Another year begins…



After the Art Taipei fair at the end of August, the art market is gradually awakening from its summertime slumber. Before the major sales begin in October, the art fairs and biennials in September provide an excellent kick-start. Among the principal events on the calendar, the SH Contemporary art fair (Shanghai 8-11 September 2011) with a new section dedicated to photography this year, the Shanghai Art Fair (14-19 September 2011), the Lyon Contemporary Art biennial (France) entitled Une Terrible Beauté est née and its cortège of accompanying exhibitions, the British Art Fair at the RCA (14-18 September) and the Joburg Art Fair (Johannesburg 23-25 September 2011).

September sales…
Auction sales kick off timidly at the beginning of the month of September with, for example, the sale of works from the Jan & Monique des Bouvrie Collection at Christie’s Amsterdam on 6 September. Among the works for sale from this eclectic collection will be the immaculate painting Achtwit by Bram BOGART (est. €12,000 – €16,000), a drawing entitled Lovers by Marlene DUMAS (€6,000 – €8,000) and works by a number of Chinese artists including two large acrylics by SHENG Qi that are both estimated €2,000 – €3,000, two large photographs by XIA Jing (210 x 170 cm) each estimated €4,000 – €6,000 and a painting entitled Chinese Baby by YIN Kun estimated €4,000 – €6,000. The most important work in the sale is a painting by FENG Zhengjie (150 x 150 cm, 2007) offered for between €50,000 and €70,000. This latter estimate is optimistic in view of the €40,000 paid for a work of exactly the same dimension from the same series (Christie’s Hong Kong, 4 April 2011), but very cheap if we compare it to the explosive prices of 2007-2008 when this type of Zhengjie painting fetched between €100,000 and €150,000.

The market will accelerate in mid-September with Christie’s South Asian Modern & Contemporary Art sale in New York (13 September) presenting the grand masters of Modern Indian painting like the recently deceased Maqbool Fida HUSAIN with Yatra, estimated $300,000 – $500,000 and Untitled (The Three Graces), estimated $400,000 – $750,000, Sayed Haider RAZA with La Terre (1984) offered at $350,000 – $450,000 and Untitled (Village dans la Nuit) (1957) estimated $300,000 – $400,000 and Tyeb MEHTA whose Untitled, Man vs. Horse is estimated at $300,000 – $500,000.The same day in New York, Sotheby’s will be holding its Fine Classical Chinese Paintings sale – a sign of the growing globalisation of demand for traditional Chinese art. Among others, this sale will be offering works by LUO Pin (his roll Morning parting at Lugou is estimated at $200,000 – $300,000), DONG Qichang whose 8-page manuscript is expected to generate between $200,000 and $300,000 and DONG Bangda (1699-1769) whose black ink landscape is offered at $180,000 – $250,000. The Modern and Contemporary works will be presented on 15 September with – like at Christie’s – Maqbool Fida Husain (with Rape est. $400,000 – $600,000) and Syed Haider Raza (whose painting L’Eglise dated 1962 is estimated $300,000 – $500,000). Two other favourites are in the competition: Sotheby’s hopes to generate a new record for Jehangir SABAVALA (1922) by offering his abstract landscape entitled The Cobweb cloud for $220,000 – 280,000 and has set an attractive estimate for an untitled canvas by Jagdish SWAMINATHAN (1928-1994) from the Bird, Tree, Mountain series. The work – carrying an estimate of between $180,000 and $220,000 – is in fact priced considerably lower than the artist’s potential: in 2006 Sotheby’s sold a similar painting (slightly larger) for twice this estimate at nearly $440,000.

The sales of Contemporary Western art are planned for 14 September at Christie’s London (Post-War & Contemporary Art), 22 September at Sotheby’s New York (with works by Roy Lichtenstein, Helen Frankenthaler, Alexander Calder and Cindy Sherman) and 23 September at Phillips de Pury & Company New York (Under the Influence).

According to the latest reading of the Artprice confidence index (AMCI), up 7 points in the last week of August as global markets recovered (+7% for the S&P 500), collectors should respond favourably to these sales. In fact, as the sales season commences, 66.80% of respondents have expressed their intention to buy.