From a Sparkly New Jeff Koons Swan to a $35 Million de Kooning, Dealers Are Busting Out the Blue Chip for Art Basel Hong Kong

Dealers are placing their bets on how to best capitalize on Hong Kong's booming art scene.

JeffKoons, Swan (Inflatable) (2011–2015) ©Jeff Koons.Courtesy David Zwirner
JeffKoons, Swan (Inflatable) (2011–2015). ©Jeff Koons. Courtesy of David Zwirner.

The sixth edition of Art Basel Hong Kong is kicking off this week with a marquee lineup of works to be sold at the fair and its related events. This year’s fair features 248 galleries, up slightly from 241 galleries last year, and a roster that is “more international than ever before,” fair director Adeline Ooi told artnet News in an email. “We are delighted to welcome new exhibitors from all corners of the globe, however we are keeping a distinct focus on Asia,” which is home to more than 50 percent of the exhibitors.

Ooi noted that the “Kabinett” sector, which was introduced last year to provide a forum for curated booths, is back for a second time after positive feedback from participants. “We are anticipating it to resonate and have even more impact this year,” she says. This year highlights in the section include historical works by important Asian artists such as Hon Chi Fun, co-founder of the Circle Art Group, presented by Ben Brown Fine Arts; and a joint presentation from Kukje Gallery and Tina Kim Gallery that focuses on three key periods of Kim Yong-Ik’s 40-year artistic career.

Apart from the fair is a jam-packed schedule of exhibitions and a series of major sales at Sotheby’s and Christie’s—conveniently held alongside the fair at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Hotly anticipated openings at H Queens Road, the 24-story glass tower that will eventually house about a dozen floors of gallery space, include those by newcomers David Zwirner, Hauser & Wirth, Pearl Lam, Pace, Tang Contemporary Art, and Whitestone Gallery. Meanwhile, Lehmann Maupin and Gagosian will open shows at the nearby Pedder Building.

As Western galleries gear up in hopes of finding new clients, they are trying to strike a balance between blue-chip modern and contemporary works by recognizable names like Willem de Kooning and Jeff Koons, as well as by artists whose painterly techniques and aesthetics may strike chords with buyers more attuned to classical works. Other dealers, meanwhile, are focusing on artists who have a connection to the region, such as Mexico City gallery kurimanzutto‘s solo booth of works made by Gabriel Orozco while the artist was living in Asia.

Here are a few highlights of what some of the world’s top dealers are bringing to Art Basel Hong Kong this year.

A $35 million de Kooning at Lévy Gorvy

Willem de Kooning, <i>Untitled XII</i> (1975). Courtesy Lévy Gorvy

Willem de Kooning, Untitled XII (1975). Courtesy Lévy Gorvy

In a savvy marketing move, Lévy Gorvy is bringing a major Willem de Kooning painting from the collection of Seattle billionaire and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Untitled XII (1975) carries a whopping price tag of $35 million, undoubtedly among the most expensive works at the fair. While bringing such an expensive work to Hong Kong is not unprecedented, it is less typical for a gallery to identify a high-profile seller. Such pre-sale activity is more typically seen in pre-sale marketing efforts for works coming to the auction block.

Pat Steir, Blue Mauve for Hong Kong (2017-18). Courtesy the artist and Levy Gorvy

Pat Steir, Blue Mauve for Hong Kong (2017-18). Courtesy the artist and Levy Gorvy

Lévy Gorvy is also showing work by a diverse group of artists including Zao Wou-Ki, Pierre Soulages, Rudolf Stingel, Frank Stella, Carol Rama, Andy Warhol, and Yayoi Kusama. The gallery is also highlighting Pat Steir, an artist whose star has been on the rise since Dominique Lévy began representing her just over two years ago. Four new works by the artist from a series titled “For Hong Kong 2017-2018” are described as an “homage to the artistic and literary heritage of East Asian cultures.”

Five new works by Jeff Koons at David Zwirner—plus Wolfgang Tillmans

Wolfgang Tillmans’s hand on ankle (2018). Courtesy of the artist and David Zwirner Gallery.

David Zwirner Gallery, is rolling out a set of five new sculptures by Jeff Koons, including three works from the artist’s “Gazing Ball” series. Asking prices for the Koons works range from $2.5 million to $8.5 million. Zwirner’s booth will also feature work by Francis Alÿs, Michaël Borremans, Oscar Murillo, Alice Neel, Sigmar Polke, Neo Rauch, Josh Smith, Tillmans, Franz West, Jordan Wolfson, and Lisa Yuskavage. The gallery’s Hong Kong space in the H Queens building will also open its second-ever show, for Wolfgang Tillmans, today.

