Drawing… the Guerlain prize… a growing market


The Guerlain prize… an important award

The coronavirus hasn’t stopped everything. The 13th edition of the prestigious Guerlain prize for drawing has been awarded as planned, albeit subject to the safety restriction measures currently in place in France. The jurors voted from their individual places of confinement to elect the artist whose work they most appreciated… and the announcement of the winner was made by a press release on March 26.

The winner of the 13th Guerlain prize for drawing is:

Juan Uslé

a Spanish artist born in 1954, represented by galleries Lelong, Frith Street Gallery, Cheim & Read.

A graduate of the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Carlos (Valencia), Juan Uslé moved to New York in 1987, where he still lives and works. Much influenced by American Abstract Expressionism – particularly Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman and Joan Mitchell – he developed a personal approach on the fringes of this movement. According to Uslé, his work on “color transparency” and “line variations” is “a process similar to that found in musical composition, where the orchestration of secondary voicings transforms what we hear in the foreground.”

Capture d’écran 2020-03-26 à 15.45.45 Juan Uslé. ©DR. Photo Courtesy Guerlain Foundation

As winner of this prize, Juan Uslé will receive €15,000 and one of his works will be submitted for acquisition by the Graphic Arts Selection Committee of the National Museum of Modern Art (Centre Pompidou).

But the Guerlain prize does not support only the winner; the two other shortlisted artists, Callum Innes and Florian Pumhösl will each receive €5,000 and will naturally benefit from the prestige associated with their selection.

The Guerlain prize for drawing was initiated for Daniel and Florence Guerlain, a couple who were passionate about art, especially works on paper. Together, they created this prize with the aim of boosting the position of drawing in Contemporary art and allowing a French or a foreign artist, for whom drawing is a significant activity, to continue his or her work by receiving the grant. He/she may or may not live in France, but must maintain a privileged cultural link with France via institutions or art schools”.

By shortlisting this year the artists Callum Innes, Florian Pumhösl and Juan Uslé, our drawing ambassadors have, with the help of various experts, consciously focused their attention on abstract drawing.

Since its creation, the Prize has been awarded to: Silvia Bächli, Sandra Vàsquez de la Horra, Catharina Van Eetvelde, Marcel Van Eeden, Jorinde Voigt, Susan Hefuna, Tomasz Kowalski, Jockum Nordström, Cameron Jamie, Ciprian Muresan, Mamma Andersson and Claire Morgan.

Drawing prices on the market… what’s happening at auctions

Since drawing has been definitively accepted as a legitimate standalone art form, demand has been constantly growing for works that are generally more affordable and often smaller than canvases. In response to the growing demand, the drawing market considerably densified over the past decade and the number of transactions has also intensified. China and France – where a large number of drawings now also change hands – are today benefiting from this positive dynamic.

Artmarket takes a look at some of the drawing market’s key recent figures:

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Global auction turnover from artworks on paper has tripled in the past decade, from 881,000 to more than 2.6 billion euros. More than half of the 2019 turnover was hammered in China (1.4 billion).


Drawing is the second major category (medium) in the market behind Painting. It accounts for 23% of the total global art market compared with just 9% for Sculpture.


There was a 90% increase in the number of drawings sold at auction over the last decade. An impressive progression essentially driven by 5 countries: China (with Hong Kong), France, the United States and the United Kingdom.


In terms of volume, France accounted for 16% of this market. With nearly 22,500 drawings sold in 2019, the French market is the densest in the world after the Chinese market (21%). On the other hand, in terms of value, France accounted for a little less than 4% of the global drawing market.


ami guerlain