Maria Baibakova is one of four curators of the Contemporary Curated auction in March.
NEW YORK - Maria Baibakova is constantly in search of game-changing art. Born in Russia and raised in the United States since she was 10 years old, Baibakova is currently Strategic Director and a board member of artspace.com, the prominent online art marketplace. She's curated numerous exhibitions, most notably at the non-profit Moscow venue she founded in 2008, Baibakov Art Projects. And her personal collection includes work by established and emerging artists alike, revealing a keen radar for resonant, compelling objects. Baibakova recently lent her discerning eye and trendsetting tastes to Contemporary Curated, a recently introduced editorialized version of Sotheby’s mid-season sale of contemporary artworks.
This season's Contemporary Curated sale, on 7 March, features just under 300 works of art, and Baibakova hand-picked three lots from those ranks as her personal highlights: Untitled (2012), a geometric assemblage of peacock feathers on linen by Carol Bove; Christopher Wool's Untitled (2002), which consists of spray paint on an Eames molded plywood folding screen; and a photographic work by Walead Beshty, Untitled (2009). A thread running through all of them, noted Sotheby's specialist Courtney Kremers, is a common interest among the three artists in pushing abstraction in fresh new directions. "In everything she collects," Kremers added of Baibakova, "she's looking for the revolutionary, and that singularly unique quality - and each of these artists is doing that in very different ways."
Carol Bove’s Untitled, 2012. Estimate $80,000-120,000.
Baibakova has long been taken with Bove's meticulous yet ethereal output. In the case of Untitled, she appreciates a thoughtfulness that goes beyond adornment. "This work is delicate and beautiful and can be passed over as decorative, except that Carol is an exceptionally intelligent artist," Baibakova has said. "Her work reminds me of how something can be delicate and strong, fleeting and lasting at the same time." Kremers agreed. "The Carol Bove is an exceptional piece," she said. "We had a larger peacock feather work in our November sale that more than doubled the low estimate. These are rare works with a deep market. We think this one will also do very well."
Walead Beshty’s Untitled, 2009. Estimate $30,000-40,000.
Baibakova has praised Walead Beshty as one of a handful of artists "changing American art today." This particular image comes from a series of photographs Beshty made without the use of a camera. "The Passages series is a conceptually loaded body of work that the artist stumbled upon after sending a roll of undeveloped film through airport security," Kremers noted. The X-ray machines caused the ghostly patterns to appear on the film – "abstraction that's rooted in very real-life circumstances, with, you could say, socio-political connections," she added.
Christopher Wool’s Untitled, 2002. Estimate $150,000-200,000.
Christopher Wool, whose retrospective recently concluded at the Guggenheim Museum in New York and is now on view at the Art Institute of Chicago, has forged a practice ranging across processes and mediums. Untitled (2002) is a rare example incorporating an iconic mid-century design; Wool’s profane and feverish scrawl is set off by the glossy undulating surface of an Eames screen. "It is the perfect mix of art and design for the connoisseur of both," Baibakova has said of the work. "I adore Christopher Wool’s work and I am a huge fan of Eames furniture, so when I discovered this piece I was elated."
The second triannual Contemporary Curated auction will be held 7 March at Sotheby’s New York.