Christie’s goes ‘Off the Wall’

Art pop-up in real estate office showing Basquiat, Banksy, Warhol




What: “Off the Wall”

Where: Christie’s, 520 E. Durant Ave.

When: Through July 15

More info: The Christie’s summer residency continues with the exhibition “Out West” (July 17-28) and Fall Auction Highlights (July 30-Aug. 8);

Christie’s pop-up art gallery opened to the public in Aspen over Independence Day weekend, showcasing for private sale a selection of museum-quality original artworks by Banksy and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Among the works is an untitled 1984 Basquiat, featuring the artist’s signature crown and skull and use of an oilstick on a nearly 6-foot-tall canvas, priced at $13.5 million.

With that level of blue-chip art on the wall, it’s understandable why the auction house has converted its prime downtown Christie’s International Real Estate office — across the street from gondola plaza on Durant Avenue — into a gallery for five of the busiest weeks of the summer season here. Christie’s joins a rapidly growing list of brand-name international galleries opening in Aspen amid the pandemic and a record-breaking commercial art market.

“It speaks to what’s happening in the market right now in contemporary art,” said Christie’s deputy chair Capera Ryan, who will be manning the gallery for the season here. “And the pop-ups are coming to follow people who are staying here longer.”

Christie’s has had a presence in the Aspen art scene for 20 years, she noted.

“We’ve always had cocktail parties and dinners, but we’re now being much more strategic in the programming that we are doing in Aspen,” said Ryan, who also oversaw the Christie’s collaboration with the Andy Warhol Foundation for a series of exhibitions here in 2014 and 2015.

The roster of new and temporary galleries here amid the pandemic includes London’s White Cube, the multi-national Amine Rech, Carpenters Workshop Gallery and Lehman Maupin and several Manhattan-based tastemakers including Malin Gallery and Mitchell-Innes & Nash.

“It’s funny to see all the other pop-ups that are showing up now,” Ryan said. “It’s interesting that all of a sudden everybody wants to be in Aspen.”

The inaugural show at the Christie’s pop-up, titled “Basquiat to Banksy: Off the Wall Aspen,” runs through July 15 and showcases multiple original works by the title artists along with pieces by Keith Haring, KAWS, Andy Warhol and Martin Wong. It will be followed by the group show “Out West” featuring Ed Ruscha mountain paintings and Richard Prince cowboys (July 17-28) and a preview of the 20th and 21st century works to be sold at auction this autumn (July 30 to Aug. 8).

In addition to the exhibitions, Christie’s has organized weekly art talks at the St. Regis Resort. They started this week with a panel that featured prominent Aspen art collectors Nancy Magoon and Gail Neeson. Upcoming talks include experts discussing the NFT phenomenon and street art in the fine art world. Those talks are private but seek to cement Christie’s in the Aspen art scene.

Christie’s also has a summer pop-up collaboration with Carpenter’s Workshop running in the Hamptons, where a similar gallery influx is underway as dealers seek to connect with collectors who’ve moved to resort communities as part of the pandemic’s urban exodus.

“Coming out of COVID, people haven’t been traveling the way they have in the past,” Ryan said. “People aren’t going to Europe. So we looked at several cities across the country, from the Hamptons to Aspen, and we saw that this is a mass of people that are our top clients that are going to their homes here and spending more time here.”

As the U.S. emerges from the pandemic, pop-ups may continue to follow collectors to destinations like Aspen on a seasonal basis, but Christie’s art shows will return.

“Our friends are here, our clients are here,” Ryan said. “There is no question that we’ll be back.”


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