30 under 30: photography



This summer Artprice will be presenting the future stars of the art market in the form of a weekly ranking of the thirty top-selling artists aged under 30 in each artistic medium: this week we focus on photography.

Up and coming photographers
Photography is perhaps the most prolific artistic medium of our era and today’s young artists are eagerly exploiting the infinite possibilities it offers. It is also a rich vein for collectors and auction houses, which in 2011 sold nearly 14,000 “signed” photographs worldwide, generating a total revenue of around $150m.In recent years, the sky high prices achieved by Andreas GURSKY, Cindy SHERMAN and Richard PRINCE (each of whom has a personal auction record of at least $3m) have stimulated the secondary market for works by young photographers already bold enough to face the harsh judgment of auction houses although still in their twenties.

Among these young initiates at auctions, we have compiled a selection of thirty artists aged under 30 that above all reflects the incredible advance of the Middle East. In effect, this region of the world stands out sharply from the rest of the world by the number of young artists who are already on the secondary market. Among the 30 highest priced photographs at auctions in 2011, eleven were created by artists from the Middle East!

Top 30 : photography

Rank Artist Auction result
1 Sami AL-TURKI $22000
2 JR $20962
3 Oleg DOU $17952
4 Dash SNOW $17000
5 Maxwell SNOW $15000
6 Marwa ADEL $12000
7 ZHANG Peng $11344
8 Tim PARCHIKOV $7833
9 Lamya GARGASH $7500
10 Mourad GHARRACH $4772
11 EL PRADINO $4285
12 Ido ABRAMSOHN $4250
13 Sun MI AHN $4225
14 Zineb LAYACHI $4175
15 Meera HURAIZ $3800
16 Teresa & Alexander HUBBARD & BIRCHLER $3462
17 Gozde TURKKAN $3298
18 Genevieve CHUA $3215
19 Othman ZINE $2982
20 Leila ALAOUI $2863
21 Benjamin DEROCHE $2838
22 Tatiana MACEDO $2764
23 Sinem DISLI $2198
24 Babak KAZEMI $2100
25 Macoto MURAYAMA $2056
26 Hazem MAHDY $2000
27 Lovis OSTENRIK $1980
28 Ida BORG $1891
29 Agnes PRAMMER $1775
30 Alena ZHANDAROVA $1502

A dynamic Middle Eastern market

Christie’s Dubai, Sotheby’s Doha and the Moroccan Company of Works & Works of Art (CMOOA) have been particularly supportive to young Middle Eastern photographers who subsequently receive a good reception on the Parisian market. The young Sami AL-TURKI, born to a Saudi father and Irish mother, can be proud of an auction debut in 2011 at $22,000! His large format Marhaba (120 x 200 cm, three copies) more than tripled its high estimate at Christie’s Dubai on April 19, 2011. As it is often the case for the younger generation of Middle Eastern photographers, the work of Sami Al Turki reflects a quest for identity and the interaction of different cultures.

An auction debut at such a high price level is rare for a young artist, especially for a photographer.
The Egyptian Marwa ADEL (born 1984) is one of the top-selling young photographers, on 26 October 2011, she earned an auction record of $12,000 for an sans titre triptych (Christie’s, Dubai). Already eight of her photographs have been sold between Casablanca, Dubai, Doha (from 2010 to July 2012). Her naked bodies photographed and digitally reworked show the necessary restraint to be successful among her compatriots.
We also note the more than respectable results of three artists born in 1982: Lamya GARGASH has only sold in Dubai where she was born and where her works today fetch between $1,600 and $7,500; Mourad GHARRACH, whose works fetch between $1,800 and $5,000 in Casablanca and Paris (where he lives) and Zineb LAYACHI, two of whose works fetched above $4,000 on 26 November 2011 at CMOOA.

Even younger, the Turkish artist Gozde TURKKAN (1984) entered the auction market with a print from his series Pay here (2010) at Christie’s Paris that was acquired for €2,400 ($3,300). Gozde Turkkan uses photography both as a socio-political critical tool and as a medium for a subjective view of the society he lives in, evoking issues relating to politics, identity and domination. Five years younger, Meera HURAIZ (born 1989) lives in Dubai. Aware of how much fashion is an extension of cultural identity and how the way we dress dictates a certain relationship with other people and with the world, the young artist ironically appropriates cultural codes, especially those related to women (the bourka) and handicraft (Fatto a Mano, a project ordered by the brand Fendi). She draws generously from her traditional culture as well as from Western popular culture (Jean Paul Gaultier or Ridley Scott) to create improbable encounters, such as the mask she wears for her Madonna photo, a mask whose shape takes the form of Jean-Paul Gaultier’s pointed cup corset that Madonna exhibited in the 1980s. Sold at Christie’s Dubai, Madonna (100cm x 150cm, 3 copies) fetched $3,800 on 26 October 2011, a handsome result for an auction debut.

Sami Al Turki and Marwa Adel are the only Middle Eastern artists who have generated auction results above $10,000. They are joined in this bracket by two American artists Dash and Maxwell Snow, the Frenchman JR, a Russian, Oleg DOU and a Chinese artist ZHANG Peng.

