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Art Market

Auction highlights – how André Leon Talley made his mark

30 January 2023

With January’s bumper Old Masters sales having just taken place, the whirligig of marquee sales comes to a brief pause – offering a moment in the calendar to cast one’s eyes around for less high stakes, but none the less intriguing offerings.

Gold brocade caftan (c. 2007), Dapper Dan. Christie’s New York (est. $1,000–$2,000)

André Leon Talley holds an exalted position in the history of fashion. His love of fashion was first stoked by his grandmother, who raised him in Jim Crow-era North Carolina; at the age of nine, he discovered an edition of Vogue in a local library. Talley rose to become the first Black creative director of Vogue in 1988, and served as editor-at-large from 1998–2013; previously, connections he forged with Diana Vreeland brought him work with Andy Warhol’s Factory and Interview magazine as well as Women’s Wear Daily. His own taste tended towards the voluminous; capes and kaftans became his hallmark. The collection of objects from his estate for sale at Christie’s New York on 15 February reflects his penchant for glamour, his wide-ranging intellect and his extensive network of friends in high places; many of the garments on offer were custom-made by the likes of Karl Lagerfeld and Miuccia Prada. Other highlights include a pair of monogrammed train cases that appeared in the Sex and the City movie, and Andy Warhol’s Candy Box (True Love), a gift to Talley from the artist. Unsurprisingly, Talley was a man who photographed very well; the many snaps of Talley on offer include Jonathan Becker’s, taken on Pont Alexandre III in Paris in 2013 after Talley was awarded the Chevalier de l’ordre des arts et des lettres. He is dressed in a billowing kimono.

Tintin in America (1942), Hergé. Artcurial (est. €2.5m–€3.5m).© Hergé/Tintinimaginatio 2023

For lovers of all things Belgian, there are two curious sales coming up that are not to be missed. On 10 February, Artcurial in Paris presents Hergé’s original drawing for the cover of the 1942 edition of Tintin in America (first published 1932). Depicting the tuft-haired hero trussed up by an axe-wielding Native American chief – a reminder that this beloved comic has perhaps not weathered the 21st century terrifically well – the drawing is expected to bring in a faintly astonishing €2.2m–€3.2m as part of ‘The World of Hergé, Tintin’s Creator’. A few days earlier, on 7 February, the Cotswold Auction Company offers the collection of the late Tom Pring, who, unsatisfied by his career as an accountant, devoted his energies to his true passion: collecting Belgian stamps and other relics of Belgian postal history. Among the highlights are postal covers to officials serving in Napoleon’s armies, while the collection has a particular focus on the Dover-Ostend postal route, with letters, brochures, tickets and other items dating back to 1575.

Eleanor, Port Huron (1954), Harry Callahan. Phillips New York (est. $2,500–$3,500)

Finally, for a few days more, Phillips in New York is offering the second part of its sale of works from the collection of Peter C. Bunnell (1937–2021), a curator and historian of photography who, among many other achievements in a long and varied career, transformed the collections of Princeton University Arts Museum into one of the finest teaching resources for the history of photography worldwide. ‘The Eye that Shapes’ is on display at Phillips’ Park Avenue galleries, with bidding continuing online until 1 February, and includes photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Harry Callahan, and friends and mentors of Bunnell including Minor White and Jenny Uelsman. The final part of the collection, ‘A Reverence for Beauty’, will be offered in a live sale in April.