More than PLN 8 million – a new all-time record on the Polish art market. Such was the price of “Caminando”, an installation of Magdalena Abakanowicz that used to belong to Robin Williams, a famous actor who died tragically five years ago. It was sold at the Modern and Contemporary Sculpture auction in DESA Unicum on October 29th. Just before that, a 19th-century statue “Dancer with Finger on Chin” produced by Antonio Canova was sold for another record high amount of PLN 5.78 million. However, the record lasted only a few minutes.
“Caminando”, a group of twenty sculptures by Magdalena Abakanowicz, is a single, integral work of art. The bronze statues were created in 1999 in a foundry in Bologna. Already in the same year the installation became a part of the collection of Marsha and Robin Williams. Until a year ago, the sculpture stood in their mansion. At today’s auction it was sold for PLN 8 million – thus, the record for the most expensive work of art to be sold in Poland was beaten.
Magdalena Abakanowicz’s position in the world art market has always been a strong one; however, not as strong as it is today. Individual sculptures of the artist (who died in 2017) are sold for the equivalent of PLN half a million. The hitherto record for the work of this artist sold in Poland amounted to over PLN one million. That was the cost of “Parys” (Paris) and “Odys” (Odysseus) sculptures. In 2020, Tate Modern gallery in London, ranked among the most prestigious art institutions in the world, will host an exhibition devoted entirely to the works of Magdalena Abakanowicz.
The “Dancer with Finger on Chin” statue produced by Antonio Canova, one of the most outstanding European sculptors, was also sold for a record amount of PLN 5.78 million. In 2006, the same piece of art was sold for PLN 1.3 million, which at that time was the record price for a sculpture put up for an auction in Poland. The price of Canova’s statue was record high only for a few minutes. However, it is a proof that the Polish art market is developing rapidly.
Canova is said to be “the greatest sculptor of all times and all nations”. The artist is praised as “the new Phidias”. He was the court artist of Venetian nobility and the Vatican City. Catherine the Great invited Canova to visit her court but the artist rejected her proposal as he was working on a sculpture ordered for her envoy, prince Yusupov. He also produced sculptures for Napoleon. In the early 19th-century, Canova frequently produced idealised pieces of art with erotic undertone, the “Dancer with Finger on Chin” presented at the exhibition being one of them. The sculpture masterfully captures the beauty of the female body and the gracefulness of a dancing woman. The work dates back to 1806-1815. It constituted a part of the art collection of Witold Tadeusz Czartoryski, and earlier – the collection of Izabela Czartoryska. In Poland, only two works of this artist can be admired: one in Kraków and one in Łańcut.