Lot 247: Jacob Kassay, Untitled, 2010, two 14×10 silver on acrylic (not gesso?) canvases, est $10-15,000 [image via christies]
Scanning the catalogue for this month’s Christie’s sale turned up something unexpected: an affordable Jacob Kassay painting. Two of them, in fact. After his ominously seductive debut show opened at Eleven Rivington in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, Kassay’s silvered gesso canvases were transmuted into auction gold. Shiny objects reflecting distorted images of their viewers, Kassay’s paintings were the first to get churned and flipped in a frenzied art market obsessed with declaring-and cashing in on-a steady stream of new stars.
It’s the kind of limelight that can wreck a girl’s practice, if not her complexion, and Kassay has been reticent, even diffident sometimes, of the hype. He’s generally refused to engage the art market star process, at least on anything other than his own terms. For a while he refused to have his picture taken. His website, a kaleidoscope of semi-transparent images, would kick you off after a few seconds, presumably when you’re just tryna do some research for an upcoming auction.
Kassay has also always been fairly specific about images of his shows, especially photos of his silvered paintings. So it should make all the sense in the world that he’d care about the proliferation of auction-related reproductions of his work. What was more surprising, though, was the apparent removal of all images of his work from Phillips’ website.
Sotheby’s has done this for a while now, removing images of works shortly after the sale is completed, but this is the first time I’ve seen all of an artist’s images removed from a site. Or should I say, replaced. If you thought Kassays all looked the same before, well, brother, you’re in for a treat. I’d like to see these in mirror finish, please.
[FWIW, this particular pair, from 2010, was flipped at Phillips in 2011 for $104,500. If there’s anything more alluring than a shiny object, it’s two. And if there’s anything more seductive than that, it’s a 90% discount. [Update: indeed, they sold for $8,000 bid, $10,000 with premium. That is some Cady Noland-level collector anxiety inducement and value erasure. Well played.]
Sept 28, 2017, Lot 247: Jacob Kassay diptych, 2010, est. $10-15,000 [christies]
8 Nov 2011, Lot 205: Jacob Kassay, Untitled diptych, est. $30-40,000, sold for $104,500 [phillips]