Jeffrey Deitch’s “Modern Figures” at Luxembourg & Dayan

Balthus, <i>Study for Le Salon</i> (1941). © 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris <br>Courtesy Luxembourg & Dayan, New York and London

Balthus, Study for Le Salon (1941). © 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Courtesy of Luxembourg & Dayan, New York, and London

Luxembourg & Dayan invited dealer Jeffrey Deitch to curate its booth, which will feature a group show titled “Modern Figures.” The presentation tracks a variety of approaches to the subject of the human body, from exacting verisimilitude to abstraction, parody, and distortion, according to a statement.

Gallery partner Amalia Dayan told artnet News that the idea to collaborate on a project for Art Basel Hong Kong came during last year’s edition. “My first job in the art world in New York was with Jeffrey,” she says, first as an intern and later as a director.  “We’ve continued a wonderful dialogue over the years,” Dayan says. “Jeffrey has had such a strong connection with Hong Kong and mainland China through his relationships with collectors and artists there. He had this even when I was working for him 20 years ago.”

A group show of Asian artists at Tina Keng

"Wu

Wu Dayu, Untitled No. 7. Courtesy of Tina Keng.

Chinese gallery Tina Keng is presenting a group show this year, including works by Wu Dayu, Zao Wou-Ki, George Chann, Wang Huaiqing, and Su Xiaobai. A special Kabinett project by Peng Wei is being presented by TKG+, the gallery’s contemporary platform.

Keng says she sees the event as more than a selling opportunity. “As the largest art platform in Asia, every year Art Basel Hong Kong gathers leading institutions, curators, as well as collectors from different corners of the world,” says Keng. “Sales aside, artists have the valuable opportunity to show works on an international stage.”

George Condo’s Hong Kong Debut at Sprüth Magers and Skarstedt

Sterling Ruby, <i> HEX</i> (2017) <br> © Sterling Ruby Courtesy Sprüth Magers

Sterling Ruby, HEX (2017). © Sterling Ruby. Courtesy of Sprüth Magers.

Sprüth Magers and Skarstedt teamed up to rent out Hong Kong’s Maritime Museum to present “Expanded Portrait Compositions,” the first major exhibition by American artist George Condo in Hong Kong. Showcasing a new body of paintings and works on paper created specifically for the Maritime Museum in Hong Kong, the exhibition will be on view for two weeks only.

At Art Basel, Sprüth Magers is showing work by Sterling Ruby (prices range from $50,000 to $250,000), Jenny Holzer ($35,000 to $250,000), Barbara Kruger ($50,000 to $400,000), and Condo (asking price of $450,000 for a 2008 female bust.)

Arcangelo Sassolino at Pearl Lam’s gallery debut

Chun Kwang Young, <i>Aggregation 17-JL039 (Star 13)</i> Courtesy of the artist and Pearl Lam Galleries

Chun Kwang Young, Aggregation 17-JL039 (Star 13). Courtesy of the artist and Pearl Lam Galleries.

“Art Basel so effectively mobilizes the cultural and art scene in Asia with its annual show and attracts collectors, curators, and art lovers from the world over,” says Pearl Lam, who has galleries in Singapore, Shanghai, and Hong Kong (at both H Queens and the Pedder Building). “This year the fair also denotes a landmark moment for Pearl Lam Galleries with the launch our H Queen’s gallery and our exciting inaugural exhibition of works in the space by Italian sculptor Arcangelo Sassolino.”

Teresita Fernández, Erwin Wurm, and Os Gemeos at Lehmann Maupin

Os Gemeos, <i>The history of the countryside</i> (2017)<br> Photo: Joshua White Courtesy the artists and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong

Os Gemeos, The history of the countryside (2017). Photo by Joshua White.
Courtesy of the artists and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong.Lehmann Maupin Gallery is hosting an intense range of programming for Hong Kong art week, exemplifying just how eager international galleries are to delve into the scene here. Along with the first-ever solo show by Brazilian art duo Os Gemeos at its Pedder Building space, the gallery will feature work by Teresita Fernández in the fair’s “Kabinett” secition and Erwin Wurm in its “Encounters” section, which highlights large-scale sculpture and installations. In the gallery’s main booth, visitors will see works by such artists as Hernan Bas, Ashely Bickerton, McArthur Binion, Mary Corse, Gilbert & George, Shirazeh Houshiary, Lee Bul, Liza Lou, Marilyn Minter, Mr., Angel Otero, Tony Oursler, David Salle, Do Ho Suh, and Juergen Teller. Prices range from about $40,000 to $220,000.


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