November Auction Highlights: Picasso Portrait Appears at a Korean Auction for the First Time

Jonathan Feel
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A portrait painted by Pablo Picasso will be auctioned in Korea for the first time this November. It is expected to sell for around USD 2.32 million. Market watchers are paying special attention to the upcoming sale, especially since Picasso’s Femme a la montre (1932) sold for $139.3 million at Sotheby’s New York on November 8, 2023. That painting was the second most expensive Picasso work ever sold; the first was Les Femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’) (1955), which sold for $179.4 million at Christie’s New York in 2015.

Pablo Picasso’s Tête de Femme au Chignon (1935). Image courtesy of Seoul Auction.
Pablo Picasso’s Tête de Femme au Chignon (1935). Image courtesy of Seoul Auction.

In addition, work by Park Seo-bo, who died last month, continues to be exhibited at auction. Korea’s two largest auction companies, K Auction and Seoul Auction, both featured Park’s works at auction in November.K Auction held an auction on November 22 at its headquarters in Sinsa-dong, Seoul, with a total of 91 items together worth about $7.04 million. The high-profile auction featured Jeff Koons’ Encased – Five Rows. The artist placed basketballs and soccer balls in a glass box to create this work, which was estimated at $1.20 million to $1.50 million; the work failed to sell. Another work using mirrors, Jeff Koons’ favorite material from his early career, titled Cow (Lilac): Easy Fun, was estimated at $380,000 to $540,000 and also failed to find a buyer.

Jeff Koons' Encased - Five Rows. Image courtesy of K Auction.
Jeff Koons’ Encased – Five Rows. Image courtesy of K Auction.

Six paintings by Park Seo-bo went up for auction. An early work, Écriture No. 48-75-77 (estimate: $460,000 to $1.10 million), sold for $820,000. Ufan Lee’s work titled With Winds (estimate: $700,000 to $930,000; sold for $920,000) and five other pieces sought new owners at auction.

In addition, works by Kim Tschang-yeul, Ucchin Chang, Kun-yong Lee, Chong Hak Kim, and Bae Lee were exhibited. The overseas art section featured editions by renowned artists, including Ayako Rokkaku’s Untitled (estimate: $44,000 to $180,000; sold for $67,000), Robert Indiana’s HOPE (Red/Yellow) (estimate: $120,000 to $270,000; did not sell), Yayoi Kusama’s Pumpkin (YT) (estimate: $53,000 to $92,000; did not sell), and Roy Lichtenstein’s Two Paints: Dagwood (estimate: $45,000 to $76,000; sold for $45,000).

Seoul Auction will hold an auction at Gangnam Center on November 28 with 103 lots, together worth approximately $9.67 million, including a portrait of a woman painted by Picasso. Tête de Femme au Chignon (1935) is exhibited with an estimate of about $2.23 million. This work is painted from a double viewpoint, and Picasso’s Cubist technique is well revealed. It uses neutral tones and colors such as brown and gray, and there is a difference in brightness, color, and saturation, so the Cubist element stands out.

“So far, most of Picasso’s works that have been auctioned in Korea have been prints, drawings, and ceramic paintings, and there have been few oil paintings,” Seoul Auction said. “It is the first time that a portrait painted by Picasso has been auctioned [in Korea].”

Seoul Auction will also present seven pieces by Park Seo-bo, including 2010’s Écriture No. 100131 (estimate: $425,000 to $540,000), painted in yellow. In addition, works by Korean modern and contemporary art masters such as Ufan Lee, Ucchin Chang, and Jin-kyu Kwon will be auctioned.Meanwhile, Christie’s Hong Kong will offer seven works by Korean artists at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from November 28 to 29. Ufan Lee’s From Point (1977) and Sang-hwa Chung’s Untitled 85-12-A (1985) will be introduced at the 20/21st Century Art Evening auction on the first day. On the second day, Kim Tschang-yeul’s Water Drop and Park Seo-bo’s Écriture No. 060503 will be exhibited at the 20th Century Art Day Auction. There are also two works by Seundja Rhee, a pioneer of Korean abstract art.

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Jonathan Feel
Jonathan Feel

Jonathan Feel is a reporter and editor for Auction Daily in Korea. He has been active in various fields such as the media, social economy, village community, and fair trade coffee industry and is writing. It is recognized that art is not far from society and the times, and that art can be a tool for the sustainability of the Earth and mankind. He hopes that good works and artists in Korea will meet with readers.

김이준수는 한국 주재 옥션데일리 필진이자 편집자이다. 언론, 사회적경제, 마을공동체, 공정무역 커피업계 등 다양한 분야에서 활동했고 글을 쓰고 있다. 예술이 사회·시대와 동떨어져 있지 않으며, 예술이 지구와 인류의 지속가능성을 위한 도구가 될 수 있음을 인식하고 있다. 한국의 좋은 작품과 아티스트를 많이 소개하고 싶다.

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