Flash News



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

Richard Serra: a sculptor in the gallery for want of bidders

The New York Gagosian Gallery is exhibiting the sculptor Richard SERRA from 25 October 2013 to 25 January 2014. A giant in contemporary sculpture, his works have travelled all round the world, and have been celebrated in two retrospectives twenty years apart at the MoMA (Richard Serra/Sculpture in 1986 and Richard Serra Sculpture: Forty Years in 2007). Paris, Bilbao, New York, San Francisco and Houston have all hosted major exhibitions over the past few years: an institutional “dubbing” that goes hand in hand with events in the auction room.
For his price index has soared by 114% over recent years, thanks to sales that include eight hammer prices of over a million. In May 2013, Christie’s New York set a new record with L.A. Cone of 1986, a huge work in steel that went for $3.7 million after an estimate range of $1.5 to 2 million (L.A. Cone, $4,267,750 including the buyer’s premium, on 15 May 2013, 441.9 cm x 518.1 cm x 8.8 cm). Since then, fans of his three-dimensional work have seen nothing at auction. The Gagosian Gallery seems to have a monopoly on his sculptures in the market with its current exhibition. True, a few drawings and prints have gone under the hammer, but no sculptures in the second half of 2013. A selection of screen prints offered in sales at the end of the year should go for between $3,000 and $15,000 each. No records are expected in the genre, even if the price index of some proofs has been distinctly sprightly during the past few months – notably for T.E. Sparrows Point (1999), a large etching in a limited edition of 10, which has reached the $30,000 threshold twice in one year (record figure of $32,000 on 31 October 2012 at Phillips de Pury & Company, New York, and $30,000 on 30 October 2013 at Christie’s New York).

A Van Gogh in Paris

The Paris market has not had the chance to sell a painting by Vincent VAN GOGH since 1996 (with Petite Ferme, which went for the equivalent of $234,000 at Laurin-Guilloux-Buffetaud Paris). These rare commodities generally head off to be sold in London or New York… and often produce some pleasant surprises, thanks to the master’s legendary appeal. For example, on 5 November 2013, Bonhams offered a 31 cm-high oil on paper glued to panel from 1882. Starting from a tentative, attractive estimate of $200,000, the small Two women in a wood (1882) climbed all the way up to $570,000, i.e. $689,000 including the buyer’s premium.
The work offered for sale by the Paris auction house Millon & Associés is a still life from two years later, but worked in the same earthy tones. Larger (32 cm x 41.3 cm) and more accomplished, Millon & Associés could have expected it to fetch between $678,000 and $813,600 on 27 November, as suggested by the estimates. As the bids for the Van Gogh’s Nature morte aux bouteilles, ornements de cheminée, coquillage (1884/85) did not reach the low estimate, the lot is therefore bought-in.

Sophie Calle: stories of stolen works between Boston & New York

The French artist Sophie CALLE is currently appearing in two American exhibitions, one in a Boston museum and the other at the newly inaugurated Perrotin Gallery in New York. Two exhibitions based on a key investigation undertaken by the artist: that of stolen works and memories of them.The first is being held at the Gardner Museum, in Boston, Massachusetts (dedicated to European and American art). It opened in late October 2013, and runs until 3 March 2013 under the title Last seen. It brings together two series of photographs and texts: Last seen of 1991 and its reactivation in 2012 as What Do You See? This is one of Sophie Calle’s best-known works. Shown the same year it was created at the Carnegie International exhibition in Pittsburgh (1991), it has been on the move ever since, appearing at venues that include the Leo Castelli Gallery and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Hood Museum of Art in Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, and the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam.
Four works in this series have been auctioned to date. They are all the rarer in that there are only two copies of each work. Their prices oscillate between $23,000 and $56,000. The record for a work from this series was set in December 2012 with a hammer price equivalent to $54,902, at Sotheby’s Paris (€42,000, and nearly €67,000 with the premium, Last seen … (Rembrandt, The Storm In The Sea of Galilee), 1991, edition 2/2).
As a pendant to this exhibition at the Gardner Museum, Emmanuel Perrotin opened its New York exhibition entitled Dérobés on 13 November 2013 (running until 11 January 2014). Sophie Calle describes her work process on this series, produced between 1994 and 2013, as follows: “After the theft of a Lucian Freud painting and two Turners from the Tate Gallery in London, a Picasso from the Richard Gray Gallery in Chicago and a Titian from the Marquis of Bath’s residence at Longleat House, I asked the curators, guards and other staff at the museums, gallery or collection to describe that works that had disappeared.”
The artist’s current exhibitions in America augur well for her results at auction. Her finest works already tend to come up for sale in New York, such as The Sleepers (1979), an installation of 199 photographs produced in 1979, which sold at the record price of $180,000 on 8 November 2011 at Christie’s ($218,500 including the buyer’s premium).