Art Market News in Brief!



Every fortnight, Artprice provides a short round up of art market news.

Venice Biennale 2013: Ai Weiwei to represent GermaNew York

To illustrate the cosmopolitanism of Contemporary art, the organizers of the German pavilion at the 2013 Venice Biennale have decided to break with the nationalist conception of the event by selecting foreign artists active in GermaNew York to represent their country. Member of the Academy of Arts in Berlin since 2011, AI Weiwei is one such artist. A famous protester against the Chinese government, he is prohibited from leaving the country, although his parole period has in fact ended. Visitors can see his work in Venice, but it is unlikely that the artist will be present.
His famous sculptures and installations, very critical of the Chinese Communist regime, regularly elicit high bids at auctions. On 9 May 2012, his Kui Hua Zi (Sunflower Seeds) installation generated his latest auction record when it sold at Sotheby’s in New York for $650,000. The tens of thousands of porcelain sunflower seeds that make up this work symbolize the Chinese people (sunflower seeds are a delicacy in China). In May 2012, a small jar of 250 of these porcelain seeds sold for $2,500 at Fernando Durán in Madrid, doubling its high estimate! His marble reproductions of furniture dating from the Qing Empire also fetch excellent results. In November 2011, his Marble Door almost tripled its high estimate by finding a buyer at $340,000 at Sotheby’s New York. With 5 results over $150,000, of which 3 in the last two years, Ai Weiwei’s market has confirmed its dynamism.

Vienna: Klimt’s studio opens its doors to the public

Since 30 September 2012, one can visit the last workshop used by Gustav KLIMT before his death in 1918. The studio was recreated in identical fashion thanks to descriptions given by the painter’s friends, such as the artist Egon SCHIELE, as well as vintage photographs by Moritz NÄHR. The Gustav Klimt Memorial Society was able to raise the €2 million needed to execute the project. Furniture and paintings, now owned by museums or collectors, also had to be replicated from scratch.
Rare and much sought after on the secondary market, 11 of the 53 of Gustav Klimt paintings that have been presented for sale at auctions since 1989 have recorded results above the $10 million line! In 2006, Christie’s generated the artist’s current record when it sold his Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II for $78.5 million. The precision of this portrait of a woman, rich in details and colors, is very representative of the artist’s style. His landscapes are also valued by collectors and sometimes elicit exceptionally high bidding: in February 2011, his Litzlberg Am Attersee soared to $36 million at Sotheby’s New York. Klimt also drew a lot and thousands of his drawings and watercolors have already sold at auction. One can pick up beautiful sketches by the master for substantially more affordable sums such as Brustbild eines Mädchens im Profil nach links which fetched $20,000 in June 2012 at Koller in Zurich.

Sotheby’s New York : a Francis Bacon Pope presented in the evening sales

On 13 November 2012, Sotheby’s New York will be offering a painting from Francis BACON’s provocative Pope series. Based on Diego VELASQUEZPortrait of Innocent X (1649), this 1954 version has reappeared after nearly 40 years in a private collection. Ahead of the sale, the work will be exhibited at Sotheby’s Los Angeles, London and Doha branches before mounting the sales podium in New York.
Far from the classical papal postures expressing power and control, this portrait of Innocent X expresses post-war anguish via a scary scream.
The work is therefore bound to delight fans who have made each Bacon Pope a success at auctions. Six paintings from the series have already generated vertiginous results between 1989 and 2008, all fetching more than $4 million. Currently, Study from Innocent X (a 1962 oil on canvas) holds the papal series record at $47 million (Sotheby’s New York, 15 May 2007). The work presented by Sotheby’s is already estimated at $18m to $25m. Nowadays, even Bacon’s prints fetch top prices: collectors hungry for papal representations are willing to pay more than $30,000 to acquire one of his Study for Portrait of Pope Innocent X (Whyte’s, Dublin, 21 May 2012).

Van Gogh : Rêves de Japon at the Pinacothèque in Paris

From 3 October 2012 to 17 March 2013, the Pinacothèque de Paris is presenting a new perspective on the work of Vincent VAN GOGH in an exhibition entitled Rêves de Japon. The exhibition compares roughly forty masterful woodblock prints by Hiroshige ANDO (1797-1858) with paintings by the Dutch master, and the influence of Japanese artist is indeed remarkably visible. In effect, Van Gogh was greatly inspired by Hiroshige’s compositions and the strength of his works.
Van Gogh’s landscapes have a very privileged place in auction rooms. While Portrait du Docteur Gachet has held his auction record for over 20 years at $75m (Christie’s New York, 15 May 1990), some of his landscapes have generated superb multi-million dollar results. On 11 August 1995, his Sous-bois (a 1890 oil on canvas) fetched more than $24 million at Sotheby’s New York, on 12 May 1999 his La Roubine du Roi fetched $18 million at Christie’s New York and on 14 November 1989, his Le Vieil If sold for $17m, also at Christie’s New York.