Christie’s Auction House
Many people don’t realize that Auction houses are essentially free museums. So much important work from art history gets passed from private hands to private hands, occasionally lent to a museum, but not a necessary requirement of the private owners. You don’t have to let them check your bank account in order to see the works up for auction.
Christie’s Auction house is located in the tourist- heavy (read: ANNOYING) north side of Rockefeller center. Their space is really beautiful, and they have a separate gallery space to exhibit work prior to auction. They also display work infront of the building, recently a stabile by Alexander Calder, and Jeff Koon’s Blue Balloon Dog earlier in November.
Christie’s was impressively founded in 1766 in London. It is now privately owned by mega collector and Gucci owner Francois Pinault, whose son is married to Selma Hayek. Pinault does have good taste, he turned a villa in Venice into his personal museum, and collects works by Robert Gober, Felix Gonzales-Torres, Mike Kelley, and other artists who aren’t a waste of time.
Auction houses are weird places. I did a stint at one. I couldn’t get used to referring to art as “property number__” nor did I want to. Auctions also severely alter artists’ careers, as they are a public record of the price of a piece of work. Too high, and an artist’s pieces increase in price, sometimes pricing out their loyal collectors. Too low, and collectors speculate that the work is now worthless. All this, and the artist doesn’t receive any of the winning funds, just the owner. Tricky, tricky. In 2000, Christie’s and competitor Sotheby’s were accused of price- fixing/collusion. The art world is a dirty dirty business my friends.
But- enjoy the free exhibitions, just don’t grind your teeth out in stress while dodging tourists getting their photos taken with Elmo (like I do).
What: Christie’s Auction house
Where: 20 Rockefeller Center, #6