American Dynasty: the Snow Brothers
Great-grand-son of the great American collectors John and Dominique de Menil, Dash SNOW led to a brief and dissolute life substantially dominated by sex and drugs. His nocturnal excesses resulting in daytime losses of memory, he began taking Polaroid pictures as a records. His “unique memories of his nights” are for him cheap souvenirs, but for fans of underground culture they represent raw, violent and alternative photographic records of the low-life of contemporary culture. He was in fact very much in the same tradition as Nan GOLDIN, Larry CLARK and Richard BILLINGHAM and was considered one of the most promising artists of his generation. At age 27, he had already exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts, London (USA Today exhibition organized by Charles Saatchi), the Whitney Biennial and the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. He was found dead in his room following a drug overdose a few days before his 28th birthday. This lightning career went hand in hand with a strong demand for his photographs at auction. In 2011, his Untitled (Jade B&W Cemetary) (3 copies) beat all expectations when it sold for $17,000 against a high estimate of $12,000 (23 September, Phillips de Pury & Company, New York). A year earlier in London, the same print sold for $11,000 less (roughly $6,200) at Christie’s London (16 September 2010).

This result of $17,000 (which is not his best auction record, only his best result in 2011) made him one of the most expensive young artists just ahead of his younger brother, Maxwell SNOW (born 1984). The latter was presented in a single sale, dedicated to the designer Muriel Brandinoli. Buoyed by enthusiasm for a famous provenance, his three silvered prints more than doubled their high estimates reaching results between $10,000 and $15,000 (Phillips de Pury & Company, New York).

Two French competitors: JR and Benjamin Deroche
In France, where the photographic tradition is one of the richest in the world (along with the United States), two artists stand out among the 30 top-selling artists in the under-30 category: the already famous JR and the emerging Benjamin DEROCHE.For JR, born in 1984, the street is the “largest art gallery in the world.” The artist has rapidly made a name for himself by daubing streets and neighborhoods all over the world (Africa, USA, Brazil, France, China, etc.). The photos that art buyers find at auctions are shots of on-site installations, often illegal, and the resulting demand is so strong that in 2009 one of his works fetched more than $30,000 (£21,000) during a Sotheby’s sale ((Ladj Ly (Braquage)) in London, 6 February 2009). For 2011, JR takes second place in our ranking with the sale of Milagros Valejo Herrero, Cartegena in London, reaching nearly $21,000 in February (£13,000, 4.5 x 67 x 189.4 cm, photo mounted on panel) at Phillips de Pury & Company.

Apart from JR, the only French artist in this ranking is Benjamin Deroche (born 1981), whose wacky and grating photos already fetch between $1,500 and $3,500 in Paris. The young Breton photographer has been present in auction houses since 2009 where his works always sell above their low estimates in a French market where under-30 photographers are generating growing demand (a 305% increase in auction revenue since 2006).

Digital talent: Oleg Dou and Peng Zhang
Since the 1990s, digital manipulation has become a particularly fertile field for artists. In this often theatrical game, the Russian artist Oleg Dou and the Chinese artist Zhang Peng already have solid foundations on the secondary market. Winner of five International Photography Awards and the International Color Awards, Oleg Dou has also won the Kandinsky Prize twice.
Oleg Dou’s works generated his first results above $10,000 (three in total) in Budapest and London in 2008 for square format prints edited in at 6 or 8 copies. As we saw in Budapest (Hungary, Kieselbach Gallery), his prices occasionally flare up: in December 2007 a photo from the series Nun fetched $45,000 multiplying its estimate by no less than 21 times! However, a version of this same Nun sold for only $18,000 in 2011 (£11,000 pounds, six copies, edition C of 2007print, 100 x 100 cm) on April 15 at Phillips de Pury & Company.

Peng Zhang was just 25 at the time of his auction debut in 2006. He got off to strong start with an oil on canvas completed the same year and which fetched the equivalent of $12,700 (excluding fees) at Poly International in Beijing (Water without Fragrance No.2, 150 x150 cm). His subsequent auction results involved photographs of his muse, a four year old girl that he met in 2006. The destabilizing melancholy of this child allowed him to create tortured scenes, combining innocence with gore. His large formats are already changing hands for between $5,000 and $15,000 at auctions.

Seeking young talents at under $5,000
Among these promising artists with rising prices, there are plenty of interesting acquisition opportunities for budgets under $5,000. For example, the work on the psychology of fear by Genevieve CHUA (born in 1984 in Singapore) entitled After the Flood #18, #19, #20, a series of three pictures which sold for the equivalent of $3,200 at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong on 4 April 2011. There is also the mysterious work of the Moroccan architect / designer / photographer Othman ZINE (born in 1983; sold in Casablanca) and the majestic portraits of his compatriot Leila ALAOUI (born in 1982 in Paris and raised in Morocco) sold in Casablanca.
The youngest of the best young photographers at auction in 2011 is the Russian Alena ZHANDAROVA, born in 1988. She concludes our series of thirty under-30 artists with one of her most seen and sugary shots of her clown-like antics: My way (from the series Cornflower tea and concealing chocolate), a surprising side-view of her doing the splits wearing a pair of yellow ice skates in a classroom which fetched the equivalent of $1,500 in Austria (2/5 copies, 60 x 89.5 cm, Westlicht Photographica Auktion, Vienna).