Christie’s unveils first look of upcoming contemporary middle eastern art auction

The storied British auction house is bullish about the emergence of Dubai as the leading art market amid plans to boost growing regional interest in African art


Joydeep Sengupta

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Published: Fri 16 Sep 2022, 9:12 PM

Last updated: Mon 19 Sep 2022, 12:29 PM

This is Iraqi-American artist of Kurdish descent Hayv Kahraman The Interpreter a 2016 work, an oil on wood in two parts, uniting Asian and European influences, drawing inspiration from several feminist ideologies, and exploring the concept of women burdened by their own culture. The painting is estimated to fetch up to $80.525 at the upcoming online sale of Contemporary Middle Eastern Art that is being organised by Christie’s from October 12 to November 3 along with a live auction for Modern Middle Eastern Art on November 2.

Christie’s Middle East will host a diverse first look — from mirrored disco balls to painted diptychs — of some of its forthcoming Modern and Contemporary Middle Eastern Art auctions at its gallery in DIFC Gate Village (Building 5, Podium level) between September 16 and 24. Art enthusiasts can also get a rare glimpse of pieces from Robert Devereux’s Sina Jina Collection, underscoring the growing regional interest in African art.

Collectors have the opportunity to see the late Iranian artist Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian’s reverse glass mosaic Mirror Ball from the 1970s, examples of which were included in the artist’s 2015 retrospective at the Guggenheim in New York, and one of which was a gift from the artist to her dear friend Andy Warhol. The exquisite artwork is estimated to fetch $92,110.

A lightbox by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Ahmed Mater entitled Evolution of Man (2010) will illuminate the Christie’s showroom, echoing the country’s rapid growth since the discovery of oil. It is estimated to fetch $34,540.



Christie’s revenue between January and June, 2022, according to Dr. Ridha Moumni, Deputy Chairman, Christie’s Middle East & North Africa

The late Palestinian painter and art historian Kamal Boullata’s painting Angelus II-1 (2017) demonstrates his command of colourful geometric abstraction, honed through years of study at the Fine Arts Academy in Rome and the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, DC. It is estimated to fetch upwards of $40,000.

This is Palestinian artist Hazem Harb’s 2019 painting, which layers acrylic lettering spelling out ‘Hollyland’ in Hollywood’s ubiquitous squared lettering over an archival photograph of Jerusalem and is estimated to fetch more than $40,000.

The auctions present iconic pieces from the Arab World and Iran, including masterpieces of Mohammed Melehi, Monir Farmanfarmaian and Etel Adnan. The auctions also present a more contemporary focus, including both emerging and established artists from the region such as Ali Cherri, Dana Awartani, Ahmed Mater, and YZ Kami.

Following Christie's collaboration with Gallery 1957 in December 2021 to showcase African art in the UAE, Christie’s Dubai will exhibit works from Robert Devereux’s Sina Jina Collection. The 70-work auction on 13 October in London is anticipated to be the largest single-owner sale of contemporary art from Africa and the diaspora as demand continues to expand.

Robert Devereux has supported the arts and artists since the 1980’s and began acquiring works for his Sina Jina Collection in the early 2000’s. Taking its name from Swahili, ‘sina jina’ translates as a place with no name, a phrase associated with Devereux’s house on the island of Lamu, Kenya.

Who is Dr. Ridha Moumni?

Dr. Ridha Moumni is an Art and Archaeology historian with an academic and professional specialisation in Antiquity and the early and modern art. He earned his Ph.D. in North African Roman Architecture at La Sorbonne University before joining the Villa Medici as a fellow of the French Academy. He returned to Tunis in 2014, where he worked as an independent research-based curator and organised exhibitions of photography and early modern art, among them L’Eveil d’une Nation in 2016 (The Awakening of a Nation: Art at the Dawn of Modern Tunisia), where he displayed the first Abolition of Slavery and the first Constitution of the Arab World. Prior to joining Christie’s, Dr. Ridha was an Aga Khan Fellow at the Department of Art History of Harvard University. Dr Ridha recently co-authored Artistes de Tunisie (Cérès Editions, 2019) with Elsa Despiney, a book on Tunisian visual artists from the 19th century to the Revolution and is currently working on a book project exploring the collections of Bardo National Museum.

Christie’s Middle East has a new boss

Meagan Kelly Horsman, a British-American of Scottish descent, who joined Christie’s Middle East three months ago, had moved to Dubai in 2010. She had quickly established a strong network with private and public institutions, art collectors, artists and gallerists in the region. Throughout her career, Meagan was responsible for placing key artworks from the region into important private and public collections. She was responsible for coordinating loans to key international and regional institutions, collection management, including acquisition, identifying restoration needs, implementing new Collection Management Solutions and providing art market analysis. Meagan studied History of Art at the University of Glasgow and is known for her expertise in art from the Middle East, North Africa and Iran.

What is Christie’s?

Founded in 1766, Christie’s is a world-leading art and luxury business. Renowned and trusted for its expert live and online auctions, as well as its bespoke private sales, Christie’s offers a full portfolio of global services to its clients, including art appraisal, art financing, international real estate and education. Christie’s has a physical presence in 46 countries, throughout the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Asia Pacific, with flagship international sales hubs in  New York, London, Hong Kong, Paris and Geneva. It also is the only international auction house authorized to hold sales in mainland China (Shanghai).

Christie’s auctions span more than 80 art and luxury categories, including watches, which are held twice a year in Dubai, at price points ranging from $200 to over $100 million. In recent years, Christie’s has achieved the world record price for an artwork at auction — Renaissance painter Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi — in 2017, Andy Warhol’s Shot Sage Blue Marilyn (2022) and for a work by a living artist, Jeff Koons’ Rabbit (2019).

Christie's is also recognised as a reference for prestigious single owner collections, having auctioned eight of the 10 most important collections in history.

Christie’s private sales offers a seamless service for buying and selling art, jewellery and watches outside of the auction calendar, working exclusively with Christie’s specialists at a client’s individual pace.

Recent innovations at Christie’s include groundbreaking sale of the first non-fungible token (NFT) for a digital work of art ever offered at a major auction house — Beeple’s Everydays, March 2021) — with the unprecedented acceptance of cryptocurrency as a means of payment. As an industry leader in digital innovation, Christie’s also continues to pioneer new technologies that are redefining the business of art, including the use of hologram technology to tour life-size 3D objects around the world, and the creation of viewing and bidding experiences that integrate augmented reality, global live streaming, buy-now channels, and hybrid sales formats.

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