Turkish Delights

  • Erika Heet

Istanbul-born, Paris-based painter Mubin Orhon, whose untitled work from 1960 set a record price for the artist at a Christie’s auction in 2008 ($374,500), is a central figure in Sotheby’s upcoming Turkish contemporary art auction, to be held on April 15 in London. Orhon, who died in Paris in 1981, was known for bold, monochromatic, abstract works, one of which sold at Sotheby’s inaugural Turkish contemporary art sale earlier this year. That untitled work was estimated to fetch between $90,000 and $120,000 and sold for $291,500, the most expensive work at the auction. The current work on offer, a perfect square made up of an infinitely deep, vibrant red with barely discernable shade variations, holds the same estimate and will almost certainly exceed it.

Another highlighted work is an untitled piece by abstract painter Fahrelnissa Zeid, who died in 1991 at the age of 89. Zeid’s painting, estimated at between $453,000 and $754,000, is defined by intense color, bold, African-tribal-inspired motifs, and details reminiscent of Joan Miró’s lines. The great-aunt of Jordan’s King Hussein, Zeid lived a life of privilege yet remained deeply dedicated to her art, becoming among the best-known Turkish modern painters.

Beyond the previous generation of Turkish painters such as Orhon and Zeid is the current generation of artists, also represented at the auction. “Istanbul’s vibrant art scene continues to flourish,” says Ali Can Ertug, Sotheby’s senior vice president, who points out that the genre’s persistent escalation in value was a catalyst for its second such auction.  (www.sothebys.com)

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