Art Market News in Brief !



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

Claes Oldenburg at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

The work of Claes Thure OLDENBURG will be at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao from 30 October 2012 to 17 February 2013, in an exhibition entitled: Claes Oldenburg: the sixties. Visitors are invited to discover the largest retrospective ever devoted to the artist including films, photographs and drawings as well as a number of previously un-exhibited works. These include everyday objects that the artist cleverly sets up as societal symbols, effectively confirming Oldenburg as a pioneer of Pop Art.
Reflecting the large number and variety of objects he transformed, Claes Oldenburg’s auction market is both broad and deep. Over the past fifteen years, more than 1,500 of his works have sold at auctions. Over the same period, his auction revenue came 75% from his sculptures and almost exclusively from his adopted country, the United States, which has been the venue for 95% of his lots. The United States is also where Oldenburg generated three auction results above the million-dollar line. His best ever result was for Typewriter Eraser (1976), a giant office accessory measuring almost two meters that fetched $1.9m at Christie’s New York Prestige Spring sales in 2009 (13 May 2009). Yellow Girl’s Dress The other two were also hammered during the 2012 Prestige Spring sales: (1961) reached $1.5m at Sotheby’s New York on 14 May 2008, followed by Sewing machine which fetched $1.3m at Sotheby’s New York on 12 May 2004.

Joel Shapiro will receive first prize from the Gabarron Foundation on 27 November 2012

After deliberation by the jury, Joel SHAPIRO was selected from sixteen candidates to receive the first prize from the Gabarron International Awards for Visual Arts. It will be presented on 27 November in New York to mark the Foundation’s 20th anniversary. James ROSENQUIST, Richard SERRA and Yoko ONO are among the artists previously nominated by the institution. Joel Shapiro received the unanimous support of the jury which considered his sculptures as references in spatial-geometric research, representing a major contribution to Contemporary art.
The sculptures created by Joel Shapiro since the mid-80s seem to be defying the laws of gravity: the rectangles that make up his works seem to float with no real anchor. His works have already been integrated into the most prestigious Contemporary art collections such as the MoMA and the Musée d’Orsay and have been commissioned to occupy public space in numerous cities.
An American artist, Joel Shapiro is primarily sold in the United States (94% of its auction revenue) where more than 10% of his sculptures exceed the $100,000 threshold. Already very sought-after in the 1990s, the artist has returned to the limelight since 2007 with his prices returning to their previous peaks.

Lee Man Fong sets a new record for South East Asian artists

In Hong Kong, Sotheby’s autumn sales are going strong: their Modern & Contemporary Southeast Asian Paintings sale of 7 October 2012 generated a good total of $13m and a particularly low unsold rate (nearly 10%). It also generated a new record for LEE Man Fong (1913-1988) whose aptly named Fortune and Longevity fetched three times its estimate for a final result of $3.8m (Sotheby’s expert: Mok Kim Chuan). The work had remained in the hands of a private collector since it was created in 1951.
Indeed, the collectors were not wrong: although Lee Man Fong was a prolific artist, few of his works are that big (86 x 260 cm) and those with comparable dimensions have all fetched 7-figure dollar results: Bali Life (100 x 200 cm) fetched more than $2.8m at Sotheby’s Hong Kong (5 April 2010) and, more recently, Fifteen Goldfish (117.5 x 221 cm) was acquired for over $1.4m (26 May 2012).

Rothko vandalized at London’s Tate Modern

Last Sunday 7 October, in front of stunned visitors, a man vandalized a monumental work by Mark ROTHKO at the Tate Modern in London. Having daubed an inscription with a fat marker in the corner of the painting, Vladimir Umanets claimed responsibility for his act and expressed his desire to promote the movement of which he is the founder – Yellowism – an obscure concept whose followers are generally more discreet!
Beyond the actual damage to the Rothko work caused by this absurd act, the pecuniary damage could also be considerable since Rothko is one of the most highly rated artists of our time. A central figure of Abstract Expressionism in the United States in the 1940s, Rothko delved into the study of Greek mythology, the writings of Freud and Nietzsche, adding a new dimension to the movement and offering a spiritual experience for the viewer.
His Multiform canvases, made up of flat colors, are the culmination of this process. They are the ones that made him famous and they are now extremely sought-after. Since January 2010, they have generated eight results above the $1m line, including five above $16m! In May 2012, Christie’s generated Rothko’s auction record in New York with Orange, Red, Yellow, fetching $77.5m, beating the previous record of $65m recorded by Sotheby’s in May 2007 with White Center! The canvas degraded at the Tate Modern is a monumental work from the Seagram series produced in 1959 at the height of his career, so one can imagine its value and the disastrous financial impact of such an act.