example that art doesn’t have to have an explanation for someone to like it … it can just be!

You may ask yourself with so much art in New York in May why I look at auction houses like Dorotheum in Vienna for interesting pieces of fine contemporary art.  The answer is very simple.  They’re off the beaten path and that makes for fresh inventory.

richard rabel
richard rabel: interiors + art
interior design and art advising
new york city

image credits: Dorotheum, Vienna.  The paintings featured here are to be sold on 20and 21 May 2014.