Auctions Show Signs of Being Squeezed by Scarcity

At that point, making estimates will become problematic because relevant points of comparison will be far and few between, or altogether lacking. Worse, interest in Impressionism and early-20th-century avant-garde movements will evaporate. A certain pace is necessary for buyers to remain visually familiar with the works, and this in turn is indispensable for them to feel tempted to bid.

Early signs could be detected at both houses of what happens when a market is being squeezed by increasing paucity.

In Christie’s Tuesday evening sale, the quality was depressingly modest. The star lot, Wassily Kandinsky’s “Studie zu Improvisation 3,” was not exactly a masterpiece. Faintly clinging to Expressionist figuration while strongly tilting toward Abstractionism, the 1909 composition is messy. To viewers with a puckish turn of mind, the rearing horse in the painting evoked a rider trying

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