Flash News



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

Art Basel finishes the year in Miami

After Hong Kong in May and Basel in June, Miami was the last stage in Art Basel, this now three-yearly event covering three continents. Over 75,000 visitors flocked to the Convention Center in Miami to see the 250-odd galleries that had come from all over the world to present the highest-rated artists of the moment. With its lavish celebrations and top-notch, high-profile guests, Art Basel Miami is the fair to end all fairs. While five years ago the fair was facing disaster, taking the full brunt of the sub-primes crisis, today it unashamedly revels in rising art prices. For example, Baroque Egg with Bow (Turquoise/Magenta), which sold for $9 million at the Gagosian gallery stand, had been bought in 2009 for $5.4 million. Another Jeff KOONS was on offer at the David Zwirner stand for $20 million. But Koons’ works weren’t the only ones for sale at the fair, which devoted the lion’s share to Latin American artists – with 13 galleries from Brazil! But while the situation was a far cry from 2008, it had overtones of 2007, when just a few months before the sudden drop in art prices, Miami was already a scene of staggering affluence in the art market. The market registered a turnover of more than $1.6 billion for the first time in November 2007; the sum posted in November 2013 was $1.85 billion!

Gagosian: galleries around the world

The high-end art market is doing well at auction (950 bids of over a million have already been posted during the year) – and is doing just as well in the galleries. And Gagosian is dazzling proof of this. With 12 artists exhibited in its 13 spaces throughout the world, the gallery currently provides a fine overview of the artists most in the public eye at the moment. In New York, you can admire the paintings of Willem DE KOONING (record: $28.5 million), the sculptures of David SMITH (record: $21.25 million), the paintings of BALTHUS (record: $6 million), the monumental sculptures of Richard SERRA (record: $3.7 million) and the photographs of William EGGLESTON (record: $840,000). On the other side of the USA, in Los Angeles, the gallery is showing another great photographer: Richard AVEDON (record: $945,420). In Europe, the gallery has adapted to the downturn and is exhibiting “less” highly rated artists: in London, the spotlight is on designer Frank Owen GEHRY (record: $140,000), in Rome the gallery is presenting one of the rare exhibitions (the last one goes back to 2010) of the French artist Tatiana TROUVÉ (record: $40,000), and in Athens, the fashion photographs of the Dutch duo Inez & Vinoodh VAN LAMSWEERDE & MATADIN (record: $40,000). In Rome you can see the work of Piotr UKLANSKI (record: $929,700), while in Paris the focus is on John CURRIN, with a series of paintings (record: $4.8 million). And a trip through all the galleries in the Gagosian galaxy would not be complete without a stopover in Hong Kong, where there is an exhibition of Tetsuya ISHIDA (record: $694,980) – appropriately enough, as that’s where 75% of his works sell at auction.

Sigmar Polke’s work at last gets the appreciation it deserves

One of Germany’s greatest post-war artists, Sigmar POLKE, is currently being exhibited at the Musée de Grenoble. Some seventy paintings and fifty-odd drawings retrace the last decades of the life of this artist, who made an incalculable contribution to the renewal of pictorial language in the late 20th century. Polke, who died in 2010, attended Düsseldorf’s famous academy alongside Gerhard RICHTER, among others. Both were founders of the new capitalist Realism, Germany’s response to Pop Art in the US. The exhibition in Grenoble, the first since Polke’s death, opens the proceedings before the major retrospective coming up at the New York Museum of Modern Art in April 2014. A largely deserved tribute, this retrospective with its 300-odd works will then travel to the Tate Modern in London and the Ludwig Museum in Cologne.
While his reputation as an artist is on a par with Gerhard Richter’s, Polke’s work is less well-known to the general public. This is partly due to the fact that Richter’s career was already celebrated in 2011 with a travelling retrospective, which, as well as enhancing his aura, sent his price index soaring. In the sale room, the hammer was consequently less active on Polke’s behalf than for that of his compatriot, who in 2013 became the most expensive living artist in the world. While Polke’s record is the $8.15 million obtained by Dschungel (Jungle) (Sotheby’s London, 29 June 2011), 31 works by Richter have gone for more than that, culminating in his current record of $33 million (Domplatz, Mailand [Cathedral Square, Milan], Sotheby’s New York, 14 May). Since Polke’s first bid of over a million in 2000 (Zwei Frauen, at Christie’s New York, on 16 May), 21 other lots have crossed that threshold. Among them, two recently-sold paintings from 1988 have achieved fine performances: Menschen Wie Du + Ich (People Like You + I) went for more than its high estimate at $2.28 million (Sotheby’s London, 12 February), and Nackte (Nude) for $2 million (Sotheby’s London, 26 June). As well as bringing Polke’s work more into the public eye, the prestigious events currently programmed in various places could well produce a few surprises in the auction room.