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Previewing Sotheby’s First Auction in Dubai

Dubai—Following a packed month of November that includes the opening of a major Hassan Sharif retrospective at the Sharjah Art Foundation, the 10th edition of Abu Dhabi Art, and the long-awaited opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Sotheby’s have entered the mix with the announcement of their inaugural auction entitled “Boundless: Dubai”, set to take place on 13 November.

The auction will take place at Sotheby’s DIFC-based office and gallery, which they have occupied since opening their newest international outpost in March. The sale brings together over 100 lots of exceptional quality, with a mix of works by leading Middle Eastern artists and their international counterparts.

According to Sotheby’s Ashkan Baghestani, the auctioneer’s Arab and Iranian specialist, who is also “Boundless: Dubai’s” head of sale, the diverse works on offer are meant to appeal to a wide-variety of tastes and budgets, including first time collectors.

“We have our established regional and international collector base and institutions, but then there are younger collectors who don’t necessarily feel comfortable at auction, so we wanted a boutique sale where we could show the wide range of artists and work that’s on offer,” he said in a recent article published in The National.

Among the items for sale is a work from Samia Halaby’s earliest period, Untitled (Big Michelangelo Perspective No. 162), a figurative work that combines a fresco-inspired drawing of the Italian Renaissance master with lines and colours evoking Halaby’s Palestinian roots.

A rare Cedid Atlaas—one of only 50 copies printed of the first large folio World Atlas in the Islamic world—will also feature in the auction. The work, published with the seal of approval of Sultan Selim III, who in 1792 developed an idea to model the Ottoman state along European lines, is expected to fetch between £80,000–120,000.

The sale also features an incredibly rare film, the first English language documentary about the Hajj, narrated by Gregory Morton and produced and directed by Marcel Ichac and Raymond Ruffin. The film was made as part of a larger effort to counter Nazi propaganda during World War II, a pioneering work that contains some of the earliest film footage of Mecca.

A breathtaking painting by the Egyptian-born Antoine Malliarakis Mayo is also set to go on sale. Entitled Ismailia (Le Marché Arabe), the work speaks to the artist’s time spent in Paris during the 1930s, a time in which he first encountered the provocative work of the Surrealists, representing one of the earliest works by Mayo that straddle the dual influence of his upbringing and his associations later in life with artists like Man Ray and Picabia.

Sotheby’s Dubai will stage its inaugural Boundless: Dubai auction on 13 November. For details, visit: www.sothebys.com/dubai


Featured image: Yto Barrada, Play (Lyautey unit blocks), 2010

Filed under: Art, Front Small

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Dorian Batycka is an independent curator, art critic and D.J. currently based Berlin. Previously, he was curator of contemporary art at Bait Muzna for Art Film in Muscat, Oman, and assistant curator for the first ever Maldives National Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale. He has contributed to numerous publications, including Hyperallergic, Art and Education, Frieze Blog and Nero. He can be found on Twitter and Instagram: @temp_projects

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